Call for help as fridge and customer service fail

Janine Cleophas has been living in Zurich, Switzerland for the past 12 years but returns to Cape Town regularly to see her family.

However, on her last visit, she learnt that South Africa doesn’t run like clockwork as it does in her “adopted” country.

On November 30 2018, her brothers, Julian and John-Luke bought a KIC fridge (R3 299), on her behalf from Makro, Ottery, who promised it would be delivered to her home in Gardens, on Saturday December 1, in the morning. By midday it still hadn’t arrived.

Ms Cleophas said Julian called Makro and was told the fridge was still on site and they would phone him back They didn’t so at 3pm he phoned again and he was told it would be delivered on Sunday between 9am and 10am.

“Despite promises by the duty manager, Keith, there was no feedback so Julian called him again and Keith said it would be delivered in two hours. It arrived at 1.15pm and as instructed we were told to wait 90 minutes before switching it on.”

Julian asked for compensation for the inconvenience, the many calls and for the food that had spoiled while they waited for the fridge.

“Keith offered him a R70 voucher which he would have to collect from Ottery. Julian rejected the offer as it would cost more to drive or take an Uber to Ottery,” Ms Cleophas said.

Ms Cleophas arrived from Switzerland on December 14, bringing chocolates and biscuits for Christmas gifts which she put in the fridge to stop them melting. This was in addition to the food that was already there.

Two days later, “the fridge felt warm although the freezer appeared to be working”.

“Next day we noticed that the chocolates had melted, the milk and the cold meat had gone off and the frozen foodstuffs in the freezer started to thaw. We bought a lot of meat for Christmas Day that we had to cook and eat, instead of dumping it. The gifts had also been spoiled,” Ms Cleophas said.

Makro sent a technician to check the fridge, which, he said was faulty. The gas had been leaking and it should be replaced.

After numerous phone calls the new fridge was finally delivered a week later, on December 22.

Ms Cleophas wanted R3 850 in compensation for the spoiled goods and for airtime.

And that was the start of another merry-go-round which wasn’t so merry.

According to Ms Cleophas who wrote to me from Zurich in October, Nazeem Doovey, general merchandise manager at Ottery, who was less than helpful, said she had to deal with KIC.

“I refused to because my contract was with Makro, not KIC. Mr Doovey was always busy when I called and he seldom returned calls,” said Ms Cleophas who kept detailed notes of the saga.

“But he said I must claim from KIC as Makro seldom compensates anyone. Eventually Mr Doovey said he would take it up with the legal department. Later he said he wasn’t even sure they received the pictures I sent him. Ten months later, I have not received any compensation for the inconvenience, not to mention the goods which were spoilt in the faulty fridge. I think R3 850 is fair.”

Welisa Nene, spokesperson for Makro, said they rely on a courier company to deliver the goods at a time specified by the customer.

“The Ottery store will be looking at the root cause for the delay with deliveries and will work harder at trying to eliminate them. The store will strive to ensure that delivery schedules are communicated to all customers and to keep them informed of the process.”

She said although it is a KIC fridge, Makro must follow the return policies set out by suppliers. Makro logs service calls and a technician is sent to assess the product, which is what happened.

“We contacted KIC to arrange for a replacement fridge but it was out of stock (hence the delay). We have reviewed the issues raised by Ms Cleophas and agree that our communication to the family was insufficient and we have given feedback to Mr Doovey.

“Although the CPA does not cover collateral damage, as a gesture of good faith we would like to give the family a voucher for
R2 500,” Ms Nene said.

Ms Cleophas would have preferred cash to spend elsewhere because of her poor experience with Makro.

However, she told Mr Doovey she would accept the voucher and it must be given to her brother Julian.

“Thank you,” Ms Cleophas said. “Without you I would probably still be waiting for feedback. They even gave you the reasons for the delays in delivery which they didn’t share with me. I’m happy with the outcome.”