Friday 16 September 2005

Some more success stories

Consumer Watchdog has had another busy week helping to sort out consumer’s problems.

The dead decoder

One of our readers contacted us regarding a problem she’d had with her DSTV decoder. She bought it from HiFi Corporation in Gaborone last year but didn’t get around to installing it as she was moving house. When she finally plugged it in she found that it didn’t work. However, the bad news is probably during the house move she’d lost her receipt. To make matters worse she had paid for it in cash so there was no credit card or cheque record of her buying it.

When she took it back to HiFi Corporation as a gesture of good faith they sent it for repair only to find that the decoder was completely dead and couldn’t be repaired at all. Technically of course HiFi Corporation weren’t obliged to repair it as there was no proof it was bought from them. When she contacted us we made a couple of calls to HiFi Corporation who started investigating. Eventually, using the serial number of the decoder they managed to confirm that they HAD sold it and even though their supplier wasn’t willing to fix it, HiFi Corporation have now said they will replace the decoder for her.

The lesson? Well, we all know this anyway but we must do our best to keep receipts safe. However, even if they do get lost a decent supplier will do their best to track the purchase and will fix it when they’ve confirmed that it’s their responsibility. Even better suppliers, like HiFi Corporation on this occasion, will go one further and bear the cost of replacing it when they know it’s the right thing to do.

In future articles we’ll be covering in much more detail some of the things we think consumers should remember when buying expensive items as well as a number of proposals for our legislators and government that we think would provide us with greater protection.

What to do with a huge cheque

We heard from a reader who had waited and waited at a bank for assistance in opening a new account. Twenty minutes after being acknowledged and still without being served she walked out. She later phoned the branch manager to complain and she still hasn’t had her call returned.

Why was she so cross? Because in her pocket there was a cheque for P100,000 that she wanted to deposit in the new account.

When we got involved we spoke to the Marketing Manager of the bank who is now chasing the potential customer desperate for her business. Unfortunately another bank is now also chasing her and doesn’t have a failure to recover from!

The lesson? Well, we all know this as well but shop around! And if you happen to have P100,000 in your pocket then make the banks work for it. Make them come to you. We suggest that you send all the banks a fax saying:

“I’ve got P100,000. Tell me within 24 hours why I should lend it you!”

You’ll find out pretty quickly which is the best bank for you.

Mystery shopping

It’s hard work but someone’s got to do it. Consumer Watchdog have been mystery shopping bars in Gaborone. So far we’ve visited 5 bars and the results are as follows. In ascending order:

Pula le Thebe bar at the President Hotel
Shame. No atmosphere, dark and almost empty. The only redeeming feature was friendly staff. Extremely expensive beer! Overall score – 4/10.

Campers bar, Extension 10
Simple but bright, friendly and cheap. A good community bar. Overall score 6/10.

Keg & Zebra, Riverwalk
Prompt and very friendly service but no great atmosphere. Spoiled if you sit outside by being in the middle of a car park! Overall score 7/10.

News Cafe
Great atmosphere, particularly if you like your bars noisy, busy and friendly. Overall score 8/10.

Café Khwest, Main Mall
Wow! Only recently opened but full of people having fun, great staff and management and a fantastic atmosphere. Overall score 9/10.

We’ll continue the very hard work of reviewing bars over the next few weeks. Please let us know of your favourites so we can check them out!

This week’s stars!

  • 30 regular customers at Equatorial Coffee at Riverwalk in Gaborone emailed us to celebrate Blessing. They say that he “deserves the title of Gaborone's best, as he is attentive, quick, with just the right dose of familiarity and respect. We are lucky to have him.” We’ll be giving Blessing the last of the P150 vouchers very generously donated to us by Primi Piatti a few weeks ago.
  • Andrew, the manager at HiFi Corporation for sorting out the problem we reported on earlier. It shows that suppliers can be good!
  • The staff and management at Café Khwest in Gaborone for running a great bar and, above all, for NOT being a franchised operation! It’s fantastic that we really do have young entrepreneurs here who show that they understand about service and good management and have the courage to take a chance. Make sure you keep standards high!
  • Arne and the team at Arne’s Horse Safaris for running a little refuge of peace and tranquillity just outside Gaborone.

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