Sat | May 27, 2017

The customer is king? Says who!

Published:Sunday | September 6, 2015 | 9:00 AM

Customer service is a concept founded on the premise that when one enters an institution to make a purchase, you fall into the category of those with the desire, wherewithal and ability to make the decision to purchase. You are a customer.

The categories run the gamut - suspect, prospect and motivated buyer. One moves along this path based on the complex factors of price, availability, need or want, and the time frame within which the product or service will be

purchased.

Service is the facilitating component of this transaction. Are you provided with product knowledge? Are you treated with respect for the time you expended to visit the retail outlet? Was the interaction pleasant and did they make the serious effort to convert the suspect to become a satisfied purchaser?

The level of customer service in Jamaica is exceptionally low. In recent weeks, I have had to shop for a television and was exposed to lack of service. There is the necessity to make broad observations as to the marketplace for televisions. The specifications are smart, flat-screen, size, high-definition, picture quality measured as 720p or 1,080p, number of components for the picture quality. There are the further details of USB capability and the multifunctions of the remote control. Now that is enough on the television. Here comes the purchase exercise.

 

measurements

 

You see some advertisements on sizes ranging from 19 inches to 70 inches. Do you know how these measurements are determined? I would say most of us are unaware that the television measurement is determined diagonally, bottom left to top right, not the width or height.

The advertisement alerts the purchaser to what is available. You settle on a particular size. You get the old bait-and-switch technique. I am sorry, the 32-inch model in the brand of your choice did not arrive on time to coincide with the advertisement. However, we have the 40" same model in stock. You can have that one for only $12,000 more.

A persistent approach to go up the managerial chain will frequently result in their finding 'one left' in storage. The store has baited you with an advertisement, got you in, and switched you to a more expensive model. I have no recollection of the consumer-protection agencies having any position as to the legality of this practice.

The attempt at deception is much more subtle. The statement is made that all televisions are now high-definition. There is no such marking on the packaging for the television. The multitude of brands are all somehow related to the major brands. Ever heard of Imperial and TCL brands or Black Point? Somehow, they are all related to the established brands, just that each store chose a different competing major brand for affiliation.

Here comes the take-it-or-leave-it attitude. What? Compete for a customer? No way! We only have 120 sets and they will all be sold within a week, whether you buy one or not. This must be the best of times to be a retailer of televisions in Jamaica.

The major banks in Kingston are enjoying very good profits. The cost for service is bordering on being on extortion. One would have hoped that the clients who grant the gold would at least have been considered in the provision of their costly services. A new full-service branch is opened. The physical design makes it difficult to access the drive-in teller. Let us start by thanking them for the drive-in facility in the first place.

The parking is obviously less than optimal, though I am sure it met the building requirements. You get into the banking hall to be greeted by only seven teller windows. Two are exclusively for senior citizens. The five are not all available at the same time. Result: hours of wait.

One can hear staff calling for help at the teller stations. No such luck. The favoured customers get called to the teller windows, without joining the line. The average client's time is not valued. They are there solely to provide the fees that fund the massive profits. Remember now: There is very little actual competition. Two large banks control more than 70 per cent of the marketplace. Take it. No choice. No customer service.

 

GENERAL ELECTION

 

The temperature of hustings for Jamaica's impending general election is rising fast. It is the standard fare to which we have become accustomed. Constituency infighting - some persons are favoured, others are discarded. All the plans are offered without any mention of how to fund Jamaica's US$2 billion water distribution problem affecting the National Water Commission. More debt? Stock exchange utilisation? Grants from foreign sources? Increased taxation? Please let us know.

One new development. A major radio station seems about to join those who follow the practices of acknowledging they favour one party. Talk about being a public mouthpiece. The future unfolds.

Delano Seiveright offers you J$40,000. Go find out how you can collect. Is this the new way? Is this what youth has to offer? My, my!

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.