A Good Customer Service Resolution

In a previous article titled Almost is NOT Close Enough For Me!, I explained both the old and new dilemmas I have with my old Sansui Stereo system. The repair shop here in Calbayog City I took the unit to for repair is supposed to be one of the best in town, but they did not live up to my expectations. Anyways, a few days after discovering my newly repaired stereo was still “non-stereo,” I loaded up the amplifier and headed back to Madrick’s Electronics Repair (I finally learned the name of the business). I explained to the owner (and head technician) what he obviously already knew but he tried to play me like an innocent hand of Gin Rummy. He initially pretended to not know the distinction of “Stereophonic” sound. Anyway, I finally got through to him and he then said “okay I can fix it now but I need to get another part.”  Right then I planted the seed…”if the stereo cannot be fixed and working like it is designed to be, then I should be given a full refund.” He soaked up every word of my statement like a dry sponge and I could see him shudder inside (knowing that the P900 was probably long gone). He then explained that there was not a [part] in town and it would have to come from Manila or elsewhere. At this point, he was willing to do almost anything to appease me…and he knew there was P900 at stake, and I’m sure had no idea how he was going to refund my money if he could not repair the amplifier. What made all this even more shaky is that I noticed he had a planned move (in progress) for his shop to a new location directly across the street. A place that had a good roof and where he wouldn’t have to work on electronics in the rain dripping through the roof! I knew his impending business relocation had most if not all of his money obligated and my chances for getting any of my money refunded were deteriorating by the day.  To my amazement though, he agreed to fix it or return my money. I didn’t hang around long enough to muddy the waters and just suggested he get busy and that I would return. 

About a week went by and on a Tuesday morning I stopped in and he gave me the bad news “I’m sorry sir, but your stereo cannot be fixed…no part is available.” This didn’t surprise me as like I mentioned earlier, the unit was approximately 28 years old and should have already been retired. My concern now shifted to the refund. So I asked him, “okay, so today I get my P900 back?” His eyes quickly glanced across the street where his new shop was a work in progress and then shifted right back to me and said “Sir, but can I have you to come back on Saturday?” I said, sure no problem and then he says “no sir, not this Saturday, next Saturday?” I knew where this was going and I reluctantly agreed hoping he would see my frustration with this whole thing. I knew he had to get his move on, get back to business, and begin earning some money before I was ever going to have a chance of getting my money back.

I gave him well over two weeks (I’m a nice guy) before I returned. I walked into his new shop and it was in the same array or state of confusion as the other place was, but at least it had a roof and windows and it was dry. When I asked him about the P900, his eyes narrowed with concern as he turned to his wife who was watching from the back room. He spoke softly to her in dialect and I heard my name mentioned, and then I realized – she was well aware that this day was coming. They were both aware that I was coming back and that this day was now upon them. After a few more words between them, she gave him a nervous nod and he dug the money out of his change drawer. I began to get this sinking feeling come over me, like I was stealing their evening meal from them or something…until I laid my eyes on my once new looking 28-year-old amplifier which now looked to be 50 years old. My sinking feeling immediately subsided as he handed me my money and he apologized for not being able to fix my stereo. I told him it was not a big problem (I was just happy to get out of this with all my money and my amplifier and without it costing me more than a few trips to town) and as I turned to walk out the door, he said “Have a good day and may God bless you.”

Used to sound Great!
Used to sound Great!

All this taught me something. While it is almost impossible to get cash refunds in many parts of the Philippines, the norm is either a short warranty period and exchange of merchandise, or in the best case scenario, you will get store credit. This poor entrepreneur took his own management style to the next level…to the level of good customer service with a sort of non-implied satisfaction guarantee. No where was this satisfaction guarantee written or posted on the wall, he just took it upon himself to work within his own set of rules, as uncommon as that may be here. While he had all the good intentions of fixing my stereo, he did try to throw a little hoodwink at me with a touch of dishonesty , but that’s okay, that is to be totally expected. But I’ll admit, I’ve got to give him a good grade on his integrity and his customer service…it might be a little slow, but it’s better than most.

What did I learn? When you least expect it, surprises can happen…even in the Philippines!


5 thoughts on “A Good Customer Service Resolution

  1. I read your article and I have to agree with you. I have lived in Eastern Samar now for almost five years, and yes if you buy something most any where in the Philippines, you bought it! No exchanges or refunds or in store credit. But I have found that dealing with some of the businesses in Borongan City, they are more receptive to the idea, especially with foreigners, to refund your money or replace the item in question. After all they are well aware of the quality of the product that your buying and if something did go wrong with it you might not come back. So, they will more often try to sway you to a better quality product knowing that you will be happier The re pore that you have with a business goes a long way with how you get a refund. Its the culture here that causes you not to get a refund, because they don’t ask, they just except it! Course coming from the States, I expect quality, but I find it hard here to find quality, because most all the stuff here in the Philippines is made in China. So buying things from the same hardware will go a long way in getting you a refund or replacement, providing you ASK!

  2. Hi Mike, I have to agree with all that you said, especially about the quality. I believe the quality of most goods sold here is based on price points or, affordability. The majority of folks here cannot afford high quality goods, so the market is established for the mass consumer. You can get quality here, but you have to search for it and then you will pay a price. And keeping a good rapport with store owners or managers, it’s almost a requirement if you want a good chance of fair dealings. Many times I will ask before I buy something and usually get the answer I expected! :/

  3. I find this to be true in sorsogon city also. the store owners our all polite even to the foreigners. when I took a transformer in to the repair shop last october. not only did he repair it while i waited he upgraded it to make it better. I paid 500 pesos for the repair. when I got home my brother-in-law ask how much they charged me when I told him 500 pesos he give that look of surprise and then told me next time he needs something fixed he was sending me because they charge him to much.

  4. That’s funny Roger. I agree, sometimes I can get a better deal than my asawa. Sometimes I think it is the psychology of the potential repeat transaction where the shop owner wants your repeat business so he does you right the first time.

  5. I find as I’m out in sorsogon going to the stores and market the prices are the same if i’m by myself or with my asawa. most has a price marked on it. that’s why I find it funny when I read post about foreigner price and local price. that is true in area’s with a lot of expat’s especially angels city & subic. as that has been bread into those people since birth. but out in the provinces it seems to me that people our a lot nicer and helpful. treat them with respect and usually you will get the same in return….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.