Over the past two decades in a wheelchair there have been many challenges. Some have been easy to navigate while others have needed a little more energy to overcome. Some people are open to feedback, while others become defensive and resistant, accepting the feedback only as criticism. Occasionally, however, my faith in humanity is restored. It is at those exact moments that I know I need to give thanks where thanks are due!
My daughter and I visited our local Woolworths store in early November last year. She found some items of clothing that she wanted to try on and asked me to accompany her into the fitting rooms for my opinion. I noticed that the fitting rooms had been remodeled, but soon realized that I couldn’t fit into any one of the cubicles!
I called the store manager to express my concerns. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there at the time, but I spoke to another employee who promised to convey the message. Past experience dictated that my message would go nowhere and I went home feeling frustrated.
Much to my surprise, I had barely arrived home when the store manager phoned and promised to address the issue immediately. Again, apprehension set in…promises, promises, empty promises…
I was completely wrong in my assumption!
What a welcome surprise when I got another call within two days. The store invited me to view the changes they had already made?! The Bluff store had taken my feedback seriously and acted positively and actively, reversing the way that the door in the largest cubicle opened – just as I had suggested. They had also removed the huge bench that had been built into the cubicle, taking up unnecessary space. In doing so, they created more than enough space for a large wheelchair or pram to enter and even turn inside WITH THE DOOR CLOSED.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t all. I had a phone call from Anita Scott, Woolworths Retail Operations’ Customer Liaison – Directorate Manager. She verbally committed to addressing the issue ad haste. Her phone call was followed up by an email confirming the changes that had been made in our local store in writing.
The simple changes that Woolworths made allow wheelchair visitors and parents with prams to try on clothes with just as much privacy and dignity as any other customer. Only fair!
Well done and thank you Woolworths👍
Executive Decisions Private Security Company
I visited the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in December 2018. Soon after arriving at the V&A I needed to use their disabled toilet facilities. I found one but it was occupied. I waited for more than 12 minutes, when the security guard in the area approached, knocking on the door to make sure that there was a person inside. No one replied but 3 minutes later a tall, uniformed member of Executive Decisions Private Security company exited the toilet. He was not disabled at all. I gently confronted him about using the disabled facilities, given that it was early in the morning and the other toilets were basically empty. (My husband had used the regular faculties reporting that they were empty.) The Executive Decisions’ employee responded quite aggressively, asked me if I had a problem and sauntered away without remorse or any form of an apology.
About an hour later I saw the same gentleman chatting away with members of the public while on duty and decided to take a picture. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I took it on impulse anyway… Good thing I did.
My initial thought was to leave the incident there. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would be doing his employer a disservice if I didn’t inform them. He is their representative, dressed in their uniform, visible to members of the public. His conduct directly impacts their reputation. Coupled with the fact that he worked in one of the busiest tourist hubs in South Africa, I could only imagine how offensive he could be to other guests, both local and international. Hence, my decision to email the company.
I sent my email on 21 December 2018 and after a couple of days thought that I had wasted my time. I was wrong! On 9 January 2019 I received an email from Gayle van der Mescht, Executive Decisions’ Office Administrator. She thanked me for bringing the incident to their attention and informed me of the steps they would be taking to address their employee’s conduct. The attached photo allowed them to identify their employee.
I was truly impressed with Ms van der Mescht’s feedback and her tone. I was especially impressed with Executive Decisions for taking my feedback seriously, and, more importantly for considering it in the same positive light I had intended it.
Thank you and well done Executive Decisions👍!
Don’t just complain – make a suggestion & give thanks where thanks are due
Negativity, criticism and complaints are everywhere. They flow so naturally and we often forget to give thanks where thanks are due when our feedback or complaints are taken seriously and constructively addressed.
An old friend once told me to remember the following when reporting a problem or complaining about something:
- Find something to be thankful for about the situation or person BEFORE stating the problem or complaint.
- State the problem or complaint as constructively and positively as possible.
- Suggest a constructive solution or solutions.
- Ask for feedback or progress.
- Remember to thank the company or person when something is done to rectify the issue!
So, thank you to Woolworths and Executive Decisions for taking my concerns seriously and for proactively rectifying the issues. Well done, my faith in humanity is somewhat restored👍