The best way to keep your word…

…is not to give it.

And yesterday, I did promise an end to the short blog posts and a return to something of normality. And then today happened.

Today wasn’t great.

Today was very busy and full of people letting me down left, right and centre. The dreaded South African customer service strikes again. Our daughter also got sent home from school, sick. [sad face]
Thus, it’s gone half past eight before I’ve even thought about having time to write stuff. And even now I’m having to get up and look after the dog because there’s an SAAF Oryx helicopter doing bumps and runs at 2 Military Hospital just down the road and it came over so low that it almost took my chimney off and blew the puppy away. Seriously. I just collected it from the garage roof.
It’s just been one of those days.

Talking of the dog, it hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory of late, either. It has covered itself with soil from underneath my lawn though. Repeatedly. But every cloud has a silver lining, and that silver lining looks likely to shine on one of the readers of 6000 miles… Should another hole “mysteriously” appear in the garden*, I will be offering a one-of-a-kind, bespoke Beagle-skin waistcoat (it won’t stretch to a full jacket, I don’t think) to a competition winner picked at random from my readership. I may even commission a silver lining, literally.

The rest of the week looks frankly terrifying equally busy, but I have high hopes and expectations of getting some decent blogging done in between the disasters and the loadshedding.

 

* PRO TIP: They’re not mysterious at all – the beagle is digging them.

Some good service

Sadly, SA is not noted for its customer service. Or rather, it is, but not in a good way. That’s why when I have some good customer service, I like to tell people about it. And this week has been a revelation in what other countries would call “service”, but what we here in SA call “fantastic service”. These companies should be celebrated and rewarded. I will do the celebration bit here, you sort out the rewards bit by doing business with them.
Companies must adapt or die. As this unnatural form of natural selection proceeds, so poor customer service will die out like the dinosaurs (but without massive meteorite involvement) and good customer service will evolve to be the dominant species.

Hi-Q Wynberg
After my op, I wasn’t allowed to drive for a while. And when I did want to drive, my car wouldn’t start. Even trying  to jump-start it via its big sister didn’t work and I deduced that it needed a new battery. Cue a call to Andre (021) 761 7063, who did exactly what he said he would, exactly when he said he would and got me back on the road.
Nice.

Geysol
Having decided that we needed to save money on electricity (who doesn’t?), we turned to Geyerwise for assistance. They got one of their distributors – Leon from Geysol (076 036 0623) – to pop around and fit our unit for us. One prompt, fast, friendly, helpful and clean job later, we are saving money on our electricity. How much, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know. I’m hoping that the unit will pay for itself inside three months. After that, it’s pure saving goodness.

ADM Home Appliances
With two kids and an annual Cape Town winter, a tumble dryer is a luxury necessity. And it’s only when it goes wrong that you realise how much you rely on it. Not so much yesterday, with its 29.5°C temperatures – more on days like today with its 29.5mm+ of rain.
Ours went badly wrong last Friday and so we called in Deen from ADM Home Appliances on (021) 797 2321. He came, he saw, he took the machine away, he gave us a quote, he fixed the machine and he brought the machine back. What’s not to like?

Pool Doctor
Ironically right next door to my friends at Hi-Q (see above), Pool Doctor (021) 761 9121 dropped in right when they said they would to sort out my leaking pump. Then they sorted out the leaking pump and my pool is looking ready for summer already. This seemed like such a good idea in yesterday’s sun. Today, I’m going to see how the overflow works.

So, if you need bits for your car, to save money on your electricity bill, an appliance repaired or your pool sorted out – please give these guys a call and do your bit to promote decent customer service.

New Management Techniques

I learned a lot of new stuff last night on my management course. Last night’s topics were “dealing with conflict” and “establishing a good rapport with your customers”. These are obviously hugely important things to master when you are wanting to run a successful business. The most important thing that I discovered last night was that – contrary to the old adage – the customer is not always right. In fact, even if the customer has a valid complaint and speaks to you about it in a calm and rational manner, then you are quite at liberty to tell the customer that he “has an attitude”.

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The management course in question was an impromptu affair, held at the Ocean Basket in Plumstead, Cape Town. I’m a big fan of the Ocean Basket chain of restaurants – it’s good food, it’s well cooked and they have quirky adverts which often spell the word “fish” as “feesh”. And it was for these reasons that we decided to get takeout from their Plumstead branch. Having ordered by phone and been told it would be ready in 15 minutes, we arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes later and were greeted by a very friendly lass called Robyn, who happily took our money and showed us our food, ready to go.

But uh-oh. That’s a Hake and Calamari Combo with rice and we wanted a Kingklip and chips. Just like we ordered and just like it says on the till slip, see? Never mind says Robyn – she’ll sort us a Kingklip post haste. Of course, at this point I should have remembered all the bad things that I have experienced at the hands of the South Africa Post Office. Yes, of course they are known for the speed of their service, but not in a good way.

Time passed by and pretty soon, we had been waiting half an hour, not enjoying the unenjoyable view. And so had the rest of our food, which had been placed in a prime position for looking at the funeral parlour across the road, quite literally chilling by an open window at the front of the restaurant. Which was nice. Unless you like your food warm.
As we (once again) asked Robyn to check on the status of our Kingklip and watched as she went across to talk to the restaurant manager who was barking orders from the kitchen hatch, we were bemused to see an argument begin between the two of them.

I went over to the manager and – noting how firm he was being with Robyn, impressed by his authoritative approach and anxious for my management workshop to begin – asked politely where our Kingklip was.
He grunted, like a manatee. Actually, I have no clue what noise a manatee makes, but think of what a manatee looks like and you’d imagine it grunts in a manner similar to the way in which the manager of the Ocean Basket who I was just talking about, did. Phew.

“It’s in there,” he stated (the bleeding obvious) flapping his right flipper toward the kitchen, “my Kingklip always takes 45 minutes.”
“Oh right,” I countered, mildly confused, “but your staff told us our order would be ready in 15 minutes, so…”
“They lied,” he interrupted.

I was taken a little aback. “Well, perhaps you should sort that issue out,” I suggested.
“What do you think I’m doing?” he asked, incredulous.

At this point, I resisted the huge temptation to suggest that what he was doing was not getting my Kingklip and, eyeing his somewhat portly figure, I began to wonder if he had actually eaten it himself.
Then I reminded myself that manatees are vegetarian.
Then I reminded myself that he wasn’t actually a manatee, he just had some of the physical features and the grunt of a manatee (if, as was queried earlier, manatees do in fact, grunt).

Sadly, this hypothesising took far too long and he dived, sea mammal-like, into the waves of the gap in the conversation.

“You have an attitude,” he stated.

Perhaps it was the manner in which he said it, but I had a feeling that this wasn’t a compliment. But as I was about to respond with a magnificently pertinent and witty comment that I, sir, would still be drunk in the morning (or something of that ilk), which surprisingly appeared on cue from the depths of my brain, a box of Kingklip was thrust under my nose and the moment was lost. 

After a short seethe home and some hot microwave action, we enjoyed the feesh. The Kingklip, ironically, was especially good. The service was bloody awful, but made for a blog post. What you might call a win-win situation.

If it wasn’t for the poor service.

Sorry – It’s a Short Week

There’s a story which goes about these parts that tells of a bloke who was nailed to some of bits of wood a couple of thousand years ago (give or take), meaning that my pregnant wife can gorge herself on chocolate throughout March and April.
So she says anyway. Personally, I think she made it up simply so that she could gorge herself on chocolate throughout March and April.

And why not?

She’s spread the word about as well. Women all over Cape Town can be seen gorging themselves on chocolate. And wine. And now, we even have a Chocolate Gorging Public Holiday on Friday which means that this is a short week. And that is a superb reason for the level of customer service in this fine city to drop to new lows.

Yes, because Friday isn’t happening in work terms, apparently neither is the rest of the week. If you thought that load-shedding was slowing down the economy, you were right. But it pales into insignificance next to Short Week Syndrome. Deliveries which didn’t make it through when they were due last week, mysteriously won’t be delivered this week either. Why?

“Sorry – it’s a short week, you know?”

Yes, I do, but the first four days are still fair game, are they not?

But it’s hopeless. You can’t fight the system.
Well, you can, but you’ll suffer a humiliating defeat on penalties.

Talking of poor service, a new Cape Town blog has sprung up: Welcome to the Metrosnail – presumably the work of some discontented Cape Town train user. I was looking for fun and amusing comment, but I found none. What I did find was an article about the upgrade of Cape Town station which was cut’n’pasted from a City Council website article from May last year. Cutting edge stuff, then.

Seriously, if you’re going to write a moany, whiney blog; at least put in a bit of effort to make it interesting, relevant and – dare I say it? – original. Don’t just publish rubbish and hope that your leap onto the 2010 bandwagon will be enough to make your blog “cool”.

Of course, you won’t find this blog moaning and grumbling about inconsequential matters. Except today, obviously. But that’s ok, because anything goes in a short week.