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Great Eastern Wine Week, 9-18 September 2022

Monday, 21 February 2022

When the customer is wrong even if he is right

Remember the old adage: The customer is always right? 

I do most of my shopping nowadays in small, family-operated businesses, where nothing is too much trouble. 

Today I ventured into a massive Big W store where the opposite applies; Here the customer is wrong, even if he or she is right. 

And he or she can expect to treated with disdain, as well. 

My consumer experience went like this: I picked up up a few items and then headed for the only check-out actually manned by a human being. Big W, you see, prefers you to self check-out so it can employ fewer staff. 

On the way to the checkout I spotted a packet of crisps for $1.60 - a great deal. So I picked up a packet. 

When I was given my receipt, I thought it was a couple of dollars higher than I had expected.

I checked, and found I had been charged $4.15 for my packet of crisps, rather than the clearly advertised $1.60. 

I pointed this out to the check-in lady, expecting a reimbursement. 

But this is Big W, where "policy" is more important than politeness. 

It is, apparently, "policy" that a customer cannot be given his or her money back directly, even when the scanning system has failed.

The customer must walk to the other side of the store and then queue at a "service" desk, to get back his or her $2.65. 

The check-in lady, however, had not advised the "service" operatives of the issue, despite me showing her the price sign and her being aware of the mistake. So the "service" operatives had to make phone call (to whom I have no idea) to check out my story.

"We can't believe what every customer tells us," they said. Policy, of course.

Eventually, $2.65 was credited back to my card. 

I then sought out the store manager to let her know that their scanning system was faulty and that their customer service polices suck. 

"We are so sorry our policies caused you inconvenience today," she said, dripping in insincerity and sarcasm; clearly seeing me as an annoyance. 

If I had not had a few minutes to kill I would probably have not checked my receipt, or maybe have written the $2.65 off if I was in a hurry. 

How many customers do that, I wonder? How many $2.65s in favour of Big W?.

My wife tells me that Woolworths supermarkets give you the item for free if the wrong price is scanned. Which is both a polite way of saying "sorry" and decent customer service. 

Maybe Big W, which is owned by Woolworths, should examine both its systems and policies. Or maybe it just doesn't give a damn.        

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