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Thread: Hellopeter.com - more than meets the eye.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Hellopeter.com - more than meets the eye.

    It seems that there is more to hellopeter.com than championing consumer rights. In fact, I'm looking at that Companies that respond vs Companies that don't respond in a whole new light.

    This new insight comes from the following:
    Johannesburg - South African consumer champion Peter Cheales - founder of consumer complaints website hellopeter.com - says that companies pay a fraction of what they normally would for the chance to clear up customer complaints on his website.
    The clarification comes after a story on Johnnic Communications (Johncom) website Reporter.co.za, claimed that companies need to pay a registration fee of between R13 500 and R60 000 to respond to consumers' complaints.

    The author - who goes by the name Creationist - said hellopeter.com posted a complaint against the company he/she works for and that it was "devoid of some crucial facts".

    After receiving a link via e-mail to the complaint, and a chance to respond, the company found it had to register first as "a company that responds", and that it would have to subscribe for a minimum period of one year at a cost of R13 500.

    "This is the lowest category of subscription, and if you are a regular responder you need to take an upgraded package, which can be as much as R60 000 per year."
    full story from News 24 here
    Now I've quite liked hellopeter up to now. We've even got a link to the site on our Useful links page.

    But I'm just quietly thinking that the category "Companies that don't respond" should be renamed Companies who prefer not to pay to respond. And to some extent I can't blame them. It's a form of blackmail, really. I'll manipulate your reputation using the most powerful communication medium yet created if you don't pay.

    Peter Cheales defends this as follows:
    Cheales says that the article is "blatantly incorrect", pointing out that many of the 338 companies that are registered to respond are small businesses who would not be registered at those prices: "The cost of registration ranges from being free to an absolute maximum of R12 000 a year, or R1 000 a month, paid by the likes of MTN, Absa, Vodacom and Standard Bank who field around 3 000 consumer complaints or compliments a year," explains Cheales.

    Cheales explains that the rates were derived by looking at what companies would ordinarily pay to service complaints and charging a fraction of that.

    "Research we've done shows that it would cost around R350 to service a complaint, if you factor in the cost of having people manage the process and a host of other things. With hellopeter, it costs 0.01% of what it would cost to get that feedback in the real world," says Cheales.

    Companies the size of MTN or Standard Bank typically get 3 000 complaints and compliments a year; multiplying that figure by R350, the total cost of servicing that comes to over R1m a year. With large corporates paying a maximum of R1 000 a month, the cost of servicing is, quite literally, 0.01% of the cost incurred via the conventional route.
    A touch glib, methinks.

    Consider, for a moment, that in this very post I have drawn attention to the allegation that Peter might not be the great altruist one might gleen from perusing his website. And in truth anyone here could have done/still can do the same for free. Now Peter might want to post something here to defend himself against the allegation. Would it be ethical if I was to only allow Peter to respond here if he paid me?

    Somehow that offends my sense of fair play.
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    Thanks for exposing this Dave.

    The site should be forced to carry some sort of pre-notice regarding the options available to companies.
    As well as a statement upholding the right of companies who refuse to pay a subscription fee in order to reply on the site.

    I am amased that Hellopeter has managed to continue for as long as it has without recieving negative publicity.

    Yvonne

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    I agree that the information regarding "paying for response" should be available and transparent but....... can I please throw the cat amongst the pigeons here?

    I personally advocate that I want to hear the complaint at all times and be given the chance to sort it out. That way we ALL move forward.

    R12 000 for MTN to invest into customer feedback as opposed to polls, competitions and feedback from reps is thus minimal. AND lets face it, a complaint is GOOD feedback (if it is acted upon)

    My personal dilemma is more with the smaller companies who simply cannot afford to pay for response?? So if I remove my predisposition to small companies and look at it purely from a business point of view.........does it not make good business sense to subscribe?

    My answer has to be YES .....IF it is not SOLD as blackmail, which it appears from the original post may be the case? Bottom line is maybe they should simply change their sales techniques?

    But staying with MTN as a possible client do they themselves not use a form of "blackmail" in selling?
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Good points, Debbie. But to me there are some buts
    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    I personally advocate that I want to hear the complaint at all times and be given the chance to sort it out. That way we ALL move forward.
    Absolutely no contest there. But do you want to hear them via hellopeter.com and pay for the privilege, or would you rather hear them directly.

    I'm not buying the implied justification that servicing a complaint via hellopeter.com is somehow going to cost less than handling it directly.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Sieg's Avatar
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    hellopeter.com

    my bit on the hellopeter website:

    I actually do not care how much the likes of MTN, SAA, iTalk, etc have to pay. They know how much bad publicity is worth i.e. the negative value such would have on their bottom line and how much they are prepared to pay Peter Cheales. Peter is in business. He wants to make money. If he is making money from this website, good for him.

    The website works. I have had Virgin Money, iTwak, RCI, etc all very quickly coming to the party, thanks to complaints lodged on the website. It was truly amazing to see how quickly a larger organization can indeed respond when the complaint goes onto the website. This is quite in contrast to the tardiness and lethargy these same organizations display to numerous calls, letters and e mails!

    Viva www.hellopeter.com, viva!

    I will regularly log onto the website just to read the complaints. How about the latest scam by Sir Richard Virgin to sell life cover via his blingo credit card by negative marketing, which is verboten, as we know? At least hellopeter has exposed this.

    Sieg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    I'm not buying the implied justification that servicing a complaint via hellopeter.com is somehow going to cost less than handling it directly.
    The fact is the companies are NOT "hearing directly" as I guess about 99% of people would first phone the company they have a complaint with, IT IS NOT BEING HEARD, and then they go to hellopeter, in that order.

    THIS to me is what I will be paying for, a no nonsense, unsmoothed rendition of the facts that can have my company lose market share.

    These complaints are obviously better managed, higher on the agenda and not hidden nor ignored They are dealt with quickly, more efficiently, possibly at a higher management level and are thus "cheaper"

    I therefore do buy the fact that in our existing corporate world it may be cheaper to field a complaint through hellopeter - simply because our internal mechanisms place emphasis on the wrong things, for example systems rather than clients.

    But I remain with you on the transparency issue - tell me what you are trying to sell me, don't blackmail me into it, not if you are Richard Branson, Old Mutual, HelloPeter or the cashier at Spar - no matter how tough I make my own life, I will walk ......and this is why I sometimes think I shouldn't be in business!
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I think this thread is really showing up the tricky subtleties of this.

    I've used hellopeter.com myself with an issue I had with a rather well known printer manufacturer. There is no doubt that the problem was escalated way quicker than it was "going through the system." I was (and to some extent still am) a hellopeter.com fan.

    My objection really hangs on two points:
    You're branded as a company that does not respond (if you do not pay up).
    If the consumer can make public untested allegations for free, the company should be allowed to respond on the same footing. Remember, the allegations of misconduct are not investigated for validity first. This is definitely not consumer journalism, which takes a far more responsible approach towards verification before publication. Ultimately, the company might be more than willing to respond - just unwilling or unable to pay for the privilege(?) or right(?).

    Trying to justify the spend on a cost saving basis is invalid.
    Face it. This is a marketing spend. And you're being forced to spend it in a specific direction or take the consequences of unanswered innuendo.

    I know that with my issue with the printer manufacturer, they did not save a cent servicing the complaint because it went via hellopeter.com. And now with this new knowledge, I know it definitely cost them more than if they had simply resolved it directly.

    At an emotional response level, our knee jerk reaction is in favour of the little guy, and we've all probably suffered at the hands of an uncaring "customer care" department of a large organisation on more than one occasion.

    However, how would you as a small business owner feel if a disgruntled client vented their spleen on hellopeter.com and you were faced with coughing up R12 000.00 to say "Heck. I'm so sorry to hear that. You should have let me know. Let's get this sorted out for you."

    For a classic example of size of the "victim" altering point of view, try this Google loses $1 billion US a year to click fraud thread on another forum for size.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    I just received an email from Hello Peter, and found this part quite interesting, and in the light of the above, it raises a few questions.

    Like you drew our attention to a whole lot of Compliments (all of a sudden) about Matrix Warehouse, and sure enough, they were written by foolish employees of the company. Same thing with Bulk Promotions, and as for Amazingvouchers…

    You’ll notice that I changed all the “Compliments” to Complaints, exposed the names and contact details of the culprits, and feature them on the Companies Who Don’t list.

    Many of you emailed us querying how Amazingvouchers could constantly garner so many Compliments. We checked it out and spoke to the powers that be who assured us that the compliments were from satisfied customers. And they were! Problem was that the staff was telling the customers, “We’ll give you a refund. Just give us a Compliment.” This manipulation has to stop. But it didn’t. Amazingvouchers then encouraged it’s staff by means of a competition to see how many compliments the members of staff could extract from their customers.

    Now I have absolutely no problem with customers writing compliments about their suppliers. In fact I love it. The more compliments, the better. But when my site is compromised by unscrupulous suppliers going hell for leather in a bid to whitewash rather dubious sales techniques, that makes me MAD.

    Quote from email newsletter which I can't find an online link to
    I certainly wonder what is going on behind the scenes with this. Where their customers happy they were receiving a rebate for a compliment? I'm pretty sure. Do these companies have the opportunity to respond to complaints against them? Not any more, because they've been listed as "Companies that don't respond." Was it right to give customers money to give compliments? Probably not. Does that make their customer service bad (the point of Hello Peter)? Not necessarily.
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    I have to agree and wanted to post up this email to some forums too, to expose hellopeter.com for the kind of people they are. The right course of action in my opinion would be to remove the false compliments and possibly remove the company from the compliment list for a certain period, but making them complaints and putting the company on the don't respond list seems a bit too much.

    It really sounds like the site is being run too emotionally and personally, instead of in a professional manner it should be run...considering that they're working with business names and reputations.

    I've also read some stories where they have some quite childish behavior when it comes to receiving complaints about themselves. Can't remember the incident exactly, but it was on myadsl.co.za if I'm not mistaken. Do we really want something as important as our business names and reputations being handled by people who can't handle their own emotions?

    Now considering this, how hard is it really for them to act as disgruntled users for the sake of making some more money on the quieter months?

    I really do like the idea of the site though and think the basic idea is good but don't like the idea as a small business owner that I would have to pay to sort out a customer issue that could have been sorted out directly. That being said I would most probably spend the money should I appear on hellopeter.com even though it goes against principal. I would do my best not to be put on hellopeter in the first place
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I can't help but think of the law of unintended consequences.

    The moment they commercialised the right to respond, it was only a matter of time before a company maximised it's ROI.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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