Tuesday, January 23, 2007

HelloPeter.com's Peter Cheales insults his own customers

Naughty Naughty! Rule #1 of Customer Service is "The Customer is Always Right". And when you make a living teaching others about customer service, it pays to practice what you preach. That's why I was quite stunned to read Peter Cheales' response to my complaint:
"Sunday afternoon and I really can't be bothered to respond to childish drivel. Regards - Peter"
It's hardly surprising. The poor guy has updated the design of his web site, and his customers hate it, by a huge margin of 62% against, 31% for. In addition, the web site design company is taking ages to fix a simple colour scheme problem, and the line breaks don't seem to be working. It must have been a tough week.
In a related post, Peter refers to my complaint in these generous terms:
"... Been working on contrasts and legibility - feedback has been harsh, but beneficial.
Re comments from abusers - they come, and fortunately they go when they find someone / something else to criticise. You'll find that they're the sort of people who'll never put themselves in the firing line - just wait to criticise others. In the office, we refer to them as ab-losers, but don't tell anyone."
All the success in dealing with complaints must have gone to his head. The sad thing is that two simple mistakes have made a big difference to customer perceptions of his web site:
  • The change in design has made it difficult to read
  • The lack of response to the change in design has made him seem intransigent, which is worse.
Of course, it doesn't help when you insult your customer, however misunderstood or provoked. I guess the only redeeming feature about the site at all is that some of the companies do actually respond to the complaints posted there. That's why I like it. I guess I'll just have to go through the hassle of using the site to get the desired response. No one said complaining about poor service was easy.


stillbot said...


Do you actually ever deal with customers? Because if you did, you would know that the customer is NOT always right! Tsk tsk, you really should know better!

Peter had every right to respond to your post that way, you had been warned before that you are not allowed to put links in any posts. It's a service site, not an advertising site!

Re the look of the site - it took them roughly 4 to 5 months to get the new site up and running, do you really think they'd be able to completely change it in a few days? Be realistic! As it is, they have made a lot of marked changes, in that it's not so fuzzy anymore, the colours are darker and it's easier to tell which is a complaint and which is a compliment.

I think you're just upset because Peter isn't lapping up every word of drivel you type. It's not your website. You don't even pay towards the maintenance of the website! If customers had to pay a fee to post, then maybe they should be allowed to post what they want and how they want. But they don't. It's a free service.

Amazing how whenever someone offers a free service on THEIR terms, people who don't contribute anything towards the running or maintenance of that service bitch and whinge about how it's not done THEIR way.

You don't like it? Start up your own site, and see how it feels to be on the receiving end.

Donn Edwards said...

I deal with my customers every day. I usually spend time on site, dealing with their complaints and requests personally.

The Customer signs the cheques, which means the customer IS always right, even when I think he's wrong.

I'm already on the receiving end, and have been running web sites for years. I fully understand that being on the "help desk" is a thankless task, having done it and helped others doing it since 1989.

I think the HelloPeter concept is brilliant, and will continue to use it, even if it is still barely legible. The web site company obviously has no idea about typography or legibility, so Peter is spending money on amateurs.

Peter has the right to insult anyone he wants. He just mustn't expect me to keep it quiet when he insults me.

Donn Edwards said...

There is nothing on the site that warns against posting URLS. If you can find it, let me know. I looked, and got Google to assist me.

Anonymous said...

Stillbot must be Peter Cheales in disguise!
Mr Cheales comes across as a most obnoxious person. He is far too aggressive to do justice to a site like this. It's actually a tragedy that he is not making lots of money (he always complains about it), because the concept is fine, it is just his implementation that is useless. He has absolutely no right to insult his customers - calling them children, telling them to grow up etc.
If the companies that respond had to become as aggressive, it would be interesting to see how long the site lasts.
Imagine Pick 'n Pay telling a customers, who arguably is in the wrong that they will not bother to respond, and they should please only come back into their store when they have grown up.

One day some customer of Pick 'n Pay or FNB or any of the good companies is going to ask them why they associate with someone who is so rude to their customers. I'm beginning to wonder why Pick 'n Pay would like its name mentioned in the same sentence as "Donn grow up" to someone who is (what are you, 40-45 years old?).

To come back to the Stillbot comment. To get that site up and running in 4-5 months is absolutely pathetic. Furthermore to make such a mess of it once it is published is rank amateurism. How could they have allowed it to go live before testing? Is this the quality of company that the big companies like to associate with?

I'm not a web developer/designer at all, and I could do it 10 times better in 2 weeks. Stillbot - do you want to put your money where your mouth is?

I've also noticed a marked increase in Mr Cheales' aggression this year. If it continues this way he will lose customers. He probably deserves it with his pathetic attitude.

Donn Edwards said...

Stillbot's identity is unknown to me. Perhaps Peter's "aggression" is borne of his frustration with the goons doing his site redesign.

Real web sites like www.ebucks.com have a site preview and actively ask users for feedback before going live, so they can fix unreadable colours ahead of time.

What most people don't realise is that the HelloPeter subscribers have to pay to receive the messages, good or bad. Of course that doesn't happen to Peter himself, who gets his compliments for free, and doesn't allow complainants the opportunity to rate his response, unlike Pick 'n Pay and Discovery Health who do.

It's time for Peter to "eat his own dog food" by being his own customer without special priviledges. It would help if he listened to his customers instad of insulting them.

stillbot said...

I'm not Peter Cheales. Unless he's a female below the age of thirty.

I'm not a web developer/designer at all, and I could do it 10 times better in 2 weeks.

If you're not a web developer at all, then maybe you'd better just keep quiet since you would NOT be able to do better. It's not the same as creating a site from scratch, they had to bring over the user database (subscribers and other), past comments etc etc. Doing a site overhaul like that is no joke - I would compare it to remodelling a house.

Yes, the web design company that redid the site should be shot - it was horrible and hard to read and just very very BLAH. BUT, they have fixed most of the issues - the text is clearer, there's even some colour.

Re Anonymous - companies can reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Yes, that's right! Customers are NOT always right, and they can NOT always stand in the store and have a temper tantrum until they get their own way, regardless of whether it contravenes policy or law.

Personally, if a customer is in the wrong and is acting like a little brat about it, I would applaud the manager who tells them to get out and stay out.

It's a different story if the customer is in the right and the company is being an ass about it, or if the customer is wrong and is calmly asking for a reasonable compromise. But nowdays, "asking" and "politely" do not always feature in a customer's vocabulary.

Donn, in case you haven't noticed, Peter does listen to his customers - the reasonable ones. Not the ones who waste his time by posting the same drivel over and over again. Let's face it, you too would do the same to someone who keeps bringing up the same thing over and over and over again.

If you think hellopeter.com is such a horrible website, then the answer is simple - stop reading it and stop posting on it.

Donn Edwards said...

stillbot, you have a lot to learn about customer relations and/or attracting users to your web site, especially when THEY earn you money. Every time I post a complaint on HelloPeter, Peter Cheales earns some cash, either by displaying ads or by charging the "Companies who Respond" a fee for passing on the message.

So insulting the hand that feeds you is not such a good long term move.

As or your "be nice or go away" attitude, I agree up to a point. I was not being derogatory or insulting in the tone of my question. I just asked a question. If you think it is a STUPID question, then add it to the FAQ and refer me to the FAQ.

Oh, did I mention there ISN'T an FAQ? I guess Peter's too bloody minded to make one, since he was too bloody minded to answer the question. FAQ's are supposed to prevent his kind of sense-of-humour failure.

If you look on the style.css file you'll notice the default fonts are "Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;". That proves to me that the Bonzai goons have no idea about web typography. At small point sizes Arial and Helvetica are not nearly as legible as Tahoma and Verdana, which are installed in 80% of all computers on the net.

Then there is the question of colours. If you check on WikiPedia you'll find the list of "Web Safe Colours" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colors)

The clever boys at Bonzai either don't know about these colours or don't understand why they are important. If their style.css file actually used them, the text would be legible without having to resort to bold text, because the browser would not have to dither the colours and thereby make them fuzzy.

It turns out that Bonzai stole the style sheet and some of the page elements from dinersclub.co.za, and then left the text "/* dinersclub css */" in their style sheet. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it isn't very professional.

Andrew said...

The biggest problem I have with Hello Peter is that customers are allowed to post complaints for free, but suppliers have to pay to respond.

This is extortionate.

It is only fair that a supplier should be allowed to respond for free as well.

Donn Edwards said...

I understand that Mt Cheales needs to pay for a busy site, and that customers can't be expected to pay, so it therefore falls on the suppliers to pay.

I don't know what the costs are, but big companies can afford them. I feel for the little guy, but there is nothing stopping a small company from having a blog or responding to complaints via email.

OTOH, as a consumer I would happily pay for the right to reply to the supplier's reply, especially when the only response you get is "we'll contact you" which is no response at all.

If someone complains on HelloPeter about my company, I could always post another "complaint" on the same site responding to the first complaint, or asking the complainant to contact me directly. You just have to do a bit of lateral thinking ;-)

Sparky Spider said...

Ladies, ladies, ladies.

Why don't you all focus on making your own sites and customer service better and stop insulting eachothers.

You all sound like a bunch of old woman.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this service-improving insight. Yawn

Anonymous said...

Peter Cheales is rude and what can only be descibed (without making derogatory comments about him) as a very, very bad person in the world.

He insults his customers (the people that pay him), he insults religion and religious readers, but most of all, he insults the users by making them believe he is not rich!

Peter's comments included here :

"behead the pope, bring us the pope's head" - Peters response "Allelua".

When asked to remove a flase comment that i could prove on someone's else's behalf, my comment was removed and the original commented EDITED to make it sound more realistic.

It is about money and Peter is making lots of it, don't be mistaken!

Anonymous said...

This website should just be shutdown,,hear this Peter

You just want to maske money oout of this.

www.servicereport.co.za said...

Contact him directly on 0118804520

Seems to be a reasonable person. I simply phoned and asked him to remove a comment from his website over the phone and he said he would!

What a good chapw

Geoff said...

Is anyone aware that they supply third parties with their mailing list? It's in their privacy policy.

Hello Peter tried their thing with me. They took down their page immediately when I published this page:


It's because it's optimised to appear on search engines when Hello Peter gets searched - exactly what they did to me.

Peter Cheales can't take his own medicine.

Grim Restorer said...


This YouTube-video will shed some light on a dark criminal secret:


Pardon for posting the link, but the video is all about dear Peter... And all about naughty little Peter's virtual-vomit-spot-on-the-web...

Even better Mr Blogmaster, embed the video on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Peter is an aggressive person, and a dangerous man. And "still bot' is definitely him writing. Style and word choice is Peter to the t.
But careful guys, I know Peter is psycho...trust me.

Warning: The NSA and 4 million other sick weirdos with "security clearance" have intercepted this page and know that you are reading it.