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Is This Racing’s Shop Window?

Customer respect is non existent

Retired KZN Racing Executive Colin Aitken is 74 years old and happily retired down Durbanville way.

A recent heart attack didn’t stop him from visiting his son in Malaysia in December.

But he says the stress of simply trying to purchase a L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate day racecard on a quiet Thursday afternoon had him saddened at the way racing treat its customers.

Colin says that if he was only 30 years younger, he would get involved and try and make a difference.

“My age will tell you I’m old school. We always loved our racecards on the big day. That little mine of information, with the photo of the Queen on the cover – the distinctive glossy print and that unique exciting smell that shouted ‘there’s big racing on Saturday’. Your readers are probably asking what this dinosaur is on about,” he laughs.

After a few phone calls to Kenilworth and with little apathy or interest anywhere along the line, Colin landed up at the Brackenfell tote.

He and his 18 year old son tried to get through the front door but were blocked by a massive security gate. An imposing security officer barked an order – ‘turn your cap around’.

Colin asked the gentleman why he needed a lesson in how to wear a cap at his age.

His son was more on the ball and explained that it was probably for the cameras – security reasons.

The youngster, who is 18, was denied entry – just because. No negotiation. No ‘this is how it works’. No, ‘can we see your ID, sir’. Nothing.

“Good grief, I thought. Here I am. I love the game. I’m traumatized. All I needed was a racecard. No smiles. No friendly approach. Is this SARS, Home Affairs – or horseracing? I eventually picked up a Winning Form. I left quickly. I had just experienced horseracing’s shop window. The chances of looking after two customers, or even picking up a new one have got to be zero in this environment.”

Colin suggested that a host or hostess wearing a sash and a smile could have made all the difference.

“There wasn’t an ounce of customer friendliness in the experience of simply trying to get a racecard. The tote was quite full. Why wasn’t there somebody there to extend an element of warmth and maybe encourage me with half a chance of ever coming back?”

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23 comments on “Is This Racing’s Shop Window?

  1. Rob Champion says:

    This is so typical. It took visit to three separate totes and one shop to get the compute forms for the two meetings. The one major tote in Tableview told us they received 3 for Friday and 4 for Saturday. This in an area full of racing people. It appears customer service is just not on the agenda in South African racing. It’s hard enough to get the books and Lo and behold the pages are all stuck together and one needs scissors to separate them @R45 a shot one expects the finished product.
    As a staunch racing supporter I just hope the big meetings go of without a hitch but this sort of thing needs to be addressed .

  2. DavidS says:

    Very similar bad experiences at Turffontein racecourse on many occasions repeatedly over the years


    And then we have Royal Box Supremo Bernard Kantor telling punters they are stealing from racing by playing the open bet @ bookies !

    These are two of thousand incidents that happen monthly with the Betting World/Phumelela totes.

    Punters and newbies have gone to other Bookmakers.

    Bernard Kantor & Jon Stuart know less than shzt about their customers and what happens on the ground.

    Thank God Do It Again and Vardy can’t read.

  4. Harold Taylor says:

    If someone like Colin Aiken can be intimidated South African Racing needs to take a hard look in the mirror at itself if its to continue and improve its customer service

  5. Wesley1999 says:

    This is because Horse Racing is seen as a fun day day out instead of an actual sport and because of this they probably don’t care that racecards are delivered properly to the customer.

    Love Horse Racing but, most of the ads of the queens plate and Met are about the lifestyle and fashion and not about the horses.
    This is depressing as this years queens plate has one of the strongest fields that I’ve seen in my years following horse racing. A week long build up of the race would have been nice.

    I’m wondering if having a private company operating racing is better than having a public company like phumelela run racing. I know that goldcircle racing used to operate racing Cape Town.

    How was racing operated in the old days(pre phumelela)?
    Would it be better to go back?
    I appreciate any feedback from you guys.

  6. Sean says:

    I concur with all sentiments provided. One would think that a company that is performing so dismally would actually place more effort on trying to improve serviceability. You would think that t/over is key! However, many times at the start of exotics you find one member on the tote or my usual pet hate playing on their cellphone. Not even an acknowledgement by the respective staff member that you are waiting to be service. Hell, the attitude is…they doing you a favour!! The other day another customer mentioned to me that they had a asked a number of times for the tote payouts to be displayed, to no avail. So, I then followed up and asked the staff member numerous times to no effect. We just ended up shaking our heads. The problem is that there is no accoutability and absolutely No respect for the paying customer! Good luck!

  7. JAMES BLOND says:

    I have given up trying to get Computaforms, or the Express version, from the tote, also I can’t afford R40 a book anymore, It is 8 sometimes 9 books at R360 p.w= R1440 p.m.
    I used to make notes in the hard copy, what I do these days is I get online Computaform for R100 p.m. then I print the TABFORM sheet from Gord Circle and make my notes on them,
    I prefer the Tabform version as they have more info and space than the TAB sheets.
    I know it is not the best solution but it is an option.
    Another thing that is currently a big problem is this new thing GOLD CIRCLE has of the horse number is the same as the draw, it makes it extremely difficult to study form as you constantly have to check the weights as before you had the horses in top to bottom weight.
    I really hpope they change back to the old ways, but I have seen in this industry people find it hard to admit they have made a mistake, will raher just carry on than admitting a mistake. ,

  8. Pops says:

    Woolworths managed Stores are now selling Edgars vouchers?

  9. Alan says:

    Let Hollywood by the totes and then see a digference

  10. Denver says:

    Off the topic with this article but why cant the hwbets greyville and scottsville race card go back to normal. it is frustrating to even study the form.
    eg. you find horse no1 carrying 54kg then horse no8 60kg.
    i know it has been changed for the horse no’s to suit the barrier no’s, but it was easier to study the previous format. most of the people i spoke to agrees with me and not one person likes the current format. i would like to know how many of you guys agree with me or disagree about the race card changes.
    by the way anton marcus you are the man or should i say SUPERMAN

  11. Tony Mincione says:

    Someone needs to tell your chairman, it’s the customer who is coming with a knife to a gunfight. The leadership in racing who so pursue precious stake money with such determination are utterly out of touch with their business model.

    This is hysterical. Never mind finding the new generation (they’re 18 and going to tell you where to go), now you losing the baby boomers, the old guard, the people who know what a Politician really is.

    a. Pew Research Center defines baby boomers as being born between 1946 and 1964

    b. hysterical
    affected by or deriving from wildly uncontrolled emotion.
    “Janet became hysterical and began screaming”

    out of control
    in a frenzy
    beside oneself
    driven to distraction
    in a panic
    out of one’s mind
    out of one’s wits
    in a state

  12. IAN says:

    Barrier draw determining racecard number – absolutely ridiculous !!

  13. Steve says:

    With regard to the barrier draws and numbers, previously horses were in weight order but we would still have to check the draw when considering their chances -whether the draw or the weight is a more important variable is debatable. We would also still have to check the weight as number 1 may be carrying 60kg and number 2 may have have been set to carry 52kg so it was still a variable that we had to check even though they were in weight order. With the new system the order and draw is chronological and therefore you know the higher the number the worse the horse’s chances of gaining a good position in running, for races around the turn. Resistance to change is a common reaction. If we were all used to the barrier draw-numbering system as the way it was always done and a change was made to weight order, the reaction of people would be the same. However as has been publicized, this is merely a trial basis until the end of February. If the industry doesn’t try new things we can’t expect to reverse the decline that it is experiencing. Some initiatives may work better than others. Constructive criticism helps make the industry better for all.

  14. hilton witz says:

    Steve why not improve on issues that punters actually complain about instead of changing something that nobody has complained about?There has been plenty constructive criticism from punters for a long time and it Never gets addressed just ignored hoping it will go away ..Next time you want to try something new consult with your customers before you do it as most consumer related industries do..

  15. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Hilton you are spot on I’ve complain and complain and complain and complain and complain but still falls on deaf ears…who the hell gave Gold Cirlce the right to change the Computaform formate without consulting with us the die hard Computaform users… Graeme Hawkins we can’t wait another 6/7 weeks to see if the the New format is the way forward it’s clearly not so pls the sooner you could change back to the old format the better…next time something of this sort happens try get a vote going before you decide on sudden change it’s just not on…i dont think there’s been 1 update since you introduce the new format from you Graeme wouldn’t it be the right thing to get some sort of feed back from the die hard Computaform users,,poor performance from yourside Graeme

  16. Leon Smuts says:

    I think that operators should give a lot more thought to making involvement fun and entertaining for players. This means that any new product should have this as a primary objective and offer players a realistic chance to win and a real opportunity to win big as a secondary objective. Anybody who plays to get rich will soon be disillusioned and lost to the game if this is all that is on offer. The whole experience from walking into the betting shop or going onto the site or app should be geared towards making the player feel special and appreciated and ensuring repeat and regular involvement. This is not what I get from most people’s complaints and is at the very core of racing’s inability to attract meaningful numbers of new players to the game. Racing was founded on these principles but somewhere along the line these very important aspects have been neglected in favor of solely the mighty bottom line. The bottom line will look after itself when the product and presentation is of a high standard and aimed at customer satisfaction. The regrettable incident that Mr Aitken experienced has everything to do with low morale and a lack of accountability of staff at tote outlets and this is because local racing has not been a priority for a very long time.

  17. Joao says:

    Im also 50 and been in the game for ever blah blah (not being rude) just stating facts.

    You have to take a step back.

    I am currently consulting to a startup in Arizona. They want to be in the bookmaking business.
    Why , well because the USA is about to open the floodgates in no uncertain manner.

    Ever wonder why international’s bookmakers offer betting on E Sports or Speedway?

    1 word….CONTENT. If they don’t offer it the next one will and the desperado’s will take their £5 there.

    This is a fact. I understand SA bookies are millions of miles behind. The main reason they are is NOT what you would even imagine.

    SA bookmakers are behind because of my other field of expertise. Fibre Optics and Unlimited Data/ Bandwidth.

    If and when DATA become’s the norm like of here in the UK when it becomes a “utility” in SA then SA bookmakers will also be fighting for content and you will be moaning why the site is not so convoluted its offering betting on circumcisions in KZN over and under 340.5 in 2032 When this happens SA bookmakers won’t need shops, they will inherit 30 million punters that are now connected and ALL our sites will change.

    I digressed.

    Someone (clever) has figured out that to sell our pictures (content) to as many channels as possible and in turn for those channels to sell that feed to the USA it needs to be in a Language they understand.

    The USA is the holy grail for betting at the moment. We are aware (as part of my job) that there was a massive underground market BUT the facts are the above ground market is 4 times larger and we know from experience in the UK that unless you offer prices on everything in a language people understand it becomes a challenge to get them to bet on it.

    So I think us old farts need to accept that this race card / barrier order is here to stay for the “greater good”

    NOW whether they sell the picture’s for R10038894529942

    and re invest in racing or steal the money i can’t say.

  18. Pops says:

    Well there we have it.France told us when to put on a race meeting and at what time..Phumelela said ,Yes Sir.
    Now it seems the USA have whispered in Hawkins ear,”Can you see how we number our runners in the race card.Number 1 barrier 1 Number 2 Barrier 2.If you do not want sanctions to come your way you best do the same” Hawkins had to agree.

    1. Editor says:

      Far-fetched Pops

  19. Joao says:

    Pops, what difference does it make if the Met is scheduled to be off at 15H10 or 15H13

    You the person watching the MET ONLY, will still watch your race.

    In the betting shops all over the world and online the sickos need a race every minute. So agreements have to be made. Its common sense really and savvy business sense.

    Its been proven here in the UK that people will even bet on cartoon racing. So slotting in a race from
    Fairview between a race from singapore and a race from pontefract is GOOD for business and a minor time change is nothing really.

  20. Akesh Singh says:

    Given the economic and financial impacts on just about everything,I am sure that these also affects production and logistics around formguides.
    Perhaps a relook is taken into the high number of formguides in publication/ printed.Then a decision be made to have just a few available in hard copy and the rest in electronic format.
    PS it is difficult studying weights and ratings with the barrier draws dictating card numbers.
    Winning form and Sporting Post would be well advised combining strengths into one super form guide printed twice weekly.

  21. Jonathan Harris says:

    Had quite a pleasant experience yesterday. Needed a Sporting Post for the weekend. Googled nearest outlet. Walked into Hollywood bets Main rd Wynberg. Greeted by friendly lady (with a sash). No credit card facility. No problem. Took off her sash. Walked me outside, showed me where to draw quick cash. Went back in. Got my Sporting Post from another with a pleasant greeting and big smile. Got some cold water on way out. Really cool.

  22. Geoff says:

    According to Warren Lanferna only good comments on the new racecard format in KZN. Yeah right.

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