Friday 16 May 2014

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I bought two dresses from a shop in BBS Mall on lay-bye for P350. Later on I received a call from a lady who says she is the owner of the shop. She says to me the price is P750 and not P350. I asked her how come and she tell me that's the price and if I don't agree I should come and get my P200. She then says she is busy with other customers to continue talking to me so she hung up.

I want to find out whether this is fair and what I can do to claim my clothes at P350 (meaning paying the P150 balance). Honestly I am so livid with her behaviour more than anything else.

I can understand why you’re so livid. Clearly this is a shopkeeper with no regard for her customers and no regard for common courtesy. However I suspect there isn’t much you can do about this. I imagine if we ask her she’ll just say that the price you were offered of P350 was simply a mistake and that is actually quite a good story. We all make mistakes and stores are no exception to that rule. At least she called you to explain. Her later rudeness is another issue.

Of course a decent store run by a decent person would probably have suggested a compromise, perhaps splitting the difference with you to show good will but perhaps good will isn’t a concept she’s encountered yet?

I suggest that you go back to the store, get your P200 back and promise yourself and me that you will never, ever set foot in that store again. Then tell everyone you know that they shouldn’t go there either.

It’s only when we start voting with our feet and our wallets and purses that stores will learn the lesson that they need to charm their customers, not insult them.

Update: A couple of weeks ago we published a letter from a consumer who said:

“Recently I went into one of the local shops to buy something. I got there and handed my bag to the woman at the parcel counter and took the number and went inside the shop. After buying I got back to the parcel counter, handed over to the number to the woman. To my surprise she told me that there is no bag. During the investigations they found out that my bag had been swiped with a wrong number that does not match it and where that wrong number is suppose to be there are parcels and it looks like the owner of those parcels have been given the wrong parcels which happen to be my laptop bag.”

When he contacted the store manager he was given plenty of promises to deal with the situation but nothing actually happened. He asked us what he could do to get his stuff back. There was also very little the store can do to find it for him. They had no more idea of the person’s identity than he did.

I told him that I suspected that if the other customer hadn’t returned them by now there was little chance they would ever be returned. Clearly the other customer was either too embarrassed to return the bag or just preferred to keep the contents. Either way they were gone.

However the better news is that we contacted the store manager and he decided to take the issue seriously. He invited the customer to meet and discuss the issue. Following our suggestion the store asked him to go to his local police station and swear an affidavit saying what had happened and confirming how much money it would take to replace everything. He did this and gave the affidavit to the store and they passed it up to the manager with sufficient authority to authorize compensation. We heard from the customer a couple of days ago that he’d received the full amount and can now start replacing everything.

The lesson stays the same. Are you prepared to trust a store to look after your belongings? I wouldn’t trust my belongings, particularly if they’re valuable, to anyone I don’t know personally and total strangers at parcel counters aren’t in that category. You’ll also see that many stores have large disclaimers saying they take no responsibility for goods left there. Roughly translated all this means that they don’t trust you and you can’t trust them. Why would you give such a store your money?

The other lesson is don’t give up. If a manager doesn’t give you satisfaction go up the chain of command until someone does. If it means going to the Divisional Manager, Regional Manager, Managing Director or the Chief Executive Officer then just do it!

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