I almost started writing this post last night but then felt that perhaps I should wait until the conclusion of the story before setting off on a tangent.
Right now I am on the floor of my bedroom lying on a deflating blow-up mattress while I write this. It’s not the most comfortable seat in the house, but it’s ok because I am not upset anymore. The tears I shed this morning have dried up and I’m happy with today’s progress.
I am not one of those people who sends back food in restaurants. Or who complains about service often. But two years ago Liberty suddenly decided in March that from January I should have been paying an extra R1300 on my monthly premium. They then tried to take R2600 out of my account to make up for the bills that they had “forgotten” to charge me. The debit bounced of course because there wasn’t enough money in my account. They issued me with a snarky letter telling me that my account was suspened because of the arrears. I was furious. And the scathing venomous phonecall that ensued was not pretty. But for heaven’s sake! You never TOLD me that my premium was going up by R1300 – if you had I would have told you to take a hike! After giving me the run around something serious I finally got them to remove the fictitious amount of money that I “owed” them and I closed the account. Nobody cared. There seemed to be no one to talk to who would say “oh hell what a ridiculous mistake, I am really sorry Mrs. Mc Auley we will sort it out for you immediately” (yes, my “real” surname is Mc Auley, but only on paper so only banks and official places call me that). They were idiots. And no one seemed to know what was going on. But I stood up for myself. I didn’t get an ideal result (considering I no longer had medical aid) but at least I no longer owed anyone R2600. I was proud at myself. I was proud of myself for yelling. For saying that it wasn’t good enough. For standing my ground. Because I don’t do that. When the waitress brings me burnt food I generally just eat it and say nothing. I feel too sorry for the waitress. Shame. She didn’t burn it. Right?
But it isn’t right, is it? To be OK with being treated badly? To have your money taken advantage of? To offer a service and then not provide it but still demand payment?
As I said in the previous post I bought a bed a little while ago which turned out to have bugs in it. I thought I was going mad. I keep waking up with these insane welts on my stomach and thighs (come to think of it… if they snack on fat I might be ok with having them back…) and not being able to figure out where they were coming from. The mozzie plug-in didn’t help. Neither did mozzie repellent. But they weren’t mozzie bites. They were WEIRD! And in little clusters all over. And I could feel these things, but couldn’t SEE them. It was driving me insane. And of course all of this was happening in the middle of silly season… best time for anything right? Anyway, eventually it just got too much. But then I had to think about what to do. The idea of going back to joshua Doore was just dreadful. I HATE that. I hate being the asshole customer who walks in and yells. But if you don’t yell nobody listens. And I already knew that this place wasn’t one that happily provided answers or even ever called the manager to help with customers. I can’t tell you how many questions I asked the lady dealing with my credit application that remained unanswered. So if I didn’t feel there was anyone there I could go to, what was the point?
So to Hello Peter I went. I only told them two of my complaints: The incorrect bill and the bugs. But I couldn’t help but be impressed that it was answered immediately. They sent me a new bed. Yay.
But the guys arrived with my new bed last night, and I suddenly realized that I can’t put it in my bug infested room! So yay, I have a new bed – but – I also have bugs. And it’s very likely that the three children who like to lie on my bed and watch tv have probably put the bugs in THEIR beds too. The laundry that I’ve been folding in my bedroom and then putting into cupboards? That can’t be good. The carpets that we walk on. All of it! The things could be multiplying everywhere! So yes, while I am thrilled with my getting a replacement bed (that already more than I ever expected – I expected nothing) I still have quite a ridiculous problem – one that I would never have had if I hadn’t bought the damn bed! I actually sobbed this morning. Thinking about all this stuff that I have to sort out and not knowing where to start.
Anyway, I phoned the lady who yesterday insisted that they bring me a new bed immediately and just chatted to her. She got off the phone with me and a few minutes later phoned again to make an appointment to come and visit me.
She brought me:
1. A voucher to use to replace my bedding
2. A huge knife set (which is awesome because we have a grand total of two steak knives)
3. She brought me the cash for my cash back voucher so that I didn’t have to go and get it myself (they give you 10% of your purchase back in cash on some sales)
4. She promised to pay for the fumigation costs
5. She removed the masterguard charges from my account.
So I can be happy now. This kind of thing happens. No one can control these kinds of things 100% of the time.
My shopping experience was initially terrible because the girl who helped me was new – I am ok with that explanation (although I do think if you’re having a hard time because you’re new – just SAY so – I get it! I’ve been there! If you’re crap at you’re job because you’re learning that’s fine. If you’re crap at your job because you just don’t give a damn that’s something completely different!).
As for credit interest and things like that? Yes – these places catch you. It’s scary how they catch you. There are charges for almost everything. But I DID know that going in. And I chose to do it anyway because I wanted the “instant gratification”. I can’t call myself a victim here because I am not one. I wanted my bed NOW and I knew it was going to cost me to do so. I chose to shrug it off and did it anyway. I do however think that these kinds of things should be explained to customers properly. Right down to the last detail. Perhaps rather encourage lay byes. I don’t know. Just a bit of a “do you realize that if you do this xyz is what is going to happen”. Maybe it’s just me. But I can’t stop thinking of my domestic. How intimidating this kind of place must be to someone as skittish as she is. I imagine she would sign off on anyway and simply find herself in a hole that she didn’t know she was getting into. And THAT I don’t find fair.
So start with the floor staff. They should be capable of educating people in this matter. Not everyone is bold enough to fight something like this. It might not be a government requirement or anything like that (I have no idea) but I kind of think South Affrica would be a better place if we would all just take the hand of someone who could use a little help in understanding how things work and HELP them. Because I can guarantee you that little mouse of a person isn’t going to get to talk to the nice head of department. She doesn’t KNOW she can ask for help. Just give it to her. From the beginning. Is that silly?
Anyway, I digress. I am happy with the outcome of my complaint. And I’m glad that I complained because I did really just think about leaving it and not bothering. It’s good to know that some companies do actually want to help out when things go wrong. And they don’t make the act of speaking up feel like it costs you more emotionally than what it is worth.
And you know what the best part was? I got an apology. See that’s the thing with women… Sometimes we just need someone to go “Oh hell how terrible! I’m really sorry you had to go through that…”
As for the friends who were all so greatly outraged for me: You guys are awesome. Thank you…