Friday 26 August 2005

Consumer Watchdog Shows Off a Bit More!

Last week we showed off a bit about some of our recent consumer success stories. Sorry but this week we’re going to show off some more!

We know that it sounds like we’re boasting but we hear that mentioning Consumer Watchdog these days seems to have a tremendous effect on suppliers. People keep telling us that when they have a problem they just have to mention Watchdog and suddenly the shop owner becomes cooperative!

OK, so this makes us feel good but isn’t it a little sad that it takes threats of public exposure to make things happen? Shop owners, suppliers, bank and the rest really should be giving us excellent care because it’s the right thing to do, not just because they’re afraid of some embarrassment. Don’t they also realise that word spreads? Every supplier surely knows by now that for every good story customers tell their friends and neighbours they tell 10 bad ones?

The plain fact of the matter is that good customer service makes a supplier profitable. Look how busy Primi Piatti is every evening, even during the quiet times of the month. Then look at their neighbours where sometimes you’re lucky to see a single table occupied.

The crashing ATM

We were contacted by Ms X who tried to withdraw P1,600 from an ATM when it suddenly shut down. The machine told her that the money hadn’t been taken from her account but later she learnt that the money had in fact been deducted from her balance. When she contacted the bank she was told that it would take almost 2 weeks to credit her with the amount she hadn’t actually withdrawn. She contacted us and we made some calls. We spoke to the no. 2 in the bank and he assured us that it would be fixed. Less than an hour later the money was back in her account.

The lesson? When you are clearly in the right, don’t give up! Go up the line of command until you reach someone who can take decisions!

The faulty football boots

Mr Y contacted us about football boots he purchased. Within a week one of the studs on the boots came off. He took them back to the store who replaced them pretty quickly. However when he used the replacement boots three studs came off!

When he complained he was told that not all goods were guaranteed (yes, we know that’s nonsense) and he got the usual run around from the store. They said that until the boot manufacturer had responded the store couldn’t possibly consider a refund. By this stage Consumer Affairs were involved but they couldn’t seem to get things resolved either.

As usual we made a few calls, applied a little pressure to the store and literally within minutes we heard back from the store that the original manufacturer had accepted that there was a fault with the whole batch of boots. Mr Y got his refund in total.

The lessons? Well, firstly even the best manufacturers sometimes get a bad batch of products. However good manufacturers confess this pretty quickly and fix it because they have their good name to protect.

The next lesson is that consumers shouldn’t be distracted from a simple truth. The store from which you buy something is the party with whom you have a contract. Don’t take any of the “Well, I’ll need to contact the manufacturer” nonsense. You bought your goods from Store X. It’s Store X who has to fix the problem.

The patriotic bus company

We heard from a consumer who wanted to congratulate Seabelo for their great service between Gaborone and Johannesburg. However she was very critical of the general quality of service at the Jo’burg end of the route and specifically in the treatment of a passenger who was returning from surgery in South Africa.

We contacted Seabelo and Mr Thambo here in Gaborone said he really appreciated the patriotism of the passenger and that they don’t take their customers for granted. Apparently they were already aware of some problems down in Jo’burg and as a result they have appointed a new Supervisor who starts on 1st September.

The lesson? Let’s stick up for local businesses, particularly when they are already on top of problems and are taking measures to fix them.

For the record

Nobody has mentioned this to us yet but Watchdog wants to make something clear. In all of our work with suppliers and customers we never accept a freebie. Not ever.

Consumer Watchdog is sponsored by Business & Enterprise Solutions Botswana (Pty) Ltd. We make absolutely no money from the Watchdog. It’s just one of our ways of putting something back into the community.

Quite often suppliers we mention, particularly restaurants, very generously offer us a free drink or two for saying something nice. Much as we appreciate the friendly gesture we always politely decline. Much as we’d like something free we value our independence. However, we DO accept offers that we can pass on to our readers and the listeners to our weekly radio show on GabzFM. Best of all we love to pass on treats to our service stars. Every week when we mention a success we write to the person’s boss congratulating them and when we can, passing on anything donated to us to the stars themselves.

This week’s stars!

  • The entire call centre at Standard Chartered Bank in Gaborone for service with a smile.
  • Ntume at 25° East for such friendly service.
  • Pick N Pay at Riverwalk for not only compensating a consumer for produce that turned out to be bad but for cleaning the dish as well!
  • Lebo Morebodi of GabzFM. According to our reader she’s “friendly and bubbly”, “always willing to listen and go the extra mile” and is “an amazing person”.

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