Top 10 Ways to do Business in Jamaica
“Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business” is the mission statement for Vision 2030 Jamaica. Whether you are the Prime Minister, a pastor, the don’s son, a smart phone user or just plain old Mr. or Mrs. Jones, you would have done business in Jamaica, or at least tried to. Your experience will vary depending on who you are or, to a lesser extent, the mood of the person offering the service, but there are common situations that you will encounter when doing business here on our beloved island.
These include but are not limited to: the nonchalant government attendant who seems to be at pains with his/her job, to the clueless receptionist who should really be doing filing in a back room to the charming, intelligent customer service representative that makes your day a delight (if you are lucky).
Anyway, here are my top 10 ways to do business/’get thru’ in Jamaica.
10. Tweet about it. Go on a twitter rant and just say exactly how you feel. Be sure to use the colourful Jamaican terms that will get everyone’s attention. This proves to be very effective if the entity you are doing business with has a twitter handle or is into social media.
9. Mention Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) or, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR). Although these organizations have been largely considered as “not in favour of the consumer” or have been characterized as toothless tigers, no business wants their name to be the subject of an investigation from any of these watch-dog organizations (emphasis on the ‘watch’).
8. Threaten to take their name to the obeah man. This may seem far fetched but it works! Jamaicans are, for the most part, a highly superstitious people. It will certainly help if you call the name of your obeah man (imagined or otherwise) and make mention of his general location – truth is you want to sound as if you are a seasoned visitor and user of his service. Portland and St Thomas are safe general locations to mention.
7. Threaten to call Wilmot Motty Perkins. This is a tricky one as Wilmot Motty Perkins is now deceased (R.I.P. Motty). But everyone knows of Motty’s record of calling out the inefficiencies of delinquent organizations.
6. Act like you are gay and ask to speak with the manager. You may ask “what’s so special about acting/being gay? Why not just ask for the manager?” The truth is, gays are usually known to have huge connections often times with managers and CEOs. The Rule of thumb states that connection is 9/10 of the law. No employee wants to earn the wrath of a manager for having angered someone who may well be a very ‘connected’ individual.
5. Attend the correct high school. Association with a particular school is paramount. It will certainly help if the person behind the desk can relate to your alma mater. Be sure to use the correct aliases/pronunciations or quote the school motto, i.e. its KC or Fortis NOT Kingston College. Calabar past student does not convey the same fervor as do RABALAC or C-Bar. Neither does Jamaica College compared to JC, True Blue or Fervet Opus. Some may argue that it is less cultish on the female side unless you attended ‘THE’ Queens (emphasis is paramount) or the favoured HWT based St Andrew High School for Girls which MUST be pronounced S’nandrew.
4. Seduction/’sweet-up’ recommended especially when ordering food. This is a tricky one as you want your order to be prepared as requested but you really don’t want to offend the one preparing your meal. That I need not explain – so in this instance we recommend that you con, cajole, sweet-up or seduce your way to a happy meal.
3. Bad-up. Most of us grew up on the slogan “mannas carry yuh thru di worl” but the relevance of such a statement is rapidly receding. So how does one successfully ‘bad-up’ their way to better service without being thrown out of the building by security? Simple. Never threaten the customer service representative. It is okay to say things that you have done or are able to do [truth not necessary] but never direct such threats to the individual. It will also help if you combine and point the index and middle fingers in a threatening manner mimicking a gun while wrenching the face as if you had recently suffered a stroke.
2. Link your brethren. As stated in No 6, connection is 9/10 of the law. So if you have a friend or family working in the organization then half the job is already done. One phone call is usually enough to get you from the back to the front of the line or allow you access to the system before or after normal work hours. Be prepared however to “grease a palm” [which is colloquial for putting money into someone’s hand] for special service rendered. This payment is usually a fraction of the payment you would be forced to make in No 1.
1. Bandulu/Beat-di-system “…the man who plays by the rules is the man who gets shafted.” Sounds like the quote of a wise drunken man at a poker table right? Wrong. That’s a quote from the then Minister of National Security and Justice, Dr.Peter Phillips, describing the general state of the Jamaican society. Here in Jamaica, bandulu is the illegal system of opperation that runs within and beside the official system it is usually about 10 times as expensive but usually 10 times as efficient.
Here’s how you spot a bandulu. He or she [but mostly he] is usually neatly dressed sometimes in a suit looking quite professional as if he sits around a desk in an office. It’s just that his or her office is that ‘bus-shed’ across the road from the organization or that mango tree in the courtyard. He or she usually has on speed dial, the contact numbers for everyone of relevance inside that organization. He or she prowls on the unsuspecting first timer or latches on to the disgruntled customer who has just been shafted by the system. He or she will calmly walk up to your shoulder, with eyes sheepishly looking in the other direction, and whisper “Yaa get chuu rude bwoy?” or “Nice lady mek me do supm fe u nuh?” Usually if your reply sounds something like “me naah get chuu enuh” or “wah yuh can do fi mi now?” then gotcha!
Benefits of using a bandulu;
1) You will also avoid joining long lines & being sent from counter to counter only to be told close to the end of the day, “I’m sorry, you do not have all the correct documents.”
2) At the end of a successful transaction, you will be rewarded with the contact number of another bandulu who is in charge of the operation of some other business agency [trust me you’re going to need it], and after comparing the two systems, there’s a great probability that ‘system bandulu’ will get your vote. In Jamaica, it’s not unusual to see persons camped-out in front of government agencies in a bid to secure an early service number [between 1 & 10] only to be rewarded with a number between 70 & 100, as the 1st 50 numbers are usually swindled off and later sold to the highest bidders.
I was listening to Nation Wide Radio early 2013 and heard a senior citizen giving testimony that shortly after independence; he flew to Jamaica from England, cleared his car from the wharf, had that car licensed and insured and was able to drive said car to his home in the country all in one day. It’s hard to believe that we were once that efficient. Can we get back there? Yes We Can! Our leaders have promised to rid the system of all corruption and inefficiency as promised in the tag line for ‘Vision 2030′. This however, should be viewed against the backdrop that the said government had promised to make all roads pot-hole free by 2003. And yes they did say we would have an IMF agreement in two weeks. I’m positively sure that in 2031 if you should ask them “did you not tell us in 2010, that by 2030 you would make Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and DO BUSINESS?” they would probably reply “I can’t recall”.
Disclaimer: by pointing out the flaws of the system and the perceived alternate ways, does not in any way, shape or form, serve as my endorsement of the continued inefficiencies of the system. Neither is it in support of the continued use of the bandulu system.
Well if a Anancy mek it, jackmandora me nuh choose none.