Monday, June 23, 2008

Comforting the customer

I should have been more careful. I didnot check properly. It was only when I opened the big pack at home I realised that the comforter I bought from the Co-op was for a single cot. I need one for my queen sized bed. Fortunately, you get to exchange the product within 48 hours of purchase and if you still have the bill. That sounded alright.

When I entered the shop again there were many hours to go before it would be "48". One thing I was told by others was that Co-op isn't really known for customer care. I was going to find out.

The man behind the counter was huge. I smiled. Didn't register. I smiled again. No reaction. Then he mumbled some thing. Mr mumbles probably understood that I was there to make life miserable for him. It was a simple equation for him; Product to be returned = productive time wasted. I explained my problem as clearly as I could and before I could finish, came the question."Where is the bill?" I was holding it all the while. I extended my hand. He looked at suspiciously as if I had it tainted with some unknown virus. This time I returned the look. He took the bill.

Most people would inspect an invoice by reading it first from the top. He checked all sides, its blank posterior, its sides, underneath it; I didn't know that a flat piece of paper had so many sides. The comforter in the polythene pack was the next item to undergo the scrutiny. The bill's treatment paled in comparison with this one.

He checked the item with such contempt that he would convince you not to return any more items to any shop any where in the world. He shook his tiny head; tiny for such a huge guy; and said, "This cover is too large for this item". Well, I didnt make the cover, I thought to myself. "Yes the cover is large but the comforter is small and thats why I am returning it". He looked at me and shook his head again. I was starting to relate his speech with the size of the head, unintentionally. Finally he told me that he cannot accept the comforter because of 2 reasons. The cover is too large for the item which could mean that I didn't return the original cover. Second reason being the pack didn't carry a piece of paper which says what is the size of the item; whether it is single/double etc. I clarified that I made a mistake in picking up the wrong size because that stupid paper was not there in the first place. I was getting furious. It has been well over 20 minutes since I came in.

There was a kid standing next to him while this conversation was going on. A 12 year old. He looked very amused. In between he would kindly offer his comments about why the product could not be exchanged. I wasn't amused. I told him impolitely to shut up. Mr mumbles suddenly intervened and reminded that I need not talk to the kid like that. Must have been the Manager's kid. My instinct told me that I should solve this matter because the real Manager turned up. I did not want to meet his dad.

Though that was what I had in my mind, this is what I blurted out; "I want to talk to your Manager". But that made Mr Mumbles remember some thing. Suddenly he looked a little wary of me. The nonchalance was gone.

I planted myself next to his counter with my back towards him; arms crossed. 10 minutes passed. Then he called another employee. This guy came and checked the product. Then another guy came. The comforter was inspected as if they were determining its sex. Finally after 40 minutes, they concluded that I could exchange it. I took another piece. But it wasn't a good exchange. Mr Mumbles took atleast a year out of my life expectancy.

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