Shitty Vendor = Shitty Experience = Real Business Lesson

A situation occurred on 28/12/2012:

I received an angry call from a man who wishes to be known as "Mr. Ong", who called angrily and exlaiming rudely that a person called "Louise Yow" who gave him the wrong contact for him to call that is "not nice". I patiently explained that this Louise is in fact my wife, and asked him to allow me to call her and get back to him to see what is the matter.

I called her to find that her phone is not switched on (sometimes she does this when she's seeing a patient, or there's simply no line, so I deduced that she is engaged seeing a patient, so I called him back to explain that she is now seeing a patient, and I'll get her to call him back once she has finished the session with the patient.

Here's what he did: he just said ARGH and cut the line.

That really annoyed me.

Later, I received an SMS from him:


He literally accused my wife of causing problems/issues "to approach business" by using another person's number.

You can see in my response that I asked him in a gentle tone asking

"Hi boss - is it possible a misread/miscom?"

Following that SMS, I received a call from the owner of the wrong number screaming to me to stop using their number to make business if not they will call the police. There was no intelligent discussion or investigation, just irritated threats to me to back off. Some questions that raced through my mind was - how did this elderly couple get our contact details? Who had given them our details, told them of this super inflated idea that someone is using their contact "to approach business?"

Of course the finger all point back to this person called "Mr Ong".

So, there I was, on one hand, I knew that Louise has been making some arrangements and contacts to purchase equipment and inventory given that we're renovating our clinic, so there's the likelihood that she is connecting with vendors - so a logical question that went through my mind was, was the number misread or miscommunicated? It's likely that that was the initial source of the problem, and this Mr. Ong seems to have not investigated and has decided to behave in a short temper and poor patience, that when he called the given number, it was the wrong person and that Louise was unable to be reached given that she was untimely seeing a patient at his point of contact, so he flared up at his will..or lack thereof.

So when Louise was finally in reach, she called me back and explained the situation to me and voila! I was right, it was an initial wrong telephone number that was one digit off, and it was corresponded in an email 30 minutes before he had called angrily, and was rectified in email.

I called him back later to ask him what actually transpired, and he barked this back at me:

"It's just a miscommunication okay?"

Short, bitter, begrudging, angry and very abrupt, and kept cutting me off.  He repeated the same sentence twice, and cut my phone. So much for customer service management.

I also asked how the elderly couple managed to get our number - he denied that he had given the elderly couple my number, saying that "they Googled us." Please, how does one get information to Google us in the first place? You mean to say that without any information whatsoever, this elderly couple "suddenly" has information on our number to call us? Likely scenario is he had instigated and harassed them and had given them our contact number to call us to harass us, and then lied to cover himself when I investigated the trail that led the information back to him.

  • Mr. Ong
    • I understand that miscommunications happen, but it is not okay to be rude.

    • It is not okay to have lied.

    • It is not okay to have instigated and harassed two perfectly good groups of people: an innocent couple, and an innocent man helping his wife handle a miscom and possibly helping you to salvage a situation.
  • You did not do anything okay that day in terms of communication and managing the situation.
    • You spoke very rudely and behaved as such to my wife and myself not once, but six expressed times. Even to a human being, this is poor communications, period.

    • You didn't investigate thoroughly before coming to an intelligent conclusion.

    • You lied repeatedly about not informing the elderly couple about our contact number.

    • It was very wrong of you to have called the poor elderly couple and harassed them with your confabulated and uninvestigated stories about their number being "taken to approach business" and that they should call me (giving away our number in such a way is very errorneous) to scold me. In fact, now you should really think about what on earth we can really do with a telephone number.

    • You didn't assure both the elderly couple and the customer (myself and my wife) - worse, you made a wrong assumption and labeled us as "potential fraud that needs to report to the police"

In fact, it was extremely poor management, judgment, skill and finesse on your part, and it is a fundamental character and leadership flaw.

Here's what you could and should have did:

Here's what you could and should have did:

  1. Approach the matter calmly and investigate thoroughly before you come to a conclusion, instead of having a knee-jerk response which was deathly inaccurate and wrong to make matters worse (refer to the SMS I replied to him above, as well as the SMS I sent to the poor elderly couple who was probably shocked and confused - below)
    See how I approached them, apologizing to them for the misunderstanding and miscommunication, explained the situation to them and assured them that we were not doing what we were accused of (do bear in mind, we were the customers and we needed to do the job of customer service for them)
  2. Upon finding the truth via investigation, disseminate the information calmly and gently to minimize shock and to manage all who were involved with gentle explanations. Again, refer to the SMSes I sent out.

  3. Continue to serve, business as usual.

And that's how one runs a character-based and truth-focused business.

The business management lesson

To be cool headed at all times, no matter what one feels. The focus is on the situation that required to be handled and managed, and focusing on a win-win-win situation as much as possible, not on a destructive path that just annoys people and puts them off.

I think was bad is that this person Mr Ong managed to screw up every opportunity to make the innocent-now-irritated PRE customer a raving fan. It's really fascinating how we hadn't even bought anything and they've already begun screaming and lying. I really hope truth finds its way into your hearts.

The way we manage things often shows what is truly in our hearts, and one can see from the real life situation above. I hesitated writing about this initially because I thought I "should let go", but upon careful deliberation, I think that it is a good viable business lesson professionally to me, and to my readers.

Looking Back

The interesting thing was her email initially was an email enquiry about a product - we haven't even bought anything yet - we were just asking about a product, and with such a lousy encounter with this Mr Ong and his company (a fitness company), I assure you that we will possibly never deal with him or his company ever again.

A strong conclusion perhaps, but given such a situation handled so poorly, I can deduce that it is more than possible that his company and the way they manage matters will certainly have spillover effects from his character.

Personally and professionally, I think that that is definitely a poor way to manage such a situation, for it shows how inept one can be. There has been more than one chance at rectification, but you manage to screw it up on every level.

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