The article “‘Frightening’ rise in value of overseas purchases” in yesterday’s gazette talks about retailers fears concerning the lack of Bermudians who are buying in Bermuda.
Personally, I rarely ‘Buy Bermuda’. It isn’t that I’m not interested in contributing to the nearly 10% of our workforce that is employed by the retail industry, nor is it that I want my dollars to leave Bermuda. What it comes down to is that I get very annoyed by the lack of service and the frustration I experience as a consumer in Bermuda.
To begin with, shopping hours are a pain if you work full time. Most stores are open between the hours of 9-5, Monday through Saturday. Seeing as I work Monday through Friday, I either have to make plans to leave work during my lunch hour, leave during work hours, or shop on a Saturday.
I usually like to eat on my lunch hours and one of the last times I tried to leave work at 4:45 to quickly grab something before the store closed, well, the store closed early. The person behind the counter on the inside was too busy chatting on the phone and mouthed the words “we’re closed”. I was shocked as to how a store could close early so that the employee could chat.
In other circumstances when I’ve attempted to shop, rarely am I approached with polite customer service like I recieve abroad. More often then not, if I’m looking for something I have to hunt for a salesperson to get assistance and even then if you’re not the utmost of polite in greeting them, they’ll suck their teeth at you and act like you’re asking them to lick the floor. Bermudians have lost the concept of “the customer is always right” and replaced it with “if you don’t greet me properly I won’t acknowledge you”. I can’t remember the last time a cashier said Good Morning/Afternoon to me as opposed to me being obliged to say it in order to be served. Even in the cases when I do, it is often not returned and the people just glare at me like I shouldn’t be giving them the extra work of ringing up my purchase.
Beyond this, some retailers assume they can charge outrageous prices. The other day I decided I wanted to purchase some computer software. I went to 4 different stores before I found one that carried it and when I did. The exact same software that was $80 in that store was selling for $30 online. Buying it online may mean I have to wait a week or two to get it, but at least I can get it at a reasonable price, order at any time of the day or night and don’t have to put up with surly customer service.
If the Chamber of Commerce wants to do something to encourage more people in Bermuda.
- Change store hours so that you’re open till 7pm in the evening at the minimum. I shouldn’t have to inconvience myself by leaving work to shop.
- Convince the government to let you open on Sundays. Being forced to only be able to shop on Saturdays is very limiting as many people have things they like to do on the weekends. Having two days to shop makes it alot easier to run out and grab something.
- Ensure you’re employees have a good attitude and know the value of customer service.
Until these things happen, I’m sorry to say that I’m perfectly happy having my money leave the island by shopping abroad and online.