Yours truly has an older model car which does not feature a ‘line-in’ plug for new-fangled technology such as an iPod or other portable MP3 player. Using a combination charger and FM transmitter, which sends the signal to your FM radio, has so far been the solution to getting the iPod to work in the car. A tip from my local car audio expert, whom I visited out of desperation when I became disgusted with the constant interference from other vehicles and local radio stations and asked to install a plug, led me to the Steren electronics shop in the Galeria Mall. This is the mall with the Liverpool store and an ice-skating rink for those who are only familiar with the ‘real’ Merida.
Steren is kind of like the Mexican version of Radio Shack, with equally oriental-made products of dubious durability at rock bottom prices and locations around the country and the Galeria mall location is their latest incarnation in Merida.
I was blown away when entering the store, the employee actually got up from his seat behind the counter and wished me a pleasant afternoon and asked how he could help me. I explained my predicament and he immediately showed me the product I was looking for (a cassette adapter with a plug for an iPod) and charged me a whopping $58 pesos (about 5 bucks).
Very happy, I returned to my ancient mode of transport and installed the item, which worked like a charm. Music sounded almost CD quality and there was no interference whatsoever. I was one satisfied customer, impressed both by the service at this store, the product and its ridiculous low price.
After a full day of driving to Cancun and back, my new little gadget balked at such abuse and started ejecting itself from my cars cassette player. No amount of inserting could convince the little Chinese gadget to remain in place and it was back to the FM transmitter option for the rest of the day.
The next morning, I returned to the same Steren location to let them know that the product was not working. Of the four employees seated around the counter, no one was particularly empathetic (I suppose they have low expectations for their product and the news that yet another had failed seemed like no surprise to anyone) and after looking at the item, which has a large STEREN emblazoned on it, the employee who I was dealing with said they could change it but only if I only brought in the receipt and the packaging. I said that I had thrown these valuable materials out (who keeps this stuff for a 5 dollar purchase?) and he sadly shook his head and repeated that this was the only way he could accept it and give me a replacement. It’s because we need to know where you bought it. I replied that I had bought it 48 hours ago in this very store and he went into the back where apparently there was another, 5th employee of the management sort, who invisibly confirmed the sad news. Sad for me, the customer, the four employees out front were not affected in any way.
“OK” says I “let me buy a new one”
Once I had paid the new item, I took it out of its packaging, handed the note and package to the employee and said “I would like to have a replacement, the product is defective”
They all looked at each other with concern, but realizing that their little rule had been followed to the letter, accepted the defective product and gave me a replacement.
This was possible with a 5 dollar product, but what if it had been a larger-ticket item?
As a customer, I could care less about the internal inventory concerns that Steren might or might not have if they replace my product that is defective, especially when there is no doubt whatsoever that it is indeed a Steren product. Having the customer jump through silly rules because it’s comfortable/easier for them is not customer service. Better to say that our products may or may not work, and there are no returns because we are not set up for the hassle.