When customer service is not OK

I think some media spokesmen who work for corporates or the government as part of a team are trained by the secret service. Otherwise why are they so reluctant to explain the reasons for the bad service that clients encounter.

The OK group has now joined a list that includes Telkom, Vodacom and Home Affairs, but those are stories for another day.

Nadeema Samodien from Rocklands took her LG TV to OK Furnisher, Westgate Mall, on January 17, to be repaired, after she
was assured it was still under guarantee.

“OK told me it would take about nine days to repair if it was a minor problem, otherwise 21 days. They also said they couldn’t work on it as I owed R550 on my TV licence (that’s rubbish, by the way), and I made arrangements to bring the money on pay day which was January 20. When I went back, the assistant, Pearl, told me it was a minor repair and I didn’t need to pay the licence arrears.

“A month later when a cousin went to pay a bill I asked her to check on my TV. It was still there and had never been booked in for repairs. The manager told me there was a mix-up and that two TVs had been sent to the wrong suppliers and they would have to wait for them to be returned,” said Ms Samodien, who accepted the explanation.

Another month passed and Ms Samodien went to find out what the delay was.

“The TV had been sent to a repairman who ‘fixes stuff that’s not under guarantee’.

“I asked them to phone the technician but he was at the mosque, it was Friday, however, he is waiting for a motherboard that has to be imported, the OK told me. That’s nonsense, spares are available at the factories. Four months later when the TV was eventually fixed the manager told me it had a one-month guarantee. (Wrong again, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) says there is a six-month warranty on all repairs). If it broke one day after the month, it wasn’t his problem.”

So much for customer service.

“Am I right to feel aggrieved?”

I asked OK, which is part of Shoprite-Checkers, why the TV was sent to an outsourced contractor if it was still under guarantee; why she had to pay the arrears on the TV licence; and how does the OK comply with the CPA, among others.

The media team replied: “We would like to apologise on behalf of OK Furniture as this is not a reflection of the standard of service we would like our customers to experience. The matter has been investigated and the various areas are being addressed.

“The store has since contacted the customer and she has our assurance and commitment to improve customer service in this store. To redress the poor service and the misappropriated (sic) way in which the matter was dealt with, OK Furniture has extended the repair guarantee to 12 months; which has been noted on the customer’s contract.”

It didn’t happen the way the faceless media team described it.

Ms Samodien told me that the TV, wrapped in plastic, was delivered to her home where her children accepted it but there was no explanation or delivery note, nor had anyone phoned her.

Ms Samodien said she hadn’t unwrapped it but wanted to know if I knew anything about it. I didn’t because the media team ignored my email.

When Ms Samodien unwrapped the TV it was dusty but now there were cracks in the screen. The stock controller, Pearl, couldn’t explain the cracks.

So it was back to the media team.

“The OK Furniture regional manager delivered a new LG 49 inch smart television to the customer. We’d like to again apologise for the way the matter was handled – it should have been better dealt with right from the start. The situation was further exacerbated by a breakdown in communication, seemingly caused by a faulty telephone connection experienced by Mrs Samodien, (she phoned OK customer care in Johannesburg to try to get some answers), this is not an excuse and the furniture team will continue to work to improve their customer service.”

And what did Ms Samodien say? “I am the happiest customer ever thanks to you. I can’t thank you enough. The store manager was at my house to see for himself. A few minutes later a van in OK livery brought a new LG Smart TV with a two-year guarantee and a technician to install it. All along I was thinking, thank you, Brian Joss. Then Mario, the area manager made a call and gave me the phone.

“It was his boss who apologised on behalf of the OK group. He also said the TV licence arears was between me and the SABC.

“So ja. U did an amazing job. I couldn’t be happier. Thanks again. U were just amazing.” (sic)