Pick_n_Pay-logo-19A17F34E4-seeklogo.com_The Sweet Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay, for their efficient Twitter service.  As the telephone number of the Camps Bay store had changed and is not provided by the Telkom voice which informs that the old number is no longer valid, I Tweeted the retailer, and received the new number within ten minutes!  The Camps Bay store has a new manager Grant Ross, and the store’s service has improved greatly since he took over, it previously having been one of the worst managed stores in the group.  Earlier this week I bought an sms bundle for a member of staff, but had been given a MTN data voucher, which my colleague put into the phone, not realising the error made by the Pick ‘n Pay till operator. Grant kindly replaced the data bundle with an sms bundle voucher.

WoolworthsThe Sour Service Award goes to Woolworths, and its branch in Lifestyle on Kloof.  I was at the store on Monday, and there was only one operational till over lunchtime. I asked a manager if he could assist, but he was rude when I complained about the till operator’s inability to use the credit card machine, being a trainee and given how long we had to wait to get to the till.  I had bought  a packet each of diced butternut and sweet potato, and did not look for the sell-by date on the pack in the store,  trusting the retailer for its products’ freshness, and knowing that I would use it immediately. The sweet potato felt slimy when I cut it into smaller pieces for a soup, and therefore I looked for the sell-by date, but there was none on either pack.  I Tweeted Woolworths, asking them why there was no sell-by date, and had to send a reminder Tweet three hours later, due to no response received.  Then I received an e-mail (not how I had communicated with the retailer) from the Customer Care department, asking for details all over again, even though the question in the Tweet was clear and the store I went to identified.  The next day Woolworths Tweeted that all their products have sell-by dates, implying that I was lying. Woolworths Butternut Then the retail Tweeter attempted to embarrass me, by stating that I had denied buying the products at the Lifestyle on Kloof branch, based on a (highlighted below) section of my e-mail to the retailer, their Kim Mulder (‘Contact Centre Email Administrator’) clearly not having a good grasp of English: ‘The diced Butternut and diced Sweet potato did not have a sell-by date (nor a price by the way!) on the pack, which I did not pick up in the Lifestyle on Kloof branch.  I did look for the date when the Sweet Potato felt ‘soapy’, as if it had gone off already’!   It is close to four days later, and it is unbelievable how poor Woolworths has become in (not) answering the simple question Tweeted on Monday, asking why the two products did not have a sell-by date!  A bot answers Tweets now: ‘Your complaint has been logged, & the relevant team will liaise with you directly. We will follow up on the progress‘, totally dishonest in its false promise. Yesterday we sent photographs of the front and back of the pack, but still Woolworths has not answered the question. It is clear that there is a massive communication gap between the Social Media and Customer Care departments of Woolworths, the one not knowing what the other is doing!  Even worse is that we have included Sam Wilson (Digital Editor) and Nikki Cockcroft (Head of Online) in the Tweets, but they have not responded nor have addressed the problem.

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 whalecot@iafrica.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.

POSTSCRIPT 16/8: There still has been no reply from Woolworths to the sell-by date question, now five days later!

POSTSCRIPT 17/8:  Amazing! I received a call from Anita Scott this morning, the Woolworths Customer Experience Manager, although she told me that she has moved out of the job and just consults to the retailer.  She explained that the sell-by date labels are stuck onto the packs, and are not pre-printed.  This should have been picked up by the store’s shelf packers, the labels sometimes falling off due to the condensation in the cold room, a problem the company is aware of (and clearly has not fixed)!   As they did not have sell-by labels, the staff left the packs on the shelf!  She wrote after the call: ‘Thank you for taking the time to talk to me this morning. Once again my sincere apologies on behalf of the team.  As discussed this was poor communication on our part.  The bottom line is that too many people become involved, all wanting to assist, I could see this from all the internal communication and in the end no one actually got back to you. Our social media team rely on different specialist areas of the business for answers to tweets.  I am sure you can appreciate that they would not have all the answers to questions and would need to rely on people in the field, having said that, we appreciate your feedback and will certainly use this as a learning going forward.  I will arrange a gift card for you to replace the product that was spoilt, I will give the team detailed feedback on what went wrong and we will certainly make sure this does not happen again. The foods team will follow up on the actual issue regarding the product sell by date label and store disciplines’.