Gearing Up for a Homecoming Showdown

How long is it reasonable for a trader to keep your Rp274 million (US$30,900) when he cannot provide the product you paid for? ILAND readers will recall details early this month of the exhausting and therefore deliberately shortened process of purchasing a new car.

As it turns out, we don’t have the car, the dealer still has our money and keeps proposing “solutions” to get more of it in order to provide us with an alternative because what we bought is unavailable. The last bit of the alternative – a front bumper – would be delivered two months after we’d paid more money. Fat chance. The deal was delivery two weeks after payment. That deadline has truly passed and we are still receiving ridiculous requests for more money.

Being temporarily in Australia and unable to storm into the dealership and confront the branch manager, we remain confused and intensely annoyed. Did one of the island’s leading and largest car dealerships really mount a dedicated marketing campaign to sell a product it could not provide because of poor stock control and internal communication? Did it then really exhibit zero intention of doing anything to meet its contractual obligations to its clients?

Or, equally disturbing, did the dealership deliberately sell a popular but undeliverable package with the intent of coercing buyers into taking something different at a higher price? Neither scenario is in the least bit acceptable; nor is it remotely ethical. Both are wearing.

Anyone with an appreciation for dramatics should look out for Prannie, our beloved but ageing Feroza, over the next few days. Chances are if she’s sighted near a major Denpasar new car dealership, fireworks will be erupting inside. One gets to the point where the ongoing bad behaviour of “professionals” demands an equally uncivilised response.

After working up to the scene, and exerting the required energy, we will no doubt chug home in Prannie, wilted and spent. We’ll remain far too drained for quite some time to initiate the inevitably exhausting process of doing business with another car dealer.

It brings to mind the time we returned a faulty torch to our local outlet of a supermarket chain and stood for one good hour while the shop assistant carried, one by one, every faulty torch from a massive pile into the manager’s office. They were trying through this painful process, which we fortunately found hysterically funny, to find one torch out of hundreds that might work for a moment. They believed we would accept it. They had no idea that we might resent wasting an hour or be disgruntled at the manner in which the assistant slammed the refund onto the counter. Needless to say, the manager did not appear. I decided he was too busy arranging counselling to deal with his agony at having to authorise a refund.

It’s enough to drive you bananas

Prior experience has proven just how determined this supermarket chain is to avoid refunds. On the day I was charged the price of a full kilo of capsicums for only one little capsicum, I mustered the energy to point out the error. The store’s solution was for me to get more capsicums to make up the kilo. No.

When the same store sold us a bottle of decidedly rancid wine, the manager’s response was that it was the supplier’s problem. Sorry, chum, your supplier is your problem. It was a long discussion and to end it I took an alternative bottle of wine and paid the difference.

On Gili Trawangan recently, the beach vendor insisted I buy his pearls to fund his boat and bus transport home. Not my lookout, mate. I’ve heard that story before and I happen to know exactly what it will cost you to return to Mataram and it is about 10 percent of your asking price. Please get your backside off my chair and go away.

A neighbour visiting from Germany called for help with payment for the replacement of a couple of bamboo blinds and the “service” of others. On the invoice, both the size and number of new blinds was exaggerated. The service cost was quoted at some arbitrary rate per centimetre of blind which would have given the opportunistic “tradesman” much more than a million rupiah for less than two hours attendance.

Why should we pay you a month’s salary for less than two hours’ work? I asked. Because I want to go home to Java, was the reply. Yes, we want you to go home to Java but we won’t pay for it, especially as you have tried to cheat us. He whined and pleaded. He was paid much more than he deserved.

How do you live with these people? asked the neighbour. Answer: We get all the details of any transaction sorted first. It hasn’t worked with the car, despite a written contract. Luckily we have not yet found a new home for old Prannie, because that inconvenience would be of concern only to ourselves. The concept of customer as king is alien to much of Bali. And that is counterproductive to business.

LC
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