Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maltese Gemgem – Time to stop and Take Action

The 200 year colonisation of our Archipelago by the British Empire left more than a mark on environment and culture. Apart from the stones still standing throughout the Islands, and the official second language, which is used and misused in various ways. (the Inglixx Spijking cultural classification is another topic for another time and place)

The British left with an opinion of the Maltese Population that we are a complaining lot who never take a stand or action for their complaints. They used to say “Maltese Gemgem”

Even one of the greatest Maltese Politicians of our time, Duminku Mintoff is quoted for saying: ”Il-Poplu injurant u jinsa malajr”, that is the Population is ignorant and forgets quickly.

Well it is time to stop.

What I am writing about here is not of a political nature, but nonetheless a radical change we need to make in the way we conduct our business, and the way we should start acting as consumers.

Everybody complains (Gemgems) about how the local customer service leaves much to be desired, but nobody takes any real action.

Filing an official complaint where one thinks he/she has suffered a wrong doing or failed to receive the appropriate service, is not the same as complaining.

It is your right to do so!

Let us take a positive perspective of the issue.
How would a business know that it is failing to meet its client's needs or not reaching their expectations?
One should not just expect a service, but have the responsibility to provide feedback when and where it is required.

I am not writing here a bunch of blabbering.
I am one who leads by example.
A few of my close friends know that it is my private crusade to take action over failed service. I complain and fight for my rights whenever there is the need to.
I have to thank Mr. Michael Testa, may he rest in peace, my old school headmaster for teaching us all ex tal-Handaq Junior Lyceum pupils to always walk tall and stand up for our rights.

Let me give examples.

On the day of our accession to the EU I wrote to the EU ombudsman complaining about our sub-standard roads. His reply, which I received both by email and through the post, was that he fully understood my frustration as he had himself experienced the Maltese roads on a number of occasions. However he could not officially help as his office only deals with issues regarding the use of EU funds. I have to make a public apology for not following up the EU Ombudsman's reply, when the St. Paul's bypass was being overhauled. Tabloids claimed that it was EU funded, and I failed to inform the EU Ombudsman that the EU funds were being wasted as the project took years to finish, and it is still not completely done!

Lately I received a packet from abroad, it was something I bought over the Internet as many of us do. The postman could not leave it in my letter box, so he left the usual green paper. Upon calling Maltapost I was told that I had to pick it up two days later. I asked for their delivery service, and I was told, that the item will be delivered at the sub-contractor's discretion!

So I filed an official complained. The poor girl at the other end of the telephone line was very sweet, and she stood up to her employer's procedures. I had to nicely explain that this is exactly what I was complaining about. She could not even find an appropriate classification of my complaint on her computer. Poor representative, she was completely lost. This shows how ill-prepared our businesses are for receiving complaints from their customers.

I diligently dictated my complaint to this Maltalpost representative, and she finally gave me a complaint number and a contact person.

Few days ago I received a phone call from a Maltapost representative thanking me for my two complaints. He informed me that the Maltapost management is currently discussing some major operational and procedural changes!

My first complaint that collecting a packet two days later is a worse service than we had in the past, is exactly one of the changes they were implementing.
My second complaint that for a paid up delivery I expect to dictate the date and time for receiving my packet, was also brought up to the management and this will also change, as I was right in my complaint!

Indeed, let's be positive again. If I had not informed Maltapost, they would not have known that their clients are not happy with their service.

Let us all stop complaining at home, in our offices and in the street.
Let's start the revolution of positive complaint filing.
Let us stand up to our rights.

I have to say here, that in the past I had great help from the Consumer Department. They work diligently and are of extreme help whenever you have a dispute with a supplier.

Last July, Melita Cable sent me a bill of an extra month, without even informing me if I would like to continue their service after the package I had bought for a whole year. They said that it was in the small print. I challenged them that nobody reads the small print, and that a contract is void if no one takes the time and the due diligence to explain it to you in detail. Hey, nobody seems to know this! I was given the contract as an attachment to the installation receipt from their technicians/installers. They did in the end after a number of phone calls and emails, give the extra month I was promised, and I continued with their service.

Also in July, GO called me that I had unsettled bills on their digital terrestrial service, which I had discontinued last year when I moved to a new place. For over than one year they did not even contact me or call me! Once again I challenged them and I was waivered from any debts upon returning the digital receiver. The latter was my duty and I did so.

I intend to keep publishing here my official complaints, and the feedback I receive from the respective business entities

I will also offer the space in my column in Il-Manocca to whoever OFFICIALLY files a complaint with a third party and would like to publish the outcome.

Please don't send me complaints.
Don't just complain in the street, between yourselves, on the media or with me!

Take action for yourself and follow-up your official complaint.
I’ll publish your results if you wish so.

Let's all start this customer service revolution, peacefully and quietly from our homes.

Whenever you feel there is room for filing a complaint, do not hesitate, just do it.

If everybody starts taking action, there will be a momentum for change, and the change will occur.

Stop complaining!

Take action!



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