This page is not just about berating manufacturers, retailers and service providers. It is much more than that. When occasion calls for criticism, we do that. When is time to applaud, we equally do that.
We have published consumer’s experiences (both good and ugly) with manufacturers, retailers, service providers, etcetera. In a majority of the cases, the indicted manufacturers, service providers usually come back to resolve issues, and placate the aggrieved consumers. Most of them understand the saying that losing one customer leads to losing nine.
As a student, I had always wondered why giant companies like Coca-Cola whose products are so popular still advertise. Then, I did not understand, but as I grew up, I learnt that though they are at the top, they still need to work hard to retain that position. They need to wade off competitors and of course increase their market segment.
This brings to mind the Biblical parable of the man that had 100 sheep but at a point lost one. Despite the fact that 99 sheep were safe, he still did not rest till he found the lost sheep.
So, organisations that want to remain at the top, work to retain and increase their market share. However, due to space constraint we shall only publish about three incidents.
On the 11th June, we ran a story entitled, ‘Consumer seeks redress from Mouka Foam’. A brief recap for the benefit of readers who were not opportune to read it.
Sixty-seven-year old Mrs. E. Ojukutu bought a Comfy Mouka mattress. Within one year of using the mattress, it collapsed. Alarmed and angry, she contacted the seller but he offered her no redress which prompted her to contact Consumer Watch.
In an interview with Mrs. Ugochi Nkwopara, the company’s Customer Service Manager, she explained that the Comfy mattress collapsed because Ojukutu’s weight was far higher than the body weight intended for the mattress.
Explaining further, she said that Mouka mattresses are of different sizes and weight and when consumers buy the ones that conform with their body weight, that the mattresses will not collapse.
Exonerating the company from any blame, she explained that the company’s dealers have been trained and given body weighing machines for use in their shops. According to her, the dealers are supposed to enlighten consumers, take their weight and advise them on the mattress to purchase.
However, Nkwopara regretted even when offered that advice, some customers, because of the cost, opt out for cheaper ones. “They do not consider their weight or that of the mattress. They only base their decision on price of the product and usually buy the cheaper ones.”
Well, the good news is that after the publication of that story, Mr. Femi Yussuf, National Customer Manager, Mouka Foam, who appreciates his customers, got in touch with Consumer Watch seeking for ways to appease the customer.
The fact that the foam manufacturer may not entirely to be blamed did not deter the company from reaching out to the unhappy retiree with a brand new mattress, far much more expensive than the pensioner paid for. In case you are wondering if she was asked to pay for the difference; no, the company paid for that.
According to Yussuf, “Our desire is to make our customers get value for their money and enjoy the products they have paid for.”
Commending the swift and positive response from the mattress manufacturer, the elated pensioner who received the new mattress two weeks ago said she now enjoys her sleep.
Also on the 12th of March, we ran a story ‘Questions for Haier Thermocool over internal leakage in freezers’. The story elicited so many reactions from readers that the company’s management sent a rejoinder debunking some parts of the published story.
The story was about an aggrieved consumer, Mrs. Theresa Njoku, who bought a freezer from the company. According to her, the freezer gave her excellent service for over five years till it stopped cooling because of internal leakage.
Well, the aggrieved customer took the freezer which had passed its three years warranty period to the company’s service centre with the intention of paying for the repairs. Unfortunately, the company declined to repair the freezer and offered her the option of buying a new one with 10 per cent discount. The consumer who was not ready for such expenses declined.
Exhibiting excellent customer service, after the story was published, the company’s management staff had an audience with Njoku. The old freezer was recovered from the unhappy customer and she was given a new one. It should be stated, however, that Haier Thermocool was not under any compulsion to replace the damaged freezer, after all the freezer had passed its three years warranty but their action reveals how much premium they place on their customers.
Just one more example because of space. Another story published on this page that raised so much fire works that even the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) of Nigeria got in touch with the reporter requesting to be allowed to handle the matter if she was unable to achieve redress, was the case of Mrs. Obiamaka and Microsoft.
Obiamaka purchased Microsoft Lumia 240 from Slot shop at 2B Medical Road Ikeja. Barely six months into using the phone, the entire screen went blank. Taking the phone back to Slot office, she was referred to Ravaa Service Centre at Kodesho Street, Ikeja. At the service centre, she was informed it was a software problem and asked to come back in two days for the phone.
For about one month, she went to and fro the service centre as the phone proved difficult to repair. Meanwhile, the telephone warranty stated that the phone should be changed for the customer if it failed to be repaired after about three attempts.
However, officials of the service centre were not disposed to giving the customer a new one and request from the customer to see the service centre manager was turned down by the staff.
The frustrated customer had to contact Consumer Watch and just one day after the publication of the story, she received a call from the store manager, Ahmed Hassan. Apologising profusely to the customer, he said the customer went through all that hassles because he was not informed by his staff.
Handing Obiamaka a new Microsoft Lumia 540 in an exchange for her cheaper Lumia 240, he noted that the phone should have been exchanged for the customer after the failed fourth attempt to repair it.
The question on the minds of some readers now, is why should companies wait for such experiences to be published before doing the right thing of resolving crises between them and their customers?
Yes, I agree with you. The unfortunate thing is that, most times, those in management only get to know about these things when they are published. In some cases, over zealous and protective staff will deny offended customers access to staff with authority. Though sometimes the denial of access maybe ‘orders from above’.
Manufacturers, retailers and service providers should not wait for customers to be pushed to the wall before doing the needful. They should not wait till the stories are published before giving redress to consumers.
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