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.

Day 17 – Home delivery

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.

Wrong.

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, 5 6 7 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.

Struggling with speed

Here’s the situation Chez 6000 this morning:

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.

I’m very irritated. Again.

Critical Care – a definition

Just how critical is critical?

I’m only really familiar with it in a medical setting:

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?

Spoiler: I’d be dead by now.

An open letter to Afrihost

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:

[email begins]

 

“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”.

SOOOOOOO…..

How come when I go onto your Fibre Availability page (it’s here: https://www.afrihost.com/fibre/capped#fibre-availability) and check my address, I get this?

(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.

 

[email ends]

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.