One of the things that make me hate shopping here …

One of the things that make me hate shopping here is the awful customer services. For example, most stores refuse to give a cash refund but ask you to exchange the item for something else of the same value. This is not fair. Sarah Abdullah, the Mystery Shopper of Saudi Gazette, asks, “wouldn’t it be wonderful to have somewhere to go to report such dissatisfaction?” If you think the answer is yes, make a stand and join the rest of us in the effort to open Saudi Arabia’s first Consumer Protection Agency. For more information, you can contact Abdullah on her email address: sarah_abdullah94 at

13 thoughts on “One of the things that make me hate shopping here …

  1. Man, that’s almost universal, independetly of country, culture religion or presence of a Consumer Protection Agency. In Italy and Britain thera are many shops with that policy, and in my country, Venezuela, is common to see a little sign next to the cash desk. It really sucks.

  2. This policy is unfair to consumers, and will simply drive shoppers away because they won’t be satisfied. I totally agree, it really sucks.

  3. This is one of those few times but I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this. I am on the side of the shop. You were aware of this policy before buying anything right? There is nothing really legally binding them to refund or exchange anything unless it is somehow defective, but most will do so as part of the service.
    Once you bought it you’re stuck with it I am afraid.
    I am assuming that you are returning it because you tried it at home and did not like it?
    Shops are run by real people who want to make a living like everyone else. They can’t just refund everything for a whim.

    Of all the customer service problems in saudi, this is a non issue.

  4. But how about these shops which have no problem with changing your mind after buying from them? Are they doing bad business?

  5. I am not talking about good or bad business. You were saying that it’s the customer’s right to return everything. I am saying that it’s not, even if some shops do it. Therefore, the middle way is to exchange. The shop gets the money, and you get something that you want. Nothing wrong with that.

  6. Sorry, you did not exactly say that it is the customer’s right, but you hinted at it with the Customer Protection Agency which, as far as I know, is about customer’s rights not customer service per se.

    What you said was that it’s not fair. But how is returning it after you changed your mind fair?

  7. It’s not always the case that the shop gets the money and you get something you want because sometimes maybe you won’t find anything that you really want. On the other hand, why the shop gets to do what’s good for them (keeping the money) while I can’t get what’s good for me (getting my money back)? In the end, they will get their product back and they can sell it again, and I will remain satisfied and may return later. I think it’s fair because as I see it, we are back to square one: they have their product and I have my money.

  8. Sorry we are *not* back to square one. How is it square one if you’ve opened it/worn it/etc.?

    Unless you’re talking about returning something you did not open or try? As far as I know most shops will take this as long as you have the reciept.

  9. Yes, this is what I’m talking about: returning something that you did not use. Many shops would refuse to give you a cash refund even if you returned the item in its original state, and most of them don’t even bother to make this clear to consumers.

  10. In that case, yes, I can see your argument. But I did say earlier that I assumed you tried it at home and you did not correct me.

    Having said that, I still think that it is customer service, not a customer right (so no CPA). Because let’s face it, the transaction as is, was complete and agreed by both parties at the time. Anything further is only generocity from the shop not liability.

  11. Well, I feel that we have looked at this issue from two different side: I see it from the side of the consumer, while you see it from the side of the business owner.

  12. It helps sometimes to look from the other side, but I have been at both sides of the counter. I guess we’ll agree to disagree. The only CPA issue I see here is that shops should make their policy clear to the customer before they buy anything.

  13. Hey Ahmed;

    I can tell you thousands of customer service horror stories from my native country, Canada. Bad service is a trademark of that country! Anytime I returned to a store for a refund I usually ended up making a scene, banging my fists on the table, and yelling so loud (deliberately) as to scare other customers away, I attracted the attention of the manager. In Canada, it is only by getting to the “higher-ups” that gets you what you want… eventually.

    Here in the USA, customer service is somewhat better, but not perfect. For years, all you had to do, when dis-satisfied with service, is to ask to speak to the supervisor or manager, and usually that gets results…. it also got the service person in trouble with his boss, so now the newest trend I have noticed this past year, by most customer service phone people, in order to protect themselves from being punished, is to deny knowledge of their supervisor’s or manager’s very existance. They will tell you “I AM the manager” when you ask to speak to the manager. When I ask for the company president or CEO, they lie and claim they “do not know”. I mean how can ANYONE not know their boss’s name?? I do. When I respond with “I have access to the business trade directory… I WILL find out your (or any)CEO’s name, address, and telephone number, and I WILL call him myself”, their game is usally over at this point.

    My friend; Here are the lessons I learned in Riyadh in 1978:

    (1) Always go to the top for results.
    (2) Do what Omar Arafeen does… Be a “VIP”(he’s a guy in Riyadh my father worked with at Saudi Telecom… now is manager at Saudia, last I heard in the 1980’s. At STC he put a sign on his desk: “Omar Arafeen, BA, MBA, VIP”). On the phone, you must act like a “VIP” to the service person…

    Ahmed… YOU are VERY, VERY important. You know important people… Prince Faisal ibn So-and So al-Saud is your best friend! I mean, what does this customer service person really know about you?

    It always works for me. I will often short-circuit the service person by saying (after I find out his company president’s name in the trade book!) “Well actually you CAN give me a refund… that’s what your President and CEO, Mr. So-and-So, told me when we played golf together last week!”

    I hate golf… I never play it.

    With warmest regards,

    Steve VIP.

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