By Peter G Davis
At 10.00 am on Wednesday morning, after dropping off my wife at her club, I went to Jumbo at the King’s Mall, Paphos to return a €6 clock I had bought.
A wall clock, it stopped working every two-three hours, just as the minute hand reached five-past the hour. A gentle tap and off it went again. Problem is I didn’t know how long it had been stopped, and I really wanted a clock that would keep going for 24 hours.
Entering the store I spoke with the lady on reception. I explained the problem with the clock.
“I cannot give you a credit note,” she said.
“Fine, I don’t want a credit note, just a replacement.”
But she was steadfast, very polite but she couldn’t help me. Turning the receipt over she pointed out that returns could only be given after 2pm and this was shown on the receipt.
She reiterated that the returns manager with the key was here after 2pm and I would have to come back four hours later.
“So I can’t do this at a time that’s convenient to me?” I enquired. But she’d already wandered off to deal with another customer.
Realising that I wasn’t going to get a replacement at this time, I wrote my name and phone number on the receipt and asked her to pass it onto the ‘Returns Manager’ and I would collect the clock next time I was in Paphos, as the 30km drive would cost me more than the clock was worth. I left both on the counter, much to her annoyance, adding. “Well, if it’s too much trouble, throw it away.”
Off I went to do some shopping when I noticed the aircon in the car had stopped working and getting this sorted meant, unexpectedly, I was still in Paphos four hours later.
So I took my darling for a meal at the King’s Mall as I could then collect my replacement clock. Telling my wife to order for me I went back to Jumbo’s.
The lady on the desk saw me and took my clock out of the rubbish bin, saying that I was lucky as she had thrown it away as instructed, but the bins hadn’t been emptied yet.
I asked to see the ‘Returns Manager’.
“No replacement,” he said immediately. “The clock is still working.”
“Yes,” I explained. “But hung on the wall it stops every 2-3 hours.”
He told me I would have to wait until the clock stopped, and off he went leaving me not knowing if he was coming back or if I needed to stay in the store for hours. Would I be given food, a drink, a seat, would I be there overnight?
I asked to see the General Manager?
“He’s upstairs,” I was told. So clock in hand I went to find the General Manager.
Upstairs I found the General Manager and went through the same explanation, ending with my request to change the clock.
“No,” he said. “The clock is still working.”
He said he couldn’t give me a replacement until the clock had been properly tested maybe in two to three days’ time.
At which point I said: “Do you think I’m telling lies about a €6 clock?”
“No,” he replied. “I can see you have a problem.”
“No,” I said. “I am the customer, the problem is yours, so what do you intend to do about it?”
I explained I was a qualified Human Resources Manager and offered to train his staff on customer service.
I got a confused look in response.
“I will keep the clock and test it,” he said eventually.
The conversation was going around in circles.
So I asked: “Do you want me to call my wife and you can speak to her? She is a witness that the clock stops. She is here in the Mall and was a credit manager for a multi million pound brewery, a competent witness.”
“No,” he said. “I believe you.”
Realising that I was now getting nowhere fast I changed tack.
“You want me to allow YOU to keep my €6 clock. How do I know I can trust you or Jumbo with my clock? If Jumbo goes into receivership my clock will be seized as assets of the store and I will lose my money. You say I’m honest but I don’t know you.This could be a ploy to get my clock,” I thundered.
Well, this worked. As a police officer of 35 years I know you sometimes need to drop a level and get down to the same thinking as the recipient. The manager raised a credit note and gave me the replacement clock. Victory for common sense.
I then went off to see my darling to be met with the words:
“Where have you been? I ordered, but the food is now cold so they have put it into containers for me to take it home to warm up.”
Jumbo could certainly learn customer service from the restaurants in the Mall.
Back home I didn’t fancy warmed up chicken so my meal was fed to the dogs. So Mr Jumbo, my dogs thank you. The meal cost me more than the clock.
If I ever have to return anything again, that is if I use your store again, I will put at least half a day aside and bring my own chair.
A multi-million dollar organisation in a multi-million dollar complex who can’t focus on a solution over a €6 problem. Staff who think it’s all right to walk away and serve others whilst dealing with your problem. And a returns system that suits the store but not the customer and that no manager questions? I can’t even start to try and understand the thinking behind these decisions.
Peter G Davis, chartered MCIPD. MICM (Grad).