The Sweet Service Award goes to Debbie Hall, owner of The Hall Collection, suppliers of bespoke beds and bedding, imported from the UK. The customer had met Mrs Hall previously at a Slow Food lunch and reconnected with her recently at the launch of Cru Cafe’. Mrs Hall has built up a reputation for her wonderful cakes and cooking. Having established the Hall Collection two years ago, run from a house in Tamboerskloof, she hosts a lunch for customers wishing to pop in on Wednesdays, and offers coffee and cake on weekdays. A request to buy some chicken pieces from the lunch buffet led Mrs Hall to generously give the customer what was left over, refusing payment for it. In addition, she added two cupcakes to the “take-home” package. Such generosity is seldom experienced!
The Sour Service Award goes to ID Solutions, a supplier of contract furniture for the retail, corporate, leisure and hospitality industries, “South Africa’s leading lifestyle furniture specialist”, its website says. An advertised sale in the Cape Times attracted attention, the customer wanting a new office chair. Armed with the ad, she arrived at Black River Park in pouring rain, drew a parking ticket, and then looked for the building, denoted as “C1” in the ad. Driving to the building in the complex where the company had been located previously, no such number was visible on the building. She called the company, who explained that they were no longer in that building. The switchboard assistant Naomi was unable to clearly direct the customer out of the Black River Park complex, did not tell her about the exit being different to the entrance, and was generally unhelpful in guiding the customer to their new location, ultimately saying that she did not need the customer to buy a chair from ID Solutions, and finally putting down the phone! She had refused to pass the call on to one of her colleagues, for better driving guidance and directions, when requested. On arrival at the offices, the customer was ignored. The same staff member Naomi walked past, and did not greet or react to the customer. The customer walked along the whole length of the shop and back, and not one person acknowledged her presence nor offered to help her. When the customer asked for help, the receptionist Naomi said that she refused to help the customer. On request, a sweet lady called Carmen got up to help. The customer was told that all office chairs had been sold, even though the sale had only been advertised the day before, and there were no customers in the store. The customer found the ideal chair standing at a computer console, and was allowed to buy the chair. She took out her credit card, only to be told that the company does not accept credit cards! She was offered the chair, and was asked to make an internet transfer on return to her business. In the process of hand-writing the invoice (one wonders why the sale chairs go through a manual hand-written system, and not the company’s usual computerised invoicing system), Carmen was told that the chair could not be taken along by the customer until the payment had been done, contrary to her earlier communication. Carmen promised delivery the following day, on receipt of the proof of payment. A matter of concern was the price of the chair, as it did not have a price tag. The owner of the company, Sean Weldon, was contacted once the very unhappy customer left ID Solutions, thinking that the company did not deserve her business. She told Mr Weldon about her bad service experience at ID Solutions. He said that he was on his way to the office, and would get back to her. The customer called again after two hours, not having heard from Mr Weldon, and he said he was still on his way back and would contact the customer the following day. Mr Weldon’s tone was very unfriendly and unapologetic the following day, even though the payment had been made, and he protected the rude behaviour of Naomi, his staff member of 10 years, he said He was inflexible about the time of delivery, despite the customer’s request for it to be delivered before 11h00, as she was going out. It became very clear that everything is done in the ID Solutions way, and that the customer is unimportant. The customer told Mr Weldon that she would collect the chair herself. About an hour before collection , a worker from the warehouse called, asking in broken English what the delivery address was for the chair. He could not understand that the customer had arranged to fetch the chair. When the customer fetched the chair, no attempt had been made to wrap it in bubble wrap or with any other protective packaging for the trip in the car. The customer called Mr Weldon four times, to report the unwrapped chair and the warehouse call, but he did not bother to return the calls on that day, depite his cellphone message promising that he would so promptly. The customer felt shocked that such poor service was possible, but remembered that Mr Weldon’s previous company Innovation had gone into liquidation, and perhaps poor service delivery could have been the cause of the closure of that company! The customer will never fall for an ID Solutions sale ad ever again, or buy from the company again!
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 email@example.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.