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Singapore after more than 15 years

The last time I went to visit Singapore (not counting transits) was probably more than 15 years ago (I can’t remember exactly when), because either the MRT wasn’t built or it was just finished. In any case, it was a long long time ago :).

Last week, I had the chance to go there for a couple of days, and I must say it’s quite a nice place to visit. Clean air, little traffic, modern, good public transportation, and organized. I only had a little time to go around and sightsee, but managed to go to Suntec City, VivoCity, and along Orchard Road for a bit (I like malls :)).

I’ve heard quite a few of my friends, who’ve actually stayed in Singapore, say that after awhile you do get bored with life there, but for the few days I was there, I really felt if I had to live in Singapore, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Granted, Singaporeans do work like crazy (so I’ve heard), and property cost is off the roof, but should push come to shove and a really good opportunity presented itself, I think I wouldn’t mind trading Jakarta’s pollution and traffic for such a life.

Another tale of crappy customer service

This time, courtesy of the HobbyCraft store at Mal Puri Indah in Jakarta. Here’s the story:

A couple of days ago, my wife wanted to buy some knitting accessories. She doesn’t know much about knitting and just wanted to buy basic beginner’s stuff, so she went to the Hobby Craft store and based on information she had, purchased a pair of knitting needles and woolen threads.

When she got home, she found out that she had bought the wrong type of knitting needle, so she thought, “no big deal, I’ll just exchange it for another type”.

The next day, I accompanied her to the store and just couldn’t believe how crappy their customer service was.

1. The clerk said it couldn’t be exchanged for anything because it was my wife’s fault.

2. The clerk called the owner, and the owner said no exchange because the computer system can’t handle it and will create a mess in accounting.

3. The clerk who sold the item the previous night came in and had the gall to put up an attitude and raise her voice at my wife and kept saying “it’s your fault for not knowing the correct type to buy”

Now, where else can you find such an issue with returning a $3 item except in Indonesia? And this not in a side walk dubious store; it’s quite a well known crafts store in Jakarta.

My issue is that:

1. Yes, it’s my wife’s fault that she bought the wrong item. That was acknowledged when she told the clerk she needed to return the item in the first place. My wife kept saying, “I’m sorry, I bought the wrong item”. Good customer service dictates that you acknowledge a customer’s issue and in good faith respond to it. The principle of shifting blame over and over again seems so unprofessional.

2. What kind of owner risks the wrath of a customer for the equivalent of a $3 item? Just take the god damned item back and gain a new customer instead of risking embarassment should one of those be an influential person somewhere.

3. What kind of POS (double meaning intended here) system doesn’t handle refunds such that it creates a mess at the end of month calculations? And if you have such a crappy system, why not hire me to make a good one for you?

4. Raising your voice/showing displeasure at a customer really shows how bad your customer service skills are. This is even doubly embarassing considering my wife was not even trying to pick a fight with them. I probably could understand clerks getting upset if a customer was shouting obscenities and threats at them, but getting upset at a customer trying to exchange an item is just ridiculous.

5. My wife knew that she probably had to purchase another item in addition to returning the item, and she said upfront, “I’m gonna buy something else and add to the purchase”. By refusing to do this vehemently, aren’t they just refusing profit?

In the end, my wife convinced the first clerk to let her exhcange the item and buy something else in addition. But the experience has left a bitter taste in her mind, and she has told me she’s not going back there even if it means going to another store further away to buy her crafts goods.

So, if you’re ever trying to buy some hobbies/crafts items, I’d strongly recommend against going to the Hobby Craft store at Mal Puri Indah. Bad customer service, unfriendly and an extremely stupid owner.

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