Brewer's Droop #185

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BEATING THE SYSTEM

I have to admit it – I’m a damn hero!

I feel extremely pleased with myself, having struck a monumental blow on behalf of the consumer (well that’s what I think anyway). It’s a cute story and I think you’ll like it.

We bought an ice-maker from Makro and were looking forward to never having to balance ice trays and spill water in the freezer any longer. Got it home, unpacked it carefully and noticed the rubber feet were perished (leaving stubborn red marks on the counter). Undaunted, and with the help of a couple of strategically placed beer mats, got the thing going – within about 20 minutes the first ice cubes (8 in total – about one G&T) began collecting in the tray.

After 24 hours we had a fairly large collection of bullet-shaped ice cubes. Sadly, I suppose because the unit isn’t as effective as a real freezer, the entire mass was one contiguous lump – which I had to smash up with a hammer.

Thinking that a smaller cube might help, I tried to change the size but the size selector didn’t work.

All this took a few days – during which we realised that it was bloody noisy too.

Anyway, I put everything back into the box and intended to return it. But you know how time flies by when you’re playing with ice-cubes and it was two weeks later that I trekked back to Makro and presented myself at the Returns Counter at 12:05 (I knew this because I was in a hurry).

I explained to the (and I’m being kind here) slack-jawed, absolute moron there that the feet were perished, the size selector didn’t work, and I wanted a refund. I had to explain this three times before I actually wrote it down for him.

He went into the back room for about 10 minutes and then came back to tell me that they’d have to send it back to the manufacturer, which would take about three weeks.

No, I said. I want a refund now – and I have a dentist appointment in 40 minutes time so please hurry.

“We can’t give you a refund because you bought it more than 14 days ago” (there were a lot of signs around about the 14 day policy). I’d apparently bought it on the 5th and today was the 20th.

Feeling more than a trifle incensed, I asked him to call his supervisor and she confirmed (with a condescending smile) that 15 days was after their 14 day refund period. Duh.

Then a brilliant observation hit me – and this is the really lekker bit.

“Does your 14 day policy mean that I can return a defective product at any time up to the end of the 14th day?” I asked.

“Yes” she smiled.

“Take a look at the time of purchase on my slip of the 5th” I suggested.

“It says 12:37 on the 5th” she replied patiently.

“And what time is it now?”

“12:20”

“And today’s the 20th right?”

“Yes”

“Well the 14 days haven’t expired yet then and I still have 17 minutes to go!”

After counting out the days on her fingers twice, she glared at me and grudgingly approved the refund. I looked around for applause but only got a couple of appreciative half-smiles. I still felt enormously proud of myself though as I walked the walk of glory out of the store (and hell will freeze over before I ever go back there again).

COLONEL MUSTARD IN THE LIBRARY WITH THE CANDLESTICK

It seems to me that if a crime is committed within a specific area where all the suspects are gathered, then surely it can’t be much of a problem catching the villain?

So, when a suitcase is broken into and items removed at an airport like OR Tambo, it should be a relatively easy case to solve? Even Inspector Clouseau could manage that surely?

But no, in typically bureaucratic, extravagant incompetence, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) employs a “dedicated baggage security company” to whom they pay R7,000,000 per annum.

And yet bags still get pilfered or stolen.

Perhaps someone should tell ACSA that they’re not getting a very good service for their seven bars a year? (You and I pay for this of course).

Apparently 5,806 incidents of baggage theft were reported last year at our three main airports and 4,923 (85%) of these were at OR Tambo. The smart reader will appreciate that those are just the ones which were actually reported of course! For example, I had two cartons of cigarettes (I smoke a hard-to-find-brand) carefully removed from my case and didn’t bother to report it. The thought of all the red tape and form-filling filled me with dread. It’s just not worth the effort – and I bet there are thousands more like me.

From ACSA’s comments they seem reasonably sanguine about the situation, happily saying that the number of incidents has dropped from 36 each day three years ago to “only” 14 a day now. (However, there is some debate about the accuracy of this figure – many believe it to be much higher).

And according to a comment in August from someone well-placed at SAA, “pilferage at OR Tambo is double the rate of other airports in the world.”

It astonishes me that they confiscate a pair of tweezers from my bag, yet some thief can casually walk out of the airport with 2 cartons of my fags!

How’s that possible? Don’t baggage handlers have to go through similar security checks?

Personally, I think the answer is simple. Make the baggage handling area a completely sealed and confined area. Then issue all baggage handlers with uniforms that have NO pockets. Finally, subject all of them to the same scrutiny as that of passengers boarding planes. If they want to take a chance and smuggle a video camera up their ass then they should be caught – shouldn’t they Sherlock?

THE RELUCTANT WEALTHY

At the “Top End” presentation by UCT/Unilever and ramsaymedia research solutions, there were some fascinating insights into those people who earn more than R30,000 a month.

There are just 900,000 of them and they account for one-third of all SA consumer spend, contribute nearly half of all personal tax revenue (yet make up less than 10% of taxpayers).

Curiously only 3% regard themselves as “wealthy” and half say they are “reasonably well off”. 20% of them, including those with a net worth of over R5m, say they are “not very well off.”

80% say they are now more cautious with their spending and 61% are buying fewer branded goods. 75% are buying movable assets (like cars) less often.

So I guess this is a market segment that needs to be respected? They’re also quite easy to reach and curiously enough, this newsletter (Brewer’s Droop in case you’ve forgotten already) reaches over 4% of “top-enders” – not too shabby hey?

If you’s like more information about this segment then please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the right person – or you could email Andrew Strodel direct at andrews@ramsaymedia.co.za

TO GET MORE TOURISTS

Please remember that there are only a few days left to vote for Table Mountain. Go to votefortablemountain.com and follow the instructions. If we make it to the top of the list your modest effort will pay billions in returns.

Well, summer’s here and the thing I love most about this hot weather is the short skirts and low-cut tops. Although they do make me look a bit gay.

Be cool.

Chris

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