I'm often taken aback at the things some people will say on the record. Like the pirate DVD sellers in Fiji who have been pleading for more time to make their businesses "legal", they seem entirely ignorant of the ridiculousness in their arguments.
"I'm sorry, officer. Please allow me to continue growing marijuana until I'm able to find a new job. Ya know how it is."
Consider the following from yesterday's (9 July) Fiji Times, which interviewed the executive director of Suncourt Wholesalers, Champak Lal Bhikha. In the article entitled "Trader Defends Signs", Lal Bhikha attempted to make the argument that signs proclaiming "NO REFUND" were essential when conducting smooth business operations. Says Lal Bhikha:
I feel for you, Sir. Those damn pesky customers. Why can't they all just go away?
Most people who have visited Suncourt (and many other hardware businesses in Fiji) know that 90% of the time they spend in the store seem to be taken up by a confluence of various headaches punctuated by the need to actually find assistance, wait for hand-written requisitions to be filled out, explorations of whether items are in stock, lengthy waits to pay and then the ridiculous security process prior to taking your purchase out the door. I wrote some years back about a 45 minute visit to Manubhais & Co. for a single bag of nails when there was almost no one else in the store. This is the experience carved out by hardware retailers, it seems. Even more surprising is their open admittance of the foolishness. Lal Bhikha goes on to say:
Here's your answer, Mr. Lal Bhika. YOU should pay for time spent. That's what running a business is about.
Why are so many businesses here so fast to put additional customer restrictions or hindrances on to a shopping experience when the fault lay with themselves? Shortfalls in a businesses ability to manage customer returns is not the fault of the customer.
The Department of Fair Trading has now actually had to deem those signs illegal, much to the disappointment of the shopkeepers that hang them in their stores.
Here's an idea for an entrepreneurial retailer; market your store as one which gladly accepts returns if the customer is not 100% satisfied. That's a store I would visit over and over again. Standing behind your product can be a differentiator in this market. Imagine that?
Will some people take advantage of such a business? Yes, probably. Will most people take advantage? No, of course not. The kind of trust and confidence that a business shows in its own products and services will win over customers. People will know that if they buy something and it doesn't work, they can return it.
I await the store that respects me as a customer. Some are better than others, yes..but I am unable to name any retail location off the top of my head in Fiji which I think genuinely appreciates my business and even tries to honour the old adage that the customer is always right. It's not true of course. The customer is sometimes totally wrong but that doesn't mean he/she should be kicked in the ass on the way out the door and told that the piece of shit they just bought can't be returned.
If I never had a reason to NOT go to Suncourt, I have a good one now.