In a previous article titled Almost is NOT Close Enough For Me!, I explained both the old and new dilemmas I have with my old Sansui Stereo system. The repair shop here in Calbayog City I took the unit to for repair is supposed to be one of the best in town, but they did not live up to my expectations. Anyways, a few days after discovering my newly repaired stereo was still “non-stereo,” I loaded up the amplifier and headed back to Madrick’s Electronics Repair (I finally learned the name of the business). I explained to the owner (and head technician) what he obviously already knew but he tried to play me like an innocent hand of Gin Rummy. He initially pretended to not know the distinction of “Stereophonic” sound. Anyway, I finally got through to him and he then said “okay I can fix it now but I need to get another part.” Right then I planted the seed…”if the stereo cannot be fixed and working like it is designed to be, then I should be given a full refund.” He soaked up every word of my statement like a dry sponge and I could see him shudder inside (knowing that the P900 was probably long gone). He then explained that there was not a [part] in town and it would have to come from Manila or elsewhere. At this point, he was willing to do almost anything to appease me…and he knew there was P900 at stake, and I’m sure had no idea how he was going to refund my money if he could not repair the amplifier. What made all this even more shaky is that I noticed he had a planned move (in progress) for his shop to a new location directly across the street. A place that had a good roof and where he wouldn’t have to work on electronics in the rain dripping through the roof! I knew his impending business relocation had most if not all of his money obligated and my chances for getting any of my money refunded were deteriorating by the day. To my amazement though, he agreed to fix it or return my money. I didn’t hang around long enough to muddy the waters and just suggested he get busy and that I would return.
About a week went by and on a Tuesday morning I stopped in and he gave me the bad news “I’m sorry sir, but your stereo cannot be fixed…no part is available.” This didn’t surprise me as like I mentioned earlier, the unit was approximately 28 years old and should have already been retired. My concern now shifted to the refund. So I asked him, “okay, so today I get my P900 back?” His eyes quickly glanced across the street where his new shop was a work in progress and then shifted right back to me and said “Sir, but can I have you to come back on Saturday?” I said, sure no problem and then he says “no sir, not this Saturday, next Saturday?” I knew where this was going and I reluctantly agreed hoping he would see my frustration with this whole thing. I knew he had to get his move on, get back to business, and begin earning some money before I was ever going to have a chance of getting my money back.
I gave him well over two weeks (I’m a nice guy) before I returned. I walked into his new shop and it was in the same array or state of confusion as the other place was, but at least it had a roof and windows and it was dry. When I asked him about the P900, his eyes narrowed with concern as he turned to his wife who was watching from the back room. He spoke softly to her in dialect and I heard my name mentioned, and then I realized – she was well aware that this day was coming. They were both aware that I was coming back and that this day was now upon them. After a few more words between them, she gave him a nervous nod and he dug the money out of his change drawer. I began to get this sinking feeling come over me, like I was stealing their evening meal from them or something…until I laid my eyes on my once new looking 28-year-old amplifier which now looked to be 50 years old. My sinking feeling immediately subsided as he handed me my money and he apologized for not being able to fix my stereo. I told him it was not a big problem (I was just happy to get out of this with all my money and my amplifier and without it costing me more than a few trips to town) and as I turned to walk out the door, he said “Have a good day and may God bless you.”
All this taught me something. While it is almost impossible to get cash refunds in many parts of the Philippines, the norm is either a short warranty period and exchange of merchandise, or in the best case scenario, you will get store credit. This poor entrepreneur took his own management style to the next level…to the level of good customer service with a sort of non-implied satisfaction guarantee. No where was this satisfaction guarantee written or posted on the wall, he just took it upon himself to work within his own set of rules, as uncommon as that may be here. While he had all the good intentions of fixing my stereo, he did try to throw a little hoodwink at me with a touch of dishonesty , but that’s okay, that is to be totally expected. But I’ll admit, I’ve got to give him a good grade on his integrity and his customer service…it might be a little slow, but it’s better than most.
What did I learn? When you least expect it, surprises can happen…even in the Philippines!