Friday 2 October 2015

Who cares?

Sometimes I wonder whether certain companies care even slightly about their customers. Do they actually give a damn?

A reader posted a message about her experience at a jeweler in Gaborone after she had visited and bought an expensive ring.
“They did not have any ring boxes, so I suggested they give me one of their little black velvety display pillows. I would then go and buy a ribbon and a try to make something up by myself. Lo and behold the manager refuses. After the lady behind the counter found one, standing with it in her hand the manager with a most haughty attitude, takes it out of her hand and quietly exclaiming that it would be unacceptable as it is display material only. She preferred to rather let me go without anything and chose NOT to compromise and allow me to leave a happy customer.”
I don’t think it’s reasonable, after buying an expensive piece of jewelry for it to come in a box, do you?

Another customer of the same jewelers posted that she had: “experienced that bad service two weeks ago at airport junction. Gave the manager a talking to and she was not even bothered.”

Yet another customer reported that when she had a problem with them the “manager had exactly the same attitude.”

In fact we’ve had a number of complaints about the same store. This seems like a pattern, not just a one-off slip-up. I think it suggests that the manager doesn’t give a damn. Unluckily for that manager there are competitor stores that have developed much better reputations for high quality products but, perhaps more importantly for excellent service.

Another consumer complained to us about a furniture store. She visited this store, which is renowned for the quality of their produce, to buy mattresses. After paying them a deposit of P2,000 they told her that the mattresses would be shipped shortly afterwards. Only then did they tell her that the full amount must be paid before the goods would even be shipped from the warehouse in Johannesburg. Apparently, even though she was a regular customer who had bought from them before and who had experienced delays and difficulties with them, they weren’t prepared to be flexible. She told us that a few days later she received a call from their South African office “and the lady told me to go and pay before they could send my order. She explained that their warehouse is full as Batswana order stuff and not pay when their goods arrive. I explained to her that this was my 3rd order, which I would pay once they confirm that the goods have left and she refused. So I told her that I would go and cancel the order and get my deposit back and she said it was okay.”

Unfortunately when she went back to the store all she got was further hassle with the manager. Even though she knew her bank account details the manager demanded to see her bank statements or a blank cheque before a refund could be made. That’s when she contacted us.

Let me stress that nobody is denying that customers should pay for items before delivery, but demanding full payment before they have even arrived in the country is asking a bit much, particularly as the customer had been led to believe that the deposit was all the commitment that was necessary.

We called the manager and explained that this wasn’t the only case like this we’d heard of.
We also explained that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations demands that when an agreement is properly cancelled (like in this case) a deposit must be “promptly” made. Despite this, she still hasn’t got her money back.

Is this another store that doesn’t give a damn?

We also had a very long complaint from a reader who had booked an expensive trip to Nigeria to visit TB Joshua’s “Synagogue, Church Of All Nations”, SCOAN. In July last year she paid the local agent P1,000 for “administration” and a further P7,800 for “food and accommodation”, hoping to travel in August. However after a series of delays, mix-ups and silence nothing actually happened. In December she paid him a further P5,000 for the flights to Nigeria only to be met again with silence.

She told us that when she finally tracked him down he “promised to sort the issue and said that I will go with the May group, which he also failed to do. Towards the end of August when I finally managed to get hold of him he then promised to refund me at the beginning of September. As of now he hasn't done so and my efforts to get hold of him have been futile as he does not take my calls.”

So here we have yet another case of someone not giving a damn about a customer’s money or the moral obligation to deliver what was paid for. Is there any irony in this being for a trip to see someone some people (but certainly not all) consider to be a moral leader?

I genuinely don’t know how some people live with themselves knowing how badly they treat people, their customers in these cases. I know that I would have difficulty getting to sleep if I had taken large quantities of someone else’s money and not refunded it or if I had treated my customers with contempt.

I think I’d also be upset if, like the bogus SCOAN travel agent, I was about to be dragged to the Small Claims Court by an abused customer.

I genuinely don’t know why some people, some companies seem determined to treat their customers, the ones who hand over their hard-earned money, with contempt. However I do know that these days when we have more and more competition, many of them will be out of business soon and I will be someone happy to hear that.

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