Friday, 6 November 2009

Good news or bad news? (yet again)

It’s been a mixed bag this week. A week of frustrations, successes and did I mention frustrations?

Let’s start with some bad news. We got a phone call, an abusive one unfortunately. A consumer called in to insult us. She was very upset because we hadn’t responded to an email she sent us some while ago. She referred to us as a bunch of clowns (I’m not sure I like that, I know I’m not the only one who thinks clowns are creepy, not funny) and accused us of being “a joke” and less use than the Consumer Protection Unit. Now that IS funny!

Well, here’s the problem. I did think of typing this in capital letters to get the message across clearly. I did think of writing it in italics or bold text so it’s easy to understand. Instead I’ll say this very calmly.

We never got your email. Not ever.

So please don’t shout at us because we didn’t respond. Perhaps you should have sent it again if you didn’t hear from us? Perhaps, more importantly, you can behave with a little courtesy? Perhaps, finally, you can print out your email and either fax it to us, or if you are still unhappy with the Consumer Watchdog bunch of clowns, you can put it somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine.

See, I told you I know everything about customer service, I do honestly.

Now for some good news. Yes, really good news.

For two long years we’ve been urging stores that sell on credit to obey the law. Yes, I know it’s asking a lot, it’s a bit like asking combi drivers not to be homicidal maniacs but I’m naturally an optimist. However, most stores have responded positively and have changed the way they advertise things on credit. The thing the others fail to do is disclose the total cost of an item when they advertise that you can buy it on credit. That’s all we’re asking for, that’s not too much to ask, is it?

We got an email this week from Game’s people in South Africa. After endless emails and phone calls over a couple of years we finally got a positive response. It said:
“After consideration of your communications and in light of the fact that it is both Game and RCS’s intention to always communicate in a fair and honest way with our customers, we have instituted […] enhancements to our credit in-store ticketing which will be operational 26 November 2009.”
They then promise that they will disclose the full credit price for every item valued at more than P1,000. For anything below P1,000 they say they “will utilize price matrix cards showing typical repayment terms across a range of purchase prices starting at P300. These cards will be placed throughout the store, and will also be available at the credit office.”

OK, it took a while but I always promised them this: that we would celebrate them for doing the right thing, no matter how long it took. Let’s all visit Game on the 27th November and check it out.

That just leaves Supreme and Furnmart who appear to have decided that Botswana law doesn’t apply to them. Do you think they’ll ever decide to abide by the law?

Then there were the disappointments. Curious disappointments but they weren’t what I hoped for.

Some weeks ago I described the so-called “University of SouthCentral Los Angeles” as a “bunch of crooks” and suggested that their educational qualities were roughly equivalent to those of my toilet. I said all of this because this “university” that is based in the British Virgin Islands and not, in fact, in LA, offers a variety of degrees for nothing more than money. $850 to be precise.

They got in touch and threatened us. I won’t quote their entire message but it went like this:
“We have come across your website and are in the process of taking legal counsel. Blah, blah blah, We aggressively pursue for damages those committing libel and defamation against us (including those located in Botswana). Blah, blah, blah. If this proceeds to court, and you did not heed the warning, it will be used as a means for us to obtain our legal fees from you as well as substantial damages.”
When we stopped laughing at the irony of being threatened with a defamation suit by a diploma mill we wrote back and told them that we thought they were silly and that they should go away.

Then they went quiet! I was so looking forward to a fight with some crooks. It’s one of my favourite pastimes.

We got another email from the World Confederation of Businesses who thought we should stop saying that their “Bizz Awards 2009” that you had to pay $3,530 to get were worthless junk. The fact that they’ve emailed everyone, including a fake company I created that in fact was no more than a free email address, telling them that they had won prestigious awards didn’t seem to undermine their confidence. They politely said:
“Please consider removing your posts.”
OK, I considered it. They’re still there. The Bizz Awards remains a worthless, fake award exercise. All our comments remain on our web site and on the blog.


This week’s stars
  • Thabo at Optical Centre for thoughtful, informed and friendly service.
  • Portia from FNB Main Branch for “fantastic follow up” with a customer and for being pleasant, helpful and very pro-active.
  • Game stores for promising to advertise credit sales in the legal way.

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