A Quarterly EnewsLetter Vol.9, Issue No. 1, 2014

Editorial Comments

Customer Service Delivery in Zambia, a Concern to the Customer/Consumers Conditions of business undertakings are changing rapidly. In the last decade, the commodity market has witnessed a substantial growth and rapid change, domestically and internationally. Consumer satisfaction is a critical issue in the success of any business system, hence, one of the key challenges in the market is as how to satisfy and retain customers or consumers to foster the business growth. The issue is strongly related as to how service quality is managed, which is quite significant to the customers’ satisfaction and for the perceived functioning of companies.

What is apparently alarming is the poor customer service culture being offered by most public and private sectors players in Zambia. As Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, Lusaka, a consumer body working towards balancing the interests of both the producers and consumer welfare observes with regret that there is a persistent increase in the number of consumer cases hinging on poor customer services. Whereas, there have been other consumer concerns by most of the consumers seeking CUTS’ support and guidance, poor customer service seems to be recurring more and more and leading to a situation, which requires policing.

It has been observed that most of the poor services are being offered by small and medium sized enterprises with a few doted cases, in the businesses operating, at a larger scale. It is believed that some of these big businesses are fatigued with the market share they dominate and due to this hangover they forget that consumers only generate their business.

Therefore, what entrepreneurs should know is that a good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. A business can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers/consumers as intended, but unless some of those customers and consumers come back, the business won’t be profitable for long. Moreover, companies to survive, must find new ways of thinking, and this entails that they should invest in marketing research, especially in the areas of customer satisfaction.

More importantly, amicably resolving genuine consumer or customer complaints is a recipe having a solid ground and enhanced relationships with the customer base. Dragging consumer complaints breed unwanted tensions and might result in losing that particular consumer and possibly his network too. Thus this affects the business growth strategy, which could otherwise have been in place. The fact being stated that consumers should not accept sub-standard services sitting down. Business seekers must not forget that their existence is dependent on consumers’ purchasing power.

To end, consumers are being encouraged to avoid putting up unwarranted claims. It has also been observed that some sections of consumers tend to dupe business with false claims in order to suffocate business. This is a mockery to private sector development. As a conclusion, consumers and private sector player as well as the public service providers are being encouraged to take time and understand the exiting Policy and Regulatory Framework governing Competition and Consumer Protection and avoid being victims of law breaking the law.


ERB Engages Consumers
During a meeting held in Kapiri Mposhi, Northern Region Public and Consumer Affairs Manager, Davies Mupenda said that getting a better understanding of the operations of power utility would help the customers understand their rights and obligations.

Mupenda also added that the organisation has been engaged in the nationwide sensitisation exercise to improve the consumer’s knowledge on the functions of the board adding that such meetings also aimed at receiving complaints and concerns from consumers on energy utilities.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 22.11.13 )

Subsidy Removal will Surely Benefit Zambians
Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, Emmanuel Chenda has reiterated that the removal of subsidies on petroleum products and maize will necessitate economic and infrastructure development in the country. Chenda said that in Kasama, the Government wants to set up infrastructure in order to attract meaningful investment that will benefit the country.

He said that the resources that would be raised from the removal of the subsidies on fuel are channelled to several social avenues, such as roads, hospitals and schools. He added that with investment in transport and energy, Zambia will experience massive growth of the economy and a reduction in power outages.

(Source: Lusaka Times.com, 22.06.13 )

Zambeef Burns Imported Meat
Following the government’s findings that some Zambeef products contained Aromatic Aldehyde, Zambeef (largest beef producer in Zambia) destroyed all its imported beef products. The Zambian Government commended Zambeef for destroying the contaminated meat.

Zambeef Board Chairperson, Jacob Mwanza said that following the events, the company had taken a clear decision to return to its roots and deal exclusively in Zambian beef products only. Mwanza said the disposal of all imported beef products was done in consultation with the Ministry of Health and that it has been done to give Zambian consumers the company’s unwavering commitment to sell locally produced beef.

(Source: The post News Paper, 25.07.13 )

StanChart Launches Real Deal Campaign
Launching the four month real deal campaign aiming at encouraging savings in Lusaka, StanChart, the acting head of Consumer Banking, Regina Mulenga said that the initiative had demonstrated the bank’s market leadership in innovation, resulting in delivery of quality solutions meeting the needs of its customers.

“The campaign is not only providing our existing and prospective customers the opportunity to enjoy the exciting solutions we have on offer but also has an opportunity for the bank to reward and thank customers for choosing to bank with the Standard Chartered Bank”,; she said.

(Source: The post, 03.09.13 )

MTN Introduces Mobile Base Transceiver
MTN Zambia, a fast growing Telecom Company has introduced a mobile base transceiver station on the local market to boost support network capacity and coverage in areas where a large number of people occasionally gather. The mobile base transceiver with a pneumatic mast and an adjustable height of up to 30 metres is dubbed as ‘the perfect solution’ for fast deployment of cells for short-term applications at special events, such as traditional ceremonies, football matches, and concerts amongst others.

Chief Technical Officer, Ernest Paul said that MTN Zambia was currently implementing its network expansion programme, which is expected to be completed by the end of the current quarter.

(Source: the post, 07.08.2013 )

ZABS Advises against Buying from Vendors
The public has been warned against buying from street vendors if they wish to get value for their money. Lee Hamunji, the Public Relations Officer of the Zambia Bureau of Standards said that people should be aware that everything could be counterfeited and it would be very difficult to demand for quality products if consumers bought items from the streets where there were no receipts issued.

Asking to ensure adherence to international standards he recommended that all stakeholders including consumers must play their role in ensuring quality and this was to be observed at all levels, from production to consumption.

(Source: Daily Nation, 15.10.13 )

ATM’s to be Standardised
The Bank of Zambia (BoZ) will introduce a national switch, which will standardise Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to allow account holders withdraw cash from any machine regardless of the bank and card type.

The system will enable the withdrawal of cash using non-VISA cards on VISA ATM machines and vice versa. BoZ Pegulatory Policy Non-banking Financial Supervision Senior Inspector, Banji Milambo said that the introduction of the national switch would in turn reduce on concerns of long queues in accessing money at most of the ATMs in the country.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 27.02.14 )

Mealie-meal Prices to Remain above K65
Mealie-meal prices in the country are expected to remain above K65 despite Government offloading additional stocks of maize to millers for increased production.

According to Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) President, Allan Sakala, the prices of Mealie-meal are expected to be around K68 per 25 kilogramme bag, owing to the cost of maize per tonne. “Millers are still buying the maize at a higher cost and coupled with other production costs, we recommend that Mealie-meal must be sold at a stable price of at least K68”, Sakala added.

(Source: times of Zambia, 26.12.13 )

6,000 Dairy Farmers to Get WTO Funds
More than 6,000 small-holder dairy farmers are expected to get benefit from the US$2.5 million released by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to the Dairy Association of Zambia (DAZ). The funds will help to increase dairy production and improve the quality of milk produced locally to attract foreign buyers.

Executive Director of Zambia Dairy Association (DAZ), Jeremiah Kasolo said that the money would be used to empower small-holder farmers to increase production and improve the quality of their product.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 25.02.14 )


FNB Opens 12th Branch in Chipata
Bank of Zambia Governor, Michael Gondwe said that no economic development can take place without expansion of financial services in the country. Officiating the launch of First National Bank (FNB) Chipata branch, Gondwe said that the role of financial services in the economic development could not be over-emphasised.

He said that the role of financial services was generally acceptable in improving the economy. Gondwe commended FNB for its persistent role in the financial sector, since its inception in Zambia, five years ago. The opening of FNB Chipata branch brings the number of branches in the country to 12.

(Source: Lusaka Times, 18.02.2014 )

Lager Sales Soar
Zambian Breweries, a subsidiary of global brewer SABMiller, posted a growth rate of 12 percent on larger volumes, at the end of 2013 buoyed by expansion projects that led to an increased production.

The larger consumption volumes are expected to deteriorate in the current year, following an increase in alcohol prices after a 20 percent hike in excise duty on clear beer at the beginning of 2014. The Government increased the excise duty on clear beer from 40 percent to 60 percent in 2014, a move that has seen alcohol prices in Zambia rise to among the highest in the southern region.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 29.01.14 )

Proflight Introduces New Lusaka-Zanzibar Service
Proflight Zambia (an airlines based in Lusaka) has introduced a new through-service from Lusaka to Zanzibar in Tanzania, enabling families to travel seamlessly from the capital to the beach. This is a part of the Airline’s extension service from Lusaka to Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania, which was launched in October, in the previous year.

Proflight Director of Government and Industry Affairs, Captain Philip Lemba said that Proflight Zambia’s Zanzibar service is the latest destination in a strategy of steady route expansion from their hub in Lusaka, selectively adding new routes and offering a high quality value-for-money service to discerning travelers.

(Source: Times of Zambia, 23.01.14 )

About the Newsletter
Consumer Watch newsletter is published with the objective of enhancing consumer welfare through sensitisation, information dissemination and capacity building of consumers, business entities and government. While addressing consumer concerns, the newsletter focuses on bringing out issues, such as violation of consumer rights and measures to be taken by the relevant authorities to protect stakeholders.

CUTS ARC will strive to support and lobby the Government and the stakeholders to ensure resumption of the process to eventually enact a functional Consumer Protection Law in the country and also establish a functional institutional mechanism to implement the law. This is in line with the changes taking place in other countries in the region in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation. Apart from carrying consumer-related information, the publication will also give an analysis on current consumer concerns in the country.