Consumer rights have never been on my list of things to fight for. In order, they are
- Recognition of sambhar vada as the National snack
- Universal education
- Oscar for Mohanlal
However, a very curious incident which happened to me today in a Watsons store has forced me to question my priorities. Here’s the background.
I had gone in to buy a set of Watsons 5 blade razor cartridges. While there, I saw a sign on the display which read “BUY ANY 2, GET 1 FREE”. It also said, “MIX AND MATCH – ACROSS ANY ITEMS WITH THIS TAG”. The fine print went on to add that the free item would be the item of the lowest value. While I was considering the implications of this, I became aware of a faint disagreeable odour from my shoes (I wear them for over ten hours a day. Cut me some slack.) I realized I needed to get something to remove the odour. Foot odour is the only smell guys can’t explain away as “that strong musky, manly smell”.
Long story short, I decided to buy a Watsons FootEase Odour Stop. They are insoles ingrained with activated charcoal, which promises to remove foot odour. They too had the same tag on the display, which promised to mix and match the products to get a free one. I decided to buy two sets of cartridges, and take the FootEase free.
However, the cashier and the store manager had other ideas. Their smiles jaded a bit when I mentioned the tag concept. They politely informed me that this offer was not valid, for a multitude of reasons, although none came to their mind at that moment. The Indian in me was confused. I had taken a lot of trouble to read the tag, even more trouble to actually think about it and then still more trouble to find some combination of product that would work, only to be beaten at the post. I asked the manager if I could snap some pictures of the offer tag to take up the issue with the Watsons management. She became concerned and contacted her superiors. While she went into some deep strategy discussion with the person on the phone, I snapped a few pictures on my iPhone4 (yeah, I have an iPhone 4, total stud only, no?)
At the end of a five-minute long discussion, the manager came back to me and explained apologetically that the offer was valid only for items with the same price. I countered by arguing that if so, then they shouldn’t have mentioned “Free item will be item of the lowest value” in the fine print. She then changed tactics and took up a new position. Even though the items may be of different price, she explained, they have to be in the same display section. Now, I considered this a very weak argument, but realized the futility of fighting anymore. The Indian inside me swore at least a blog post in revenge, while the marketing manager in me decided to settle for a strongly worded letter of complaint to Watsons senior management. At last, in true Indian style, I compromised. I have decided to do both.
I shall keep you informed of the progress of my complaint.
Meanwhile, what is your opinion of sambhar vada?
PS: This post is based on my personal observations and personal opinions and is in no way connected to or endorsed by any company, organization or institute I may represent.