Chance Favours The Prepared Mind

On March 25th 2016 I walked into a shopping mall to by a special garment fir a wedding that I would be attending over the Easter period .

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I had worked hard to save up this money, as finance was tough building up to this event so, naturally once the funds were available I decided to take my entourage for guidance and support. Like any shopping trip the ladies like to make sure that the purchased made is the best for you.

The moment I walked into a particular boutique I fell in love with one garment.The sale assistant was more than happy to assist , after all it would be a sale.

Just to clarify let me set the scene.

  • EastLondon
  • Shopping Mall
  • 99.9% Asian retailers and shoppers
  • Customer Service etiquettes – non existence

After a lengthy discussion about the garment and how the alterations could be done it was agreed . The measurements were taken and the garment was paid for.

Problem 1: No credit card Only Debit or Cash 🛎

I wanted to pay by credit card so I had to draw out the money. I trusted the brand, I trusted the Sale Assistant and agreed to come back on the given date.

I returned to the shop on the given date and to my disappointed I was told to come back the next day. An apology of ‘ We have been very busy’

Problem 2:  If that was the case they could have rang me after all it is in thier interest  to give me good customer service 🛎

My nightmare began on my 3rd visit when I arrived at the boutique they told me to go to the sister shop up the road as the garment is there! ‘Er! no! I bought the garment from here so where is it?’

After waiting fir 15 minutes I caved in and went to the sister shop with my entourage of course.

Problem 3:  Totally devastated by the finish product . They had not followed the agreed adjustments and the quality control was non existence .🛎

I was told to come back in 2 hours and was promised the alterations would be ‘altered’ as agreed.🛎

On return to the sister shop I was told to go back to the boutique where the dress was! Running back and forth on this well known East London street was not my cup of chai. By this time I had lost the will to live.

Problem 4: This had to be ‘the straw that broke the camels back’

After lengthy discussion of what was wrong with the garment I asked for a refund which I was denied . I was remeasured and reassured that the garment will be done to my specifications and delivered to me on Tuesday night .🛎

I felt disheartened by this experience and felt I had no choice but to continue with this sale as they refused to refund me.

We left the shop sadly and frustrated but with one hope that when they do delivery the garment all will be well .

Problem 5: The delivery never came!🛎

The real battle began on Good Friday April 1st 2016 – And I will tell you what nobody is going to make a fool of me!

I took advice from the Citizen Advice Bureau and they guided me step by step on what to do and what to say .

There is a saying ‘Silence is the most eloquent reply’  Not if you are a retailer it is not !

This  so called ‘Brand ‘ retailer with 2 shops treated me like nothing once they had my money they felt they could get away with robbing me – they messed with the wrong kind of shopper.🛎

After ignoring legal documents for months at my expense the date came through the post to go to county court In front of the district judge . The first hearing did not take place due to the courts running overtime.

A blessing in disguise as much as it was frustrating as it gave me a feeling of the court system and our face to face meeting with the retailer . Who stuck to his motto of playing ‘Marcel Marceau .’

They had finally submitted a defence obviously opposite to my recount if what happened.

Om March 13th 2017 we presented ourselves to the district judge . The opening statement gave me the indication that I had already won my battles on the grounds that I had done exactly what the court had asked me to but the defendants had not – so on what basis can the judge  make a judgement?

As a claimant  it was in my interest to submit the truth as I was at a lost with No garment No Money to show for.

As a defendant it was their duty to present Good Customer Service regardless of mistakes made – bad mistake – they ignored me once they pocketed the money🛎

I did win the case and on March 25th 2017 exactly a year from the day I walked into the shop I was given my money for the garment itself and all court fees etc.£311.67p to be exact almost triple the amount of the cost of garment.🎉

It was a hard long frustrating battle – especially when you are shopping with your own kind of people who have the mentality of how they shop back home – where they are the law upon themselves .

A brand new shopping mall in East London may look all posh and civilised but behind the glass windows tells a different story.  Sadly I have experienced that first hand.

I love haggling, I love a bargain but I do have rights.

YOU have rights as a consumer don’t be intimidated by village minded greedy retailers who are in a privileged position .👳🏽👳🏼‍♀️

Oh! By the way I did go to the wedding. My sister kindly lent me one of her outfits. I was disappointed that I did not have something of my own but on reflection I am glad I stuck to my principles and fought for my rights.👠👗👜🕶

I know for  a fact many Asian shoppers keep quite because it’s what we do- smiley smiley very pleasing! It’s time to stop , think and speak up – specially the ladies  . How many heels have broken even before you have worn them for the occasion you bought it for ? How many times have you been turned away from a shop because the ‘Man’ makes you loook and feel unworthy ? 🤦🏽‍♀️

My advice is shop till you drop but know your rights and be confident – seek for help and advice.  And if those alarm bells ring🛎 Then drop the garment and leave the shop!🏃🏾‍♀️🎓🌂

Ms Safirah Irani

Twitter@safirah63

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