Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Super-Fun Time at the X-Cite Showroom, Avenues

Employee traning is VITAL to retail sales.
It takes years to gain a customer and seconds to lose one.

Case in point today. I visited Safat Al-Ghanim and X-Cite at The Avenues. The sales people are always nice on the furniture side (but do tend to be a bit clingy and follow you around - like you are going to hoist a sofa onto your shoulder and run out the door).

I have had consistent bad times in Al-Ghanim Electronics - starting back in the mid 90's. I actually see some of the same employees that I did at their showroom in Salmiya in 1997 and on. They STILL don't speak and most of them don't make eye contact. They are just rude.

Today, it was the worst. Lebanese male model stood in front of me, brushing back the gelled hair from his face, staring through me. I asked him a question. He continued staring. No response. I stood and waited. No response. I waved my hand in front of his face, 'Hel-looooo. Do you work here?' He mumbled (mashallah - he's ALIVE!). I asked him about a humidifyer that I wanted to buy. No response. Blank stare. Do you think that the hair gel was affecting his mental capacity for speech? I don't get it. So, I bent down, picked up the rather large humidifyer in the box, and walked to the counter.

No, no, no... wait... it gets worse.

I ask dude behind the counter where the store manager is. No response. I ask again. He lifts his arm and points to the corner of the store. (Now ya know, that must have taken an extraordinary amount of effort to do something so physical like that - somebody get him a Panadol.) I was still on the fence about going to chat with the manager or making the determination that it would just be another PITA waste of my time. I was deciding the later and decided to remain quiet.

No, no, no... wait... it gets worse.

Then, as I am standing there in front of four men with equally blank faces and no responses behind the counter, a young Kuwaiti kid walks by and says something nasty about me in Arabic - (there are like 20 security guards in the store and they are all just standing doing nothing because Al-Ghanim doesn't employ people who might be slightly intimidating to hooligans) which I choose to ignore because he's obviously been raised by farm animals and he can't help being a piglet. The guy who is ringing me up looks over at the kid and says, in Arabic, "Your mother's vagina" (not going to spell it out in Arabic). Cashier dude is standing literally 2' away from me. I frick-in lost it.

"Ayeb minik! (Basically shame on you.) WHAT makes you think that I can't understand Arabic? Shame! Do you use that language in front of ALL your customers?"

No response. Nervous laughter from the other 3 men who are standing behind the counter.

No, no, no... wait... it gets worse.

I do the Angry White Woman March back to where the store manager is. A tiny woman behind the "customer service" counter stares at me. I ask THREE times to speak to the store manager. "Is there a problem?" Well yes, otherwise, I wouldn't be standing there, shaking mad, asking for a STORE MANAGER, now would I? She runs off to get dude (who should probably spend more time on the sales floor than in the back office).

Here's what I hate about most managers in these situations in Kuwait: They expect you to go out and confront whoever wronged you - publicly; putting you in a position where you are - once again - in an uncomfortable position in their store. "Come with me! Show me which ones!" Oh. My. God. It's like going to a line-up with no 2-way mirror.

So by now, I have an audience of people standing around with their arms folded in front of them staring blankly at me. Just what I needed. Thaaaaaaaaaanks!

None of the sales people made eye contact with the store manager either. I guess that should make me feel better. They obviously just don't give a snap about anyone.

Manager Dude insists, "You will see! I will do something. You will see." Um... no I won't see because I have been embarrassed enough in your store and I'm not planning to go back to "see". I'm going to run right back to my computer and blog about it in the hopes that someone from Al-Ghanim will actually help themselves by investing in a profit-generating tool: CUSTOMER SERVICE TRAINING.

--- Update ---

I got a call from a manager at X-Cite who said that he had read my blog and apparently had spoken to the store manager. He was very apologetic. I don't feel that going back into the store where I was so publicly humiliated - and facing a second humiliation - will really help motivate me to shop in their stores again. Although it was nice of him to apologize, it does nothing to change what happened. (Personally, I don't want to waste the gas in my car and the amount of time it would take for me to go there. My time is valuable and enough has been wasted on this one incident.)

How are you going to fix it? If I go in, then the next time I go in, I will receive preferential treatment and their sales people will still perform bad customer service to everyone else. How are you going to find a solution? Judging from the number of comments I have received saying that people have had similar experiences in X-Cite, I think that what Al-Ghanim really needs to do is to have people perform mystery shopping services, or customer satisfaction surveys. They make a HUGE deal of handing their customers an enormous invoice with every purchase (it is the singular task that their sales associates actually do well), so maybe they can include a website for an on-line survey.

For those who have written in saying that it is "no big deal": Publically speaking those forms of abusively vulgar obscenities is an actual criminal act in Kuwait.

As for the one anonymous comment who was intent on telling me how so much more well educated Lebanese people are - you have missed the point.

Thank you all for the comments. Maybe it will help Al-Ghanim (and others) in the long run. All feedback can be positive.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have had the exact same experience with those "trolley dolly" guys in Al Ghanim so many times in the past - you ask them about specifications and details about some product you are interested in purchasing and none of them have the faintest clue about the product they are supposed to be promoting. They just gaup at you - as if you're crazy to be asking them something like that. All they seem to be interested in is looking good! I used to complain all the time to the manager in the store in old Salmiya about the fact that none of the sales staff knew anything about the merchandise on sale. But that was a waste of time. Nowadays I just wouldn't dream of shopping there - there are plenty of other places where they understand how to deal with customers and also have a good knowledge of the products they are selling.

xena2 said...

Hello,
My friend just gave me a connect to your post...I am enjoying reading it but think....perhaps 'they' don't make eye contact may be because of the culture? I teach American high school and I have the same problem..but understand for some of them ..its the culture or they have been too tortured in their own lives so they just can't...just a thought..peace,
kim

2seagulls said...

Oh ! Wait ! Waaait, It gets worse -
Al Ghannim is not the only place this happens. It happens in most all stores ! And the manager doesn't give a crap in other stores.

Anonymous said...

EGADS! Thats realy sucks. But now about me. At GO!! sport they had a weight lifting bench on sale. We ask, we get the usual we don;t have them now but we will get more tomorrow. We know it's BS But we were already going to be there again Tomorrow so we stopped in and checked it out. NO they didn't have any but they will call and tell us when some come in. SO (you know where this going) THAT SAME AFTERNOON a call came YES they had benches and PLEASE let me put your name on it to reserve it. So the next day we went to get it which meant we had to change cars etc. to bring it home, big out of the way trip for us that day. So we get there and of course NO BENCH. Now we are used to hearing that they will get new merchandise tomorrow, next week, whatever. But for them to call us and get us there on a lie that is a new one for us. GAIL

RG said...

Interesting experience. I grew up in Kuwait and this kinda stuff happens every time. In the US, you can file a racism/hate crime/discrimination lawsuit; in Kuwait, people just don't really care.

Queen said...

You know thats the case with almost all show rooms that are run by Arabs. It's like the arab customer service code, but I do hope that it will change one day.

geo4u said...

Deja vu DG..been there , felt that...they just suck unless you're a big bosomed,big bottomed, 'oh-help-me-please-i'm-stupid', flirty female in which case they'll even tug the furniture personally to your car or find out the birth date of the child who assembled it in China or even show you how to wind the watch in slow motion.
I once had taken my company exec to buy around 15 mobiles from them...But then I'm planning to make a movie on that.
Avoid them like the plague.

Anonymous said...

Alghanim electronics have appointed funny persons in sales, especially in Mobile sales....

I purchased a mobile already paid the amount and when asked to show the mobile he was not ready to open and show that to me....

How can someone buy a piece without checking....

Alghanim just prefers guys who look handsome, as if they are selling BEAUTY PRODUCTS..... comeon have persons who knows something about the products....

We don't need guys who will just tell u the price of a particular product

intlxpatr said...

LLOOLL, Desert Girl, I have never had that experience. I cannot imagine YOU being so embarrassed you didn't march right back with the manager and point at the culprits. Good on ya for blogging the Al Ghanim bad, but what was it that defeated you? I cannot imagine! You are so persistent! WTF? I cannot imagine you not pointing out that they needed a thorough seminar on customer service and loyalty building, and your providing a syllabus and volunteering (for a price) to teach the class!

2 Minutes Story said...

Thats something typical to happen in kuwaits stores !! i had so many bad experiences in Al Ghanim, SPECIALLY the one in Salmiya, i once had a coversation with an egyptian employee when he was trying to convince me that the item i was asking about isnot available, when he didnt even check, i was so sure that it was there that i had to take it to the manager, all employees were rude, specially egyptians "no offence to anyone", not trained at all, and best of all, they are RUDE !! and guess what, they did have the item !!!!

Traveleer said...

animals..that's what they are. you really should have gone to the police and complained! this is the only way to make them learn.
I am fuming I hate rudness I hate disrespect.

Desert Girl said...

Lebanese Male Model's name is Khaled. I didn't catch the Egyptian foul-mouthed cashier's name (counter staff), but he is the tallest guy there.

The Man wanted to go back the next day and put him in serious trouble. I just don't think it is worth it because it seems to be Al-Ghanim's standard operating procedure.

They were more concerned that I didn't take my invoice at the cashier's desk than they were concerned that I would have a case against them. Just another instance of train them for one specific task and all they can perform is one specific task.

Thanks everybody for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone and to think a degree is required to work at Al Ghanim but considering education is cheap in Lebanon and Egypt (Zagazigg college) that's the name no joke. Well which story should I write about since there are so many, ok let's start with the most recent. My hubby and I went to the Fahaheel location and picked up an I Pod for me. Of course they tried to secretly add on the charger and a couple other things but I caught them. We waited in line, as we approached the Egyptian guy I saw a couple cd's I wanted so I handed them to th guy to ring up. One went through the other would not scan. Having worked in retail in the US I knew all he had to do was scan the other one again as they were the same price. Nope he refused. He refused to scan it or to even let me buy it. My husband who is Kuwaiti started yelling at him to just scan the other, nope he refused. Finally after 10 minutes of arguing I called for the manager, after 10 minutes of waiting "Mr. Lebanon" arrived. Of course he told him to scan the same one twice. DUH!!! I really didn't need the cd but I did it just to prove I'm right.

Anonymous said...

I've got to say we haven't had trouble a Alghanim but my husband is Kuwaiti I don't know if that matters at all, though. One time at the one near AlKOut I was looking for a coffee maker that could be set to make coffee 24 hours and the guy said they didn't carry those and I instantly look anyway and YES they did have one so hubby told guy it had a timer on it, he insisted it didn;t . I read it again, It did, he insisted it didn't, this happened several times. He didn't even bother to look at the box, I guess he really didn't want to make a sale! So we bought it. It works great, Gail

Anonymous said...

I've got a bit of a background in consumer electronics and will say unequivocally that I have yet to find a single retail organization (that focuses on computers/electronics) in Kuwait that knows ANYTHING more about what they're selling than the inflated price and what's on the box. Unless I have to have it right this very second I do not buy ANYTHING electronic in Kuwait. So where does my gear come from? Primarily Amazon.com. It works and even with shipping costs and dealing with the customs clowns here most everything comes out a minimum of 5-7% cheaper than local prices. That and the fact that EVERYTHING made for this market is assembled using tier three components I can't imagine why anyone would buy anything electronic sold in this country.

Mathai said...

You're lucky you understood what he said to the other guy. Most of the times they get off easy muttering cheap insults to foreigners with the feeling that they're safe.

DOD said...

Yeah, They are not known for great customer service..everytime I go their I have run down a worker , and I always find them hiding somewhere.... and then they always tell me Wansa is a good brand for almost everything I buy... hahahahahahah

hilaliya said...

DG, this was a well written and quite frustrating to read. The fact of the matter is this happens often in Kuwaiti stores or businesses; nevertheless, I think a letter or phone call to Omar Qutaiba Al-Ghanim can help - he's US educated and I doubt he'd think much of the way his Arab employees are behaving.

I run a division of a company we personally use these kinds of experiences as how 'not to' run a business and i make sure my employees understand whats wrong with the picture and we have zero tolerance for this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Being darker skinned doesnt help either!

It boils down to the lack of good retail competition here.
Where possible I tend to avoid places that take me and my patronage for granted. And there are quite a lot of those place in this part of the world.

You need to hit them where it hurts most - their pockets.

Anonymous said...

The local kids are a brash lot and have a 'I care a damn' attitude. Their only pleasure is by irritating other people (otherwise, you would find other ways of celebrating the national day, other than by throwing foam on passerby). It is the backlash from the Kuwaiti owners that the employees fear to act.

Faraz said...

DG, since when did you start to expect Customer service in Kuwait?
its kuwait with a big " Ana Kuwaity" mentality.

Wonderful Article. i always like all your articles.good job

Faraz

Anonymous said...

I never shop with x-cite alghanim in avenues because all the arab staff working their pass very dirty coments to each other and the way they look at girls are like hungry dogs. They thing they are the smartest people in the world they dont knoW they are the stupid people in the world , the company should not hire this type of people . because they are loosing so many customers daily for this type of beavior. some of the staff dont understand english at all . what a great company where staff cannot comunicate .

Anonymous said...

do you knwo that this people take 180 k.d beer month .

Desert Girl said...

- Deleted this by mistake:

Butterfly on the Wall said...
You are hilarious! I'm joining my husband in Kuwait in a couple of months and I've been searching the net for all things Kuwaiti and landed on your blog. Thank you for such valuable information concerning everyday living and the ins and outs of government. Your opinions are entertaining, informative and well received. You are inspiring.

ren_crow said...

Well if its any consolation to you, Kuwait isn't the only gulf country with customer service problems as I haplessly discovered in my stay in saudia.

geo4u said...

@ren_crow..The plot thickens...or sickens..LOL..

Anonymous said...

hiii....when you goto in avenues shroom you will see very good and very nice staff and very good knowleg and very good egption(black) gyus ......pleas go and visit

2 Minutes Story said...

LOL !! is the last comment for real !! i mean seriously ? this is cracking me up !

Anonymous said...

One thing I have noticed from all comment that you are asking for good customer service with no discrimination..and here you are discriminating against Arab Salesmen. To have credibility first you should practice what you preach. So you had a bad experience which happens at all stores in Kuwait and the manager tried to correct it and call you to apologize. If you objectively evaluate situations you would know that it happens in all stores in Kuwait regardless of the nationality of Salesman. Many incidents salesman from Philippines talk in front of me in their language and I know they are cussing out customers..and believe me these are multinational stores. No need for so much hate knowing that's Alghanim Electronics has been there for many years and been only growing in the Kuwaiti Market. I am Kuwaiti and I always get a good treatment from them

Not Dead Yet said...

Aaaand the "Comment of the Year" award goes to...

"hiii....when you goto in avenues shroom you will see very good and very nice staff and very good knowleg and very good egption(black) gyus ......pleas go and visit"

- Anonymous

geo4u said...

why do i get the feeling that he works there??? LOL...

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 2:32 - Are you directing your comment to me? I read my post AGAIN just to check and I made mention of "Lebanese male Model". I made no mention of the nationalities of the man who used profanity and he wasn't Lebanese. But again - you are missing the point (if this is directed towards me). I'm not making a sweeping generalization - I noted the name of the store and this is based on my specific personal experiences.

Now, if you are commenting on the commenting and it has nothing to do with my post, then I wouldn't even have published your remark because I think that type of slinging just isn't productive.

Anonymous said...

ugh! I just experienced some really bad customer service from Alghanim as well! I just can't believe that there's nothing in Kuwait that can protect consumers from incompetence and rudeness even from bignames as Alghanim. you would have thought that given the size of the company, somebody out on top would listen to their consumers who are after all the ones keeping them in business...

I bought a F/L washer from them last July, it broke down last week, called them on Sunday and was told that the next available slot would be on Tuesday. So ok, I settled for Tuesday (even though that meant 2 more days of the washer not working), and nobody came. Nobody even called the next day to apologize. so I called again, and they said they will check if a technician can come the same day--I told them not the same day as I have a previous appointment, make it Thursday please, but just make sure that someone will fix it. She said sure, it will be fixed. so I trusted them. Followed up on Thursday and what do you know? rude service guy told me my case is closed! Closed? nobody came or even called me to tell me what the heck do they plan to do with the washer I paid in full for. And of course it's the weekend, no one can come, and no manager is on duty to take my call. Rude guy told me he will transfer my concern to the manager and then hung up. HUNG UP. without even properly addressing my concern. UGH! I was in super hate mode, and reading your article just furthered my belief that there are a lot of people in here who simply - and quite unbelievably- don't care. It's just beyond me how they take their jobs for granted and nobody seems able to do anything about it. And nobody will help you through, EVEN IF it's their job to help you. Amazing system here.

For some reason though, I was calmed down when I read your article. Is that weird? Now I just seem to accept that they are what they are and I feel sorry for them. I LOVE your blogs. just keep it up. you made me breathe easier today despite my fumings. :)

azhar said...

I been there in X-Cite showroom in Baitak Tower in Kuwait City. A sales gentleman was there in computer section. I asked him for a printer & he was surprised like i asked him to bring me an alive lion. He dont know how to speak even an english word.

Wastaaa foog every thing ... for job in Al-Ghanim X-Cite.

Anonymous said...

Al-Ghanim X-Cite is always unfair also with their employees then how a customer can expect professional response from them with smile on face.
I have seen lot more time in X-Cite..when duty hours finish at 9:30PM they announce meeting every 2nd day... & it take almost one hour...

Why Al-Ghanim is not arranging or making meeting and presentation in their working hours... why always in employee time... This is very very very unfair & typical cheep thinking.