Chadstone Shopping Centre cleaners protest

Well, well, well, who can deny that coincidences happen? In yesterday’s blog, I finally expressed my exasperation with the dirty toilets at the Chadstone Shopping Centre- the biggest mall in the Southern Hemisphere. My gripe was with the management at the Mall and not the cleaners.

This morning ABC radio has interviewed a cleaner from Chadstone who is about to start a long protest march from the Mall to the city with his fellow cleaners. The cleaners complain that they are having to do more and more work for less pay. Apparently, their employers, Spotless (lol) who have the contract for Chadstone are taking advantage of them.

Doesn’t look good for Chadstone management, does it?


Chadstone Shopping Centre is suffering from budgetary restrictions

With all that’s going wrong in the world of retail wouldn’t you think that a complaint about the nauseatingly dirty restrooms at the Chadstone Fashion Capital would be taken seriously?

More about that later.

It’s no secret that things are looking grim in the retail trade. Shops are closing down and going out of business. Consequently, shopping centres and malls must be feeling the pinch as well. They will simply have to try harder.

More about that later as well.

So what is to blame for the downturn?

Certainly there’s the GFC. But there are other factors as well. Retailers like to blame international online traders and they are demanding a GST placed on all online shopping to level the playing-field.

But that would only add 10% to the cost of the item. Most overseas online purchases are very much cheaper than the 10% GST difference. So even if a GST were imposed on online sales these would still continue to grow.

Firstly, because the world of online shopping is huge and it’s tempting. There’s so much choice out there that local retail just can’t match.

Secondly, retail, particularly department stores, have been providing less and less personal service. Now you would think that retail would try to outdo online shopping in the personal service field. They’ve got an obvious advantage here. After all, they have the goods and they should offer a shopper face to face attention. What an opportunity to outdo online traders!

But service has been going downhill for too long. Staff shortages have meant that you get more attention online. How ridiculous is that? Combine that with cheaper prices and immediate responses by online sellers and it’s no wonder retail business is suffering.

Now we get to the main substance of this blog. About time…

I’ve often complained about poor service in department stores and lack of facilities at Chadstone Shopping Centre, in particular.

I did so again a couple of months ago to one of the Chadstone executives. His name is David and he is in charge of customer complaints.

He is a busy man.

And that’s why he took several weeks to respond to my complaint about the terrible state of the restrooms in his Centre. Dirty floors, lack of paper, blocked toilets, wet and slippery conditions. You get the picture.

At long last, David phoned me only to explain that it costs a lot of money to supply hand towels instead of the useless hand dryers. It takes a lot of money to monitor the hygiene of the toilets.

David assured me that the restrooms get cleaned at the end of each day (whether they need it or not, apparently).

But he did not seem to understand that toilets should be cleaned often. They should provide paper hand towels or efficient hand dryers such as the Dyson ones that actually dry your hands well.

There were budgetary restrictions, David said, and he used that excuse over and over again, when I talked about making shoppers welcome at “The Fashion Capital of the Universe.”

He made it all sound so sad that I almost offered him a donation. On the whole, it was a pathetic response to a complaint about dirty loos.

Mind you, this is the same centre that is planning a multi-million dollar expansion, in spite of David’s unfortunate budgetary restrictions.

It doesn’t make sense to tell me they can’t afford to keep the loos clean and make the place shopper-friendly. There’s not much point in expanding unless you raise the standard of the service provided.

Happy shoppers lead to more business, David. Isn’t that “Retail for Dummies” advice?

But you’re the expert, David, and I’m a mere customer who fails to appreciate budgetary restrictions when it comes to hygiene.

Shame on Premier Anna Bligh of Queensland

Politics is a dirty business and elections bring out the dirt in heaps. The Queensland elections are in full swing and things aren’t looking good for the incumbent Premier, Anna Bligh. Her opponent in the premiership stakes is Campbell Newman who used to be the Lord Mayor of Brisbane. And he was a good one, so good that Bligh fears his popularity and has to accuse Newman of all sorts of nefarious deeds.

Newman has denied any such activities, but Bligh is so desperate that she has continued to accuse him of corruption and nepotism. She would like to accuse him of causing the Great Flood of Brisbane last year but that has turned out to be her government’s mismanagement according to a recent report on the tragic events.

Because of her constant accusations, the CMC (Crimes and Misconduct Commission Queensland) has been asked to investigate whether Campbell Newman has done anything wrong. It turns out that there have been no improprieties in his dealings as Lord Mayor.

In spite of this finding, Premier Bligh has refused to apologise to Newman. He has in fact said that she owes an apology to the people of Queensland. She’s still banking on finding something nasty about her opponent if she skulks around long enough.

I expected better of Premier Bligh. How could she stoop so low and not have the guts to admit that she might have behaved badly?

Her government is on the nose at the moment. Queensland is praying for a regime change and I hope that the voters will disapprove of her muckraking.

Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is going to lose my support.

How can Tony Abbott claim to be defending women’s honour when he demands that Defence Minister Stephen Smith apologise to the Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy?

I do not intend to go into the details of the scandal that took place in the Defence Academy last year. It’s far too complicated. There was some filming of a sex act which was broadcast simultaneously on Skype without the knowledge and permission of the woman in question. Minister Smith was rightly outraged when he was told about it and expressed his disgust at the way the woman was subsequently victimised by the Academy.

The person in charge of the Academy at that time was Commodore Bruce Kafer and a report on the whole business says that “overall” he is not to blame and will be reinstated.

Be that as it may, I feel that Kafer did not behave as well as he should have last year. So Stephen Smith is correct in not apologising to him.

On this occasion, Smith has been valiant and admirable in his criticism of the Defence Academy and its head.

However, I fail to understand why Tony Abbott, who claims to be a defender of female rights, should then decide to continue his Dr No impersonation and blame the Minister for NOT apologising to Kafer. Surely, this would have been an opportunity to support the Minister’s ethical stand. Abbott could have demonstrated that women should not be treated with such disrespect by the Academy.

But no, instead, he reverted to his silly stance of criticising everything that the government does, even if it’s good.

That is so disappointing. He is in danger of alienating Liberal supporters like me. I already disapprove of his ridiculously unrealistic and unnecessary maternal leave scheme which will pay high earners their entire salary for six months. Talk about absurd!

And now Abbott proves how erratic he is by siding against women in the Defence Force case, just so that he can attack a serving Minister who has some balls.

Abbott has done well to raise the profile of the Opposition, but he is in danger of spoiling it all by being too adversarial.