We’ve tried out some home delivery options for groceries over the Easter weekend. Not that the Easter weekend makes any difference. Every day very much blends into every other at the moment.
Now, I know that times are tough at the moment, and it’s with that understanding that I write this post. But really: three apps, and some very disappointing results – for different reasons.
First off: Uber Eats. They’re not allowed to deliver food anymore, so they’ve turned their attention to delivering “essentials”. Basically, it turns out that these are snacks, chips, drinks from a small selection of corner shops. Now, I have no problem with this idea, but the range is massively limited (and is only “essential” in the broadest possible sense) and the shops are all so far away that the delivery costs more than the stuff itself. Probably very good at actually doing the job, but pricey and nothing I want.
Then the Checkers Sixty60 app. Now, this one was going for a few months before all of this messy virus stuff happened. And as a large food outlet, I can’t see why they would struggle with just continuing with what they were doing.
Yesterday, by 11am, they’d run out of delivery slots for the day. “Check back tomorrow morning”, they said. I can understand that they are under more pressure than usual, but no slots just two hours after they opened? Wow.
Anyway, I did check back early this morning and there were slots available. Some items were marked as sold out, but I did order some frozen peas, some coffee, some frozen pizzas, some potatoes and some milk.
I got some milk.
Everything else was sold out. A different sold out to the items that were already marked as sold out when I logged on. And I don’t think that these were particularly unusual or taxing products. As mentioned above, I know that things are difficult at the moment, but that’s surely just more reason not to over-promise and under-deliver.
On the plus side, I got some milk.
And then Bottles with PicknPay. Bottles used to deliver alcohol, but Bheki said that was a bad thing to do, so now they do groceries from your local supermarket. Yesterday, they brought bread, hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies and the like to us, and they did it quickly. I was properly impressed. So much so, I ordered some easter eggs for the mother-in-law through them this morning. Nice idea to cheer her up, since we’re not allowed to visit or anything.
That order has taken 3½ hours, 567 9 phone calls and 2 3 emails so far – and they’re still not with her.
UPDATE: They eventually arrived after 4½ hours. But at least they arrived.
I am less impressed this morning.
If you do need food, it seems to me that the best way to do things is just go and buy it yourself. Which doesn’t make sense in these infectious times, but might stop you dying from starvation and frustration.
This being South Africa, we don’t have the creature comforts of speedy internet at reasonable prices. Sure, could have speedy internet at extortionate prices, but then we wouldn’t have money for other essentials like food and Castle Milk Stout.
Still, the balance that we have found between internet speed and beer money should result in us getting speeds over twenty times as fast as we’re seeing this morning.
Remember my old adage:
Things go wrong. It’s how you put them right that makes the difference.
Our ISP offers help via live chat, whatsapp, email, phone and social media. But they have been conspicuous by their absence from every single one of these: crickets, rien, dololo, niks. South African customer service on point, once again.
And thus we are still in the dark about whether this is our problem (well, I mean, clearly it is our problem, but you know what I mean), their problem or some upstream component that has gone awry. Not that it really matters which of these it is because whichever one it might be, the internet isn’t working. Again.
Critical care: The specialized care of patients whose conditions are life-threatening and who require comprehensive care and constant monitoring, usually in intensive care units. Also known as intensive care.
But if you’re going to appropriate medical terminology into your customer service offering, surely it would be sensible to implement the urgency and actual processes it refers to as well?
I actually sent them this letter in a more traditional “closed” fashion yesterday, but I’m so very irritated at being repeatedly ignored that I thought I’d take the gamble of publishing it here too. ‘Gamble’ because this blog is hosted by… er… Afrihost. And because my internet connectivity is supplied by… er… Afrihost.
But while we’re here, before diving into the misery and nonsense below, let me say that I’ve been pretty happy with their hosting. That’s why my blog has been on Afrihost for many years now. Uptime is generally very good, and thus I’ve never really had to use their customer service much. And, again, as an ISP, they’ve done the job, and done it well. Je suis content.
See. My. Smile.
And that’s why when we decided to make the switch from ADSL to fibre, I decided upon them as the service provider, through Openserve.
It’s been a disaster. Firstly, they told me that they couldn’t do it, even though their website said they could. Then they said that they could do it, but it would take 4 weeks. That was ok. Good things come to those who wait.
Long story short, I’m due some really – really– incredible things, because I’ve been waiting more than a year now.
Hawu. Eish. Wena.
And it’s not so much that I’ve had to wait – it’s that they keep promising and then not delivering. And their customer service has all gone a bit MTN.
Here’s the email they sent me yesterday morning:
Good day I trust you are well 🙂 We apologies it took so long to give you an update. Openserve have notified us that they are still working on the fibre infrastructure in your area and they have not given an estimated date of completion. We will however change your order to a pre-order for now. As soon as your area goes live we will notify you. So in the meantime you may opt for our RAIN/LTE services whilst we wait for the activation of fibre in your area. We apologize for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Truth be told, I’ve searched my SENT ITEMS folder, and I actually have no idea what they’re feeding back from. But that last line looked so good, so inviting, so I got in touch:
“If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.”?
Well, ok: YES! I HAVE QUESTIONS! ASSIST ME!
It’s been over a year since you promised me fibre in 1 month.
Literally, I have emails from last May (already) apologising for messing up my initial request. Lolz – warning bells, much?
To cut a ridiculously long story short, though: In January 2018, you told me I could have it on “April 31st”. Ha!
Good day I trust you are well. We receive feedback from Openserve in regards with your order and they have informed us that there is a Project scheduled for completion 2018/04/31 . Please note that I have changed the order to pre order and will follow up after the project to confirm installation. Have a great day
But there are only 30 days in April, we joked. Lolz – warning bells, much?
Then, when “April 31st” came and went (10 days ago, in fact), you said it would now be July 31st. Here’s that email, in case you have forgotten:
Good day, I trust you are well. Please note that Openserve has given us feedback that your order is linked to a project that is estimated to complete on the 31-07-2018. Once the project is done, Openserve will be in contact to schedule you for an installation. Apologies for the lack of feedback thus far. Kind Regards Afrihost Fibre Ops
Well, at least there is a July 31st, I thought.
But now you tell me that Openserve “have not given an estimated date of completion”.
(Note: Image subtly altered to protect my home address as the neighbours don’t appreciate the hordes of fans camping outside.)
“Approx. 1 weeks”? Really? Really really?
This is actually complete bullshit, isn’t it? It looks deliberately inaccurate; bordering on deceitful even, I’d say.
I mean, the cynic in me wants to suggest that if you were to put the truth there, like “Openserve “have not given an estimated date of completion””, for example, instead of that 1 week nonsense, people might not go for your offering and might take their business and money elsewhere.
And your footnote:
Installation lead times are a guide based on averages and will vary. Line activation and connection times need to be added for full turnaround estimation
suggesting that that 1 week time is based on an average, means that you must be installing literally within MINUTES somewhere near here, because, as we’ve been through above, you have no estimated date of completion for Openserve in our area, so God only knows how you can suggest that 7 days timeframe as an average.
Who does this kwik maffs?
I’ve been in touch via email before. And on twitter. I’ve held for ages on your phone line before giving up. But I’ve (quite literally in that last case) had no answer as to what’s going on with my installation and as to why you’re still punting a product that you – knowingly – simply can’t deliver.
What happens now?
You’ll blame Openserve, I guess. “It’s out of our hands”, “they need to do the infrastructure work” etc. etc. you’ll tell me. But if you know that, and you don’t know when that work is going to be done (like you told me above), why are you falsely advertising to potential new customers that you can provide a service on that same infrastructure within a week?
I can’t wait for your reply.
I will wait though. Experience tells me this. And when I get it, it will promise feedback, which won’t ever happen.
To be honest, I don’t know if anyone else can provide fibre to my home more quickly that Afrihost can. If they’re right and the infrastructure isn’t there (despite the fact that several neighbours have fibre and have done for over a year), then there’s nothing much anyone can do. But really, I’d much rather work with a company which is honest and open about the limitations of providing their service.
And not one which is clearly making false claims and has consistently broken promise after promise.
Things do go wrong. Any reasonable person can understand that, and I can like to be a reasonable person. It’s how you deal with the things that go wrong that makes the difference.
So, last chance, Afrihost. Let’s play the decent customer service game like you used to do, and let’s have the truth about my fibre installation, please.
Things go wrong. It happens. Sometimes it’s someone’s fault, sometimes it’s bad luck or bad planning, and sometimes there doesn’t appear to be any good reason for it.
Things go wrong. It’s how you put them right that matters.
Companies can make things better is by handing the situation promptly, efficiently and politely. An apology for the thing that has gone wrong is nearly always a really good starting point.
I’m a member of a international courier scheme. When I put it like that, it sounds quite nefarious, but it’s really not. It gives me access to addresses in several (or more) countries around the world. I can then buy stuff online in those countries, get them delivered to that local address and from there, they get forwarded to me in Cape Town. It costs a bit to join (a one-off fee) and then you pay a certain amount for each shipment. It still works out cheaper than direct delivery, and it’s via a courier, so it’s trackable and (ahem) more reliable.
I used this system to ship some goods in from the UAE. My Emirates airmiles were about to expire, so I cashed them in online here and got myself a pair of headphones and Mrs 6000 got some cosmetics. They were then shipped to my address in the UAE (just down the road from Emirates), I paid a handsome fee to the courier and then the goods should fly through Johannesbeagle to me in the Mother City.
All was going well. The package from Emirates arrived at my virtual address in Umm Ramool, Dubai on the 18th November. From there, 8 hours later, it went to the courier company’s “Dubai Express Hub” and then was shipped (ironically almost certainly via Emirates) to Johannesburg, where the record says it arrived at 13:20 on 20th November – only about 40 hours after they first got hold of it.
This is impressive. This is how it’s meant to work.
Then there came a long delay in Customs. This happens sometimes, and you can keep nudging the courier, but it’s often out of their control. However, I nudged several times, and then once more forcefully, and suddenly like a plunger in a blocked toilet, a mere 16 days (eish!) after it arrived in Johannesburg, my package was Cleared from Customs:
And lo, there was much celebration and joyfulness and singing and dancing and making of merriment in the streets of Cape Town.
Sadly though, nothing happened after that, despite my repeated phone calls to the Johannesburg office. I was assured, time and again, that they would chase it up and call me back, that it just needed to get to their office and then they would have it in Cape Town the following day. But no-one ever called me back. It still hasn’t reached their office.
It took until today – and my 12th phone call to the courier company regarding this shipment – for someone to tell me that the package had likely never arrived in Joburg. That it was part of a “courier bag” which had gone missing on or around the 19th. That shipments from Dubai “usually take a day” to get here and this one had (already) taken over three weeks. Throughout the previous 11 phone calls though, no-one had bothered (or dared?) to tell me that my package was missing. No-one could be bothered to take responsibility.
Half of me is pissed off at the apparent deceitfulness, the other half is pissed off that no-one is willing to try and make things right. I, as the client, am the one doing all the hard work to sort out the mess caused by something going wrong with something that is very much their bit of our agreement.
But customer service in South Africa is so very poor, and it’s cases like this that are not just an illustration of how bad it is, but also an example of why it can be so bad – because the bar is set so very low. I could be having this problem with any one of 10 other local courier companies as well, or any one of 4 local cellphone companies, or any one of 1 local online shopping companies – not one of them stands out from the crowd. And precisely because of that, not one of them has to.
I’ve aired my displeasure on Twitter now (my last resort and something I really hate to do), and finally (surprise surprise when you go public) someone has actually called me for the first time. There may even have been a mumbled apology. They’re looking into what’s gone wrong and they are going to update me tomorrow.
Fair enough – I’ll give them that chance. Only now, it’s not just how they put things right that matters, but how they put not putting things right in the first place right.