I went for grocery shopping to Reliance Mart Faridabad on Monday 24th January 2011 at around 12.30P.M. assuming I will return home before the kids come back from school at 2.45p.m. I had a very long list of items, so chose a Monday afternoon for shopping. The idea with which I went there was convenience (all items at one place). After picking up most of the stuff I reached the cash counter at 2.10 p.m. with around 160 items in my shopping cart. Most counters were closed for some reason (most probably lunch time). Only two counters were functional, with long queues. When I raised a concern I was asked to move to newly opened counter.
The boy at the counter told me that because polythene bags are banned I will have to carry my shopping loose or bring my own bags. I also have the option of buying a cloth bag for Rs 7 each. (A bag which could hold around five to six Items.) My shopping required 7 to 8 large sized bags. I would have to buy 15 to 20 of those small bags. They would have cost me over hundred rupees. My billed amount was Rs 5800/- after I refused some items because of non availability of a bag. ( apart from other items Ceramic Coffee mugs without a packing)
I asked the junior staff to call the floor manager but the cash counter supervisor informed me about his inability to help. When I asked them for the email ID of someone senior they were afraid and gave me a customer care id. I told them I understand they cannot do much but let me write to the people who can take action. They asked me to write a complaint in their complaints register. When I reached the Customer Care counter there was no one available.
Finally after the billing and arguments my stuff was loaded in my car at around 3.10.p.m. After reaching home it took me 15 minutes to unload. I live in a high-rise building. It was embarrassing to carry loose shopping in our building cart with security and cleaning staff looking as spectators.
Is this the way a convenience store treats its customers? What could have been my options?
1. Should I have the left the stuff in the mart? My time is valuable I could not have wasted 3 hours of a day. Besides I needed the grocery that is the reason I went on a Monday afternoon.
2. Should I have bought the bags? Was Reliance getting polythene bags for free? Why should I pay for a bag which is not of appropriate size, in fact why at all? I expect the store to take the responsibility of making a reasonable alternative available to me. They could have packed my stuff in an old carton if they were sensitive to the need of a customer. I was refused the carton too.
The nearby kirana store takes much better care of me. He is concerned about my convenience. I get free home delivery that saves me time and energy. The basic reason why we go to a Mart is for the shopping experience and ease. I have the option of going back to my neighboring store and I will.
The whole episode ruined my day but as a conscious customer I feel there are a lot of lessons we all need to learn.
I was suggested always carrying a few cloth or jute bags was a solution. I accept being an ignorant citizen that day as I was not carrying enough bags. Are we talking about going back to the horse carts because petrol pollutes air? We are in the 21st century where all innovations are being done to make life convenient. Is it practical for me to carry bags with me all the time? In multi-storied Malls how is one expected to go and bring a bag from a car which is parked in a Level three Underground parking. I beg to differ on this. Should we not demand alternatives from whoever is not providing us with one.
I am a law abiding citizen of the town who really appreciates banning of polythene bags for a safer environment. I would like to request the authorities to please suggest alternatives to the public and businesses before a ban so that the transition is smooth.
For Senior Managers at Reliance Retail:
I was associated with the company for a short while even before it opened its first store in Faridabad. I had felt the enthusiasm of the top Managers then about the entire project. I had travelled 12 km to just see the first Reliance Fresh outlet in 2006-2007. Soon there was a Reliance Fresh in my neighborhood. The initial enthusiasm did not last too long. It is sad to see a brand falling even before a proper take-off. The ban on polythene is no excuse to make it inconvenient for a customer.
Your sales revenue figures might be showing the drop after the ban. Please be innovative and come up with a solution fast. There are thousands who would have stopped buying from you without a word. A small business realizes the damage fast and so adapts to the change quickly. It takes long for a big business to realize its mistake and it may be too late then.
The entire concept of a huge Mart is convenience. That is exactly what you forgot. If you are here to stay I suggest:
1. Bags of appropriate size of environment friendly material be made available
2. You can provide a free bag beyond a particular bill amount. (It will help you increase your revenue marginally)
3. Sensitize the supervisory staff to help a customer in need. In this case even an empty carton could have worked.(only if the staff took initiative)
Making available a bag of inappropriate size is no solution. If you feel the cost of an alternative is too high, please also keep a check on the cost of an unhappy customer, cost of inefficiencies in staff due to lack of training, cost of damage to your brand, cost of employee dis-engagement to name a few.
I wrote to Relienaceinsider.com immediately after reaching home. They have not even acknowledged my complaint.
We are talking about FDI in retail sector. How will these brands compete with Global Giants if they treat their customers so casually?