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:: Saturday, September 17, 2005 ::


I drove to Shopper's Stop a few days back to buy myself some clothes in a sale. I was a regular there and had even subscribed to their loyalty program. And the loyalty card did come with benefits - free parking and loyalty points that you can reclaim later. It is the former that I am talking here about.

As I drove into the premise, a board stuck near the gate announced the new parking rules. Even customers with loyalty card need to pay up! And you could claim a refund on purchasing something inside. Some one at the gate was collecting money. I was annoyed but went in anyway. When inside, I had a chat with one of the friendly staff who was helping me buy stuff.

Me: Your new parking rules are annoying. I think it is rude. Tell your boss I will never come back here unless they change the rules back.
Friendly staff: Sir, you can claim the money back with your shopping bill
Me: Well, what is the point? I am a regular here, and what if I come in some day and don't buy anything?

I was pretty annoyed at the fact that they were charging a regular customer Rs.10 for parking, that too in an area in the city where parking spaces are ample and free. I made sure my friendly salesman got the point. He did not speak much, but went and conveyed my words to his boss. The boss came with a smile, presuming some aura around his head.

Boss with smile still on: Sir? You mentioned about some parking problems?
Me: Yes, I think it is ridiculous to charge me for parking
The Boss: Sir, you can get it refunded with your shopping bill
Me(repeating the same story again): Ya, what if I don't buy anything?
Boss: Then you will have to pay sir.
Me: What about my being regular here, owning a loyalty card etc?
Boss: Sir... (mumble...)

He did not have any answer. I wanted to go on to say around how much I spend here in a year and how they are going to loose a good customer trying to extract a little more from me, but I figured he was neither the decision maker nor was competent enough to answer me. I just went back without buying anything and deciding never to come back again.

I am sure there would be many annoyed customers like me though I am not sure if they all would decide never to return. But it is common for people to encounter stupidity of this kind from big companies, banks, retailers and the like. Have such things happened to you?

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