Ice-Tech – a customer service horror story

Evil Fridge2

Picture the scene.You’re a single woman, sharing a flat with your sister. In the quiet of night, in search of a snack (as you do), you pad through to the kitchen and suddenly you realize the fridge is up to something sinister. Instead of standing quietly in the corner chilling, it has started maliciously doing oven impressions and heating up inside. You know it’s just a matter of time before the contents will be redefining the phrase ‘warm and fuzzy’.

What does our lady do? In the safe light of the next day (19 March), she takes the most logical action and searches the Yellow Pages for someone who advertises himself as a refrigeration specialist. Does she get the fridge guy from hell? No. Even worse, she gets whatever is apparently skulking at the bottom of the business barrel in East London.

The relationship starts off acceptably (as they do), and Richard of Ice-Tech comes out (19 March) to diagnose the problem – a blocked pipe. He promises to bring the necessary component and resolve the problem the next day.

20 March comes and is in the process of going. Our customer phones several times but finally gets the excuse that Richard has a leguaan (a monitor lizard) in his bath.

21 March – and the blocked pipe is replaced. Naturally, our two ladies fork out the cash (R810.00) in line with an honourable payment ethic; and in line with current standards of service, the incomplete repair work makes itself known again on 10thApril, when the unit breaks down for the second time.

10 April. Our lady phones Richard who promises to be there within two hours. Of course he doesn’t arrive.

More failed phone calls, until on 17 April the customer phones at 6pm hoping to get him after hours. The man unexpectedly answers and promises sincerely to visit again at 16:15 next day.

Next day (18 April) – our thoughtful customer phones Richard to let him know they are home and he can come over when he’s ready. He says he’ll be there in an hour – doesn’t pitch. Subsequent phone calls are ignored. Getting bored, are you? Don’t worry. It gets worserer.

19 April. The customer who is now fighting the desire to inflict measures approximating grievous bodily harm phones Ice-Tech yet again. Richard answers and promises to resolve problem the next day at 16:15

20 April. Unexpectedly, he arrives on time, but (you knew it was too good to be true didn’t you) says the pipe is blocked again and he needs to replace the fan in the back of the fridge. This, he says, can only be done the next day.

21 April. Our lady phones him to confirm his arrival and ascertain which portions of the new bill are for her account. Richard denies having been to the flat the previous day!?! At this point, the client – after over a month of a fridgeless existence decides to cut her losses and fires him.

I learned that the two ladies have since contacted an alternative company (Bi-Temp) who have already been around and collected the unit. They confirm the following:

  • The price for the initial repair was a fair one
  • The way Ice Tech was conducting business is not the way they do it
  • There is allegedly no fan present that needs replacement, leaving us all mystified.
  • This incident was the second complaint from Ice Tech clients in the past couple of days.

What can we, as service providers, learn from this comedy of crap service?

  • Your business is in existence to supply a service. It’ll pay you to put yourself in the position of the customer from time to time. If you’re honest, you’ll see that the above scenario is infuriating in the extreme and doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination constitute a ‘service’.
  • If you think there’s a possibility of your repair job recurring or that your initial job might not achieve the expected resolution – TELL THE CUSTOMER.
  • If you’re suffering from monitor lizards in the bath, tapeworms on the brain or any other setback that in any way affects your service to the customer – CALL AND TELL THEM of the revised schedule.
  • Your customer IS NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR TALES OF WOE.
  • If you don’t have the component in stock, you call them and tell them when you’ve ordered it. Then you call them again when it has arrived and when the customer can expect to see you on their premises.
  • A month is not an acceptable turn-around time for a fridge repair.
  • Do not prey on the ignorance of your client. They will discover your bull$#!t and your deceit will come back and bite you.
  • By now, even the thickest fridge magnet will realise that one of the keys to success in your business is COMMUNICATION AND HONESTY. And if you think phone calls are expensive – consider how much your angry customers are costing you.
[This incident was told to me by the clients in East London. I was incenced at the fact that people exist who will prey on women and non-technical people, and expect them to meekly accept sub-standard service.
With the exception of the first two paragraphs, which for readibility have been embellished, I am relaying it as told as a service to local consumers. If you are looking for the service of a refrigeration expert – do your own research. Be aware that there are poor service providers out there.]
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About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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