Friday, 16 December 2011

Do the right thing

It’s not all bad news. I know it sometimes seems like we’re surrounded by crooks, scammers and thieves there IS good news out there.

A reader contacted us with a complaint about Orange Botswana last week. He’d bought a prepaid modem for his computer for P199 from Orange in Palapye. At the time he also bought P100 of airtime for the modem. Unfortunately try as hard as he might he couldn’t get it to work with either his laptop or his desktop computer. He did the sensible thing and called Orange to see what they could advise. Rather than try and fix things over the phone they asked him to bring both the modem and laptop to them but even they couldn’t get it to work. Before the techies start grumbling yes, he could use other USB devices, it was just this modem that didn’t work.

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, Orange couldn’t get it to work either, at least not on his laptop. They could, they said, get it to work on their computers. Eventually the customer asked for a refund as the modem simply didn’t work for him. That’s when communication began to fail. Lots of phone calls were made, responses weren’t forthcoming and irritation levels began to increase. Luckily before things got too heated he asked us for advice.

At 6:16pm on Friday 9th December I emailed someone senior at Orange asking if something could be done to fix the situation. Of course this was late on a Friday evening and there was no way I could expect even an acknowledgement until the following Monday, so you can imagine how pleased I was to hear from my contact at Orange at 6:45pm on Friday evening saying that she was dealing with the situation. I was even more delighted to get an email from the reader at lunchtime the next day, a Saturday I should remind you, saying Orange had called him and his refund was waiting for him. And when did they call him? 7pm on Friday evening. A total problem turnaround time of 44 minutes.

Simple really. A happy customer and a celebration in a national newspaper.

A few weeks ago we had a call from another reader with a problem. Last year he’d bought a P12,000 LCD TV from HiFi Corporation. Unfortunately a few weeks ago the TV was stolen from his home. He was angry of course but at least the HiFi Corporation insurance policy would cover the TV, no problems there. However when they offered him a replacement TV it wasn’t quite the same. Although it was an LED TV, technically superior, it was a bit smaller than the stolen one and only worth P7,700.. That wasn’t necessarily a major problem because the insurance policy offered an equivalent replacement, not a brand new TV. They offered him something similar to a 1-year old TV. There were no complaints yet.

The problem began when he politely asked if he could have a better TV if he paid the difference between the P7,700 value he’d been offered and the value of the superior TV he wanted. That sounds reasonable to me, it’s not as if he was asking for anything for free. He was happy to cough up the extra cash.

That’s when things didn’t work out. The store told him this wasn’t in line with their policy. He could only have the cheaper, smaller replacement. Rather than get angry he got in touch with us. A single email later to the HiFi Corporation Head Office, a bunch of emails within the organization and a solution was arranged. Of course he could upgrade his TV, not a problem.

Simple really. Another happy customer and another celebration.

Another thing we should celebrate is the growing level of consumer skepticism that’s about at the moment. We’re getting fewer and fewer people contacting us saying they’ve fallen for a scam and more and more instead either asking if something is a scam or asking us to warn people about a scam they’ve seen. That basic skepticism, the approach of not believing things simply because you see or hear them being said is a fundamental consumer skill. The more of it there is, the fewer problems people will experience and it’s not just something that will protect you from scams and deceptions, it works just as well when you look at advertisements. I saw an advertisement a while ago in the window of a beauty products shop. Despite being enormously priced and almost certainly useless, it said “96% of women prefer it”. Let’s be skeptical for a moment. Did it say “96% of ALL women”? No. We have no idea who these women were and what interest they had. It’s perfectly possible that 24 women from a sample of 25 chosen from the Marketing Department of the cosmetics company were the ones who loved it.

So for once it’s a week of optimism and hope for more and more excellent products and services.

This week’s stars
  • Tumie and the team at Orange for fixing a reader’s problem so rapidly.
  • The management at HiFi Corporation for solving a problem and ensuring a valued customer has an excellent new TV to watch over Christmas.
  • The team at Chutney Restaurant in Gaborone for being our nation’s No.1 restaurant on the web site and for having the most wonderful Dosas. If you’ve never tried a Masala Dosa go and have one today.
  • Michael in the EMS section of Botswana Post for his amazing memory and excellent service delivery.

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