Have you ever felt that you need to beg to get a service or a good that you have actually paid for? Or wondered why some people think they are doing you a favor although the supposed favor is actually a job that they are being paid to do? I don’t know about you but it is only in rare cases that I get a service tantamount to the money I have paid. For services that require an appointment, I usually have to make at least two rounds of visit to the service provider before I get what I paid for. They say the client is a king (or ‘Denbegna nigus new’ in Amharic). But organizations that internalize this saying and turn it into practice are more the exception than the rule. I believe that the problem of not giving people value for their money does not discriminate between forms of organizations. Be it in governmental, non-for-profit or for profit organizations, clients are usually made to pay the extra price of wasted time, frustration and disappointment on top of the money paid for the services.
I once went to the kebele to have my ID renewed. Although the place was crowded with people, no one from the kebele dared to set some order in the long queue. Well, there was not actually any proper queue so to say but a pack of people pushing and shoving each other in an attempt to be given priority over others. During the long wait, I suddenly heard a loud cry (with tears) of a woman also waiting her turn to be served by the kebele employees. The cry was nothing but a response to the ill-treatment she received from the employees. What the woman actually did was to express the frustration that all of us in the room felt at that moment. And I silently thanked her for it. Although we may not pay directly for kebele services (at least not much), what those employees receive as salary is tax payers’ money, so it is our money.
Another example are universities. Some university lecturers do not give enough value to the money students pay as tuition fees. The experience of a relative of mine studying for her masters at one of the government universities can be a good example for this. Some lecturers at her university have simply no shame in skipping more than half of the lecture hours allotted for the semester. Many lecturers have the habit of skipping classes especially at the start of the semester. The result is time and transport money wasted by the students when travelling back and forth to the university for nothing. She and other students also face the additional punishment of having to endure loads of lecture notes thrown at them at the near end of the semester – i.e. lecture notes that should have been provided from the start of the semester. In my opinion, these kinds of lecturers give no value to the money or time of their students.
Money paid by customers is also deprived of its value in some businesses. Take for instance the construction sector. It is not rarely that I hear complaints about contractors taking orders from their clients to complete a part of a building and then extending completion much beyond its originally scheduled date. And this is because they take orders from numerous clients knowing that they cannot complete all within the agreed upon periods. These kinds of businesses target mainly short-term profits at the expense of long-term growth that could have been achieved among others with a strong customer base.
I believe we understand the value of money more when we pay it than when we receive it. Each of us are both at the receiving and paying ends. As an employee, I receive salary. And as a consumer, I pay it. I am sure that each and every one of us would like to make the maximum out of the payments we make. But the same should also apply for the money we receive. Because what we receive is being paid by people who want to make the maximum out of their payments too!