Tag Archives: Sweet & Sour Service Award

Sweet Service Award goes to Bahia-Sub in Vilanova de Arousa; Sour Service Award goes to FlySafair!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Bahia-Sub in Vilanova de Arousa, and its skipper Santiago. The boat company uses its rubber duck, seating about twelve Camino pilgrims at a time, transporting them on the Rio Sar, from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures, a journey of about one hour, but we were on the water for 90 minutes. Skipper Santiago was a true gentleman, slowing down or stopping the engine to show and inform us about interesting sights along the way, including the mussel farming outside Vilanova de Arousa, the second largest in the world, clam fishing, crosses in honour of Saint James and two other holy persons on a little island on the river, and ruins of a church and a castle on the river bank, with a replica of a Viking boat that pilgrims used to travel to Santiago de Compostela.  The real spoil was a tea break, with hot tea and a mini muffin served.  

Continue reading →

Sweet Service Award goes to River Café; Sour Service Award goes to Soyogi!

The Sweet Service Award goes to River Café in Franschhoek and its delightful assistant who served me when I went to buy ice cream there on a very hot day. Standing in a queue with other customers, the young lady was called out of the kitchen to assist me, and allowed me to photograph their ice creams from the other side of the counter. I was intrigued by their black Charcoal ice cream, so she proudly came to my table to explain how it is made, she having made the ice cream, as her manager who normally makes it had the day off on that day. She told me the recipe of how it is made, and brought me the bottle of Activated Charcoal she added to give it the black color. She was so proud of her job, a rarity to see in Franschhoek! It was clear that this was a popular stop, with a number of other  customers sitting outside and enjoying the ice creams too, very reasonably charged at R25 for two scoops. Continue reading →

Sweet Service Award goes to Sorbet; Sour Service Award goes to Woolworths Sea Point!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Sorbet at the Point Mall in Sea Point belatedly.  I was sent a text message, offering me a discount for their beauty salon services during my birthday month of December, which I accepted gratefully.  I received efficient service from three staff members, and one of them even offered to return my Bootleggers coffee cup to the nearby coffee shop. 


Continue reading →

Sunday Times Sweet and Rocketseed Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mohammed and to Wilma of the Sunday Times, for helping a customer to subscribe to the paper, after 6 months of frustration in trying to do so via the call centre.   A chance connection to Mohammed in the Human Resources department of Avusa, the company owning the Sunday Times, helped the customer to find Wilma, the person responsible for subscriptions in Cape Town.  Wilma can be contacted at tel 021 488 1823.   The delivery of the Sunday Times has been perfect since contact was made with her.

The Sour Service Award goes to Rocketseed, a company which sells branded signatures to the tourism industry.   The signature has to be designed by a separate company, and then Rocketseed sets it up with telephonic support.  It soon became evident to the user that the design has a weakness in that the “footer” does not follow the e-mail content when an enquiry from a prospective guest is replied to.   For  more than a month the customer tried to get Rocketseed to fix this design error, but received the poorest service from the support staff at Rocketseed.  It appeared that they did not know how to fix the problem, and kept the customer tied up on the phone for hours on end, in trying to load a revised version of the signature.   When the customer requested that a more senior staff member assist with problem, Henry Jonker, a director of Rocketseed, called.   He was extremely arrogant.   His response was to threaten the cancellation of the customer’s annual subscription of the branding service, which had to be paid in full prior to the customer being able to test the signature application.  

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.

One&Only Cape Town Sweet and Vodacom Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Stephen Towler, Group Sommelier of One&Only Cape Town.   Towler is knowledgeable, offers excellent service and he has presence without being obtrusive about it.   He was spot on with a suitable choice of shiraz, showed customers to maze his 5 000-bottle  Wine Loft, and sent complimentary glasses of a dessert wine to the table.  At no stage did one feel that he was trying to recommend the more expensive wines on the 35-page winelist.   He took interest in the service deficiencies of maze, and helped to address them quietly and efficiently, even though the food side is not his responsibility.   For a detailed review of maze at the One&Only Cape Town, read the WhaleTales blog post of 9 April below. 

The Sour Service Award goes to Vodacom, for the appalling poor service customers have to endure when the cellphone company cuts off its customer’s line, even though payment was made by Easypay two days prior.   No sms to warn one of the line cut was received.    One has to call the Vodacom accounts department, and the call centre (which can vie for the unenviable award of the worst Call Centre in the country, shared with the Sunday Times) is completely customer unfriendly.    There is no apology expressed or understanding what inconvenience such a line cut can mean to one’s business, that is totally dependent on sending sms-messages and making calls when one is out of the office.   Instead one is treated as a criminal, with “verification” questions asked about oneself – ID number, postal address, type of Vodacom package one subscribes to (be warned to not get this vital piece of information wrong, as one then is hugely suspect), name of bank one banks with, and type of account one has with the bank.  The significance of the questions, other than the ID number, was questioned by the customer.   One then has to fax the proof of payment, and is told that it will take an hour for the reconnection to take place.    The customer however had to call three times, and go through the verification process each time, because she expressed her frustration to each of the call center representatives, who then “punished” her by not reconnecting the line.   The customer was cut off for 6 hours due to the unacceptable behaviour of the Vodacom call centre staff.    No apology was received for the inconvenience caused!

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.

Allee Bleue Sweet and V&A Waterfront Sour Service Award

The Sweet Service Award goes to Desmond Spangenberg at Allee Bleue, a wine estate outside Franschhoek.   The estate has undergone a transformation in keeping its boom open and being welcoming to visitors, after years of keeping it closed and questioning visitors as to what they want!    The restaurant on the estate serves lunches and breakfasts at the most reasonable prices, and the menu contains out of the ordinary dishes.   The latest and most welcome addition to the service range is a free wireless ADSL service, which unfortunately is not made known to the patrons of the restaurant. 







The Sour Service Award goes to the V & A Waterfront for their parking machines being out of order in the basement section underneath the Nu Metro cinema.  A first machine did not accept any notes, and the next one accepted a note, but then jammed and would not release the ticket after payment.   It took 10 minutes of ringing the service bell for someone to respond – he sits next to the parking machines, but is not immediately visible to customers.  Once the problem was explained to him, he said the customer should drive out, and press the button at the boom – it took 20 minutes for him to respond and open the boom! 











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.



Westpac Bank Sweet and Core Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Westpac Bank in Australia.    A customer received a letter stating that the bank would close the account due to inactivity on the account.  A deadline of 31 December was specified.   Due to the time difference between Cape Town and Sydney, it was hard to speak to someone in the bank.  However, a gentleman in the bank was working late, and offered to help with the closing of the account and transfer of the funds to South Africa.    Despite a posted letter being required for this request, the bank accepted a faxed letter.   The funds were transferred from the Australian bank account into the South African bank account within 24 hours!


The Sour Service Award goes to Core Catering Supplies.    Chairs were ordered.   An arrangement was made to hand over a cheque for the chairs, as well as for some trays bought previously, to the lady delivering the chairs.  A time was agreed for the delivery, to ensure the cheques could be handed over.  The Core employee did not arrive at the agreed time, and no call was received to communicate this.     The customer called Core, and told them that she was leaving the property.    The Core employee arrived while the customer was out, and left the chairs in the care of some handymen working at the property.     The customer subsequently posted the cheques.  She was shouted at by Gregor, the sales person at Core, and a rude e-mail was written about the payment not having been received COD.   The customer referred Core to the employee who was late, and caused the problem with the cheque collection.    The Core shop in Woodstock has poor service in general, and therefore delivery of goods is preferable to experiencing the slowness and disinterest of the Core staff in the shop. However, the delivery service is almost equally bad to that of the shop.


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.

W Food Bar Sweet and Sunday Times Sour Service Award

Lester, the Store Manager of Woolworths in Willowbridge, receives the Sweet Service Award for coming to the rescue of a client on New Year’s Day, who wished to order breakfast at the in-house restaurant of this store.   The customer sat on a ledge, waiting for a table to come available at 11h45, and ordered a glass of water and a cappucino, and asked for the menu.  A lunch menu of sandwiches and salads only was presented.   It was visible to the customer that other patrons were having breakfast, and the waiter was asked for the breakfast menu.    Terence the waiter said it was not possible to order from the breakfast menu anymore, as breakfast closes at 12h00, even though it was 11h55 at that time. A new Manager Heinrich, who only started his first working day on that day, went inside to the food preparation section, and did not bother to communicate to the customer that he could not organise the required omelette.   A supervisor called Steven came from the preparation section, and said that breakfast had closed at 11h30, and that there was no flexibility on this, even on New Year’s Day.  Two staff members were asked to call the store manager, but it took 15 minutes for him to come to the table.   


Lester was most open to listening to the customer complaint and request, especially given that the Breakfast menu does not specify a closing time for serving breakfast.  Lester explained that the store had not received most of its breads on New Year’s Day, and that this affected the serving of the breakfasts.  However, a number of items on the lunch menu are sandwiches, and the waiters did not communicate problems serving any of these due to the bread shortage.


Lester was able to persuade Alex, the chef on duty, that the requested omelette could be prepared, even though a considerable waiting time could be anticipated, he warned, as the stoves had to be switched on again!   Twenty-five minutes later the requested omelette was served, with two slices of toasted rye bread.  Heinrich refused to divulge his name to the customer or to his colleagues, probably being worried about getting into trouble for his poor service on his first day of employment!


The Sour Service Award goes to the Sunday Times, which must have the most inefficient call centre in the country.  Repeated calls to the call centre, to renew existing subscriptions, as well as to start a new subscription, in the past three months have not led to one succesful renewal or new subscription.  The standard line is that one must pay first to receive delivery.  To pay, one must receive an invoice.  Each operator is provided with the postal address details, and confirmation is supplied that the invoice was typed while the call was being made. However, no invoice ever arrives.  The company is also not able to undertand that the invoice address is a postal address, which is different to the delivery addresses!    The subscription problems must cost the company thousands of Rands of lost income as a result of its subscription inefficiency. 


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.

Spar Sweet and LimelightDesign Sour Service Award


The Sweet Service Award goes to Spar in Regent Road Sea Point, for a surprise gift of a bunch of flowers for a grocery purchase of over R 1 000.   As it was the customer’s birthday on that day, the gift was doubly welcome.








The Sour Service Award goes to LimelightDesign, suppliers of chandeliers with Swarovski crystals, with branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg and George.  Third-generation co-owner, with his mother, and designer Patrick Miller was quick to make a sale of a chandelier, and led the customer to believe that it would be hung on the same day.   He came to have a look later that afternoon, but without the chandelier, stating that it could only be hung by an electrician five days later.   A time was agreed.   On the appointed day Mr Miller called to change the appointment to the following day, due to the electricians running late on another project for the company.   When the customer was unhappy about the appointment change, especially as it had to be hung prior to a party on the following day, the electricians did arrive on the appointed day.  However, Peter, the LimelightDesign installations person, was an hour late.   He made himself very much at home during his time in the home, and called for the customer from one end of the house to the other, without having met the customer or asking the staff to help locate the owner.   When the upset customer asked for the mobile number of Patrick, and dialled it, it rang through to Peter’s phone!    The upset grew when the team left, without volunteering the information that the electricians had damaged the ceiling during the installation process.   No attempt was made to rectify the situation immediately.   The hole was fixed a day later, but the person doing this work left very dirty marks on the chandelier structure, despite the chandelier serving as a centrepiece for two parties.   Mr MIller was not contactable during the installation process, and told the customer that he was far too busy to come to the site, as he was in customer meetings all the time.    However, when it came to delivering the invoice, and chasing payment, Mr Miller had all the time in the world to do so personally.    Surprisingly, the LimelightDesign branch on Buitengracht Street in Cape Town closed down during the week between the purchase and installation of the chandelier, and the company will only operate in Johannesburg, according to the notice on the shop. 


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.

Postnet Sweet and City of Cape Town Cleansing department Sour Service Award

imageThe Sweet Service Award goes to Postnet in Steenberg Village.   The staff member who made the copy of a driver’s licence refused to accept payment for it, as his gesture of Christmas goodwill.   The customer had never before been to that Postnet.



The Sour Service Award goes to the Cleansing department of the City of Cape Town, whose refuse collection staff ring the doorbell as early as 7h00 every Thursday morning in Fresnaye, to negotiate payment for the removal of any bags that do not fit into the bin.    



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.