Day 392 – More great customer service /s

Where /s = sarcasm. (For the uninitiated.)

Ah. South African customer service. It’s crap.

Our last major project for the moment is getting a fireplace put into the new house. We had a fireplace at our old house and it was one of the Best Things Ever. The beagle liked lying in front of it. And winter is coming, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the old, rattly windows on this place will stop the cold North Wester with the same efficacy as a colander. It’s a no brainer.

The fireplace is being installed today.

But obviously, it’s not. Did you not read the title and the first line?

I’d set aside time for the fireplace to be installed today and Mrs 6000 was staying home from the office to make sure that everyone was happy with where the fireplace was going to stand, because it weighs 135kg and once you’ve put it down and popped the flue through the roof, it ain’t moving. Ever.

I emailed the sales guy earlier in the week to check what time they were coming today. He didn’t reply. This should have been a bit of a red flag, because look, he always got back to me pretty quickly when he wanted me to buy the fireplace. But now that he has my hefty deposit, it seems that simple manners and common decency have left the building and eloped to the Free State (or somewhere equally distant).

So it’s me doing the chasing but he still won’t take my calls. Eventually, his PA has to do the dirty work, informing me without any hint of an apology that our unit wasn’t in the first container that they unloaded. First off, that really doesn’t make everything alright. But on the plus side, it does suggest the existence of a second container that might have been unloaded.
So, ok: there’s still hope. And… was it in the second container?
They don’t know.
And they don’t know because the second container is still on a boat and won’t even be in Cape Town for another 2½ weeks.

Good job I checked, hey?

Thing is, I could have got this job done by someone else and we could have a fireplace this morning. But we put our faith in this particular company because they’re local, they’re established and well-known and, well, you don’t survive for that long by being rubbish at doing literally the only thing that you do, right?

Right?

So we have to wait another three weeks for our fireplace, which isn’t the end of the world, but there are couple of things that have irked me. The guy not having the decency or the courage to call me is one of them. That’s so weak. Remember the mantra?

Mistakes happen. It’s how you deal with them that makes the difference.

This mistake was not dealt with at all, let alone well.

The other is more practical. I paid the 70% deposit (it’s a serious sum of money) safe in the knowledge that my fire would be installed 9 days later. Hasn’t happened. And so instead of sitting in my account, that deposit gets another 3 weeks earning interest* for his company, even though they’ve done bugger all. And sure, if they’d come and installed the fireplace today, then that 70% – and the other 30% – would be obviously be doing the same thing. I’m not expecting never to pay them any money.

BUT I WOULD HAVE A FIREPLACE!

So now we wait. And wait. And wait. And we sit on our hands and we smile sweetly. Because we’re stuck with them and you don’t crap on your own doorstep.
But there will be another check in a couple of weeks time, just to remind them. And there will be an appropriate review and a terse email once the unit is in. Because no matter how perfectly they do the job when they do the job, no matter how nice the specialist installation guys are and no matter how good it looks, they can’t earn my 5 stars or my respect back.

Don’t buy a fireplace in Cape Town without talking to me first. I can’t tell you where to go, but I can tell you where to avoid.

* Significant sum of money in a savings account with SA interest rates – it makes a difference.