This time it’s Onions by the barrel ... of groans
IF THIS country is ever to take its rightful place as a leading nation, we’ve all got to play our part and stop accepting illegality and dismal service, particularly when the latter comes from a government department.
But sometimes, a success story gives you hope. What has happened at Home Affairs truly qualifies as miraculous. Not that many years ago, it was a slimy cesspit of inefficiency, arrogance, incompetence, xenophobia and racism. Now it is the model of civil service efficiency.
My wife went to renew her passport last week – and within five working days, she got a text to say it was ready. Staff who handled the application were knowledgeable and polite.
Some might say just doing your job is not worthy of the Orchid I am handing out to Home Affairs; others might ask what this has to do with marketing.
Think about this: that government about-turn not only proves it can be done and that there is hope for other bureaucratic messes, but it shows that South Africans can compete with the rest of the world at service. That’s a powerful marketing tool and it’s why it gets an Orchid from me.
However, this page is going to look like a Fruit & Veg City onion shelf, because boy am I in a grumpy mood. There are times when I, like others, wished I lived in Cape Town. This has nothing to do with SuperSis Helen or that huge chunk of rock, or even the la-di-da way Capetonians educate the rest of us unfortunates about wine and etiquette.
It’s because Cape Town has strict rules for outdoor advertising. We can enjoy the glorious views in the Peninsula without the sight being soiled by crass, invasive commercial messages.
I am not a great fan of outdoor advertising because it can, as I discovered recently, make my blood boil. Out walking the dogs on a stunning Joburg Saturday morning (sorry Cape Town, we beat you there), I saw two gawdy posters strung up on light poles along my street. They were clearly illegal as they were not political party posters and they did not have the Joburg Municipality sticker on them.
Having seen Metro cops taking down some of these eyesores recently, I did my civic duty and, with wirecutters and stepladder, liberated my street from the poster colonisers.
My wife thinks I’m a criminal – but how can I be accused of doing something illegal to something which is illegal in the first place? I didn’t destroy the posters, and if the company advertising a retirement home wants to collect them, they may do so… after they’ve removed the garden rubbish on top of them.
If you don’t check your posters before they go up or your artwork before it ends up on a mobile billboard, even if they are legal, you will just look stupid.
These two pics – one of a Liberty poster, the other of an ANC election message on a truck – show that incompetence and laziness are not confined to government because the private sector (like Liberty) is just as capable of allowing things to go out with typos. Onions to Liberty and the ANC… interesting bedfellows.
Who has not been hassled by a call centre and got so irritated that they are actively against the brand? In one week in Household Seery, three such instances:
● I’m phoned by Protea Hotels’ Prokard division asking if I’d like a card. This despite me telling them last year and the year before I’m not interested. No great database management there, Protea: an Onion for you.
● My wife was called by Vodacom’s call centre, which without waiting to hear her explanation launched into a pitch about their latest data bundles offer. Problem: she’s been with MTN for some time, having switched from a Vodacom Pay as You Go arrangement. When the call centre heard that, click. Incompetence and rudeness equals an Onion.
● Then she got a call from a Sanlam agent (she does business with them) telling her she qualifed for a personal assistant who would help her do things like “buying a laptop for your grandchild”. Not a good start.
But it got better (or worse depending on your sense of humour): because she was such a valued customer, she would get this “service” for only R37 a month. Her response: I am not interested. Theirs: click. Incompetence and rudeness equals an Onion to you, too, Sanlam.
And finally, am I the only one who wants that grinning village idiot, Peter Ndoro, to pack his bags and leave SABC3’s early evening news bulletin? Apart from inanely smiling at tragedies from rape to typhoons, his “ad lib” patter would embarrass a high school talent evening.
But it is his stumbling over words – not because of a language issue, because he has clearly had an expensive private school education somewhere where the Queen’s pronunciation is held dear – but because he couldn’t be bothered to go over what he is reading and check how it should be spoken.
I screamed in frustation recently when he tried to pronounce the name of Felix Baumgartner. “Bot gram… bongrat… heh heh heh…”
If it makes viewers switch channels, it damages your marketing, SABC, so here’s your Onion (Un-yun)…