I walked into the Pick n Pay Hyper in the Norwood Mall with the bag of oranges we bought over the weekend. I didn’t have the receipt but I still had the tag and an image of my wife’s Smart Shopper Card. Like most of the oranges we buy from this store, many of the oranges in each bag were rotten but given the size of the bag and the R16 to R20 price tag, I suppose that is the risk you take. If you go to Woolies, you pay about R19 for a bag half the size (even if rotten oranges in Woolies bags are pretty rare).
I walked up to the Customer Service counter and my first shock was how quickly the lady behind the counter saw me and greeted me (with a smile too!). She started to ask me how she can help me, noticed the oranges, frowned and asked me if I was dissatisfied with the oranges. The argument I prepped in my mind evaporated, her concern disarmed it and, for a few moments, I had no words. She smiled patiently and I found my voice again.
“Um, yes, my wife bought these oranges over the weekend and many of them seem, well, I’m not happy with the quality …”
I hoisted the bag of oranges on to the counter and she lifted bag, looked quickly at the oranges, scanned the tag and placed them down behind the counter in a large basket. She looked up at me and uttered words I simply didn’t expect to hear in that store:
“I’m sorry you are not happy with these oranges. I will let the department manager know as soon as I have sorted you out and we’ll make an effort not to let you down again.”
She gave me a small form to fill out with my details, processed the refund and handed me a gift card with the balance credited to it.
“Thank you for returning these oranges to us and letting us know you are unhappy with them. Please let me know if you are dissatisfied with anything else and we’ll do our best to address it.”
I was floored. Almost all my previous interactions with this store’s staff have been either neutral or aggravating. It has almost been as if the store staff decided that because they are probably the best option in the area when it comes to price and stock (well, mostly), they don’t have to bother much with decent service and basic courtesy. I was really expecting an argument when I entered. I expected to leave the store irritated, offended even. Instead I wandered back into the store, picked up some additional items and, on my way out (I was still in a bit of a daze – even the cashier was friendly) the lady at the Customer Service counter smiled again and waved as I left.
The weird thing was the sound of a child’s voice calling me as I walked out and I couldn’t quite work out what it was until I woke up and realised it was our daughter calling me, asking for a drink of water.
As I rolled out of bed and went to her room, I could still feel the euphoria from my dream. If only my experiences in that store were so pleasant …