From ‘Poor customer service at Takashimaya’, 3 Jan 2011, ST Forum online
(Sih Yen Cheng):ON DEC 27, my husband went to Takashimaya to purchase gift vouchers worth $2,000 as a surprise gift for me.
He asked the staff if the vouchers could be used at the Louis Vuitton shop in Ngee Ann City and was told yes. So he went ahead with the purchase.
However, when I presented the vouchers at the Louis Vuitton shop, they were not accepted. So last Wednesday, I called Takashimaya’s customer service hotline to explain the situation and request for a refund as it was their staff who had given my husband the wrong information.
Customer service manager Melina said she could try to appeal to the top management for a refund, but they usually did not give refunds on vouchers. Instead of calming an upset customer like me, she came across as firm and rude. She did not even bother to check with her staff or investigate the matter.
It was a very poor attitude coming from a Japanese company which is supposed to be well known for excellent customer service.
Not only are Taka vouchers the most unromantic surprise gifts a man could possibly get for his wife, but it’s also a lazy gesture considering that a loving husband ought to make the extra effort to figure out what his wife specifically wants from LV instead of buying $2000 worth of perishable cash. Even if he makes the less idiotic move of purchasing the present directly from LV and it turns out to be something she doesn’t like, there’s always room to negotiate an exchange or other. Better still, get gift vouchers direct from LV instead. The Taka staff may have given the wrong information, but surely common sense and anyone who has the faintest idea of the allure of LV would be skeptical of a world-renown luxury brand willing to engage in a transaction that comes across more like dinosaur-sticker trading than anything involving actual money. I mean, shopping mall vouchers are practically NTUC auntie currency, and you have the audacity of flashing them in a, gasp, LV store? That’s as insulting as bringing a six-pack cup noodles to the host of a bow-tie party.
And my sympathies to poor ‘Melina’ for being a target of vicious name-calling in a national paper from some fussy, irate woman venting her frustration on the entire mall just because she can’t use $2000 vouchers at LV when they’re so many other ways of spending that kind of money, especially during the Christmas season. The problem here isn’t bad customer service, it’s terms and conditions, and no amount of groveling and smiling will deter someone the likes of Ms Sih here from making Christmas less merry for everyone involved. Tip to husband from this experience: Just give her $2000 cash already, saves all the trouble. And watch out especially for free vouchers, as seen in the letter dated 23 July 1986 ‘Gift that came with a catch, or how string of pearls came without clasp’. I don’t know if it’s kiasuism or thriftiness that makes Singaporeans insist on using any voucher presented to them, whether it’s for a free string of beads or woolly mufflers, even if it means queuing up and ironically paying for the catch in the process. You can actually reject ‘free’ stuff you know.