Tuesday, July 16

Shopping: The Customer is Always Right

I love, love, love and miss, miss, miss how much freedom US consumers have. They're very lucky shopping-wise. Let me count the ways.
A pregnant me, shopping
1. You can change your mind about something you bought yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Depending on the store's policy, you can return stuff you bought earlier. If you felt guilty change your mind about this $400 dress you bought yesterday on impulse, it's okay. No biggie. Just go back to the store (sometimes, even another store branch), they will credit it back to your account. Most stores offer 30-day returns, a few having 90, a handful with forever. They will even let you return even without a receipt.

In the Philippines: The return policy is virtually non-existent. It's basically store credit or exchange -- and the offer does not even last a whole month. Usually, it's just 14 days.

2. One store sells it at a lower price? The other will match it. Granted stores only do this price matching game with brick-and-mortar stores, they still are willing to match the exact same product at the lower price. Most stores also accept competitor's coupons. Which leads me to No. 3.

In the Philippines: You'll just probably see this happen in bazaars, and that is, if you're lucky.

3. Coupon craze all over town. I was once one of those who collect small pieces of papers that would give me discounts. I would keep coupons that I think would be used in the near future. My favorite ones are the grocery coupons from Kroger and Target. Kroger because they are personalized based on your shopping history. Target because, well, it's Target. I'm biased. Don't judge me.

In the Philippines: Coupons are starting to appear here and there, mostly by SKU, usually restaurants. Oh yeah, and there's Deal Grocer and Groupon, too. They're like Zulily and Gilt. I have yet to see a big store opening up to coupon craze though. If SM or Rustan's does this, that would be the day.

4. Customer service reps are more forgiving. This happened to me recently. I did some online shopping and used my US credit card, then I didn't get the email alert they usually send when it's almost time to pay, so I forgot. Silly me. I just called customer service, and asked if they can waive the late fee. The fee was about $30, give or take, and the agent nonchalantly took it off. Amaze-balls.

In the Philippines:  You will fight an arm and a leg, and probably lose them both and not be waived a single cent. I am deadly serious.

5. Good quality private label brands. I say this because I miss Archer Farms and Trader Joe's. They are great examples of good quality food products.

In the Philippines: I have yet to see this in big stores. One thing that is noticeable though is the dramatic entrance of independent food sources/manufacturers that are really amazing, like this very creamy and delicious salted caramel ice cream, and this local supplier of organic meat products.

I do hope though that retailers here realize the importance of customer satisfaction and consumer rights. It might be because they are scared that people will take advantage. What if they return used products? Tell them you only accept unused ones. You might get lied to about a lower price? Do your regular research (data is king!). What about coupons that are fake? Well, get a control number. Good customer service is a must for satisfaction, and good private label brands, that is just a plus.

I say give your customers a chance. They might prove you wrong, and you might get the better deal.

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  1. Amen!!!!! Buti na lang there's online shoppping already right?! :-)


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