The Bumper and the Echo

Once upon a time in a land far away…

This story, sadly does not start that way. But it does have a happy ending.

Before Bosvarkie got her name, we called her the Jeep. She’s not a real jeep, but the old SJ410’s were always referred to as Suzuki Jeeps. As we had one a long time ago, the name kinda got stuck and Jimmy was not quiet appropriate. Here is the story of how Bosvarkie got her name.

It was around the 10th of April when I wanted to replace the damaged OEM bumper on the Jeep. I took to my old friend Google, and saw that Echo4x4 had a nice looking replacement. I drove to their Bellville branch and got some info and a quote which I received on m way out.

On 12 April I paid a 50% deposit. Delivery and fitment would happen around 10 to 12 working days later.

A few days later I decided to have some LED spots added and on 18 April received a quote via email.

What I ordered was a colour coded replacement bumper, and the colour must match the centre piece. (black sheen). I took my other half to show her the bumper and she liked it. I decided to give it to her as anniversary gift in middle May. (Yeah I know, any excuse just to off road).

It must have been after 10 working days when I decided to call and find out how far my order has progressed. I was told that the production is running behind schedule due to the Easter holiday. I really understood this as I know how a day or two with no work can break a schedule. But this was only the start. From that moment on, it was silence on the line.

I decided to do my own follow-up and called roughly once a week. After a few times, I started to get the pattern.

“I just spoke with our production guys and…excuse, excuse, excuse”, or “I was just about to call you.”

Now if you ever had a telepathic relationship with a business, you would appreciate it. I on the other hand started to get agitated. The last response was they were waiting for the mounting brackets, roughly going into week 5.

As we moved into week 5 of the 12 day lead time, I decided to make a call “up the tree”. I left a message for someone to call me back, explaining my frustration. And it was evening, and it was morning, the 16th of May.

So I did what you would have done. I took to facebook and contacted them on their page.

Does anyone at Echo4x4 know what it means to call a customer back and explain why the Jimny Bumper of which 50% deposit was paid on 12 April is STILL NOT available. Calling on a weekly basis only result in stories and no action. Or would you prefer to communicate via hellopeter.com?

A day later, I received a call from their national sales manager who apologised profusely for the break-down in communication. He promised to call me with an update the very next morning.

At around 2pm the “very next morning” of the 17th I called him. I was told that the bumper is almost ready and he will send it down to Cape Town. It should arrive here on the Friday, the 24th. And then I asked a question.

What colour is it? And the answer was not what I wanted to hear. “It is white”.

I explained what I ordered on 10 April and we agreed that it would be painted black to match the centre piece.

I then added an extra day to the deadline.

On 23 May I received an email from their Bellville branch.

Your Jimny bumper has arrived. Kindly confirm when it will be convenient for you to bring your vehicle in for fitment.

I wanted to see what the bumper looked like before making arrangements for fitment. And when I got there, I received a bit of injury to insult. The “black” was the wrong shade and the edges were full of scratches. It almost looked second-hand.

We discussed it, and agreed to alter the colour to match the body. At 3pm I received a quote for the colour-coding. I replied to proceed but also expressed my objection to the additional cost if the product was not delivered even 50% as specified. I received an email to say “Understood, I will make an adjustment on the pricing as per the original quote. I have given the panel shop the go ahead.

Needless to say, I got into the habit of managing the order myself by now, and on Monday morning I called the panel shop to find out how far we are. They confirmed that it is ready but they refused to give it over when Echo4x4 came to collect it as they are awaiting payment.

On Tuesday the 28th, I called Echo4x4 again and asked how far we are. “The bumper is ready. We will be collecting it today and you can bring it in when you are ready.” I did not mention my call to the panelshop the day before.

Finally I can get this done! I made the appointment for 7:30 the next day.

29 May at 7:45 we arrived for fitment.

The bumper is not there. They will collect it during the day and let us know when it is ready.

I thought to myself. How can you make an appointment, knowing you don’t have the part, and knowing about the payment still being outstanding, I added two and two.

We took off to the panelshop to do a QC inspection. Upon arrival, a few minor blemishes were touched up and we got some extra paint forĀ  future touch-ups. I got on the phone with the sales manager and explained where we are. I asked to speak to someone in accounts so we can sort out the payment. I was told their “risk manager” will call me right back.

15 minutes past, and I called again, telling the sales manager that I will pay it, and deduct it off the balance due. I waited long enough and nobody bothers to take it seriously. He agreed.

At around 9AM we arrived with the bumper and fitment could proceed.

It was supposed to be a three hour job.

At 4 pm, I haven’t heard anything. Not from the so called risk manager nor the branch manager. As they are quick to respond via facebook I asked them who the clown in charge is.

Now here comes the final straw

I do get a lot of calls. And some are from scammers and cellphone companies that got my number from some other cellphone company with a massive POPI policy statement.

“Hallo, met wie praat ek nou?” the voice said when I answered without introducing himself.

“It’s Rudy, are you calling from the circus?”

I had difficulty making out what he said, but he said he is some Botha. I thought he was a retired polititian trying to sell me a country. Then he ask me what is wrong with me. And there I flipped my lid like an old Raider on a sand dune in the Namib.

And to make matters worse, this Risk manager does not realise the damage his company’s reputation has suffered. This magazine is but one of 30 I own. And yes, I am sharing different versions on each of them.

But he put the phone down when I used the D word. I just asked him in Afrikaans, hoekom ek vir sewe weke lank moet bel om uit te vind wat de donner aangaan, en hulle doen geen moeite om my op hoogte te hou nie.

That was a wrong move. Like the sensitive viewers objecting to the naked woman in the shower in a shampoo commercial on TV I was told in no uncertain terms “Jy gan nie met my so praat nie”.

Well sorry, if I hurt your aura or whatever, but I use the fuck word too. The short version is, the risk manager had no cooking clue what transpired over the 7 weeks prior to me using the D word. And I did not even swear at him. I can however think of a few other letters of the alphabet that would have been more fitting if I felt the need to swear at him.

Anyway, At around 4:45 we went to collect the Jimny. It was still not ready.

We walked out there just after 6pm. The end of a long and tiresome experience.

Are we happy with what we got? YES we are.

Will we go back there? Yes, but only for OTC sales. If they don’t have it on the shelve, I will rather pay double to get it the same week. On second thought. I would probably never go back there again.

Do they really care? WTG! No! They did not care while I was a customer, why on earth would they care now that I am not one. Besides there are millions of other people with no expectation or understanding of the concept of customer experience.

Your voice is a mere Echo in the 4×4 market. “Hello, hello, hello, hello”

Is there anybody in there?

To add a compliment to the Bellville branch, they did not charge me for the LED light strips I also added to the list. But not a single apology.

Now read what Customers should experience.

 

 

 

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