We asked a stretch tent company to put up a tent for us at AfrikaBurn this year. The tent never arrived. This is the story.
A few weeks ago I got a quote from Cutting Edge Tents and we agreed on a price (R7500) for them to rent us a tent, set it up for us at AfrikaBurn and take it down again. Pretty much the same deal as the year before, only a bit more expensive this time.
Our camp paid them a R4000 deposit. I sent them a text message and an email to confirm the size, price, location and day it needed to be up (the Sunday). I also gave Prince (who seems to own the business) and Baron all the details over the phone.
When we arrived at AfrikaBurn on the Monday evening there was no stretch tent at our theme camp location.
On the Thursday (day 4 of the event) I drive back to Ceres to phone the (not so) Cutting Edge Tent people (there is no mobile phone network coverage at AfrikaBurn). After a few calls I managed to speak to Baron who tells me the tent should be up and he gives me the name of the guy who should have set it up. I search on Facebook and track down the guy – let’s call him “Fred” because I know he does not want to be associated with Cutting Edge Tents.
I send Fred a Facebook message. He responds and tells me he has nothing to do with Cutting Edge Tents and I should phone Prince. I phone Prince who again tells me I should talk to Fred. I phone Fred again and he tells me he took three tents to AfrikaBurn, set up two and took one back to Cape Town – because the guys from Cutting Edge Tents never gave him the details of where to put up the tent. He says he tried to phone them on the day he left Cape Town, but they did not answer their phones.
I phone Baron again and I tell him that if he can bring me a tent to Ceres (all tar road to Ceres) within the next three hours, I will take it to AfrikaBurn and find somebody to help us set it up. He never phones me back.
Two hours later I have to start leaving Ceres to get back. I phone him again – he says he could not arrange transport. We agree that he will bring our tent to AfrikaBurn the next day and I should meet him at the gate at 12:00 – again we would have to set it up, he just needs to bring the tent to us.
The next day we wait at the gate from 12:00 to 14:00. At around 12:30 we leave a message at the gate for him. At 14:00 we pretty much give up on the whole thing, but we meet some people at the gate and hang around a bit longer.
At about 14:30 Baron shows up, without the tent. He says the tent is 30km away and he had a flat tyre on the R355. A few people in our camp meet and talk about the situation. We decide that we can’t drive 60km on the dirt road to go fetch the tent. We give Baron two bottles of water. We don’t see him again.
That afternoon we borrow a small tent (3mx3m) just to have some shade, we move some cars closer to support it. This is after a ranger walked by and tells us our theme camp looks pretty bad and we need to do something about it.
Back in Cape Town, after the event, I phone Prince to try and get our deposit back. Prince insists that we need to meet. We have a meeting and I tell him all of the above. They never delivered, they outsourced the work but screwed up the communication very badly, I tried twice to make things work but they screwed that up too. Barron getting a flat tire is unlucky, but it’s not our problem and it’s a risk they were aware of when they quoted us for the service.
The meeting ends with him saying – how do I know that they received the text message and email I sent them with the details of our camp? This is after I showed them the text message and the email I sent them in the meeting – with Baron responding to the text message conversation with “Thanx”. Prince does not seem to respond to emails, but I’m sure I sent it to the same address I received his quote from.
How do these guys do business?
I phone Prince the next day and ask him to please suggest how he wants to resolve the matter. He says he’ll phone me back, he never did. I send him a text message and an email. He ignores me. A few days later I phone again – he’s busy and can’t talk, he says he’ll phone me back. I phone again a few days later, he says he does not want to talk about it over the phone. He wants to meet at his office in Epping. I again ask how he wants to resolve this.
I phone a lawyer friend who suggests the small claims court in Goodwood. He says the process takes about two months.
I phone Prince and I tell him that if he does not want to resolve things our only option is to go to the small claims court. At this point he gets unhappy and says “well you send me the lawyer papers”.
I phone another tent company and ask them if there is some form of industry body for tent companies which I can ask to help resolve things. Turns out there is nothing like this.
I’m not going to be in Cape Town for the next two months to follow the small claims court process – but I figure I would at least try and prevent other people from having to deal with a problem like this, so here you have a blog post. I hope this helps somebody.
Update: it seems there was at least one more person who had big problems with these guys at AfrikaBurn.
Update: looks like our theme camp will be following the small claims court process to get the money back.