School raises alarm on bad service

Max van de Ross is a senior teacher at Wittebome High School in Ottery Road, Wynberg, and part of his portfolio is to manage the maintenance of the school buildings.

“The school had an alarm system installed by Chubb Security in 2013 and from day one it didn’t work properly. Despite numerous calls and emails, the system still does not work. I went as far as cancelling the contract,” said Mr Van de Ross who added that Chubb came to see him and told him the system would be fixed if they didn’t cancel.

“Technicians arrived to examine the system, but they did not know how it worked. They promised to return but they never did. The principal, Virol Esau, and I had a meeting at Chubb where technical manager Louis Jansen promised to sort out the system.

“Technicians then replaced the batteries however, it still does not work. Chubb makes appointments but no one arrives.

“I’ve cancelled meetings to accommodate them but still they treat us with contempt,” Mr Van de Ross said.

“They make promises that they can’t keep. The alarm system which was installed is so inferior that other professionals in the industry don’t know how it works. Since we have not received any service from Chubb, we cancelled our armed response contract with them and stopped paying the monthly subscription. I asked for a final statement so I can settle this bill, but I’ve been waiting for more than five weeks. It’s incomprehensible that a big company like Chubb can get away with such bad service, install poor quality equipment and get away with more than R50 000 which is what the alarm system cost. Please help.”

Mr Jansen, who copied my email to Lynn Bennett, group marketing and communication, in Gauteng, said Roy Clarke, the regional managing director: Cape, was away and he would respond. But he didn’t.

Then I received a call from Ms Bennett who asked if Mr Clarke had contacted me. I said no, and she said he would. He didn’t. Then when I prompted Ms Bennett for an answer to Wittebome High’s woes, she said it was a misunderstanding and she was the only one who would comment on the issue, apart from Wittebome who would tell me what happened.

Ms Bennett agreed that the level of service Wittebome received may not have met the “high standard of service Chubb prides ourselves on”.

However, she said Roy Clarke and Louis Jansen met with Wittebome, to address system issues “that may have contributed to the circumstances that gave rise to the complaint”.

“When we reviewed the system we found that the customer was relying on the Crow system which is no longer used by Chubb, even though it is still being distributed in South Africa.

“After consultations with our customer, and in good faith, Mr Clarke and Mr Jansen agreed on a plan of action to ensure more effective monitoring of the security system.

“After the meeting on July 12 at the school, Mr Jansen assessed the entire security system, compiled a report for Wittebome and programmed partitions on the system that meet the school’s requirements. We found that the wireless system experienced several low battery occurrences, which is normal. Although it is the customer’s responsibility to maintain the system, Chubb will regularly monitor it which will significantly address the issues in question,” Ms Bennett said.

Mr Van de Ross sent me a copy of the letter he received from Mr Clarke, who said that it was evident from reviewing the system and the history of the installation that it is performing adequately.

“Since 2015, most if not all of the issues were related to the life of the batteries of the wireless detectors which is normal for such systems but we have set up the partitions.

“We have also credited Wittebome High with R2 653,92 for the excessive responses, and the bill has an outstanding balance of
R7 767.24,” said Mr Clarke, who made some proposals that Wittebome accepted.

Among them are that if the school terminates the agreement, Chubb will pass a credit for the outstanding balance on the bill; if Wittebome “allows us to demonstrate our commitment to remedy the situation, we will process a credit for the outstanding balance, as a gesture of good faith and without prejudice”.

Chubb also said they would repair any faults and wiring issues and provide a two-year maintenance plan consisting of a scheduled biannual system test and health check and there will be no charge for labour and if spares are needed they would get the necessary approval from the school.

Mr Van de Ross confirmed they had a meeting with Chubb.

“Since your interaction with Chubb, there has been an immediate response, and we now have a fully functional alarm system. You are a star,” Mr Van de Ross said.