So it’s been a few weeks since my last post. To be honest, I’ve just been busy. There’s no other way to put it. My 7 year old daughter went into hospital last week – nothing major – she needed grommets put in both her ears. Now this may seem like a simple procedure and when I visited our family doctor while we were in NZ in February, she confirmed it was a very simple procedure. One thing I have come to realise in all my years in Egypt, however, is that nothing is ever simple.
The doctor tells us we must show up at his clinic at 12.30 and stresses “do not be late”. So I make the one hour trip from my Maadi bubble to an area over the other side of town called Shobra. Shobra is where my ex-husband lives along with 5 million other people in an area the size of Takapuna. Life in Shobra is busy and crowded and plays hosts to some of Cairo’s wealthiest citizens and some of its poorest, for the most part though it is made up of middle to lower class Cairenes.
One of my pet peeves in life is being late or others being late, so we arrive at the clinic at 12.15. One and three quarter hours later at 2pm, the doctor walks in. My poor daughter, who had been fasting since the night before, was starving. I was mad but soon I would be furious.
When she comes out of the operation, she’s crying hysterically and suddenly her nose starts bleeding. I’m becoming hysterical. Why is her nose bleeding? I’m told it’s perfectly normal. I’m sorry, but at this stage I’m completely confused. My daughter has never had a bleeding nose in her life, why now?? As it turns out, it was perfectly normal. Perfectly normal if you’ve just had your adenoids removed. Apparently we actually don’t need our adenoids after the age of 3 and it’s quite common to have them removed at the same time as putting grommets in. Great. It would have been nice if the doctor had explained that to us before the operation. “Malesh, malesh”. This is a common phrase designed to placate and meaning “never mind” and is usually accompanied by a fake smile. And here I was listening to the doctors, nurses and ex-husband all trying to placate me with “malesh malesh”, fake smiles included.
Regardless, my daughter has healed up nicely. I’m still furious. I would like to tell the world about our experience and although this particular doctor was professional in every other way and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my daughter, it was a level of service that I was not happy with. If I was in NZ, I would have no hesitation in sending tweets, Facebook posts, or blogging about my experience – name and shame! I recall recently a friend of mine posted her complaint with Emirates over bad customer service on her Facebook wall. To be honest I was surprised that Emirates cared enough to reply, but they did. To my mind their replies were not satisfactory and this is where companies can get caught out.
If you’re a business, it’s all very well having a Facebook page but you’ve got to know how to use it and use it to your advantage. According to Social Bakers, 13 million people in Egypt use Facebook. That’s 13 million potential customers and 13 million potentially annoyed customers. Of those annoyed customers, 12,999,999 may not have even used your product. It only takes one customer to complain and one unsatisfactory response from a company to be the downfall of your business. If you’re going to employ social media as your new advertising campaign or as a way to build your customer base, be wise. United Airlines learned the hard way.
Dave Carroll and his band the Sons of Maxwell flew United and while on a layover in Chicago a fellow passenger noted that baggage handlers on the tarmac were throwing guitars. It turns out that Dave’s $3,500 Taylor guitar was damaged and United refused to pay out as they claimed he had not submitted the complaint within 24 hours. Dave Carroll then wrote a song “United Breaks Guitars” that went viral in 2009. It severely damaged the airlines reputation and showed how powerful the likes of YouTube can be.
Another example is the bad experience one person had in a KFC branch in Melbourne. I didn’t know the person but somehow it got posted on a friend’s Facebook wall and I read it. It struck me how ignorant businesses can be. This person had written complaint letter after complaint letter and was ignored. Do businesses seriously think that they can afford to ignore complaints? Have they not heard of the power of social media?
As I said, I would like to tell the world about my experience, but in Shobra, Cairo, there is simply no point. As I walked out of the clinic I looked at the people waiting patiently for their turn. Some had arrived shortly after we had. They weren’t playing on iPads or talking on smart phones, few even had a basic model of mobile. These were people who carefully spent their money, no credit cards here. Any extra money they did have was put away in the cupboard and saved for a rainy day. My complaints would not reach these people and as the reality of their situation sunk in, I had to ask myself if my grievances were really that bad after all.