Friday, January 27, 2012

Taking it Back

They say "facts tell but stories sell." So here goes:

Story #1: Back in 2010 we bought a water dispenser from Costco. It was one of those with hot and cold features for your 5 gallon jugs of drinking water. After about 8 weeks it sprang a leak inside and started gushing water. So I took it back to Costco to get a refund. I explained my situation to the guy behind the counter at the return desk.

He looked the water dispenser over, explained to me that they wouldn't take it back, got on the phone and dialed up a repair service, handed the phone to me and turned around and walked away. I stood there for oooohh....until I got tired of no one answering on the other line. I grabbed my broken water dispenser, walked to my car, called my wife, she got on the internet and looked up regional headquarters phone number....and the fight was on.

She contacted a regional English speaking person in authority with Cotco here in Mexico. She explained our situation and the lady she spoke with was very apologetic and explained that this was an ongoing problem with customer service in Costco in Mexico. She instructed my wife to call me immediately and have me go back into the store right away for a refund. By the time I got back to the service desk the appropriate managers had been contacted. I got an instore credit which was all I wanted in the first place and I went and purchased some groceries.

Now how hard was it to return the water Costco of all places?

Story #2: In August, 2011 I bought two of those freezable plastic ice packs with the funny blue gel inside of them at everyone's favorite store, Wal Mart. My wife wanted to use them as ice packs for her lower back. I bought one at first and it seemed to work well so I went back on another day and bought a second one. The cost for both together was about $90 MXPesos.....$7.50 USD.

After about a week the seams on the ice packs began to break apart and the frozen blue gel on the inside began to come out. Sooooo....I went with receipts in hand to get a refund on both. The lady at the return desk looked at my ice packs, looked at both of my receipts, and proceeded to tell me that because I had bought the ice packs on two seperate days that I could not get a refund at all, on either ice pack. Uuuuugh....What?

When she could see that I was not going to stop staring at her and walk away she called over her supervisor to explain the situation. Her supervisor looked at her like she was crazy and told her to give me a refund. She looked confused and perplexed as to why her original logic was being shot down by her co-worker. I stood there amazed as to why she couldn't understand what was happening.

Story #3: About 6 weeks before the past Christmas I went to Mega at Grand Plaza to buy some toys for Christmas for some of the local kids at our church. Long story ended up not working out that the kids we purchased the toys for (Max Steele Action Figures) were able to receive the toys. So, after 5 weeks I went to get a refund at Mega or at least an instore credit to spend on other things before Christmas.

After having conversations with two different Mega associates and waiting at the return desk for over 30 minutes for a final decision from the Toy department manager, I was told I could not have any sort of refund. They informed me that there return policy is 15 days. Fair enough. But the return policy was not stated on my receipts nor was it stated on any signs hanging in the store that I could see. I was expected to know that on my own without any proactive effort on Mega's part.

So I finally left, feeling more concerned about their willingness to steal 30 minutes of my time on a 30 second issue more than the cost of the $20 USD in toys. We just gave them to the special ed department for our kids school instead. Not a big deal here. Just don't waste my time anymore than necessary.

Are you seeing patterns here?  Before I buy anything in Mexico I ask myself three questions:
  1. Do I really, really need this? Or does someone I am buying it for really need this?
  2. Do I know what the return policy is in this store I am shopping at and am I willing to stand up to the employees if they give me any pushback?
  3. If I can't get a refund, do I have a Plan B? Am I ok with Plan B?
As I have noted in previous posts, I used to manage for both the Olive Garden and Sam's Club. Those are two companies noted for a "no questions can I make this right" mentality. So much so that it frustrates the managers, especially at the O.G.

You will not find the same mentality here, even with the American companies. When you buy something here it's pretty much yours unless you garage sale it or are willing to go through some of what I described above. Just be aware of what to expect and make sure when you pull the trigger on a purchase you are, most of the time,  "All-in" on it.


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