Girl Interrupted

Saturday, January 07, 2006

[+/-] South African business (non)sense

Update: Other rants and raves I have recently come across:
Eduj and his banking woes (switch to FNB, I tell ya, its a good idea - oh, you've already done that.)
Psychomuffin's work blues.
CJ's ridiculousness with Nashua Mobile, Dell and Standard Bank, and the mobile communications industry in South Africa, in general.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how little business sense many South African companies appear to have.

This will be an ongoing post, which I will frequently (unfortunately) add to and update (so be aware of this, if you decide to link to this post).

EXAMPLE:
Businesses that don't return calls. I hired a domestic worker from a maid agency in the Berea, called QuikMaid. They were reasonably priced, friendly and supplied me with a domestic for a once-off day job. I was so impressed with the service, I called back and arranged for a fortnightly service. The maid came the second time, but then... nothing. The next fortnight, she was due, and when she hadn't pitched up by 9 (an hour late), I phoned to ask what was potting. I got an answering machine. I left a polite message explaining that my maid hadn't turned up, and got no reply. I phoned the next day - same thing, answering machine. I left a decidely cooler but no less polite message, and again, got no reply.

Now, all I wanted was an explanation. Mistakes happen. Maybe I wasn't down in their diary or something. I just wanted the courtesy of a returned call. An apology would have been lovely, but really, all I truly wanted, was an explanation. Weeks later, and I haven't heard a peep from them.

Now, if I were running a business that was so successful that I could afford to throw customers away like that, and risk the bad advertising that spreads so quickly by word-of-mouth (because, lets face it, the memory of bad service far outlives the memory of good service)... well, the smart thing to do would be to hire more staff! Expand! Grow!

Sheesh. Well, for the record, I do not recommend QuikMaid, of the Berea, Durban. Neither do I recommend Maids Inc., of Pinetown - they do not return calls either.

EXAMPLE:
Businesses that lie, or even just, bend the truth a little (or worse, try to fool you with jargon and legalese-y sounding stuff). My car (actually technically my gran's) is insured with Outsurance. She was told that, as a pensioner, she would pay no excess. However, when we tried to claim for my car (see the Hijacking story), she was told that, yes, she doesn't pay the R2000 excess that others pay, but they would reduce her claim by R1000. Now, is it just me, or is that essentially an excess? I think they are just mincing words to disguise what is, in reality, an "excess". This is ridiculous. They have, in my opinion, mis-represented themselves to my gran, and I have been seriously urging her to take this before the short-term insurance ombudsman, but my family avoid conflict like the plague (another South African failing).

EXAMPLE:
My mom has a copper electrode fitted to her pool, which allows us to use less chlorine to keep out pool clean. We rent the unit from a company called Electronaut, and included in the rental fee is replacement electrodes whenever necessary. Without fail, every_single_time we have called for a replacement, we have had to endure false promises ("Yes, we'll drop it off today") and wait nearly two weeks for the replacement to finally be dropped off into our mail box. This has been going on now for more than two years!

Again, I have to marvel at the wonder of the South African economy that can support service-oreinted businesses to the extent that customer service is actually their last priority.

EXAMPLE:
Businesses that can't teach a receptionist how to answer a phone correctly. "Hello?" is not an appropriate telephone greeting.

Disclaimer: Everything expressed in this post is merely a personal opinion on the conduct of various businesses.

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