By: Zara Maqbool
Part owner of a fast food franchise, what we focus most is on developing a good relationship with our customers. The question that we ask ourselves repeatedly is how to make the customer happy, even at the cost of sometimes making less profit. But not every business owner believes in the saying that ‘the customer is the king!’
Last week I went to visit Centaurus Cinema in Islamabad to watch a movie with a friend. I first had an argument with the guy who sold me literally eight or nine pieces of nachos for Rs 600. I can understand that refreshments sold inside the cinema are always over priced than otherwise and outside food is not even allowed but there has to be some limit drawn for what is being served to the customers. After arguing and making sure I got a few more nachos we went inside the hall.
The cinema was burning! The movie had already started and there was no air conditioning working. People were very conveniently watching the moving while sweat poured down their entertained faces. I being the rescuer as always went up to the management inside the hall and inquired what the issue was. I was aghast and speechless when he very casually asked me, “Should I switch on the A.C?” For a moment I thought I didn’t hear him correctly until he stepped forward and switched on the air conditioners.
Seriously? That was when I saw red and gave a piece of my mind. I mean charging Rs 500 for a movie ticket and yet the management was resorting to such measures for cost cutting? I don’t even want to reflect on my amazement on witnessing a hall full of people who were quietly accepting the heat and not questioning it. Because like it or not that’s how most of us operate. Accept! Accept! Accept! Don’t raise your voice. Just express yourself on social media at the most and continue to accept all kind of injustices.
I really want to understand where the management of Centaurus is coming form. Why such a harsh and disrespectful attitude towards people who are paying to watch a movie.
I have always felt angry at the lack of customer care in our country unlike abroad where I have literally exchanged or refunded things I bought a year or even longer back. I can understand that the small business operators might not practice it as people start exploiting this but what about the bigger brands? There are very few that allow exchanges and a refund is a big No! Like today when I had to exchange a shirt at Khaadi and the store owed me Rs 200 and expected me now to buy something else because their “policy” does not allow it.
There is another side to the story too and that’s the business owner’s dilemma. I spoke to a few that includes my friend Mahrukh Beyg Shah, founder at Haaryali farmer’s market. She says,
“Pakistan’s is rapidly becoming a regressive consumer market. Till people learn to be honest and reasonable such policies by business owners will only become more stringent. “
I am sure many agree with us that ethically we have a long way to go as a nation and given the chance many of us do like to pull any strings to get what we want. We do like to exploit and maybe that’s partly why most retail outlets do not believe in the exchange and refund policy. That still doesn’t excuse a big cinema owner trying to save pennies! At the end I think the onus of demanding good customer care is directly related to how we as customers behave. We need to stop fluctuating between two ends of the spectrum where we either stay quiet or loose our cool altogether and find a middle ground for a happy customer experience!