Monday, September 14, 2009
Buying a Radio
I know I have complained about customer service before: here is another one, but at least I think everyone learned something out of this one.
This time of year it is imperative to know about tropical storm warnings and to keep abreast of the storm if/when it hits, so I bought a radio. There is a chain of stores here in Dominica called COURTS. They sell electrical appliances and furniture. There is a store on my way home from school and they had what I had in mind, maybe a little more money than I wanted to spend, but so be it. I paid my money, took my radio, went home in the driving rain looking forward to my new toy.
I plugged it in and there was a loud crack with sparks and a smell of burning electricity. You can imagine my dismay…I packed it up and went back to COURTS, (about a 15 minute walk, happily it had stopped raining for a bit). The young lady who had served me was surprised to see me and looked with puzzlement at the box. “We have a problem” I said as I went over to her. She was pleasant and ready to help politely explaining that the store policy was ‘no returns’. No signs, notices, or note on the invoice to announce this policy. She offered to exchange it, but would have to talk to her manager. I insisted that I didn’t want another one. I wanted my money back. The store manager came over, and this is where it could have fallen apart.
She did not address me; she did not ask me what the problem was. Slouching over the counter, she had her back to me and gruffly questioned the young clerk. She issued rules and regulations. She refused to make eye contact with me. I tried to interrupt her, but she was in full sail and couldn’t be diverted. I pulled on her sleeve, aware that my blood was rising. “I am the customer,” I said, “You need to be talking to ME...This nice young lady is doing her best and has nothing to do with the problem. Please talk to me directly”. She wasn’t going to have any of this, and still with her back to me, she addressed me over her shoulder saying that they would not do anything and finally stomped off to call her superior. She came back to me to announce that I hadn’t reset the radio from 110V to 220V and if I had read the manual I would have known to do that, and therefore it was my fault that the radio broke and that they were not going to give me another one, or give me my money back.
“It’s your fault.” she continued. “You have to send it back to the service department for repairs.” “No,” I said as calm as can be. I can see she is getting up a head of steam. I stood my ground without saying anything. She started accusing me of not knowing enough to switch it. “It’s not our fault, it’s your fault.” There was that word again and I was, by now, more annoyed at being accused of irresponsibility and stupidity, and not being talked to directly. As she was carrying on about whose ‘fault’ it was, another person in the store came to my defense and said that it was not my fault, it was the store’s fault for not telling me. Dominicans are highly competitive and love laying blame and fault, but there was just too much fault finding and blaming going on here for me. There was not going to be any movement, and people in the store were watching and waiting for a good yelling match to develop. So, evoking my friend Brian Strom of CICR, (www.cicr-icrc.ca/),I kept my voice low, spoke very slowly, kept smiling, looked her directly in the eye and explained my position again, and adding that there is no issue about fault, and that I was sure we could find a good compromise. I offered not to insist I get a full refund, if they would simply exchange it. They could send the broken one to their service department for repair, as she had mentioned that it was a simple matter of exchanging a small part. Pause. Another phone call. A flurry of activity, which I missed because I was busy breathing deeply. Suddenly a new boxed radio appeared, was handed over with a smile and a kind word. I thanked everyone, and fled with it.
When I turned in the radio the first thing I got was Radio Canada via Lucerne, Switzerland!!!
P.S. there is NO mention of switching from 110V to 220V in the manual. Should I drop in and let them know?
P.P.S. I did go by Courts this afternoon. I was warmly greeted and I informed the woman I had dealt with that the manual, in fact, did NOT say anything about switching the voltage thing. She thanked me for the info.