Just another fight

A let off steam kind of post…

Things go wrong. It happens.
Sometimes it’s someone’s fault, sometimes it’s bad luck or bad planning, and sometimes there doesn’t appear to be any good reason for it.

Things go wrong. It’s how you put them right that matters.

Companies can make things better is by handing the situation promptly, efficiently and politely. An apology for the thing that has gone wrong is nearly always a really good starting point.

I’m a member of a international courier scheme. When I put it like that, it sounds quite nefarious, but it’s really not. It gives me access to addresses in several (or more) countries around the world. I can then buy stuff online in those countries, get them delivered to that local address and from there, they get forwarded to me in Cape Town. It costs a bit to join (a one-off fee) and then you pay a certain amount for each shipment. It still works out cheaper than direct delivery, and it’s via a courier, so it’s trackable and (ahem) more reliable.

I used this system to ship some goods in from the UAE. My Emirates airmiles were about to expire, so I cashed them in online here and got myself a pair of headphones and Mrs 6000 got some cosmetics. They were then shipped to my address in the UAE (just down the road from Emirates), I paid a handsome fee to the courier and then the goods should fly through Johannesbeagle to me in the Mother City.

All was going well. The package from Emirates arrived at my virtual address in Umm Ramool, Dubai on the 18th November. From there, 8 hours later, it went to the courier company’s “Dubai Express Hub” and then was shipped (ironically almost certainly via Emirates) to Johannesburg, where the record says it arrived at 13:20 on 20th November – only about 40 hours after they first got hold of it.

This is impressive. This is how it’s meant to work.

Then there came a long delay in Customs. This happens sometimes, and you can keep nudging the courier, but it’s often out of their control. However, I nudged several times, and then once more forcefully, and suddenly like a plunger in a blocked toilet, a mere 16 days (eish!) after it arrived in Johannesburg, my package was Cleared from Customs:

And lo, there was much celebration and joyfulness and singing and dancing and making of merriment in the streets of Cape Town.

Sadly though, nothing happened after that, despite my repeated phone calls to the Johannesburg office. I was assured, time and again, that they would chase it up and call me back, that it just needed to get to their office and then they would have it in Cape Town the following day. But no-one ever called me back. It still hasn’t reached their office.

It took until today – and my 12th phone call to the courier company regarding this shipment – for someone to tell me that the package had likely never arrived in Joburg. That it was part of a “courier bag” which had gone missing on or around the 19th. That shipments from Dubai “usually take a day” to get here and this one had (already) taken over three weeks. Throughout the previous 11 phone calls though, no-one had bothered (or dared?) to tell me that my package was missing. No-one could be bothered to take responsibility.

Half of me is pissed off at the apparent deceitfulness, the other half is pissed off that no-one is willing to try and make things right. I, as the client, am the one doing all the hard work to sort out the mess caused by something going wrong with something that is very much their bit of our agreement.

But customer service in South Africa is so very poor, and it’s cases like this that are not just an illustration of how bad it is, but also an example of why it can be so bad – because the bar is set so very low. I could be having this problem with any one of 10 other local courier companies as well, or any one of 4 local cellphone companies, or any one of 1 local online shopping companies – not one of them stands out from the crowd.
And precisely because of that, not one of them has to.

I’ve aired my displeasure on Twitter now (my last resort and something I really hate to do), and finally (surprise surprise when you go public) someone has actually called me for the first time. There may even have been a mumbled apology. They’re looking into what’s gone wrong and they are going to update me tomorrow.

Fair enough – I’ll give them that chance.
Only now, it’s not just how they put things right that matters, but how they put not putting things right in the first place right.

I’ll keep you updated.

The 2017 Cape Town Sevens Review

OK, so here it is. The thing which I was too tired to write last night. A quick run down of my experiences with my son at the Cape Town Sevens Finals Day yesterday.

The parking: I’ve told you how to do this before, but ok, I’ll tell you again. You park at the CTICC (right hand lane off the elevated freeway, almost as if you were about to do a U-turn to go back out of town at Walter Sisulu) and walk through to the Civic Centre (it’s 900m, you’ll manage), from where you get the shuttle bus up to the stadium.
On your return, you get the bus to Thibault Square, and walk down Lower Long to the CTICC (it’s 600m, you’ll be fine).
The parking lot exits directly onto the elevated freeway, so no traffic problems at all. So it’s faster, cheaper and easier than the Waterfront. Or virtually anywhere else.

The stadium: I’ve been to several concerts, many football and rugby events and precisely no happy-clappy  religious gatherings at the stadium, and (without meaning to be negative) each of them has had their own little niggles. Not yesterday. The experience was flawless. Friendly staff, little (or no) queuing for refreshments (including at the bars), a wide variety of foods, lots of activities and freebies for the kids. Brilliant.

The entertainment: Lots going on between the games kept us interested. Dancing, music, beagle herding, enthusiastic MCs. The highlight for us (and many others, I suspect) was the “Rugby Skills” competition for a few happily inebriated fans towards the end. Very funny and very well managed.

The rugby: It was good fun and played in good spirit, as it should be. England were in self-destruct mode, New Zealand were in we’re-out-to-shock-the-opposition mode, the USA was basically just speed and muscle and the Fijians were just muscle. And then there was the Blitzbokke, who were clear favourites for the win.

But that didn’t happen, which brings me to my final point.

The crowd: Oh dear. I’m going to get into trouble for writing this, but that’s rarely stopped me before, so here goes.

We’re repeatedly told that Cape Town is the “best” leg of the 7s. I don’t know how they work these sort of things out – hey, maybe they tell everyone that their event is the best. That would be a bit naughty, but then, people are a bit naughty sometimes.

The thing is, if this alleged optimal status has really been bestowed upon Cape Town’s event, then it must surely only be for the fancy dress and the partying. Because yes, Cape Town does do the fancy dress and the partying very well. When it comes to actually supporting the rugby though, the fans are fickle and fairweather (OMG, he said it! And now see how the hordes are gathering their flaming torches and pitchforks! OMG! I can’t bear to watch!).

I took a few pics to illustrate my point.

Here’s the scene as the Blitzbokke played their first game (a fortuitous, ref-assisted win over Fiji). 60,000 fans in full voice:

Incredible gees, colour, passion, volume etc etc (allowing for iconic imagery like this). And it was the same for the second game against New Zealand. But when they lost that, and with it, any chance of winning the event, this was the scene during their last game of the day – a third place play off against Canada:

Either a shedload of fans couldn’t actually be bothered any more, or else they had turned up in grey plastic seat fancy dress.

And it got worse. Even more people left before the New Zealand v Argentina Final:

and we were one of only a few hundred that stayed for the Trophy presentation:

Mmm.

OK. So some points here:

South African sports fans are notoriously fickle and fair-weather. We knew this already. Comparing photos one and two above, indicates those fickle fans who came to see South Africa win, versus those real fans who came to see South Africa play.

I don’t know if this happens at every 7s event. Do Australian fans leave once their team has been beaten once in Sydney? Is the same in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and the USA? And if it is, does anyone even bother to turn up to watch in Dubai and Singapore?

There were very few people in the stands to see Wales v Russia, because it’s a meh game between two sides who lost a lot on Day 1 – well, ok. Equally though, that won’t be replayed all around the rugby-playing world. The final (and the trophy presentation thereafter, will). It’s not a great advert for the event when it’s being played (or presented) in front of tens of thousands of empty seats. And yet we all cried about not getting the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

That said, the spin is obviously good, because (as I may have mentioned earlier) Cape Town was voted the Best 7s Event on the Tour.

So, all in all, I think it shows a complete lack of manners and it really doesn’t look great on the international stage, but hey – it’s a free country (well, sort of, anyway). I’m not saying that you have to stay until the end. You’re free to leave when you want.
Equally, I’m free to pass comment on you leaving when you want, you disrespectful, fair-weather, part-time, so-called rugby supporters.

Sevens 2017

It’s been a long, hot day at the Sevens in Cape Town with the boy. We left just after 9 in the morning, we got home just after 9 in the evening, I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I make that about 12 hours.
And I think he had fun, despite not being the most sporting of types.

I have a few photos (from my phone, I didn’t take the camera), and a few thoughts (as ever), but I’m simply too tired right now.

See you in the morning, Cape Town.

Sound Cafe Request

You’ll need to know a few things for this blog post:

1. There’s a place on the Isle of Man called The Sound. There’s a cafe there.
2. On the cafe building is a webcam, which one can view through the Manx Radio Webcams page (it’s the one on the bottom left, between Port Erin and Port St Mary).
3. It was very hot in Cape Town yesterday, and very cold in the Isle of Man. I wanted to apply this principle. But the webcam lens was very dirty (sea spray, rain, sleet etc).

Problem.

Or was it? Because I dropped the cafe a quick message on Facebook:

Fastyr mie from Cape Town, South Africa. It’s 40-odd degrees here and I’m craving something cooler. I recognise that it’s pretty chilly there today and I’m not sure how accessible it is, but if you could give the webcam lens a quick wipe, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

(Fastyr mie being Manx gaelic for Good Afternoon – I can like to be locally polite in my salutations.)

And almost instantaneously, got this back:

We’ll have a go…. it’s not exactly accessible but we’ll give it a whirl ?

That, I think I am right in saying, is the spirit.

And they did it too, before responding again:

Marginally better… ?

But it was actually much better:

Allowing me not only to see the drama of the waves crashing onto Kitterland, but even the (rather less dramatic) Stena Precision en route to Belfast from Birkenhead (on the horizon, far left).

And yes, there’s still a bit of muck in the corners, but the weather is clearly a bit wild there at the moment and like they said, the webcam is “not exactly accessible”.

All in all, a great effort and really amazing service.

BestNine

My #2017BestNine Instagram pictures include:

Four drone shots, three beagle shots, one drone and beagle shot, one of that storm and one of that sunset.

Go here to follow me on Instagram (although presumably, this means that I’m not going to post anything remarkable for the rest of the year (at least)) and go here to find your #2017bestnine.