Why do Mauritians tolerate unreliable tradesmen?

(Level 5)
09 Feb 2017 15:38, updated
18 May 2013, published

When I started having problems with a tap at my place, I called the landlord for him to get it fixed because the water pipe which needed accessing was behind the wall. He told me he would come along with a plumber to assess the damage on Monday. Once all inspection was done, Mr Trademen told me he would come round on Wednesday morning at 08:30am sharp. He was working in a bungalow at Albion and he would go there the following day but skip Wednesday to come to mine.

However when at 10am on Wednesday, no one was at my house, I called the landlord to see what was happening and he told me he would call me back after speaking to the plumber. The next thing I heard was the plumber would come at 12 o'clock now. I was not happy I was not informed and I made it clear to the landlord and that’s when he said “bann zouvrier kumsa mem sa, pena konfians ar zot”. So to him, the plumber can do whatever he feels like and he’s powerless to do anything. Well not me though!

I got the plumber’s number and at 11:15 I phoned him and he told me he was just about to call me (yeh, right!). He said he was at the hospital and was waiting to see the doctor (more like he was at Albion, finishing up the job he started). So I told him whether he would make it at 12:00am and he said maybe but he was not sure. I explained to him he was preventing me from doing other things and then he said if he didn’t make it before 12:30, he would come the following day at 08:00. I usually work till late at night and I don’t wake up early, so I told him he would have to come at 10:30 as I was not ready to wait for him so early in the morning one more time.

So as I imagined, he didn’t come on the day he was supposed to but rather came the next morning around 10:30. He’s done most work and had to come the following day too to finish off.

The main reason I wanted to write about this is not to complain but to point something out. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with tradesmen here in Mauritius and I’m very annoyed the way they work. However since I’m the one paying them, I lay down my rules and don’t tolerate any nonsense from them. I have nevertheless noticed a lot of Mauritians succumb to the inconsiderate workers here and accept their inefficiency as standard across the country.

Here are my thoughts why this is the way it is:

People think they are getting the best deal with a particular tradesmen and therefore are unwilling to find someone else to do the job for fear they have to pay more
People don’t know other persons capable of doing the job so they are stuck with that one person only
People are lazy to go about finding potential tradesmen as it may be a time consuming process, so they put up with the worker
People don’t want to jeopardise their relationships, so if they’ve asked an acquaintance to perform a job, they are more likely to remain quiet over a bad job
There’s a saying which says “The customer is always King” but in this country you are turned into a puppet who dances to the tune of the string holder. It’s time to wake up fellow Mauritians and reclaim your rights…