Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Heroes and Villains

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  • Duane Griffin,

    I live in the UK and got my ILR (equivalent to permanent residency in NZ) about a year ago. Going through UK border control is usually an unpleasant and slightly anxious experience.

    The first time I went through after getting my ILR it was late, and I was tired and more nervous than usual. The immigration officer asked a couple of questions about my new status, then she gave back my passport and said, "welcome home, sir". I nearly cried.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    AA Insurance Claims centre over in Albany. When I dropped my dented car off, they offered to taxi me back to work in Ponsonby, at their cost, even though it cost twice as much as the rate they charge you to hire a courtesy car for a couple of days.

    Then, when my car was ready, they were going to send a cab to pick me up to collect it. While on the phone, the lovely lady at AA said "Oh, you're probably too busy for that. I'll send your car over on a tow truck." 40 minutes later, tow truck pulls up outside my workplace and drops off my freshly panel-beaten car.

    Top notch, and all done with a smile, right down to the towie.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 265 posts Report

  • Ian MacKay,

    Stuart remarked on the "reward for being nice" as a philosophical question. I agree and the principle of "rewarding for good behaviour" is faulty. However acknowledging good behaviour is a great thing. "You did a great job there George." "You dried all the dishes." "You brought the washing in without being asked." No reward though.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Did they simply end up not paying out?

    Yes. I ended up paying the $500 excess, and then once that year's contract finished, sent them a nice letter explaining why I had taken my business elsewhere.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • John Farrell,

    This is a little belated, but I'd like to thank the staff of the ICU and cardiac wards at Dunedin hospital for their care of my mother, after her heart attack a couple of years ago. One hears a lot of whinging about the hospitals in New Zealand, but I have to say that my experiences over the years have been excellent.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole,

    Re State Insurance: I'd never touch them. Had a friend who had to take them to Disputes after they refused to pay out on a claim, arguing that it was his fault for running into the back of the other car despite my friend presenting a police letter saying that they only reason the other driver wasn't going to be prosecuted for careless driving was that both cars were speeding. Note that State is the only insurance company that feels the need to advertise about their pay-out rate (though they don't say that they reject a huge number of claims, which don't count).
    Like Mark, my experience with AA has always been positive. They've never been to quite the same lengths for me as he got, but I've also never been in a position of needing them. I know I could get my insurance more cheaply, but at what hit to the customer service?

    I also rate the Auckland City Council call centre. I've rarely had to wait beyond the second ring, and they're always helpful. In August there were problems with the pedestrian signals on the Market Rd/GSR intersection, which is a serious issue for an intersection serving three nearby schools as well as a facility for the disabled. Both times I called it in they raised it as a priority incident, even when it was nearly 6 in the evening, and after I observed on the second call that it was the second call in a fortnight they passed it on to the contractors and it hasn't been a problem since.

    Oh, and ups to the IRD. When one can get through to them (which isn't really the fault of the C/S staff), they always sound like they want to help you. Be nice if someone could crack ACC's collective head as has been done to IRD.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • B Jones,

    However acknowledging good behaviour is a great thing. "You did a great job there George." "You dried all the dishes." "You brought the washing in without being asked." No reward though.

    Those are rewards, they're just social ones rather than financial ones. There's a vast informal economy in social currency, and it's applied in praising good behaviour in children and ignoring bad behaviour, and it's the glue that sticks social relationships together. It can devalue, if it's overspent - nobody believes that salespeople really want them to have a nice day - but if you get lots, you spend more.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report

  • Dave Patrick,

    This again is an old one, but it's led to us always using the same plumber whenever we need any work done - and it's about a plumber, a much-maligned breed nowadays, so it sort of evens up their balance sheet a bit hopefully.

    We moved house on a Friday (much less stressful than a Saturday - lawyers aren't busy on Thursdays, removal vans have whole fleets available) - cleared out the old by about 12, and were all moved in nearly by about 3. We'd arranged a plumber to come round and move the laundry tub out of the sun-drenched northerly facing ranchslidered current laundry into the garage, so we could use the sunniest room in the house as an office. He arrived on time at about 4pm, had the tub unplumbed and the pipes sealed off pretty quickly.

    Then - "Oh" he said, "You were hoping to plumb the washing machine and tub into the waste pipe running from the bathroom?" (which backed on to the garage).

    "Yes" we said "Is there a problem?"

    "Yep" he said " laundries need a <some size of waste pipe> and the bathroom waste pipe is only <some smaller size>. But I can fix that, no problem, it'll only take an hour or so." He spent over an hour, sawing a very neat channel in the gib board to run the new pipe behind, replacing the sawn-out bit of gib, knocking out bricks to run the pipe to the waste flow and generally making an awesome job of the whole thing. At about 5:30 he said "I've nearly finished, so I might as well carry on - don't want to leave you without a laundry for the weekend".

    He eventually finished at about 6:30 - on a Friday. He even swept up the dust he'd left in the old laundry and the dust he'd created in the garage when he cut the gib board. Truly excellent service which we have always remembered.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Damien, buy a fraken Diary.
    You're just making noise now.
    The respective heads are just ignoring you because what ever they do will fail in your eyes. That said,they (through the baggage system) are trying to get your bag back to you. It's lost and the needle in a haystack has more than one meaning here, with you being such a prick about it.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report

  • Michael Savidge,

    Geez Shep,

    Sounds like you've been through their customer service training regime!

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report

  • David Wait,

    My lovely wife and I were on the train from Berlin to Prague. Just before the Czech border we realised that our passports were still in Berlin. After a discussion involving pretty much the whole carriage, the majority decision was that we DEFINATELY needed our passports to get to Prague. Getting off at Dresden we went to the ticket counter to find a way back to Berlin and still be able to catch the last train of the day to Prague. The ticket counter was populated by elderly Germans who didn’t speak English but one of them pointed at the only young person there.

    He’d finished work for the day but still planned the trip back to pick up the passports, he then had a beer with us and we talked about life in Dresden and he pointed out things to do and see while I did the round trip back to Berlin. What a champion!

    On a more local note, I work with people that care for our elderly. Every day I see these people put the interests of those they care for ahead of their own. There are certainly some structural problems in NZ aged care, but thank goodness the vast majority of those working in the sector actually care.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2008 • 1 posts Report

  • Jan Farr,

    Air New Zealand lost my daughter's luggage many years ago. She was coming from Melbourne to Auck. for her grandfather's funeral and they sent her luggage to London (as you would). We bought new clothes, sent Air NZ copies of the receipts - they told us it was their policy only to pay out some tiny amount per day. We sent the receipts again, they lost them. We sent them again. They said they never received them. And on and on and on, with them consistently 'losing' or 'not receiving' our mail. We persevered - and they finally coughed up. I think we eventually threatened them with lawyers. It took several months, but they finally gave in. I'm sure you're right and they have a conscious policy to ignore complaints unless they really won't go away. That way they save themselves thousands.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    " It took several months, but they finally gave in."

    There may be another reason for this. If they found your daughters bag there would be no need for a payout.

    Has anyone here heard of "Travel Insurance"?
    Don't buy it for domestic but International travel it is essential.

    And yeah I guess I'm still loyal to my old employer, or probbably moreso my old workmates. After the big R so many have gone back to Air NZ.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,

    Sunny, Tuesday afternoon, no traffic, 137 km/h on SH1, Kaikoura coast.

    Car up me bum.

    Cop stops us both. Talk to the other guy, off he goes. Comes to me, lectures me for - i shit you not five minutes - before "look. I only give tickets if I'm 100% sure it'll stand up in court, and in your case I'm only 99% sure." The other car, see? I could have had a defence.

    Gives me another solid 2.5 minute lecture about the unknown variable - the drunk driver, the underpaid, overtaking truck driver on the blind corner, the mess I make al over the road on impact, and his profound lack of interest in cleaning me up ... and then, "have a nice day. Drive safely."

    I can still hear the sound of the surf on the gravel beach, the twittering of little birds.

    I'm a reformed speeder. 110 at the most. 120 - sometimes - when overtaking. A pig's a pig, but that guy changed my life.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    Another one - good retail service is a rare commodity, but I've had brilliant service from Barkers (in general) and their St Lukes store (in particular).

    Just a couple of examples:

    - A t-shirt I had bought about 2 months earlier developed some holes due to a fault in the way it was sewn. I'd worn and washed it several times. I went in to the store, and they agreed to replace it immediately. I left the store, and 40 minutes later they rung me to say the replacement had arrived - and it was a Sunday.

    - I'm a big guy, and was looking for a 3XL jacket. They had nothing in store, so they had one of every style of 3XL jacket sent over from their warehouse, so I could try them - AND said it didn't matter at all if I didn't find one I wanted, they just liked being able to help.

    - I went in 2 months after my last visit, went to try on a shirt, and had the sales assistant say "you tried that one on last time, remember, and you didn't like it." He was right.

    They just come across as people who actually give a shit about making it a pleasant experience to shop with them. They also know WHY it's worth it - in the last couple of years, I've spent more money in that one store than I have on clothes in general in the last 10 years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 265 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,

    I know we're supposed to keep this positive and all, but Damien, can you or RB get any sensible gen on this whole "we only debate with the other big party" bollox?

    Even if there are good reasons for it (which I don't believe there are), seems like a bloody hard sell.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • Jan Farr,

    There may be another reason for this. If they found your daughters bag there would be no need for a payout.

    How do you work that out Shep? The funeral was the day after she arrived. We bought the clothes - paid money for them. Finding the suitcase didn't help - the money was gone. And why should we be insured and not Air NZ?

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is obviously some great customer service out there provided by those people who do more than just their job description. In particular I would like to acknowledge those helpful people who work for our government agencies - our public servants - including that mythical but threatened species the backroom bureaucrat.

    But how about making this more of a challenge - thanking Members of Parliament. Some causes that politicians champion actually do change lives for the better. So to start I would like to thank:
    Sue Bradford for the Child Discipline Act;
    Ruth Dyson for all her work on Disability issues up to and including NZ's Ratification of the UN convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability last week;
    Marian Hobbs for saving and securing the future of the National Library and Archives New Zealand;
    Jim Anderton for Kiwibank ( a bank with great customer service by the way).

    And others too numerous to mention...

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • Karen White,

    Webiste of lovely crafty people. They send you a complimentary hand-made love heart badge when you order something.

    A genuinely nice surprise

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 79 posts Report

  • Damian Christie,

    Damien, buy a fraken Diary.
    You're just making noise now.

    First, I acknowledged in the blog that I was probably being petulant, but I did want to point out to Air NZ (who would be reading) that ignoring a problem doesn't always make it go away. And can in fact make it worse.

    And seriously, if they'd contacted me and apologised from the appalling customer service from 'Milly', then the missing bag wouldn't have mattered particularly. As I said originally, shit happens, if someone steals a bag, then it's not Air NZ's fault, it's the thief's.

    But as you say, you're probably just sticking up for the company you used to work for, and fair enough.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report

  • Danielle,

    They send you a complimentary hand-made love heart badge when you order something.

    Pleased surprise seconded. They rock.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report

  • Rob Hosking,

    This is nice and timely.

    Yesterday arvo the car battery got run down.

    I took it down to Autocare in Kilbirnie, who we've been using for repairs for a while (and who, even without this recent incident, I would highly recommend to any other Wellingtonians. Nice people, excellent service, reasonable prices. I've been looking all my adult life for a garage this good).

    They charged up the battery overnight. It charged OK: Diana from them rang this morning, said it was ready, and "I'll drop it off."

    She knew we only have one car, two not-well people in the house, and it was p****** rain.

    No extra charge.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report

  • Anne M,

    "Dave" the bloke who drives the 8:25am 12A bus to Massey Uni.

    He'll stop for those he sees frantically running to the bus stop, he waits for people to be seated and doesn't accelerate like he's Lewis Hamilton. And he used to save a big roll of tickets for my son, who loved them.

    I bet he's not paid well, and the studentia are prone to "pranks" he must have seen a zillion times, but he is always cheerful and always nice.

    Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report

  • Jackie Clark,

    what a lovely idea, damien - good article too, I read it yesterday, wish it could have been longer tho'. My thanks go to a number of people - to Gus at Manisha superette on Mt Eden Rd who, if I have no money on me, gives me what I want cos he trusts me to come back tomorrow, who makes the most superb arrangements of flowers for very little money, and who often takes a few cents off things just because he can. Oh, and he gives all his regular customers a box of choccies at Xmas; to my mechanic Ashley at Ashley Automotives by the BP station in Balmoral Rd who does a really, really good job with my car, and doesn't charge me sometimes for little bits and bobs, and lets me make timepayments; to the Public Health System (as opposed to the Public Address one) that ennabled my Ian to live when he was expected to die from acute lymphoblastic leukemia 12 years ago, and it didn't cost a cent, and when they couldn't make it so my dad lived, were so lovely to us all when he was dying; and to the lovely people at all the places my mother frequents, who after my dad died, made her feel a bit better cos they hugged her when she came in.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report

  • Roger,

    Was on a United flight sometime ago from LAX (not a good start to most stories, I know) with a complicated series of onward flights through Chicago, and flight number one was delaid so that the whole string fell apart. Did the 'what now' at customer service with the cheapest no refundable, non transferable ticket available.

    They said, "no problem we can put you on Delta via Atlanta instead, but if I sort the ticketing out here you will miss the flight - so I will ring their gate to get them to do it and you will need to run".

    I said what about my bag, they said "we will pull it out of the system"... In LAX... at short notice... to a different terminal... yeah right!

    Anyway, got given my new ticket after I boarded and when I finally got to Savanna some hours latter there was my bag waiting for me, with airline security seals on all the zips just to make sure... seriously impressive!

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2007 • 179 posts Report

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