As many may have heard by now, one very angry customer stormed into AV Electronic’s Kiulap branch around 11 am, Saturday morning and started yelling at the staff about an iPad 2. Let me start by saying, yes, I was that tall angry customer, and yes, I raised my voice and scolded the staff of AV (AVe).
But there were several events that led to this dramatic confrontation, and it is my intention to state them here, as I feel as a customer of said store, I have been unfairly treated to the point that I had to raise issues in such a manner.
Like many others in Brunei, I was eagerly awaiting the official launch of the iPad 2 here. The wait culminated with the announcement on AVe’s official Facebook page, which said that the official launching would happen at both the Kiulap and Mall branches at 10am, Friday 29th April, 2011.
My response to this happy announcement :
With a friend and a family member in tow, I joined the queue at Kiulap around 9.30 am, with about 40 people in front of me. While waiting, we asked the sales assistant mind the line if there would be enough to go around, considering the line was getting longer, despite it moving forward. We were told assuredly that there was “a lot”.
This is further supported by TheWheat with his blog post : http://bit.ly/jMI9iI
in hand, I was hoping to score an iPad 2 that day, but as luck would have it, by the time I made it into the store and reached a counter, ready to order a White 64GB Wifi 3G model, I was told by the sales assistant that the units were “Habis”.
Disappointed, I decided to book 2 black 64GB 3G units, and one white one, for myself and two friends, paying a total of $2416.00 in cash upfront, enough to pay for two units and the minimum deposit for one. On my way out, my friend, E-NYC, spotted my exit and after she tweeted me, I called her, letting her know there were no 3G units left, and that they were only taking bookings.
By the way, I was issued this receipt :
To the left is TheWheat’s laptop trackpad, the right, size comparison against an iPod Touch. You can BARELY READ the damn thing. For all I know, I paid for a white elephant, and a sprig of barley with that receipt. How can a retailer allow such a thing?
Meanwhile, @TheWheat sent the following tweets about my disapointment to AVe’s official twitter account.
Later in the evening, after the Royal Wedding, I called E-NYC to ask if she made it to AVe. According to her, she and her friends decided to have lunch first, and went back to AVe, AND SHE MANAGED TO PURCHASE A WHITE 64 GB 3G iPad 2 THAT VERY AFTERNOON. I would like to point out now that E-NYC DID NOT book any units, and therefore managed to get it off the floor, without having to deal with the morning queue.
Livid, I tried to call The Mall branch to get an explanation, as by then it was 8pm, and the Kiulap branch had already closed. I called perhaps 6 or 7 times, after which I decided to schlep my angry ass to The Mall and DEMAND an explanation. Thus began the first angry rant at The Mall.
At this point, I have to give credit to the person in charge who dealt with my verbal attack, Helmi. Throughout, he remained calm, listened to everything I had to say, tried to offer explanations for the fact that I was unable to obtain an iPad2, this despite looking obviously fatigued and though he could not give me what I wanted, advised me that I should head to their Kiulap branch, as they had no 3G units available, only the Wifi ones.
Helmi retained my ridiculous tiny text receipt and issued me a FULL PAGE readable receipt.
AVe, take note, make the man employee of the month and give him a raise, as under the circumstances he behaved in a professional manner, which I hope other employees will take an example from.
And so the story comes full circle, with me stomping into AVe and demanding to speak to the manager.
I would like to say now, I would have been happy to wait for my booked units, had the circumstances been true, that the iPad2 3G were “habis”.
But to find out that I had to wait longer for a shipment, after waiting in the queue and being disappointed, only to hear that my friends, and now, more stories about other customers, being able to walk away with 3G iPad2s without waiting in the morning queue had me outraged. If such was the case, had I known, I would have not bothered to book, and would have just come in the afternoon to pick up what I wanted to purchase.
There are several points I want to highlight here that angered me enormously and made me feel that AVe LIED to me:
- When I arrived, I was told in no uncertain terms that the 3G units were “habis”, which is why I proceeded with the booking.
- I paid for 2 units FULL in CASH.
- Like a lot of other people, I queued eagerly and patiently, only to be disappointed.
When I demanded an explanation for the fact that people were able to purchase 3G units, despite my having been told that there were none left, Hilmi said that maybe my friend booked. Looking at the receipt of her purchase, he and I could see that it was clearly purchased off the floor, no advance booking.
In Kiulap on Saturday morning, I was told :
- The units were from customers who canceled their orders (this was from a salesgirl whom I managed to terrorize before dealing with the manager)
- The manager told me that the units came from THE MALL branch, as the demand for the 3G units there were not high.
If the arguments above are true then:
- Why did they not follow the booking list? They should have called the customers according to the list of booked units, in the order that they booked. Especially to those who PAID IN FULL to ensure that they would get theirs.
- Why did they not try to book a unit for me at THE MALL? Or at least try to check this. I would have spent the extra time AND gas money to make my way there if they said they were out of stock but could assure me I could get my hands on one that day. Since I have CASH in hand, I would have made the extra effort!
Because of this, I strongly feel that, as a customer of AVe, I WAS LIED TO. This is what rightly spurred my anger to the point I raised my voice in AVe Kiulap that morning.
In the end, the Manager offered me one unit of the black 3G sets or a refund, the set which I took.
But I am not satisfied, as throughout this ordeal, I feel that with the exception of the Hilmi at The Mall, my customer service experience was EPIC FAIL!
On hindsight, am I happy that I had to resort to such a public display? I state here for the record : NO.
But given my experience in trying to purchase the iPad 2, was I justified in doing so? : YES. And my friends wholeheartedly agree.
Had this happened in the US or UK, this kind of actions would have been grounds for a lawsuit. But this happened in Brunei, rather than staying silent, I am DEFENDING my rights as a consumer.
AVe, you may be the sole official distributor of Apple products in Brunei, but it does not give you the right to walk all over customers. We do not blindly purchase to our heart’s whim, we are educated and smart consumers. I was walked all over, lied to and even yelled back at by The Manager, which I will admit was justified because I was being so angry, but should he have done so? But would I have been so angry had these series of fiascoes happened in the first place?
I as you, dear readers, had you been in my place, would you have stood for it?
I’d like to note also, that throughout all this, I was not offered a proper apology.
Above contains the only reply from the official AVe Twitter account to myself. The twitter account has not tried to tweet me anything else, and aside from the booking incidents and the heated exchanges at both Mall and Kiulap, no other attempts have been made to contact me.
I am not taking this public to name and shame, but to assert that AVe cannot act willy nilly to their customers. This happened to many people, who are probably UNAWARE of this. I am not the only one on the waiting list, but I am certainly not going to TAKE THIS LYING DOWN.
AVe, I await your response and your full side of the story. As a gesture of goodwill, I will apologise to your staff whom I angrily dealt after I have received an EXPLANATION and AN APOLOGY for all of the above.
You may contact me through my e-mail address : email@example.com
The following Twitter accounts : @AliyaZin @JustCinful
To everyone else who purchased an iPad 2 or were disappointed, please share this link to your friends. You, like I, have consumer rights too, and I hope by making people aware of incidents like these, we can collectively assert our rights as consumers and do not allow retailers like these to screw us over.