By: Natasha Archary
We’ve all been there, you’re stuck in a never-ending queue and when it’s finally your turn, the teller is off to lunch. Government offices, license centres, shopping stores, there’s no difference really. South Africans are not known for our impeccable customer service skills.
As a customer/paying patron how do you handle the situation? Sure, you can demand to speak to the manager, chances are you will receive the same lacklustre approach his staff gave you. But then you think, nah in the age of digital innovation and social media, I’ll just snap the rude teller’s picture and share my rant on Twitter.
That seems to be the best way to get a response from brands these days right? While not entirely untrue, it may not be the best approach. Many choose to not get confrontational in public, there are a select few who do, so how do you handle situations where bad service becomes the norm?
Know your rights
We touched on the Consumer Protection Act in our previous post Returns policies: What you need to know , but there are a few blurry lines that you should be weary off.
- The customer is always right only applies if you are, actually right. If you are being obnoxiously rude to waiting staff, tellers, customer service representatives, the store manager etc… the manager has a right to intervene and ask you to politely leave or resolve the issue in a calm and respectable manner.
- As a paying customer you have a right to return a product or meal if you are not entirely satisfied but you do not have the right to demand that it be on the house for terrible customer service.
- So you received bad service from waiting staff and decide you will not be tipping. It’s not their fault the kitchen was overbooked and your order took a little longer. If you wish to lodge a complaint with the manager do so, it’s his responsibility to apologise and use his/her discretion to give you a complimentary dessert or percentage off your bill. But you should not take it out on your waiter/waitress.
- Using profanity make get you noticed but it does not get you the desired outcome. Chances are you’ll be taken seriously if you expressed your disappointment in a calm manner. People respect your ability to maintain a sense of self in tense scenarios.
- You can always walk away and send an email addressed to either the head office of that brand or the manager for a resolution to the problem you faced in-store.
- If you had your heart set on a special that was running but stocks are no longer available, you have a right to request a “rain-check”. This means the store will have to order you the same product and give it to you at the special price, regardless of how long it takes. Even after the store special ends.
- You do not have to disclose your personal information to staff or the manager if you do not want to. You can always request their details and take the matter further if the issue is not being resolved to your liking.
- Sure we all love watching these trending videos of in-store outbursts, but it’s such a violation of privacy on all parties involved in the incident and on the video. Do you have to be that person?
- You have every right to take to social media expressing your concerns but you do not have the right to broadcast someone’s picture without their permission. It’s a human rights’ violation. Surely you wouldn’t want to be exposed in that way?
- You have a right to take your business elsewhere. You’re not bound by a contract to spend your hard-earned cash at a store, restaurant, cinema house , theme park etc that you are not comfortable with. Whatever the reason may be for your disappointment, take your business somewhere else.
Nothing gets one worked up more than bad customer service. In a country that grapples with service delivery, we have little patience for arrogant staff no doubt. If you are at the receiving end of racist or demeaning remarks, mothers who are asked to breastfeed in public, parents with rowdy kids being asked to leave an establishment etc. you are free to lodge a formal complaint with the human rights commission. For more serious situations it’s always best to take this stance (aka: the higher ground).