Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'Giant' or 'Giant Crocodile'?

What is hypermarket? Hypermarkets are retail store that combines a department store and a grocery supermarket. Often a very large establishment, hypermarkets offer a large variety of products such as appliances, clothing and groceries. They are convenient, clean, save, polite, helpful and regularly reasonable in price. But why are retail store nowadays are so different than before? Remember that those days we only have Kimisawa around, one of the first startup of the blooming hypermarkets bussiness in Malaysia. They were the “hoo-hahs” of all time but later years all companies came to action like Yaohan, Carrefour, Makro, Cold Storage, Tesco, Giant and the recently changed imaged Jusco-AEON. 

Many of these companies have their own procedures and level of politeness or shall I say good customer service. Let’s compare a foreign company and a local company. I have made comparison and witnessed by my own eyes that foreign company does very much better in terms of customer service. The helpfulness and services that render to the customers are unforgettable and unbelievable. When during rainy days, security guard may have an umbrella to escort the customer from the car park to the main entrance, cashiers will say “Thank you, please come again” or “Terima kasih, jumpa lagi” to you but for the local established hypermarket employing those untrained employees who will not say a word of “thank you” to you after payment but to show you their frowning faces during check out. You may say that I am lying but it is true. Who is paying for their salary?

Couple of days ago I have an extreme bad experience with a local hypermarket in Bandar Kinrara, Puchong...the one and only Giant Hypermarket. They all started their business back in the mid 40’s by The Teng family and have been growing ever since then. Known for its everyday low prices, big variety and great value motto, it is the choice of many Malaysian families for weekend groceries. The only thing that I am skeptical with, is their politeness and they way they serve their customers. 

I was purchasing my weekend groceries at there. No doubt that they are cheaper by 10 to about 20 cents per item than compared to Tesco and AEON but that’s for only certain local canned items. After getting all my items, as I was scrolling the trolley to the checkout counter, the first thing that caught my eyes was the cashier next to the lane I am queuing, taking chances of having mini nap during peak hours. Squatting down at her counter, it look as though that she was not feeling very well but then, how could she laugh and made funny movement while she holds her forehead looking that she was having a headache and chatting to her colleague? It was quite near to closing hours and usually at other hypermarts like for instance Tesco, you will see a supervisor moving from counter to counter to make sure that there is a smooth traffic and no extreme long queues at any particular lane.

When it was the time for me to make payment, I have used my debit card to pay for the amount. It was a small amount of around RM100. As far I remember, Maybank used to have many of these card problems ie. card decline, not accessible, off line and the list goes on. Over the years, Maybank has improved a lot and been using this mode of payment at other hypermarts without problems. The first attempt to charge to my debit card was not a success because of some problem with their terminal. The second was also unsuccessful because the line was not going through and the third was declined according to the cashier. It made me so embarrassed as though that I do not have the money for it. The queue was very long at that time. I have no choice but to cancel paying with my debit card. Since we did not have enough cash with us, I have to wait there while my hubby went to withdraw cash from the nearest ATM. 

While on my way back, something tells me that my card has scammed by someone because I always keep track of what I have charged and was pretty sure that there's enough funds in my card. I went to the nearest ATM machine to check and found that all my money was drained away. I got in touch with Maybank through phone but nothing can be verified because their system was down. Immediately upon reaching home, I went online to check through From my transaction history, it clearly shows that my account have been debited 3 times of the same amount at Giant.

I immediately called up the hypermarket and spoke to the Manager On Duty, Mr. Poobalan. He told me to quickly return back to the store and he will settle it off for me. When I reached there, I was being told that no refunds can be made and I should negotiate on my own with the bank on the following day. He says that it is the merchants fault and takes very fast for the bank to cancel it off and return the money back to my account. One of his assistant called up Maybank to enquire for us and we were told by Maybank personnel that it takes up to 7 - 14 days for the cancellation but the MOD of Giant Kinrara told us it is very easy and fast to get our money back. Well, does 7 - 14 days consider fast?

Overheard from their conversation that this did happened before last time. Why can't they just advise their customers that after the first decline, not to try again for the second attempt? Why must I be the one who does the job? Isn’t that they should be working? We are paying for their salary. Instead they still insist not to refund back. They claimed that they will have to get the amount from their own pockets to refund and all kind of stories. I know I was at the top of my voice already by then, after realizing that slow and gentle discussion does not work at all.

Luckily in the end, they did pay us back after a long session (almost an hour) arguing and fighting for it and it seems they got the cash money from their claims fund in which they said can't be done initially. I had to sign the refund form with the condition that I shall not inform the bank for any future cancellations. If GIANT BANDAR KINRARA had refused to refund back the amount on spot that midnight and let us deal on our own with the bank for 7-14 days, for every unit in the trolley I am paying four times of the price! Is this the best deal in town??? 

It was not our fault but purely it was their merchant and management problems. To me, it seems they wanted to do the easy way out. If nothing can be done because it's late, please don't tell their customers to rush back all the way to their outlets at late hours. Why should the customers be the ones to solve their internal problems? Staffs wasn't well trained and informed. They should have done something about it way back since they knew there was a few times it happened before and not letting it to continue on like that until a big issue crops out.

As a customer, what's the first few words that you like to hear when incidents like this happens? A word of sorry will be fine and I do not expect them to get me a cup of tea (the Chinese way). NO THEY DON’T! Sadly to say that they did not admit that they are wrong. As compare to others like Tesco, Jusco, Isetan, Metrojaya or maybe Parkson, they would smile and still say “We are sorry. Thank you. Please come again”. Where are the manners??? Even Barney has both of the phrases in children songs. 

The management did not keep to their promises. Before we left at about 12.30am, we were told by the MOD that the branch Manager, Ms. Catherine will give us a call at 9.30am, as soon as she comes in. Got up early on Sunday morning just to wait for their call on my two mobile lines but did not hear from them...not even an sms since Giant Bandar Kinrara uses a 010 mobile number. Instead they called at 1830 hours (6.30pm) which we were not available at that time. If I am away after 10am to catch a flight, will I be reachable? As a manager, he or she should be responsible towards any promises made by his or her staffs. Giant has now become a Giant Crocodile. They will take and pretend nothing has happened. They are really lack of customer service training!

What a shame to such a big called the Malaysia's Top Retailer!