A man comes to a store with a tire he had purchased 6 months ago and asks for a refund saying the tire has manufacturing defects. The customer service representative at the store reimburses him without even a single question asked. The junior customer service representative is taken aback by this and confronts the senior saying “Why in this world did you reimburse him. We do not sell tires”. The senior says “He must have bought the tire from the previous shop that existed in this place 6 months ago. But our retail chain does not sell goods, here we sell an experience and I did not want him to leave our store in a negative state of mind. We value him as a potential customer. Today we might have lost a few dollars, but as we have made him happy, in all probabilities we have won ourselves a potential future customer. ”

The above incident is from a book on marketing I read when I was in 7th standard and still after 13 long years I remember it. This is what I would call as the epitome of customer service. I do not expect this sort of customer service in India yet, but I certainly did not expect the crappy customer service we(Pavi and me) got in Forum Mall, Bangalore today, who advertise themselves with a web site called theforumexperince. The site name sounds like an oxymoron to me after today’s incident.

Our friends had gifted us forum vouchers on our wedding. The expiry date of the vouchers was 17th July. We had never checked the expiry date and also had no time to shop with all our post marriage settling down things. Suddenly yesterday my dad chanced to see the expiry date and told us about it. He was pretty apprehensive, but we pacified him telling that it is just 6 days since the expiry date and it is not from some petty shop, but from a mall and we are sure that they value their customers, so they will work something out.

We went to the mall today, and the following conversation took place.

I: Hi, we have these vouchers. Their expiry date is 17th July…
Mall representative: It is past the expiry date. We cannot do anything.
Me thinking in my mind, we know that it is past the expiry date and we do not need you to tell us that and this is for sure not the way to talk to a customer.
I: But, I am sure you can do something as it is just 7 days past the expiry date. I have had friends who had vouchers of other places and used it way past the expiry time. Can you please talk to your superiors regarding this?
Mall representative: No, we cannot do anything.
I : Can you please put me in touch with your superior so that I can have a word with him?
Mall representative: Ok.

Another female mall representative comes by and we have the same set of conversation repeated and she also exhibits haughtiness similar to her co worker. After this the guy leaves and in about 5 minutes the superior arrives. He repeats the same thing about our negligence and some other crap and a flat no. De javu. I guess we should have expected this from the way his subordinates behaved. Not even once did he say “Let me try to do something. I am not sure whether it will work out, but I will try my best”.

I totally agree it was our mistake and negligence but the way they treated us is for sure not the way to treat customers that too coming from someone who advertise themselves as “The forum experience.” If he had at least tried to do something we would have been happy irrespective of the outcome. I am for sure not going to gift any of my dear ones vouchers from the “Forum mall, Bangalore”. I do not want them to undergo a similar ordeal.

I am planning to write a mail to the customer service department of forum, Bangalore regarding this. Let me see what they reply, but I would be surprised even if I get a reply from them.

Updates: I got in touch with a member of the customer services team and the concerned person agreed to reimburse half the worth of our original voucher value.

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