Of the David Coltart and ZOL incident: Whatever happened to customer is king

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Image Credit: Pixabay


So I thought it was only on South African memes where service providers diss customers for calling them out (of which I still don’t know whether they are just memes or it’s actually a sincere response from the customer ‘care’ department), but well Zim seems to be joining the trend and in this particular case I am certain they were being serious.

MTN’s customer service meme

The ZOL David Coltart incident has drawn a lot of attention on social media, here’s the link in case you missed it.

See my biggest problem with the ZOL response is that not only can I feel the arrogance behind the keyboard warrior, but the response doesn’t in any way address the claim. The claim is their advertising is misleading and the complainant has proof for it – his own experience.  ZOL in its response does not dispute the authenticity of the claim at all, but rather bombards him with more excuses and this time seasons them with some bad attitude.

Yes they might be experiencing some trouble or delay from the city of Bulawayo but the point is, why accept the money or payment before dealing with that problem first? Why did they promise people something that was beyond them? Why not address the ‘policy issues’ first before getting people’s hopes high? If it was a problem with a specific area then they should have kindly asked him to just register and then pay after everything is sorted – it’s that simple!

I get it, being criticised in public can be so infuriating but ZOL really??? It’s one thing to be called out for a total lie but it’s another when you are 100% guilty. However, in both cases if what you’re saying or doing represents something greater than just yourself, then you better learn how to keep your chill because whatever you say is exactly what we will take home and associate it with whoever or whatever you represent.  And right now we think ZOL is downright rude and unprofessional despite the fact that it was just a few (or even one) individual(s) that put up that post; and believe you me we will think that for a very long time…

As we speak, ZOL has profusely apologised for the misconduct but tell you what, the initial response is still stuck in our minds.

I also realised from the comments section that people were highly appalled by this incident, most likely because they could relate and that is not a good thing. It really gives us an idea of how bad the customer to customer service relationship in Zimbabwe is. Not only does this happen on social media, but I’ve personally bumped into quite a number of customer service representatives who tend to wake up on the wrong side of the bed more often than not (or basically just sleep there!).

So maybe this is a wakeup call or a reminder to all entities that deal with the public that customer service representatives or Public Relations officers play a critical role in their branding, so they should really invest well in them! 


  1. marwadzo

    ZOL’s behaviour while shocking is not atypical, peculiar or unprecedented for an Econet affiliated company their corporate culture and their subsequent ‘customer-care’ subculture reeks of the arrogance they have become collectively known for. I had the unfortunate experience of securing a Steward bank account and on trying to register for their mobile app I was rudely told I could only register for the app on an Econet mobile number and not Telecel or NetOne. The challenge was why would I have a third line simply to access a banking app. Needless to say I have stopped using the cursed account but have been left curious and wondering to myself how a brand can use arrogance as a deliberate competitive advantage positioning pillar especially when that arrogance is directed at paying customers.

    The David Coltart case while intriguing is hardly unique or accidental. The many times I have dealt with Econet and their sister companies I have come away feeling belittled and taken for granted. The arrogant attitude that courses through the Econet’s veins is ubiquitous in all their sister organisations and their employees. It’s almost as if part of their holding company wide strategy is to ensure the employees as part of their integrated organisational communication plan deliberately reward employees who are rude, proud and arrogant. I can imagine their balanced score card supervisors asking at the end of the year if an employee deserves a bonus and the employee says, “I do boss. The whole of this year I was rude and arrogant in 80% of my interactions with customers and stakeholders!”
    Econet and indeed ZOL now make for sad examples of how to take for granted and get away with murder in terms of basic PR and customer service best practice.
    While I would love to empty my machine gun on Econet the reality is the customers deserve some of the bullets why would you keep going back to arrogant big brother? Paying to be ill-treated? It’s almost as if we have a complex that relishes abuse and like the proverbial Shona puppy (mbwanana) we keep going back to the same person who is beating us up.
    In the end, in all seriousness, I think Econet and ZOL needn’t worry too much about a customer backlash or reputational risk for their brands the truth is Zimbabwean consumers lack the discipline to punish corporates for misbehaviour. In fact I suspect as I write Coltart is apologising for his complaint and asking for one more chance.

    1. wezhira

      mmmm your hate for econet is stinking……

      1. Crtl 0

        true that

        1. zimbabwean

          i could smell the stink too

      2. Sagitarr

        It’s not hatred, it’s voicing the customer experience aka customer feedback. That’s why companies have facebook, twitter, linkedin presence isn’t it. Feedback can be good, bad, ugly, neutral or non-committal. Take it or leave it.

  2. Petros

    ZOL at least in BYO has been like that for a LONG TIME – useless and arrogant but then so many of these services companies are the same especially when it comes to BYO

  3. Imhenyu

    i have also been a recipient of an insult both from Econet and ZOL, and the boring part is nothing is done about it, they simple apologize on paper but damage is already done.
    these customer relations representatives forget that they are not there to simple respond to us ‘the customer’, nor to put us at our place for simple letting out our anger, because a frustrated customer does not know that he/she is king at that particular time of vehement,but just a toll of emotions that the customer relations officers must have ART to control and win the customer no matter how wrong l am!
    the message is the same with those two companies ‘IF YOU CAN NOT HANDLE IT GET LOST,WE ARE THE BEST!’
    that attitude must ‘STOP’ , need we to call our first lady to put an emphasis on that statement.
    1. when a customer throws insults , its not you that they are insulting but the organization that you are representing,so stop taking things the personal way ,cause l do not know you, but what l surely know is that my subscription is contributing to your salary,’SO WHO IS THE BOSS NOW!’
    2. do not make promises that you can not deliver, because as much as we have been communicating for 8 months about my unique problem,this does not change nor take away the initial promise to deliver, whether by voice, written or by intention
    3.most of all remember first impressions count, you are there to build the company’s image and profits not to make us angry enough to come up with social networks , blogs and billboards that shout ‘ZOL TOO HOT FOR OUR SUBSCRIPTION BETTER COOLED ELSEWHERE!’
    i would like to applaud David Coltart for being so patient, how much profit can be experted from just 3 months, what more 5 plus months, but what he must also know is that ZOL, does not operate in a vacuum, there is Telone, Telco-Mr Velocity, Africom,in Bulawayo,l do not about Aquiva Wireless, but l know for a fact that you can strike good deals with Telco and Telone, why limit yourself to people who do not value you and your subscription.

  4. e

    i ran dude zol tried to throw shade like Nene leaked and took a huge L.
    hahaha clearly its sabotage to stupidity don’t which. but when your ceonapologises you know someone is in. hotsoup. but I’ve noticed with my interactions zol is becoming arrogant don’t know whether it people leaving or just I don’t care attitude. thy expect us to thank them for our money

  5. Hacha Ndizvo

    Fire the silly bugger and do not bother with a hearing. Any appeal judge will understand that the offence was committed.

  6. Ini

    I work in customer service, that response by ZOL was on point, silly Coltart was put in place me, he knew the facts but took the issue to SM. Should be sued for loss of business and malicious rumours. Did he expect ZOL to stop advertising becoz of BCC? He must grow up .

    1. Micho Mbazo

      You are in customer service and you don’t find anything wrong with the dressing down of a customer on social media, that’s a bit weird. It’s not a question of wrong or right but its about how to respond to a customer complaint looking at the bigger picture, your brand and retaining customer loyalty. The backlash says it all!

    2. NM

      Why should Zol advertise products they dont have. in fact why accept money for what they dont have. they should fix their issues with BCC first and advertise when the product is available

    3. Peacemaker

      It’s sad but just how did you end up in customer service? Your post shows you have absolutely no clue what customer service is.

    4. Sagitarr

      You are lucky to be employed in customer service, you need to learn what actually is called “service”. What does your ‘company” do? Get paid a subscription for spitting on “customers”, I wonder?

  7. Ini

    If you can’t stand the service one is offering get a refund and go elsewhere period.

    1. e

      bcc omwe nyaya zol messed up and thts why the CEO responded personally. wakdzidza customer service kumushikshika here. maiwe do this I. a mature market se what happens. remember there’s telone which is cheaper and once you lose a client ma1. apo the issue took a political turn dobyou know Fbc bank rebranded at some point because it had leanings to certain sides. zol might have lost high revenue clients cz of this that is people who can afford to move to africom telone umax etc and food luck getting them back.

    2. e

      bcc omwe nyaya zol messed up and thts why the CEO responded personally. wakdzidza customer service kumushikshika here. maiwe do this I. a mature market se what happens. remember there’s telone which is cheaper and once you lose a client ma1. apo the issue took a political turn dobyou know Fbc bank rebranded at some point because it had leanings to certain sides. zol might have lost high revenue clients cz of this that is people who can afford to move to africom telone umax etc and food luck getting them back. as a client its never my job to know what you are doing z I. paying for that. I don’t expect a Dr to tell me that I should know how he intends to cure me cz it ain’t my job. vanhu musaisa mafeelings pazvinhu zvebasa

    3. Imhenyu

      you seriously need help or a shift in profession , please do not ever type that you are a customer service personnel with that attitude, clearly you have no experience in handling customers because l doubt any will come to you with the shit that comes tumbling from your mind …..scare-crow ingangenani cause it serves a purpose ,YOU NEED A PURPOSE!

  8. Chihera

    But she does not work for ZOL, she works for Herald unless I’m mistaken on who it is at ZOL who is supposed to have brought up the BCC issue. I went through Coltart’s FB post and I’m not sure that anyone from ZOL talked about BCC

  9. Chihera

    Apologies re my previous response, I had not seen the original response from the ZOL person.

    That is just disgusting. That person is too relaxed, there are several people who are unemployed who know what it would mean to them to be employed, ngadzingwe basa. No need for a hearing. This will become the classic case study for how not to respond via social media 101

  10. e

    apo da I’d coltart was publishing on his personal page zol huge L next time use subtext and satire to clown someone not izvi zvavakaita

  11. Humba Makombe

    We have had issues with ZOL too. They agreed to connect us in Houghton Park and then the booster went down . We tried to engage them so they can fix the issue. But to no avail. The next thing they told us was booster will not be fixed in that area. So we ended up cancelling the service BUT we were left with their modem which we can’t even get a refund for. That modem is still sitting at home. What a waste of money indeed.

    BUT what really got me is how they were quick to agree to cancel our service without even trying to coax us to stay connected with them. The arrogant attitude that ZOL has is “IF YOU HAVE ISSUES WITH ZOL THEN HIT THE ROADWAY” . They are so proud that they don’t apologise to a customer. Yet we all know that a customer is always king.

    The conclusion is, now I am a happy Umax customer 🙂 .

    1. zimbabwean

      UMAX is shutting down soon ..so better look for another alternative

      1. Humba Makombe

        Thank you for the heads up, I guess we will cross the bridge when we get there. After UMAX shuts down then we will see whats next. Thank you anyways.

  12. Fusion

    To be honest it’s not just zol…. It’s a blanket Zim culture where customer service does not exist…. The businesses already know they short changing customers…. Don’t forget about Econet market ownai. Customers should simply do the taking with their feet….

  13. zimbabwean

    Am i the only person whose installation was done in time and if i call through support i get assisted effortlessly.

    1. Sagitarr

      Good feedback is usually rare (but welcome) because it is a product of corporates (through their employees) doing what they are paid to do, i.e. to provide an efficient and excellent service. Bad service has uncontrollable outcomes. If you’re served bad food in a restaurant you tell everyone you meet – even strangers. But good service, bah, one can even keep quiet with not even a “thanks”. Those who work in the service industry fully understand that it can be a “thankless task” indeed to keep customers happy. it boils down to professionalism, attitude and corporate culture.