About a year and a half ago I was with my dad, having a braai at his house in Camps Bay with a bunch of his friends, when he got a call from a Police Station in Philadelphia (West Coast) saying that they needed him to come down to the Police Station immediately. The policeman on the phone refused to tell my dad why, but said that it was to do with Greg… who they knew he was related to because of texts they’d found on Greg’s phone.
My dad came to me and was a little suspicious, as was i. The policeman was cagey, and Greg was known for being a bit of a “bad boy” so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that this wasn’t all as it seemed. I convinced my dad to come with me down to the Camps Bay police station to ask the guys there to do some digging for us.
We left his house full of people, snuck out and drove down to the station. After a bit of convincing, they called the Philadelphia cop shop and spoke to the Captain there to find out what exactly was going down, and whether it was all above board. The police officer on the phone then had the unfortunate job of telling us that my uncle’s body had been found near the Ostrich Farm. The police at Philadelphia didn’t want to tell my dad over the phone, hence their reluctance to give out too much info.
My dad is the eldest of 4 children… 2 brothers and a sister. He had a tough time growing up… his story could reduce even the coldest person to tears. I have no real way of describing what i saw that night in him, he was obviously broken… but he went back to the braai, was the perfect host, and no one was any the wiser. It was probably shock, but more than likely it was that he’s super-humanly stoic.
The next couple of weeks were rough. For both of us. Only two weeks later i lost a friend. I wasn’t in the best place, so i also wasn’t in the best place to be there for him as much as i should have.
I’m still not 100% sure that it’s particularly right to put this kind of stuff on a blog that’s full of videos of people doing stupid shit and pics of nude women and the odd competition… but ultimately, nothing will change unless we do something about it… so i’m going to be frank here. Bear with me.
My Uncle’s body was found by workers (poor guys) hanging from one of the trees that line the road. There was a note he’d typed on his phone to his family… he’d made too many mistakes in his life, felt like there was no way back, that he wasn’t going to be able to ever be the person he wanted to be and it killed him to hate himself that much every day. It wasn’t the first time my dad had lost someone to suicide, his mom took an intentional overdose when he was in University, and he found her body the next morning.
Why am i telling you all of this? Well, firstly, it’s because suicide is still something that is spoken about in hushed tones… and it shouldn’t be. It might sound like a cliche, but suicide really is a silent killer. If someone does happen to reach out, the people they reach out to very VERY rarely know how to handle it or help them. The only way that’s going to change is if we speak about it, share our experiences and are honest about it.
Secondly, i needed you to understand that losing my Uncle was absolutely soul destroying for my dad… it was the second person he’d lost that way. This brings me to my next point… why i’m actually writing this post.
My dad came to visit me in JHB last week, while he was driving his phone buzzed and he asked me to check if it was anything important. I got a little bit of a shock when i saw that it was an email from lawyers regarding an outstanding amount on my Uncle’s Edgars account. My dad then told me what he’s been dealing with over the past year and a bit. Before i get into it, i need you to understand that this isn’t a typical customer services rant… i am genuinely disgusted and appalled at how a company can treat humans and get away with it.
It started when Edgars Accounts Dept called my dad, asking where Greg wass… my dad told them that he passed away. They apologised and said that they would make the changes on his account to reflect that fact. The problem is, the calls never stopped. Week after week he was having to tell someone new that his brother was dead. He asked whether he needed to supply death certificates, or some sort of police affidavit so that they can leave him alone. Edgars didn’t stop there.
Edgars passed the account info on to one of their lawyers firms (RL Davies?). It was at this point that the phone calls became threatening, rude and disrespectful. My dad told me that he got a phone call from a women who refused to state who she was or where she was calling from, but threatened my dad with court and legal action if he didn’t pay the outstanding account. NEWS FLASH: family members aren’t responsible for debt incurred on a clothing account by other family members. My dad wasn’t even a beneficiary of his brothers estate?
He got an email from the lawyers demanding money regularly… and it was one of these that i saw. A constant reminder of his brother’s death. I am shocked that it’s been going on for so long. I took it into my own hands and told my dad i would fix it. I tweeted at Edgars, and had a DM within minutes. I can only guess it was because my tweet had been RT’d lord knows how many times, and people were replying with equal disgust. Within 24hours the problem was resolved. My dad hasn’t been contacted since.
Why did it take me 24hrs to fix something, yet my dad couldn’t get it sorted for over a year and a half? It’s not because my dad didn’t follow procedure. It’s not because he didn’t speak to the right people. He spoke to countless people at Edgars, at the lawyers…. he sent emails to both, apparently.
Did Edgars jump at fixing the problem because they were worried about my almost 12 000 followers on Twitter, and the backlash they were already experiencing from 1 tweet? Maybe it’s the fact that i’m on air on a national radio station and they were worried that i would take my experience on air (which i never would)! Nevertheless… this is why i felt like i needed to share my family’s story. We can’t be the only people who have had this happen to them? I’m only assuming that the vast majority of their account holders can’t use Twitter to complain… and if they do, they probably don’t have enough of a following to pose a threat to Edgar’s PR.
So, in short; Edgars, why did it take me 1 tweet and 24 hours to fix a problem that my dad couldn’t in more than a year? At the end of the day, we spoke to the same people. I got a call from Customer Services after the DM, and my dad must have spoken to at least 4 or 5 different people at Customer Services over all this time…
Edgars, you make me feel sick. From what my dad told me, the way you treated him is unforgivable. You forced him to tell countless people on the phone, over and over and over again, that his brother is dead. You threatened and berated him to pay an account that wasn’t his. His brothers death has been turned into a fight about money with you. My only regret is that he didn’t tell me sooner.
All of this for +/- R1400. I hope you’re proud.
*disclaimer: this is an opinion piece about my family’s multiple encounters with the above mentioned. I write this piece with no malice, and only wish to share my personal experiences. My aim is not to hurt their business, but rather to show them that their policies, in my opinion, should be changed. I appreciate that they fixed the problem, and the lady i spoke to was an absolute darling… but i suppose i still have some unanswered questions.