Let the seller beware

By Russell Bell

1 comment


I am always amazed when large retailers, who invariably promote their stores as "wonderful shopping experiences" go AWOL when it comes to customers and issues with their purchases.

If you are unlucky enough to have a product fail the last thing you need is for the retailer to make it clear that your path to replacement or a refund faces as many challenges as those by Sinbad on his seven voyages.

Now, I have challenged in the past the "customer is always right" mantra because sometimes the customer isn't actually right. However, when the answer is obvious that a product sold by your business has badly failed there is a strong case for doing the right thing. So it is with the suitcase, purchased at some expense from a major national retailer, which emerged from only its second trip with a sizeable crack. We had concerns about it after the first trip because plastic pieces fell off it in the hotel. However, we didn't question it at that point because the appendages actually didn't appear to serve a practical purpose.

Having replaced a trusty baggage set which had served us for almost 10 years, we expected the new one to certainly last more than a couple of trips.

So, into the renowned national retailer I strode, confident that a request for a refund would be received with grace and any enquiries on the performance of the item would be taken up by them with their supplier. How wrong I was.

Phase One - Proof of purchase. I understand that this is a standard practice. However, does everybody retain every receipt of every single purchase?

Phase Two - Prove that the product failed and it wasn't misuse by yourself or a third party. In the case of the suitcase I got presented with the possibility that the airline caused the damage.

Phase Three - The "it's all too hard" phase. I had this a few years back where a retailer made it too difficult to get satisfaction, hoping I would give up. In that case I didn't but only got my money back when I played the Fair Go card. We aren't there yet.

All of the above does nothing for my view of the retailer. For the sake of the cost of the bag they put at risk significantly more in future purchases and the negative word of mouth which is associated with this experience.

Zenith Solutions is a Wanganui-based management consulting practice. It specialises in providing strategic planning, business process improvement and financial management services. Contact russell@manageable.co.nz or phone 021-244-2421.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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