A funny thing happened last week. Well, it wasn’t quite so funny at the time it happened, but in retrospect it was indeed funny, or at least quite coincidental.
Last Thursday, I woke up and I decided I wanted to buy a new Netbook. For those readers who are not really techies, a netbook is a usually smaller laptop that has less power user type specs than a “normal” laptop would have. Generally, a Netbook is a notebook computer that is designed mostly for just surfing the Internet, thus a NetBook. Get the drift?
Well, I’ve had netbooks in the past, and they were great. Currently, I didn’t have such a machine, though. In fact, at the time I had no laptop at all, and I have a little trip planned for later this month. I wanted to be able to get on the Internet while traveling, so I decided that I needed a new laptop. I, however, didn’t feel the need for a full sized notebook, and also didn’t want to haul around a big machine like that anyway, so a netbook was a perfect solution for my needs. About a week or two prior to my decision to get a netbook, I had the opportunity to play with an Acer AOD255 Netbook for an hour or two, and I liked it. So, I decided to get that model. Nice thing too is that it was really cheap, actually the cheapest Netbook that I had run across in the Philippines. Perfect combo.. I liked it, and it was cheap! How often does that happen? Not often for me.
So, as I said, I decided that I wanted to buy a netbook when I woke up, which was early. Of course the stores were not open, so when the time came, I gave my niece the money and told her to go buy me an Acer AOD255 netbook at the computer store. An hour or so later, she returned with my new netbook. I was excited to get my hands on it and play with my new toy. I turned it on, and it said it was configuring the operating system. I waited and waited, but nothing happened. After an hour of waiting, I decided that it had crashed, so I powered it down and rebooted. An error message came up on the screen. No matter how I tried, I only got an error message. After about another hour of playing with it and not getting it working, I had Feyma call the computer store and see what they would do. They were surprised that it was not working, and asked us to bring it in so they could have a look.
I gave my niece the netbook and sent her back to the store. About 10 minutes later, I got a call from the computer store saying that the netbook was working fine, it booted right up for them. Hmm… strange. My niece got on the phone and said that she was going to leave it on and bring it home, so I could see that it was working fine. When she got home with the netbook, it looked like everything was good to go! I sat down to use it, and found that it was not fine at all, but rather it had frozen and was not usable. By this time I was getting upset. We called back to the computer store, and they said that we should bring it back and the technician would work on it. No, this solution was not acceptable to me. I bought a new netbook, and this machine obviously had something wrong. I didn’t want it fixed (which may go bad again later), I wanted a different machine.
Computer Store: Oh, sir, I’m sorry, we don’t have any more new ones in stock.
Me: OK, I want a refund then.
Computer store: Sorry, we don’t give refunds. You can exchange it, but we cannot give you a refund.
Me: But, you don’t have any more to exchange it for.
Computer store: You can get a different model, if you wish, but no refund.
Me: OK, what models do you have available?
Computer store: We have x, y and z. The next model up is P4,000 more than the one you bought. (that’s about $100)
Well, I’m stuck
I wanted a different PC, not just having the defective one fixed. They would not give a refund, only an exchange, but to make an exchange I had to spend another $100. I really wanted a cheap model, because it’s just for traveling anyway, not for everyday use. What choice did I have, though? So, I sprang for the next model up, and extra $100.
To be honest, I really like my new netbook, though, and I am happy I bought it.
Well, I had my first experience with trying to exchange an item I purchased at the department store in the NCCC mall in Tagum a few weeks ago. their return policy states a customer has 7 days to return or exchange an item purchased there. I bought a toaster oven in their department store on July 2 at 4 pm. We never thought to try the oven for cooking. We only toasted bread in it. I decided to cook green beans out of a can a few days later and to my surprise after 40 minutes in the oven, they still were not cooking. So, I looked at receipt and told my fiancee that we were still in the return period of their policy since it was only July 9. That we would take it back and exchange it for the microwave. The toaster cost $50 and the microwave was $200. When we got there the clerk immediately told us the item was not in the # of days for bringing it back. after arguing with her for 10 minutes she finally told me they count the first day of purchase and #1. that we had the item for 8 days and not 7 days. I said how can you count the first day as one since i bought it at 4 pm? I said why wouldn’t you count 2-3 as 1 days and so on. she said that’s not how they do it. I requested management. Store manager finally comes over after about 45 minutes. Then she started telling me the same thing. I interrupted her and said you are willing to make a customer mad over this small item when I am not asking for my money back? I am willing to purchase a $200 microwave. It was like talking to a brick wall. I got upset and told them to boxed the toaster back up and that I would never buy another thing in there again. We had already bought $700 worth of furniture and curtains for the apartment that week in the store. I finally told her this was the dumbest thing i have ever heard of to make a customer mad when I really believe I was in the return days of their policy. I walked out and we noticed they all were looking dumb-founded that I was upset. Needless to say, I will never buy in their again. The rest of my time there we bought at the Gaisano grand mall. If I was 1 day late stores here would not treat a person like that especially when the customer was not asking for their money back.
Ha ha… sounded a bit familiar after my previous day’s computer purchase experience. So, I fired off a reply to Art:
That is how stuff works here, nothing uncommon in your experience.
Welcome to the Philippines.
Well, it’s true. That is how it works here. Remember, we are not in the USA anymore. We are not in Australia or Europe. Things work differently here. Thankfully, most things here are to my liking. If they were not, I would not live here. Some things, like returns to stores and customer service in general, are not to my liking, but I live with them. I can say that in the 11 years that I have lived here, things have improved a lot, and I’m happy for that.
The real point about this article is not about computers, or computer stores, or even specifically about return policies. The point of the article is that if you decide to live in the Philippines, you must accept change. I’ve said it many times, no matter what you think, you will not change 90 Million Filipinos. It is you who must change. As Paul Thompson always says, if you need a ride to the airport, we can find you one. Yes, you can complain, moan or whatever, but you will not change the way things are done here. Best thing is to just accept the way it is and enjoy life. There was a day when I would have stomped down to that computer store and given them a piece of my mind. However, last week, I did not get angry, I just did what I needed to do to resolve the problem within the local norms. If you want to live here and have a happy life, you must work within the norms of how things work here. If you can’t do it, you’re best to not even come to live here.
Anyway, as I said, I am quite happy with my new computer now, and enjoying it a lot. I am looking forward to my coming trip, which will be an interesting one (sorry, not letting the cat out of the bag for now), and having a nice little netbook to keep me in touch along the way. And, for Art, I hope that he was able to resolve his problems too.