Author: Mr A
From: Giralia Station
Distance: 110 km
The day started OK, with a quick motor up Exmouth Cape, home of the world famous Ningaloo Reef. We arrived in the flat, drab, town to be greeted by howling winds and dust storms, not quite what the picture postcard shots had conjured up.
We checked in, power was out, when it finally came back on at lunch we tried our washing machine again, to find that has remained broken…we had hoped a little respite while we were off power would have restored its inclination to provide service…alas not.
All thoughts of wading into the beautiful lagoon and exploring the coral that sits just off the beach were dashed as the gale force winds continued to scream around us. So it was the next job on the list. We headed over the road to collect some parts sent by Zone to a local caravan repairer.
Over 4 weeks ago we had sent them an email confirming our arrival date in Exmouth, and another one following this up. Then made a phone call in which we were told “we will fit you in” by a very arrogant woman who gave the impression she was doing us a big favour to let us spend money with her. A week ago we received a mail from her letting us know the parts had arrived from Zone and “When were we arriving?”. Dur. She then said they had a big job on and they couldn’t do the work – but could do it the week after, maybe. I told her that didn’t work for us. She told me I was “so rude” – I ended the call rather confused about what exactly was rude about what had transpired. So we picked up the parts that were left on a pile on the floor by her husband and told to leave the premises
So what lessons did we learn from this experience? A lack of competition that you often find in these isolated tourist spots breeds a very “special” kind of behaviour to customers. There are no caravan repairers for over 3,000 kms if you you are heading north in your van (as we had found out the hard way). South its 834 km until you next find someone who might take your money if they have time and you really grovel. Having mainly lived and worked in places where there is stiff competition for every business, I find it hard to plead with someone who has screwed up our booking, offers no explanation (let alone an apology) and pay them money. The thing is this business is clearly doing really well (nice new premises and workshop), because people have no choice. Incidentally the Chariman of the Council of Exmouth was removed from office for “unethical behaviour” (offering untendered work to tourist based companies). Again the customer will be unlikely to benefit from this practice. As we found out when Catherine booked two dives on the Navy Pier for her, and a trip for each of us out on a boat when we might see and swim with whale sharks…a thousand dollars thank you very much.
We tried to put a positive spin on the day and go out for dinner. We had some very ordinary food, two small entrees (a basket of chips and 3 small chunks of lamb in a pumpkin hummus), an entree sized main (3 little fish tacos), two small beers and a glass of wine, left hungry and were removed of nearly $100!
We compare this to our experience in France, where we visited the top tourist sites, and almost always got fantastic service and value. Why the difference? It wasn’t that these restaurants were particularly busy either. I’m left wondering. I just don’t trust its the transport costs that changes the pricing. When bottles of water can be shipped across the world for next to nothing why does it suddenly triple the price to ship it another few hundred kilometres? Value based pricing. Apparently it’s worth what you can get the customer to pay based on their access to other options? We are making good use of the ‘post restante” service at Australia Post offices. Buy something at the city price and its shipped free.
Ah just remembered, something fun did happen, an emu came to say hello at our campsite!