Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Letter of the Day | 'Buy Jamaican'? Not at any cost!

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Their advertisement proclaimed: "Open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m." I took the added precaution of calling and making an appointment for 7:30 a.m. I turned up at 7:25 a.m. I waited until 7:54 a.m., and when I left no one had come to open the small business located in New Kingston.

I called later that morning only to be given the excuse: "I guess I was late." Yes, there was an apology, but that is not what I was in search of. I was in need of the service they provided at a cost. And this small business lost that transaction and all future business that could potentially have come from me and the many that I told about my horrid experience at their hands.

A colleague of mine who works in the logistics and distribution business has regaled me over the years with horror stories to do with quality and service at the hands of local providers with which he really wants to do business. He has experienced late deliveries; nonchalance in expediting special orders from his organisation, which is a substantial regional player; and poor after-sales service.

I know of entities that have wanted to use the brilliance of our local coders to develop software solutions for their own businesses who have ended up pouring money down the drain and losing time because these brilliant technicians are lousy business people who continually fail to meet agreed on timelines.

Keeping appointments and turning up on time is a rarity among too many small businesses providing services such as human-resource management support and accounting services to other small businesses trying to get off the ground. I know this personally.




I have also suffered at the hands of local providers of goods and services who do not deliver as promised, who deliver off-spec goods, who string you out. In many instances, there is greater bang for the buck spent with an entity in China or in the United States, which will deliver on time what you have ordered.

The headaches and frustration associated with running behind a delinquent local provider and the almost inevitable disruption to your plans caused by an unreliable supplier are simply not worth supporting the lofty, romantic notion of 'Buying Jamaican'.

Yet every single time our small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are represented in the public space, we are fed the line that they are the solution to the growth problem in Jamaica. Really? Not in their present configuration.

"We need access to credit!" and "Tax break incentives are imperative" are the constant cries we hear. Honouring the commitment made, keeping appointments, following through on all the terms of your sale, and being responsive to the needs of your current and potential clientele do not require access to credit and tax breaks. It requires a mindset and attitude towards people and business that money cannot buy.