Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Heroes and Villains

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  • Stuart Coats,

    What an excellent idea! I'd like to take the opportunity to apologise to the guy at Shell Taupo who served me yesterday. I am driving a New Zealand Opera branded car at the moment (four our production of Jenufa, which starts in Wellington next week and you should all try and see) and he asked me how it was going, about the opera, about the company. To be honest I was tired from the drive south, daunted by the drive south to go and surprised at his genuine interest. While I wasn't rude, I don't think I answered his enquiries as thoroughly as I would like or owuld normally do. So thanks for your interest, and I hope you do make it down here to see the show.

    On a poorer note, I was at Wellington airport this morning and they had a fire drill. It was one of the most poorly organised events I have ever seen. And, after we all milled about looking like lost sheep, no announcement was ever done to say that the drill was over, that life could now return to normal. It's a good thing there wasn't actually a fire.....

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Um, Public Address. Thanks.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Possets Perfumes. Every time I order from them, they pop in a little free gift. The last time, I got an email apologising that my order was going to be slightly late, on account of Hurricane Ike. Cheers Possets, you're brilliant.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    at the workshop at Shell Williamson Ave

    You mean there's a Gas station in NZ that actually has a Workshop and Mechanic ?, I thought they'd all been replaced with Baristas

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Searancke,

    This happened today: I was walking along Ponsonby Road when I stepped onto a dodgy fire hydrant cover. The cover didn't do its job and down went my foot in to the hole. I phoned Auckland City Council to report it ("someone could break their ankle...etc, etc.."). No waiting on hold, no pressing 1 for anything or 2 for something else, just a friendly woman who could immediately help!! I needed to call Metro Water, not the Council, and she had the number right there for me. So far, so bloody excellent.

    I called Metro Water (just the one recorded message, then a real person) and she was great. Firstly she asked if I was alright after my fall (I am). Then she got the team onto fixing the fire hydrant (plus the uncovered one in my street that I've been meaning to do something about) and offered to call me back to let me know when the work had been completed. Nice. Then...lo and behold, about two hours later, she DID! Thanks Metro Water for keeping our streets safe!

    Then there's my fabulous two year old son, who kissed my ankle better. Priceless.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I find Ascent are really good at shipping stuff and have pretty good prices.

    Plus the guys at Midnight Espresso are cool.

    On the subject of corporate plugs, I think media should remove all company names from sponsored events. If they object, send them a ratecard. Also, the same thing should happen with those "surveys" that businesses send out to promote their activities, e.g: 85% of NZ businesses have suffered from possum attack in the last year, says a survey sponsored by Kiwi Possum Extermination

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green,

    Jan Grefstad's Hollywood Cinema, Avondale. The opening credits of the movie I was watching stopped a couple of times and had to be re-spooled. Afterwards, the guy who does everything there (and now I wish I knew his name) was at the bottom of the stairs apologising and handing out free tickets. My favourite cinema.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Stuart - ignoring that you succumbed to temptation to give a serve to Wellington Airport, that's a great story. What you should do is find out who that guy was, and get your publicity people to offer him two free tickets if he wants to come down - show him that being nice isn't without its benefits, and sometimes they're actually tangible.

    Helen - I wasn't sure where you were going, there were too many opportunities for public bodies to drop the ball here, you had me on the edge of my seat. In fact I just called AkCC's comms person for a different work-related matter, and was very impressed by her helpful manner. Go the Council!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    UPDATE: I'm going to root around in the prize cupboard here at Cracker HQ and see if I can't dig up a couple of prizes, one for the best story of good customer service/kind samaritan, and one for the employee/samaritan in question, if they can be identified.

    I'll make the prizes as good as I can, a book, or a CD or coffee or something, so it's worth a crack.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Re: the__Vodafone__ Warriors. Interestingly, and frustratingly, they are the only NRL team to have sold out their name.

    Initially, the team's name followed the convention in the competition: [Name of City, Suburb or Region] [Vaguely Playful Noun]. The Auckland Warriors: it made sense.

    In 2000 they metamorphisized into the New Zealand Warriors. For no good reason that I can think of. The new name was out of keeping with tradition, and not particularly appropriate, given the New Zealand rugby league team is called the Kiwis. At the same time they shifted away from their blue, white and green colours to the current black and silver.

    And then they sold their name to Vodafone. Note that Vodafone didn't actually buy the Warriors Inc. If they did, they could call them anything they liked, I guess: the Vodafone Ringtones, for example.

    There is ongoing confusion as every other team can be called by either of its two names: e.g., 'Canberra' or 'the Raiders'; 'North Queensland' or 'the Cowboys'. But you can hardly call a team 'Vodafone'. e.g., Try saying "and Vodafone take the ball up the field".

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    What you should do is find out who that guy was, and get your publicity people to offer him two free tickets if he wants to come down - show him that being nice isn't without its benefits, and sometimes they're actually tangible.

    Hmmm, rewards for being nice. I would rather people were nice for the sake of it, rather than for a reward that may or may not come.

    This is a philosophical point, not an pathetic attempt to be cheap!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    the same thing should happen with those "surveys" that businesses send out to promote their activities, e.g: 85% of NZ businesses have suffered from possum attack in the last year, says a survey sponsored by Kiwi Possum Extermination

    You mean you don't want to know that the survey being plumped in the news is a marketing gimmick from someone?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    I would rather people were nice for the sake of it, rather than for a reward that may or may not come.

    I agree, absolutely. Which is why when someone is nice for the sake of it (rather than say, hoping for a tip, or that you'll spend more and they'll get a bonus on commission), it's also nice to surprise them and say 'thanks', in a material form.

    Of course you go ahead and be a cheap-arse ;)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Also, the same thing should happen with those "surveys" that businesses send out to promote their activities, e.g: 85% of NZ businesses have suffered from possum attack in the last year, says a survey sponsored by Kiwi Possum Extermination

    I think we (being the media) do make a point of removing those names more often than not. Companies like Durex usually manage to get their names clinging to things like the "Durex Sex Survey", but wherever I've been able to, I've taken the names out. Like, thanks for the info, but be aware that attaching your name to a survey doesn't mean I have to use it.

    It's a pretty trad and tired PR tactic I think - "We'll do a survey, and then put your name on it." Yawn.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    I've been re-thinking my stance.....
    I once had an argument with Telecom. In the course of this argument, which went over many days through many different customer "service" represnetatives, I lost my temper and started shouting. Loudly. With attached swearing. I got to speak to a manager only after I made the woman at the other end of the phone cry. She cried and put me through to her boss who both fixed my problem and gave me a great deal on my pricing plan.
    So I felt like a heel, but not enough to not take the cheap plan! I thought that things shouldn't be like that: I shouldn't have to make someone cry to get things done in this world, that being nice shouldn't get me nowhere.
    So with that in mind, maybe I should just pony up with the tickets.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Art and my life,

    The ladies at AMI Insurance Paraparaumu. We seem to have had a run of misfortune this year and Gale and Kieran have been AWESOME. They supplied tissues one day when it all go too much and have been helpful, supportive and I couldn't ask more from them.

    Since May 2008 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Regarding the former Auckland Warriors, isn't the reason for giving teams staggeringly unoriginal nicknames so that they can be transplanted to a different city or country at the whim of the owners / league promoters?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Your blog title says heroes and villans.

    So in the spirit of the latter, can I give a big shout out to State Insurance, who I signed up to in the mistaken belief that "it doesn't matter" and they had fly buys, which brings my sister down to visit her nephew and niece.

    Having taken photos of the paint marks on the next door neighbour's car that hit my parked car on the street late on a Friday night, and then having been told "er, no that's not enough evidence for us to pursue them, as they have said it wasn't them", I promptly switched insurers. Since then I've discussed State with a number of other people who informed me that "yeah, I've heard they're shit".

    Hero: Graham (I think that's his name) at Novus glass here in Dunedin who, after some drunken idiot on Friday went down my girlfriend's street smashing car windows, and her new caravan window, drove up there on a Saturday, took the caravan away, fixed it on a Sunday (a day I presume he doesn't normally work) so that we could drive it up to its new home near Oamaru. And to the police who apparently caught the multiple window-breaker, and will be seeking (among other things), money from him for the rest of his life to pay for everyone's windows.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I've one - a number of years ago now, but I think still worth a mention.

    In one of the places I lived while at uni, I frequently found myself catching the last 'bus home. I was right at the end of the run, and invariably the only passenger remaining. Not needing to make a return trip, the driver (whose name I remember, but won't mention, lest he get in trouble) would abandon the official route for the end of the trip, and drop me off at my driveway, saving me a walk of maybe 400 metres.

    Not only that, each night he would also only pretend to clip my 10-trip ticket, so I pretty much never paid for what was the best bus service I ever received.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    What a great idea to recognise kind and thoughtful 'customer service'. There is actually a lot of it around. For shops like Unity Books in Wellington or Vic Books in Rutherford House it is the norm (which as a mild shop phobic I really appreciate).

    But I would like to mention an incident a couple of years ago that seems trivial but meant such a lot at a particularly stressful time. My elderly mother was terminally ill in hospital and I seemed to spent a lot of time driving around Wellington and parking on various errands. This required an endless stream of coins for parking money (and money machines only give out $20 notes), but many shops and cafes are reluctant to provide these coins. But at Thorndon Pharmacy in Molesworth Street the cheerful 'of course' to my request (I never mentioned my mother) helped so much and just lightened my day. Actually I shouldn't have been surprised as the pharmacist and his staff are invariably polite and helpful.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3199 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    And Russell at the workshop at Shell Crofton Downs. He and his staff have been fixing my cars (two in that time) for almost 20 years. Workshops can be intimidating places but Russell is never patronising and explains clearly what the problem is and what is required. He helped me dispose of/recycle my last car after it was no longer repairable and found me a new one that has been incredibly reliable. He puts up with a lot from some difficult people. I really trust his professionalism, and hope he never retires.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3199 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Not only that, each night he would also only pretend to clip my 10-trip ticket, so I pretty much never paid for what was the best bus service I ever received.

    You see, the first bit, about dropping you off home, I can understand, but that's just kinda... odd. You reckon he fancied you or something? Or did you look pretty pov-o at the time? :)

    And Kyle - no! No villain stories here please, I'm trying to keep this thread like, positive, man. The villian in the post title referred to Air NZ.

    Having said that, and since you've already raised them, IMHO, State do suck, and I had two very similar experiences with them so I can empathise. Did they simply end up not paying out? There's an insurance ombudsman or something.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    Excellent Service, abounds in all sort of places it seems, including....Baci Newmarket.
    I read a review for "Nightworkings" in the SST at about 4.30 pm on Sunday, jumped online to find of all the online bookshops in NZ, Baci had 1 copy on hand, registered, purchased and thought that'll be here later in the week. Monday dawns, sick child...my turn to pull the stay home day...doorbell at 8.40 am and lo and behold "Nightworkings" from Baci.
    Beautiful day curled up on sofa in sun reading for the day...bliss.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I was in Berlin a couple of months back and due lack of german language skills combined with failure to note subtleties of the timetable/track repair schedule we ended up stuck some distance from the airport at a suburban rail station in southern Berlin.

    In Berlin these are all very lightly staffed and in comparison to London at least to find a real person to actually ask a query of is rather hard work. However we eventually managed to find a helpful assistant who disappeared into her booth high above us for 5-10 minutes while she called around the various stations and such to plot us a path that would work at that time of night. It was mildly complicated and required loads of running about between platforms in the east of Berlin but it got us there in the requried 40 minutes. Then of course Ryainair was an hour late.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Two cheerier airline stories for you, both from this month.

    1) Jet Blue
    -------------

    Have Jet Blue flight booked on a Sat afternoon to get to JFK, thence to fly out internationally. Midnight Friday, get a phone message from airline saying flight has been cancelled, here is number to call for help. Stress ensues. What will I do? Earlier flight? Drive to NYC? Argh!

    Call number, lovely rep absorbs the situation and then helps me rebook, but not before checking multiple sources to make sure that the original cancellation wasn't for some reason that could lead to other cancellations later. Even notes that I had paid for extra legroom ($10, bloated class enemy that I am) and arranges for appropriately nice seat. Apologises for problem, and is generally awesome. I make my connection (with enormous wait at horrible horrible JFK, but that can't be helped) and the world is rosy once more.


    2) Virgin Atlantic
    --------------------

    I order duty free on the plane (yes, I know, but I already told you I was a bloated class enemy). Hand over my remaining euros and pounds, plus my credit card to make up any shortfall. Attendant says she's not sure if she can take euros as usually they only take currencies from places they fly to, but will check.

    She comes back with my credit card and says the euros were fine, and since there was only 80p left to put on my credit card they didn't run it and it was "on Richard".

    This one in particular seems trivial, and yet I think plenty of companies would have been mean/difficult in a parallel situation. Especially most airlines I've met.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

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