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Consumer Affairs
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 02:16
Dutch solution

I saw an article recently to do with advertising and their clients. It was relating to service delivery and the author remarked that South Africa wallowed somewhere down at the bottom of the global barrel when it comes to customer service. I wish I could disagree with him, but unfortunately I can’t. In fact, interaction with the retail sector generally is fairly unpleasant and I really do not like going out of the house any more, particular if a shopping mall is included in the plans. Here is a recent experience regarding Apple Inc. And it really is a true story.

I bought an iPod Nano (7th Generation) in November 2013 from iStore, Cavendish in Claremont, Cape Town - a “premium reseller”, by the way. The product comes with a one-year warranty. After a few months the start button seemed a bit unresponsive and this became a more regular irritation. Sometimes I would spend 10 minutes or so trying to get the mp3 player going. It seemed faulty to me, as I was sure I was operating it correctly. So, eventually, I decided to go back to the store in June 2014. I was directed to the repairs counter and a gentlemen by the name of Joseph took it, and somewhat indifferently prodded the device’s stand-by switch and fiddled a bit, then fobbed me off with the remark, “There’s nothing wrong with it,” and returned it to me as if to say “case dismissed”. Though I was not convinced, he was quite officious in the manner of a security guard, and so I had no alternative but to leave the store. Well, it played up again the following week, the stand-by switch was often unresponsive, even after five minutes of patient attempts. But I was reluctant to spend another hour or so of my time trudging back to the store as I was shortly going on holiday.
And this is where it gets interesting; because there I am in Amsterdam, and remarkably camouflaged behind a marvellous turn-of-the-century banking edifice was an Apple iStore. I went up the grand steps into what seemed like some kind of minimalist space ship with – on a rough count – some 30-odd technicians in blue t-shirts with iPad Tablets (to manage appointment schedules) clutched to their bosoms darted about meeting customers and giving them assistance.
All I wanted to do was get someone to look at my little Nano and tell me I was not stupid, that it really was faulty, and give me some sort of slip, which I could take back home to those losers in Cavendish and say,  “There you are, mate, it’s faulty, OK?”
But that is not what happened. No. I was given an appointment for later that day, but told a technician could in the meantime verify if there was problem and note it with the appointment details. Well, it took him 15 seconds (FIFTEEN SECONDS), and he said, “No there is definitely a problem with this, I will see if we have a replacement in store.”
I found it initially quite frightening to get such good service. All my warranty details were on their system, including address and email, and so on – all very efficient. He returned a while later with a brown box labelled with my name printed on it and all the details! Then he opened the box and handed me a new Ipod Nano.
Cavendish made me NEVER want to buy an Apply product again; Amsterdam made me feel I was missing out by not adding an Apple Mac to my technical toys. Is anyone out there in South Africa getting the message??

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:27.9 1st September, 2014
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