Customer satisfaction is our 1st priority! We understand that ensuring that we have really HAPPY customers means that we have to build BEAUTIFUL customer relationships. If you are a current customer of econovix, may we kindly ask you to read the letter below:
Director & Owner
econovix (Pty) Ltd
Thursday, 5 March 2020
RE: OUR SINCERE APOLOGIES! HOPE IS ON THE HORIZON
As the passionate new owner of econovix I would like to let you know that we are receiving your emails, facebook and other social media messages. I really am sorry that you may have been struggling during the past period to get through to our Call Centre by telephone. I also want to express my deep regret that you may have been kept waiting endlessly for a response to your email!
Because of the major challenges faced, especially since 2018, by JACKLIN ENTERPRISES (Pty) Ltd - the original company, which I now have taken over, and whose name I changed to "econovix (Pty) Ltd" - my team and I sadly have not been able to achieve our primary goal of providing WONDERFUL customer care to you.
I would like to sincerely apologise for any and all inconvenience caused!
My loyal inherited and highly competent team and I are working hard to rebuild this AMAZING business again, almost 'from scratch', because we truly believe that you, our MUCH VALUED customers, would love to continue your various collections of products by some of the world's top partworks and subscription product producers.
In addition, we are preparing to launch many new products on our BRILLIANT new e-commerce marketplace, econovix shop & sell. In fact, econovix shop & sell is creating completely new opportunities for entrepreneurs to market and sell their products and services, both physical and digital, anywhere in the world.
Finally, we're also getting ready to introduce STUNNING new econovix business apps, that can help small and medium - even large! - businesses to bring their whole business operation into the new digital economy, by offering really cool, state-of-the-art, mobile technology that will help them to run their business from their mobile phone! While we're planning to introduce these apps in South Africa, we believe that entrepreneurs in the UK will also love them, and are preparing to expand our business services to the UK - creating new job opportunities in the UK as well, as in South Africa - in the near future.
Why are you struggling to get service from us at this point?
As with any 'new baby' - sometimes the pregnancy is full of challenges. And so it has been with econovix: when I took over JACKLIN ENTERPRISES as the new owner on 22 June 2019, this company was in terrible trouble!
After two decades of successfully running three of South Africa's most loved book clubs and handling the subscription management of top quality hobby, craft and specialist publications on behalf of some the most respected European publishers, both in South Africa, as well as in the United Kingdom (UK), disaster struck JACKLIN ENTERPRISES:
Firstly, the company's very important clients - European publishers offering products in the UK - were all affected negatively, because of the rapid and unforeseen changes which the digital economy brought to the way they used to do their marketing and distribution in the UK. This happened so quickly, that all these publishers struggled to change fast enough, and as a result they temporarily lost a lot of customers in the UK. Because JACKLIN ENTERPRISES was also providing fulfillment and customer care services to their customers in the UK, from our office in Midrand, South Africa, this has meant that this company also lost a lot of business from the UK over the period from 2016-2019. As a result, JACKLIN ENTERPRISES had to lay-off many of its staff members, shrinking from 250 in 2016 to only 51 employees in 2019! This already affected the company's ability to provide top quality fulfillment management and customer services.
Secondly, the lovely wife of the original founder, who was actively involved in the business for many years, had fallen ill with cancer and passed away during this highly stressful period in 2016. The brokenhearted owner handed over much of the business management to his very competent finance director, while he was caring for, then learning to cope with the loss of the love of his life. The finance director did everything he could to just keep the business running, but with no-one bringing on board new business, the income of the company rapidly decreased, causing immense strain on all remaining team members.
Finally, because he was over the age of 70 when his wife of 51 years passed away, the founder of the company decided to retire and started looking for a buyer for his business. He could see that the business needed new energy and someone who would take it into the digital age. His own strength had been in publishing and marketing before the internet changed everything. So, understandably, his focus was on finding a buyer - instead of bringing on board new clients - and this also had contributed to the business coming to a near standstill by June 2019.
This is when I stepped in to take the company forward into the digital age. A key motivation for me was to ensure that YOU can continue receiving your beloved collection items. Of course, it was also a great concern to me that 50 loyal and trustworthy people were going to lose their jobs, if the company closed!
Why am I telling you this long story, when all you want to know is:
If you're either a UK customer or a South African customer:
Why am I not getting a response to my Customer Care enquiry by email?
Why am I struggling to get through to someone in the Call Centre?
PLUS if you're a South African customer:
I've paid for my subscription. Where are my products? OR
Why is there no debit order or credit card payment going off from my bank account or credit card?
And why has delivery of my subscription products stopped?
Because we don't just want to provide an excellent service to you, we really believe that the basis for a BEAUTIFUL business is an open, transparent and caring relationship with each and every client and customer.
And so I believe that I owe you an open and honest explanation of the REASONS WHY you have not been getting the service YOU DESERVE.
The full story is truly worth a book, possibly even a movie, one day!
So I will not tell it here. But the short version is this:
The change in ownership resulted in the need for the company in South Africa to open new business bank accounts in mid-October 2019.
This, in turn, meant getting new approvals from the "Payment Association of South Africa" (PASA) to process debit card payments and from the "South African Reserve Bank (SARB)" to open a "Merchant Account" to enable our bank to process credit card payments. Both institutions have a long waiting list of applications. We have been informed that it currently takes 3-6 months before new applications are approved!
As a result, econovix has not been able to collect the bulk of subscription payments from the large majority of all South African subscribers, since October 2019!
Of course this also means that econovix has not been able to pay over the subscription fees which are payable to the publishers in the United Kingdom.
Some of the publishers have been very understanding, and continued to pay the fulfillment services provided by the econovix team, while waiting for econovix to pursue an alternative solution to processing subscription payments, because the PASA and SARB processes would simply take too long!
But others were not so understanding, and refused to pay for subscription management and customer care services provided to customers in the UK since October 2019, unless they first receive the funds that econovix is supposed to collect on their behalf from customers in South Africa.
This has made the situation worse, because it meant that econovix has not had enough money over the past few months to make timely payments for the delivery services in South Africa, nor has econovix had enough money to pay its customer care agents, and other team members, who are providing services to customers, both in South Africa and in the UK! So every couple of weeks, delivery services have stopped and customer care agents have had to stay at home, because they are waiting for transport money to be able to offer the delivery service or handle customer care services...
THIS EXPLAINS THE LATE DELIVERY OF YOUR SHIPMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA.
IT ALSO EXPLAINS WHY NO-ONE CAN GET THROUGH TO THE CUSTOMER CARE AGENTS IN THE CALL CENTRE:
We are completely inundated with phone calls and emails from 1000s of unhappy customers, who are wondering what is happening on their accounts and with their deliveries!
Please keep on reading... there is hope, but not before things got even worse:
On top of the challenges explained above, in 2018, before the ownership change, JACKLIN ENTERPRISES had contracted another company in South Africa to provide warehouse space for its own book stock, and all the products imported from Europe, as well as to pack and arrange shipping for all subscription products.
This was necessary at the time, because of the need to downsize and retrench in-house warehouse staff to cut costs in the short-term, trying to keep the company afloat.
This decision has come to bite me as the new owner of the business in the back, because the company providing these services is sadly not taking the necessary care in selecting the correct items to pack and ship to customers! As a result, many of the orders that are being processed by this external service provider are INCORRECT. So even some of the customers in South Africa who are receiving their orders have to contact the Customer Care Centre to make sure these mistakes are being corrected, placing further pressure on our capacity to handle customer queries!
THE END RESULT: 1000s of emails, messages on facebook and unanswered phone calls or non-returned voicemail messages and 1000s of unhappy customers on both sides of our beautiful world, in the UK and in South Africa!
As you can imagine, it wasn't a MERRY CHRISTMAS for me in 2019...
Instead, I was praying and working non-stop to find a way forward, to prevent the 'pregancy' of econovix - my 'brainchild' of many years of preparation - to end in a horrible 'miscarriage'!
I am extremely thankful to say: GOD IS FAITHFUL.
There is a way forward!
We're getting ready to collect automatic subscription payments from debit order and credit card customers in South Africa again:
On 2 January 2020 a friend introduced me to the innovative and very helpful Founder of Peach Payments. This is a modern payment technology which makes it possible for us to offer a convenient payment solution to all econovix customers who prefer to use debit orders and credit cards to pay for their monthly subscription fees.
The system also makes it easy for customers, who are entrepreneurs or freelancers, and as a result may not have a regular monthly income, to make a payment using their mobile phone or the internet and their debit card, and pay their monthly subscription fee on the day that they do have sufficient funds in their bank account.
We have communicated this new arrangement to all our South African customers early in January 2019 by email and by post, while we started setting up this new digital payment system. If you are a South African customer who still owes subscription fees, you will receive an email or text message on your mobile phone with a link to econovix shop & sell so that you may pay your outstanding fees. This is to confirm your permission that we again may automatically deduct the monthly subscription fees from your bank account or credit card, as PASA and the South African Reserve Bank require.
As soon as we are able to collect the subscription fees which are outstanding from the majority of customers, both our own book club customers, as well as the customers who have subscribed to the UK publishers products, we will be able to pay all postage, delivery fee and salaries outstanding, and our business operations - packing, shipping and customer care services - can run smoothly again!
2. We're getting ready to provide 6-STAR Customer Care Services from now on:
Because of the huge backlog in responses to your emails, voicemails and social media messages, we have decided to set up excellent new business management and customer communication software NOW, in January 2020. This online system will help us to RESPOND BETTER to all your queries and account questions in a much more effective manner, than the 'old' Call Centre could do.
We are currently busy with all these new system set-ups, and with the training of the econovix team, so that we may all be ready - hopefully starting in the 1st week in February 2020 - to start using these new systems to reach out to you and resolve any account or product issue you may have.
3. We are preparing to move to larger premises so that we may again handle all warehousing, packing and shipping inhouse again:
We sincerely appreciate that our current South African warehousing, packing and shipping service provider has assisted our company as best as they could during the past two years, while also having had to wait for payment on and off. However, this service provider is not specialising in fulfillment services and the many errors in packing and dispatching the wrong products or the wrong number of items, as well as the relatively high cost of their services, has caused me to terminate our contract with them, and plan to move to new, larger premises (as soon as we've received all subscription fees outstanding), so that econovix may handle all warehousing, packing and shipping of goods in-house in South Africa again. We know that our brilliant Operations Manager and his team will do an excellent job in ensuring the correct items are carefully packed and shipped, so that you will receive your products in perfect order.
May I ask you kindly at this point:
PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION!
Your next subscription products in your collection are safely in the warehouse, waiting to be packed and shipped to you. It would be a terrible waste, if you decide to cancel out of frustration because of the current, but temporary disaster caused by banking and payment systems policies and regulations, These policies and regulations are well intended, but in our situation they have placed terrible strain on all of us - including you! May I please ask you for your understanding and continued patience? I know I should have communicated with you sooner and better, but everything has been happening so quickly, that I, too, have been rather overwhelmed...
However, we are not giving up!
We are passionate about this business and about providing beautiful services to you
for many years to come.
In fact, as soon as we have stabilised the business in South Africa, we are looking to establishing an own econovix warehouse in the United Kingdom as well, since even there we see a great opportunity for improved, specialist fulfillment services on behalf of both our UK-based clients, as well as on behalf of South African and other African entrepreneurs who wish to market and sell their products to customers in the UK and the rest of Europe. We believe in responsible, environmentally friendly global trade and would love to play a role in opening the market into Africa for more clients from the UK and Europe, while also making it easier for South African and other African clients to market and sell their products online to our northern neighbours.
Please bear with us as we work hard to prepare these moves, in order to be able to again have direct supervisory capability and management of all packing and shipping services, supported by our brilliant new software and other technology, that can help to avoid human error. Meanwhile, please let us know immediately, using our new Customer Care Contact Options, if you have received an incorrect shipment, so that we may ask our current service provider to correct their mistake, and ensure that you receive the correct items.
In closing, may I personally thank you for all your patience shown and understanding granted to econovix, as my team and I are working to resolve each and every one of your concerns!
We know that you love your collections, and we are DEEPLY COMMITTED to helping you continue and complete them. Please understand that, while this may take some time, and I therefore request you to kindly exercise a little more patience, WE WILL NOT GIVE UP until we have achieved our vision, what we have set out to do, namely:
"To Become The MOST LOVED and RESPECTED Global Customer Care And Business Services Provider in the New Economy, By Providing The MOST CARING And RESPECTFUL, As Well As Efficient, Cost-effective and Timeous Services To Our Clients, Their Customers And Our Customers Across The World."
In short: to offer simply BEAUTIFUL products and services to you!
Thank you for taking time to read this letter.
We truly appreciate you and your interest in the products we pack and ship to you.
If you have already sent us an email, posted a facebook message or left us a voicemail, please know that WE WILL RESPOND to you and resolve your query over the next month. We would sincerely appreciate it, if you DO NOT SEND another email, facebook or voicemail message, since this will duplicate our work and increase the time it takes us to resolve all current 'backlog' queries.
Looking forward to a lifelong business relationship with you.
econovix (Pty) Ltd
PS: If you are someone who believes, as I do, that there is a God who is Love, may I ask you that you pray for the wonderful team at econovix which has been going through such a difficult time, so that they may receive the strength to continue working until we have sorted out the huge backlog of customer queries. May I also ask you that you pray for me, so that our Father in Heaven may grant me the wisdom I need to make the right decisions as I steer this company through its current storm towards a peaceful, productive and prosperous harbour. I firmly believe in the power of prayer, and would not have taken on the challenge of rebuilding this company, if I had not known that - if we ask him - God is with us, wherever we go. Thank you for your kindness!