Just wanted to point something out that most Zimbabweans are probably so used to that they are oblivious to the problem.
Today (9/5/16) I went to buy my groceries at Bon Marche Avondale at around 10am in the morning. Managed to pick out about 24 items before proceeding to the till. Now I'm mentioning the number of items because if it had been 1 or 2 items, I wouldn't have fussed about the service…
So the young gentleman at the till-my receipt says his name is Gamu but I doubt that's his name- charged my items, I paid and at that point he started fiddling with his till because there was no customer after me. I asked him if they had any packers and he said "no".
Then I asked him "so does it mean even if I had a large number of items, you guys at the till won't assist and I would still have to sort myself out?". To this he responded, "Ehe…muri kuda kupekerwa here, madii kungokumbira kuti ndibatsireiwo".
As if my groceries being in a heap next to him and him packing would be him going out of his way as a favour to me. As he reluctantly started to pack some of my stuff (at this point I had already started to pack), he went on to tell me about how they are understaffed and how the till operators can't pack because of pressure (did I mention, I'm the only person at the till?)
I politely requested to speak to the manager before I left. I introduced myself to the manager and asked whether or not they had packers. Our conversation went something like this:
Simba the manager first tells me that yes they do but naturally they would give priority to the customer with the most items. Fair enough.
I point out to Simba that I had scanned the tills while I was paying (which is what I normally do, so that I can attract any available packer's attention) and there was no one at all.
Then he says we only have 2 packers and they probably haven't come in yet (at 10am).
I mention to Manager Simba that, I hate to say it but it seems to the norm at the Bon Marche branches that I have been too which is why I normally opt for other supermarkets (read: Pick n Pay).
He then asks me which ones I've been to and I mention 2.
Then he says have you been to Chisipite?
I ask Simba why I would go out of my way to go to Chisipite?
Then Simba says that because they have dedicated packers who have been with the organisation for years and so the white customers there will just come in and go around with this person who will then escort them to their car and they get a sizeable tip.
I ask Simba: so I have to be old and/or white? (Because at point, I really do not know why he is telling me all this).
To bring this whole conversation back to MY issue, I ask Simba whether i should put my issue in writing since I can understand that the so-called under-staffing might be out of his hands then he says no.
Seeing that I'm not going to save Bon Marche from itself, i thank Simba for his time and I leave.
Has lack of customer care in Zimbabwe become the norm such that an employee of an organisation feels like packing groceries is beneath him and is a FAVOUR to a customer? What was equally disturbing is that, instead of addressing the issue, the manager felt the need to point out my other options where there are packers.
I won't even get into what he was implying about why certain people get assistance. I am a service provider myself and a certain standard of customer care is expected from me when I carry out my duties.
I do hope you can communicate this to Bon Marche management and they can address such issues that may seem minor to them but have a huge bearing on where customers buy their next loaf of bread or their loads of groceries. Until then, I will be shopping at other supermarkets where getting assistance is part of the service.