Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Miffed in Malmesbury (again)

I so wish I’d written this while I was still fired up with ire, but alas real life intervened and I am now no longer burning with righteous fury. And anyway, if I had to vent my spleen every time I got crap service in Malmesbury, I wouldn’t have a spleen left to vent, so it’s probably just as well.

Last week I popped into my ‘local’ DVD-rental store (in Malmesbury – the actual local ones aren’t worth bothering about) and bought three DVDs on ‘sell-through’. For those who don’t know about ‘sell-through’, these are the DVDs that have been rented out a gazillion times, and are now being sold to the weak of mind (or those who are geographically disadvantaged by not having a Musica within a 100km radius) at a frankly usurous price. I didn’t think - silly me! - to check if all the DVDs were in a usable state because (get this) I assume that if someone is going to lighten my wallet by 60 bucks for a DVD that’s been rented out a gazillion times, they’re selling me something that is in a usable state.

I drove home, unpacked the groceries, did a few other chores (not really, but I don’t want you to think that all I do is buy food and watch DVDs), then put on It’s Complicated in my bedroom. It whirred and clicked but didn’t start playing and I - innocent that I am! – assumed that there might be something wrong with the DVD player (which, admittedly, I haven’t used since I got DStv in November last year).

The sofa in my sitting-room sofa is every bit as comfortable as my bed, and anyway I’ve got a ‘home theatre’ system there, so when I play a DVD, the sounds come at me from all sorts of interesting angles, so, without examining the DVD – more fool me! – I just took it out, went into the next room and put it in the other DVD player.

This DVD player, being more sophisticated than the little machine I have in my bedroom, told me ‘disc unplayable’. Hm, I thought. I took it out and looked at it, and lo and behold, it had a dirty great gouge in one quadrant, a deep score through another, and what looked like a gangrenous patch in a third.

I have supported this DVD shop (which is Stax in De Bron Centre in Malmesbury, and now consider yourself warned) for many years, despite the fact that they once kicked me out because I was accompanied by my well-behaved dog on a leash. So, presuming on this long history, I phoned the shop and told them what had transpired. The clerk, one Lomi, was polite and understanding, and said that they had another copy, and that I should just come in and she’d replace it.

I explained to her that I live 20km distant so wouldn’t be back that instant, but that I would be in Malmesbury again on Tuesday (today), which is when I’d do the swop. No problem, she said. She’d write my name and phone number on the DVD, just so it wasn’t given to anyone else in the meantime.

I went there today, on my way to a meeting in Cape Town, expecting to pop in, swop the DVD, and swiftly be on my way. Instead, I was met by a clerk whose attitude I can only describe as sullen. Actually, if I give it some thought I can describe it other ways: disinterested and rude. After listening with patent suspicion to my story, she said, ‘I have to phone the boss.’ (I asked her repeatedly to look for the replacement DVD with my name and number on it, but she was curiously deaf to these requests.)

After a fairly lengthy conversation with ‘the boss’, which included, for the last few minutes, a bit of giggly chit-chat while I stood looking pointedly at my invisible wrist-watch, she plonked the receiver triumphantly back into the cradle and, without even bothering to look at me, said, ‘The boss says no.’

Although I seldom expect anything other than absolutely appalling service in Malmesbury, this floored me. I didn’t say anything – I just stared at her.

She finally looked at me. ‘The boss says she would never have sold a DVD in that condition.’ (And I might add here that I have never, in all the many times I’ve visited Stax in De Bron Centre in Malmesbury, actually set eyes on ‘the boss’ – so how the hell would she know?!) And while I continued gaping at her, she hunched her shoulders, kicked her right foot a bit, and added, ‘Anyway, Lomi should have checked them before she gave them to you.’

‘But Lomi didn’t check them!’ I said. ‘And it’s not my fault that Lomi didn’t do her job! The DVD was damaged – I phoned her literally half an hour after I’d bought it. If you think I did this to the DVD, that just wasn’t long enough for me to do that kind of damage, unless I had some sort of psychotic turn and attacked it with a pair of pliers!’

And she gave me the kind of look that said she wouldn’t put that kind of behaviour beyond me.

Well, fukkit. If ‘the boss’ is short-sighted enough to let go a long-standing customer who regularly rents DVDs worth, oh, about R150 a month from her store, for a very well used DVD worth all of R60, so be it. (Yet another example of why I continue to be completely gobsmacked at how businesses in Malmesbury survive.)

And I long – long! – for the day the new consumer protection laws kick in, and that old standby, ‘caveat emptor’ (‘let the buyer beware’), that infuriatingly useful hiding-place of sellers of dodgy goods, is turned on its head, and anything anybody sells us better bloody work, because it’s going to be all ‘caveat venditor (‘let the seller beware’) from then on.

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5 comments:

Claudine said...

Wow. How rude. Remind me to go past there when next we go to Churchhaven and give em hell.

Anonymous said...

...I'm older now, but still running against the wind.

Jane-Anne said...

How come you're one of my best friends and we hardly ever see or speak, Mur? (Oh, then again, *duh*, that's what bestfriendism is all about.)

Lovely post. I miss you. Love to all

xxx

ali g said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ali g said...

We also bought 'Its Complicated' from the ex-rental section of our DVD store 2 weeks ago for A$5
Believe me you didn't miss much not watching it as it was total crap in the considered opinion of both of us.
Felt like jumpimg on it when we finished watching it so maybe that's what happened to your one.