Hilton Weiner Sweet and ABSA Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award  goes to Hilton Weiner, and is nominated by Jane Wright: “My son was desperately looking for a suit for his matric dance which was held last Saturday. He is very tall, but very skinny so it seemed an impossible task to find a suit that fitted him in the length but didn’t drown him at the same time. We finally went to Hilton Weiner on the Lower Ground floor of Cavendish Square. Kudos go to Leigh, their sales lady, who dealt with us in such a professional manner, making sure that he found the right suit in their store and when the jacket wasn’t available, she sourced it in Johannesburg and had it transferred to the Cavendish Square shop in time. We even went back and bought his shirt there because we knew she would get the right fit and we would get the right advice. She is confident without being brash, dynamic without being forward, helpful without being fawning. She is truly an asset to her company”.

The Sour Service Award  goes to ABSA Bank’s credit card department, and its employee Etienne. Earlier this week I popped in at Detail Interior Design on Dorp Street in Stellenbosch.  My credit card would not allow the transaction, and so the manageress allowed me to transfer funds into my card on her computer, something I have done before, and has never been a problem.  However, the machine asked the manageress to call for authorisation.  I had to provide my ID number, full (German) names, cell number and postal address.  Halfway through I asked Etienne whether he did not have enough information already to verify who I am, and he said that he was doing this to protect my money, something I did not ask for, and that he would decline the transaction if I did not co-operate!  The manageress then was given an authorisation code to finalise the transaction, but was asked many more questions and procedures than appeared necessary, to such an extent that I told her to stop the transaction and that I would pay in cash, given that the ABSA communication had taken half an hour already.  She was asked by Etienne to cancel the authorisation by fax, and she asked if she could e-mail it to him, which he refused.   To add insult to injury, the payment is reflecting on the credit card statement, even though no slip came out of the credit card machine during the transaction!

POSTSCRIPT 4/4: I was most impressed to receive the following e-mail of apology today from ABSA’s card division:  “With reference to your complaint received on 1 April 2011 from Absa Business Bank Cape Town, regarding the service you received from our Authorisations Department on the credit card account. We wish to sincerely apologise for the fact that you did not receive the service you are entitled to.  Absa’s attempt at delivering exceptional service has indeed been damaged, as we know that the success of an organisation depends largely on its relationship with its customers.  Be assured that the matter has been addressed with Ettiene and we are in coaching conversations with him and his manager, to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in future.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for bringing the abovementioned to our attention and trust that future dealings with us will be of a more professional nature. Kind regards 
Ilse Venter
Relationship Manager
Complaints Management Centre
Absa Card” 

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

5 replies on “Hilton Weiner Sweet and ABSA Sour Service Awards”

  1. Kobus says:

    You won’t get any sympathy from me regarding your sour award, Chris- I’ve been robbed through online transactions twice, and I appreciate every bit of the banks’ tightarsedness when it comes to security. It’s needed!

  2. Dealing with card/banking/money/tax fraud fairly regularly through my day job, I can honestly say that only negligent people get robbed through card fraud Kobus. If you are a little bit careful, there is no way that the existing security measures like a PIN number is not enough. Having a card skimmed/cloned is your own fault – never let it out of your sight. Being robbed through online transactions means that you were not careful enough with your login details. The banks have extra security measures that you can download called Trusteer Rapport. If you don’t have that, then again, you’re not being careful enough. ABSA went over the top here, and I actually wonder why Chris still banks with them, because the’re by far the worst bank in the country. There’s a special place in hell lined up for South African bankers, and ABSA is right at the front of the queue.

  3. Thanks for your input Hennie.

    There was nothing about this transaction, to the value of R 770, that could have triggered off a security alert at ABSA, and it is the first that I have had to endure such a security check procedure in the 15 months since I have been at ABSA.

    I would question who is first in the queue in banking hell, and would nominate Nedbank. I followed my Nedbank manager to ABSA, when she moved, but ABSA is far more decentralised, so my manager has far less authority, and control over, any general banking issues other than her very narrow business bank responsibility, which is completely the opposite to Nedbank, were the managers are Relationship Managers (if you find the right one of course)!


  4. Kobus says:

    Hennie, clearly you live a fairly isolated life. I’ve withdrawn money from an ATM machine in Stellenbosch and had thousands stolen hours later in Paarl- luckily I could prove that I was in Cape Town during the transaction, and that I had the original card with me. I’ve also been phoned (by ABSA, nogal) regarding seemingly inocuous transactions via the internet that was followed up with a R25000 purchase. Point is, the skelms out there are way cleverer than you would give them credit for- and every time tha banks are forced to cough up for someone’s lack of co-operation or misguided trust, WE end up footing the bill because the losses are simply passed on to clients in the form of higher banking costs.

    Chris, be bank-wise next time and sort out your account balances in the luxury of your own home, on your own computer (where you hopefully have installed a good anti-virus program.) It will save you from this type of aggravation, and keep your money safe without the Banking-police jumping on your shoulders!

  5. Uhm… Kobus – I work with this type of thing on a daily basis – no isolation here. Reality check for you – your card got cloned at the machine – do you not check the machine slot before you inserted the card? The fact is that 99% of this type of crime can be avoided by people paying a bit more attention when they use their cards/internet banking.

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