Sunday, July 27, 2008

D'Banj,An Eatery & A Raised Voice

As some of you may know,the artiste D’Banj struck a deal with UAC to exclusively release his music some months ago. The 'Mo Hits Compilation' CD was the first album to be released under the arrangement between both parties, as the disc was solely available at Mr. Biggs outlets in a bid to curb piracy of his hard work. As a big fan of the Kokomaster’s, I was eagerly anticipating the release of his much-hyped new release, ‘The Entertainer’. Since the official 2-part launch of this effort was just held this past weekend, I felt there was the likely possibility that copies would be available to buy at various locations of the popular eatery.So,on my home, I decided to quickly check at the Mr Biggs outlet near my home. Since I wasn’t certain that the CD would be available,i decided to save my time by asking the security guard at the entrance(while still in my car) to kindly help me find out if the album was being sold in-store. The nice chap returned about 30 seconds with the ‘good’ news of the item’s availability. So, innocently trying to take advantage of his helpful demeanour,I then asked if he could quickly help me purchase a copy. When he expectedly obliged, I handed him some money. He quickly returned with a CD and my change. As I was about to thank him and tell him to keep the remaining money for his pleasant attitude, I noticed that he had bought the 6-month old Mo Hits compilation album(which i already owned instead.
Understandly,I told him that wasn’t what I wanted and that he should help return it and bring back my dough.Surprisingly, he didn’t come back as quickly as the first time. About 4 minutes had passed and I was about to exit my car to find out why, when he suddenly returned with the same CD and change. He mentioned that the staff had refused to take back the CD because it had already being registered into the machine as a sale. When he saw my instant visual expression, he suggested that I come in to see the shop supervisor myself.I entered to see a petit lady who I quickly figured was the person in charge. When I expressed my displeasure, she told me the exact thing the security guard had relayed to me. According to her,it had already been registered and therefore, was ‘impossible’ to accept it back.’ See me see trouble o’,I said to myself.
For those who know me,I didn’t disappoint. I started to rake. What did she mean?Was it my fault that their security guard gave me wrong information? It wasn't as if i returned a day later with the item or something.I told her that registering the sale didn’t stop her from adjusting/reversing the transaction.Afterall,the item would be back in their custody and would therefore not affect any accounting records. As accountants would say, it(the CD)was still ‘stock-in-hand’ at the end of the day. This ‘Madam Tiny Manager’ still wasn’t budging. Well, neither was I.I then asked her what happened in cases where a cashier mistakenly overbilled a customer at the till. Would the client be told ‘Sorry, but the items have already being registered. So it’s your loss,sir’’?It was when she subtly insinuated that it was my fault for not coming in myself to make sure it was the actual copy i was buying that I erupted. By now, most people across the floor had noticed our back-and-forth display. A shameful situation in which the ‘king of a customer’ was being treated in a typically naija way by a company’s person of assigned authority.
I guess it was when I told her that I was ready to take this matter to the highest level at UAC if necessary that this 'lady in desperate need of customer care schooling' decided to have a change of heart (it could also have been because she noticed my vocal range was reaching an Opera tenor’s level).She asked me to hand over the CD and, seconds later, sent one of the till girls to hand me back my money. I must confess I was pleased that my tough stance had yielded fruit.However,I felt disappointed in what this episode showed about our customer service culture in this country. Or rather, lake thereof. So many times I have observed customers being treated by company staff as if they (the customers) were beggars or being given the product/service free of charge. Like I tell some friends, the main reason why this sad situation continues to thrive is because many accept it.On several occasions, I’ve seen staff of supermarkets, fast food joints etc practically raise their voices at customers. Yes, the ‘victims’ may have been annoying, illiterate or slow but since when did that give anyone the right to talk down on them or treat with disrespect?They are paying for the goods/service,arent they?People fail to remember that without clients’ patronage, there would be no revenue and logically, no salary or jobs available to this rude set of employees. While the complete eradication of this ‘customer care’ problem in our homeland may be a long time coming, the short term fix lies in our hands i.e. customers. The solution: Never accept crap from any of these people especially when you know you haven’t been treated properly or courteously. And please don’t relent. NEVER.
Afterall, you all saw how it paid off in my battle with the Mr. Biggs lady.


Aramide said...


Samuel said...

Charles u r a man after my own heart on this issue...well done in ur battle with Tiny Miss Biggs

Gbolade said...

This article should be published in a national paper so as to help everyone out there

Gemini said...

Charles, your encounter with these "uncustomer friendly" guys at this eatery is a typical every day occurrence for the average Nigerian Customer. And I completely agree with you in that the customer lets this nonsense thrive, otherwise it would have been stamped out ages ago.
How foolish is it for someone to tell you that the item on sale has been tilled and therefore "impossible" to return for refund. Absolute nonsense.
These establishments also have to take some of the blame, what level of customer centric training are they giving their staff, what is the quality of their recruitment and selection process? They should not feign innocence and pretend to be aghast when a customer reports ineptitude on the part of your staff.
If you expect customers to be treated right, then start on the right foot, recruit and select right, train right and you will get quality service out of their staff.
This goes for all eateries, telecoms companies, banks, supermarkets and schools. In fact anyplace a business is conducted. PERIOD!!!!

TJ said...

Thank you Charles... Now I don't feel so weird or too much of a trouble-maker as a few of ma friends have made me out... If I pay for a service... I expect to get that service in the most courteous of ways... its that simple!!!

no more... no less

Even in hospitals, just because you are waiting to get medical care they treat you like the care is for free... well i can tell you that in Eko hosp in surulere and gold cross in ikoyi, the mere mention of my name TIJANI ZIBRIN will get you excellent medical care...

thank you Charles.

Chakams said...


Samuel said...

Next time I am in Lagos and I get ill (God forbid) I'll wear the name Tijani Zibrin as a name tag..LOL

Nike said...

Way to go Charles! Isnt it weird how they think they're doing you a favour by collecting YOUR money???Sheeish!!!

Yinka said...

Do you know how often this thing happens. the sales person says "i already meshin (machine) it". Ridiculous * 10. Meanwhile customer relations is not foreign to our culture; are Africans not meant to be respectful by nature? there is even an old saying that goes "the seller is a chief and the buyer is a chief". I assume that means there should be mutual respect and understanding.

and what did it take for them to oblige you in the end? yet she was ready to have a shouting match with you.

way to go on all counts bros. As I always say: Excellence should not be expected, it must be demanded. Continuously.

TWayne said...

OK let me not even start on this topic. I have TOO MANY examples I can fill an encyclopedia-sized book in a matter of minutes!

It is AMAZING how rude Nigerians can be. Do we always have to threaten or actually go to the boss to complain before these people do their jobs???

I recall booking an SAA ticket in January. Although I had a reservation, I still went IN PERSON to ensure that the correct information had been entered on my ticket before paying for it. I mean, I could have sent someone to pay for it but I didn't want any issues. Imagine my shock when I realised that even after repeating the information over and over again, on the phone and in person, they made the same mistake I was trying to avoid.

I told them I would not accept the ticket if the error was not corrected. I was told the booking had been made and could not be reversed. I laughed.. but I was still calm... until some daft (pardon my language) girl who wasn't even involved in the transaction had the audacity to tell me "but excuse me, you were sitting there when they were making the booking now.." I was LIVID!!!

Of course trust me, those who know me would have given me a prize for my performance. Not only did the boss come downstairs to personally apologise to me for their incompetence after raking and threatening that they will stay open till my ticket was rectified (and this was well after 5pm on a Friday evening), he promised to give me a refund from his pocket if I incurred any penalties. Even the rude girl gave me her details and told me to contact her if I had any issues. Needless to say the "irreversible" booking was immediately reversed and another booking made.

But haba... did it have to get to that stage???

Listen it can be done. In my former office you could get fired for being rude to a client if it is confirmed to be true so I refuse to believe we do not have the customer services culture. I blame management for not taking stricter measures against such reports when received by the public. The staff think to themselves "after all nothing will happen" and, therefore, continue to act up.

I mean the other day, this MTN chic was sucking on an orange while attending to a customer. I was thinking "what the....". I dare you to suck on an orange in the banking hall while attending to a customer!

True I admit, we Nigerians can be difficult, but I tell you, (and I am by no means a racist so please do not take this the wrong way) expatriates in our country are not treated this way. This is a tried, tested and proven fact. I think we really need to respect ourselves.

I refuse to believe these people were not trained properly. Like everything else in Nigeria, the problem is the actual building of the structure but its maintenance.

Anonymous said...

Well, despite all the madness exhibited by some. There are still others who have high regards for customers. A couple of months ago, I sent a cleaner in my office to help purchase an item from the market but unfortunately for me she came back with the wrong stuff. I immediately told her to return it and get a refund, lol. My colleague couldn't stop laughing she said, 'In Nigeria! Market for that matter!' even I felt silly but still gave it a shot. To our utmost surprise, the girl came back with my refund of N9, 000! No fuss or exchange of blows? We were ABSOLUTELY STUNNED!!!

So there’s still hope guys, we’d get there.

Adorable said...

You'd better believe that every Nigerian has an unsavory story to tell about poor customer service. I attribute it to some kind of twisted reverse psychology thingy going on. Forgive the sweeping statement but you see, Nigerians do not expect to be treated with respect and courtsey and therefore do not think they should give it as well. They think being disrespectful is a way of life this could be the reason Nigerian customers do not boycott an outfit even after they've been treated shabbily.

I have been treated horribly repeatedly, the most recent being at Emirates Airline ticketing office. No need to bore you with the details but the Nigerian officers were so rude and uncooperative even when I didn't raise my voice (like you did lol) I ended up flying Qatar Airlines!
I don't even think a mass brain surgery can help us!

Oluwanisola said...

Hmmmn... I have to be careful not to write too much here. Why? This is a matter CLOOOOSE to my heart. I'm going through a serious character change where I ought to be more gentle and practise my faith and profession (Conflict Resolution) more personally. Abi? (Pls don't laugh) But Nigerian service personnel ARE NOT MAKING IT EASY for me at all.
I have had this conversation a million times before:
Nigerian companies continue to pay lip service to customer service.
I personally discovered, if you don't fight, rake, curse, stop other customers from being served, raise your voice and insist on seeing the manager... - You may NEVER get things done! The banks are Terrrrrrrrible! The telecomms are no better. They don't mind that you gave your own customers your word and are probably losing business with every unnecessary hassle/failed service they put you through.... Look, you need DRAMA with a capital 'D' to get things done. Why??????
It pains me so much and makes my heart bleed. More so when I see the adverts! LIES!!! ALL LIES!!!
The African tradition is courteous and generous, I don't know where this came from!!!
The WORST of it all, is that this same person who 'tells' you without qualms "What do you want me to do now?" (which is not really a 'question' but a Customer-Care-Trained way of saying "Get the hell outta my sight") will be shaking all over at the sight of either a pot-bellied babariga'd or white man, moving mountains to get things done for them (for cash tips)....
Please, shall I go on?