Cracker by Damian Christie


Heroes and Villains

As you may recall, I wrote the other day about Air New Zealand losing my luggage. Well there’s still no luggage, and still no word back from anyone nearer the top in response to their appalling customer service from “Milly” in Wellington. I know the blog has been forwarded on to various heads of departments, so it’s clear the PR strategy at work here is “ignore it, and it will go away.”

Which is fair enough I suppose, because it will. I mentioned it briefly last week, I’m mentioning it now, but I’m unlikely to say anything further, if only because it’ll bore you as much as it will bore me.

(NB: By accident rather than design, I flew Qantas from Wellington to Auckland the other day. Really good customer service (“can I hang that up for you, sir?”), nice plane, good snacks. I’ll be doing that again. Like, um, pretty much every time I fly domestic from now on.)

However in the meantime I have also managed to cover New Zealand Fashion Week for television, radio and print, without mentioning its naming sponsor (a certain luggage-losing airline). Even when someone I’ve interviewed has mentioned the airline, I’ve been able to edit it out – because I can. Something I wouldn’t have felt inclined to do if the luggage had gone missing, but the follow up had been good.

Yeah it’s probably petulant, but at the same time, don’t you think it’s interesting how readily we adopt naming rights sponsors’ brands into titles? Especially for those of us in the media, how often we say, for example, the “Vodafone Warriors” as opposed to “The Warriors”. I suppose if no-one did, there’d be no point in paying for naming rights. And the Vodafone Warriors would be worse off for it. So as a fan, you should probably include the Telco’s brand when you’re down at the pub, commiserating about the team’s loss on Saturday night. Or maybe Vodafone would rather distance themselves right about now, I’m not sure.

Which reminds me of a story, I’m not sure whether it’s true, of the Warriors’ early days, when DB Bitter was the sponsor. After a less than impressive first few seasons, the branding was subtly changed. Instead of “Proud Sponsor of the Warriors”, the tag line became “Loyal Sponsor of the Warriors.”

Anyway. The main point of this post, when I wrote the heading above, wasn’t to talk about Air New Zealand or the Vodafone Warriors. It was to take (and give) the opportunity instead to say something positive.

When I was hosting the TVNZ 7 Internet Debate last week – which by the way I think went very well – Russell took the opportunity towards the end of the night to thank the politicians (I think principally David Cunliffe and Maurice Williamsons) for their good work; for what they have done, rather than the debate about what they should or are going to do. I scoffed, jokingly, and asked Fran O’Sullivan if she had a harder question. But it was a point well made, and a deeper point beyond: We don’t thank people enough, or recognise those who are doing good work. So here’s your chance.

I’m going to start things off with a few. The other week I mentioned the guy at Air NZ Baggage Services in Auckland, who went out of his way to find me $100 even though the cashiers had cashed up. I thought that was important, particularly as a contrast to the now well-documented poor service from one person in Wellington. And Ken, at Palmerston North Airport, he’s been good too, following up by phone as to why I haven’t filed my claim form yet (it’s because there were about 70 individual items in that bag I need to get quotes/proof of purchase for).

Beyond that, and just in the past few days, I’d also like to say thanks to Bill, at the workshop at Shell Williamson Ave, where I’ve just taken the Holden for a WOF. Really good customer service there – even down to little things, like introducing himself to me and shaking my hand when I first went in there. I’ll go there again, and again.

I want to give ‘big ups’ to the Auckland City Council Parking Warden who let me off about $500 worth of fines the other day – my WOF and rego had expired, the car was booked in for Monday (I’d had to postpone my previous appointment to fly to Wellington last week) – as I ran out to the car, having just stopped in to drop something off. “There’s two hours free parking out the back there mate”, he helpfully pointed out, “just keep it off the street until Monday”, as he cancelled the tickets he’d already started issuing. That’s right, already started issuing.

There’ll be more to come as I remember them, but there’s a few to start with. Now it’s your turn. Let’s not turn this thread into the opposite (honestly, I have one police communications spokesperson I’m seriously struggling not to gripe about here), let’s try and get those good vibrations going…

A few things before I go. First, there’s a new issue of Metro out, with a feature from yours truly, inside the walls of Mt Eden Prison. It was fascinating to research, I hope it’s half as so in print.

Second – from my “it’s a tough job” file, my experiences as a rookie rally driver for a Mitsubishi Magazine piece are now available online here.

And finally, there’s an all new political blog thingy over at – ever wondered what happened to TV3’s Jane Young? Wonder no more. And check out this column from my good mate, Victoria University Politics Guru Dr Jon Johannson.

Right, start telling me your good stories...

UPDATE: Just to show that kindness is not only its own reward, I'm going to offer two prizes (details tbc, but I'll make them worth your while) for your tales of good customer service/samaritans - one for the teller, the other for the customer service person in question, where they can be identified. So jump in there - and if you're a company who wants to donate something for the prize hamper, send me feedback below.

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