customer service

A couple of weeks ago we picked up a tub of black olives from the Thorndon New World (TNW) deli. Pretty uncomplicated stuff, you’ve probably done that kind of thing yourself. We got home and decided to make an antipasto thang for dinner – casual, picnic style, off the coffee table, and watch a movie – as you do. Well, we do, anyway (thinks: when did I get such classy readers?).

The olives were disgusting. No, not olives are disgusting (we like them) they were disgusting. They had some weirdo plastic flavour and they were just bad. I was grumpy because I’m just not the same without an olive or twenty two. Back in the fridge they went, and I festered and moaned about the horror of bad olives.

The next night I bundled up the olives and high tailed it back down the TNW, all the time planning on my approach to complaining about the olives. THE OLIVES! The head-talk: “Two thirds of the world is starving to death and I’m upset about olives. Get a grip!” The other part of me was thinking, “No, those thieving mongrels have sold us poor innocents substandard olives, they must be punished for this heinous deed.” Then, of course, another part was big into the “Oh my god, what if they were from some country where the mafia/cosa nostra/triad/illuminati/young nationals replaced the olive oil with diesel or whatever the last Spanish olive oil scandal was about, and we’ve eaten – noooooo – gak!” And finally, “What if half Wellington dies of bad olives? Remember ‘The Meaning of Life’? It was the salmon.” … You’re never alone if you have enough voices in your head.

All of us – me, and all the voices – stormed up to the customer service desk (alert: key words – customer service). I’m barely coherent at this point because all the voices wanted a say. Liam was on duty that night. He looked at me, listened, smiled, apologised, looked at the olives, apologised, tsk-tsked, smiled, sniffed the olives, apologised, fired up the refund process, apologised, smiled, I filled in a form, smiled, they refunded me twice the sticker price, smiled, apologised, and in less than 10 minutes I was back in the car.

I don’t quite know where the voices went. I went home.

A week or so later, a letter arrived, thanking me for participating in their ‘quality assurance’ programme. Um, I wouldn’t have quite called it that, but that’s what I do for a job, so I’m happy to lend my shoulder to the wheel. Overall, I’m a very satisfied customer, even if the olives – olives? Schmolives – who cares about olives? Thanks, Liam, you’ve got a bright future in whatever your chosen field. TNW – thanks for sticking to the game plan – I guess we’re worth $15,000 a year to you, so $10 worth of refund is less than the daily shrinkage from the dried fruit and nuts dept – plus there’s the promo work I’m doing here for you. But it’s about a principle. When New World presents a 200% satisfaction guarantee, they deliver on the promise. This is what is known as ‘customer service’. Please, Mr and Ms NZBusiness, take a look at the concept of customer service, and try to find a way of fitting in to the picture. This particularly means you, telecommunication companies.

2 thoughts on “customer service

  1. Gabi

    I can totally relate to this experience, and how wonderful when in the end someone appologises and acknowledges that your expectations have not been met. Nothing worse than a rubbery olive!

  2. lynsey gedye Post author

    What about those ‘olive’ horrors from subway? I swear they’re actually factory second tyres from model cars. I honestly don’t know why they’re not stitched up under the Consumer Guarantees legislation. If they’re not tyres from kids’ cars then I just don’t know what they are. They’re not olives, that’s for sure. Actually, what is it about subway in general? I do believe if the bread was served to me blind tested I couldn’t pick the difference between the ‘variety’, and I’m inclined to think there are only two flavours – hot or cold. On the rare times I go in I normally beg for triple double extra jalapeño to try to bring some taste into what is effectively an expensive bread roll.

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