Monday, December 26, 2005

Refund please!

One of the many things I miss about Montreal is the refund and exchange policies of stores and service providers.

Here are a few examples of how the customer is not always king in this part of the world:

Example 1:
My sister wanted to buy her friend an IPod Nano for Christmas. They had run out of them in all the Abu Dhabi stores, so she called the Apple store in Dubai and they told her they had the 2GB ones available, but no 4GB Nanos, but that they were getting a new shipment next week.
My sister wanted to buy her friend the 2GB, just so her friend could have some sort of a gift under the tree come Christmas day. She would then ask the friend not to open the box so that they could exchange it for the 4GB Nano when they arrived. Thank goodness she checked their refund/exchange policy because it seems there is no such thing as returning an item that is bought, even if unopened.

Example 2:
I bought my dad some shoes from Aldo for Christmas, which turned out to be too long, so we decided to exchange them for another style. There is no refund policy at Aldo, only exchanges or gift vouchers (which is really weird because in Montreal, they refund you a full thirty days after you bought the shoes! And Aldo is a Canadian store....why the discrepancy in refund policies?). Anyway, we ended up finding new shoes, which were cheaper than the first ones I bought. They could not refund me the balance, so I asked for a gft voucher. They could only give me a 50 dhs gift voucher (I needed 70 dhs back), because it seems they only have 50 dhs denominations for gift vouchers!! So we decided to buy my brother a belt, because he needed one anyway. I have returned worn shoes in Montreal, because the strap or something else broke! I have even gone back to store 2 weeks after purchasing an item, and gotten a discount because the item had gone on sale just a few days after I bought it.

Example 3:
When I moved here, I had to subscribe to a TV service provider. I had the choice between Orbit and Showtime. Not knowing which one was the better option, I went with Orbit. A few months later, I wanted to change to Showtime (because they get better shows), so I called Sahm/DIC, who informed me that I had to pay Dhs500 in order to change before my yearlong contract with Orbit is up...So I said no thank you, I will live through a few more months of Orbit until my contract is up! Why should I be penalized because I mistakenly chose the wrong service provider?

There are many more examples of un-friendly customer "service". Haven't stores realised that offering their customers better refund/exchange policies will give them an edge vis a vis their competitors? And that this may just help boost their sales? And improve their brand image? And make customers come back to their store more often? Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"?


sheikha cheryl said...

Lesson 1: You are a consumer, you have no rights in the UAE.

redstar said...

Welcome to the Middle East, where treating your customers properly is considered to be a ridiculously short-sighted approach to business. Building a long term customer base and healthy accompanying profit margin can only be achieved by treating your customers badly, as anyone knows.

To be fair to Aldo, I can imagine their discussions with whoever owns the UAE franchise -

'This is Aldo's exchange policy.'

'Too much big price! I not do it!'

'OK, we'll go with someone else.'

'Sorry, I am your only choice.'

'OK, we'll go with you then.'

Not much you can do in these situations.

Dubai Sunshine said...

Hey Redstar, thanks for dropping by.
I guess you're right...I just find it so frustrating (especially when it comes to shoes, as I am somewhat of a shoe freak :)...I never thought I'd miss lenient return policies!!!