Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's Be Reasonable!


One of the most ridiculous and unfair “rules” of most retail businesses here in Saudi Arabia is their “return policies.” Some businesses have absolutely NO return policy whatsoever! You buy a product - and if it doesn’t work, or if it doesn’t fit, or if you just changed your mind – well, TOO BAD! There are some businesses that have a return/exchange policy. However, most of the companies that DO have a return policy have a measly three day time frame in which to return or exchange the product.
Now let me put this in the proper perspective for you so you don’t think that I’m on one of my unreasonable rants again. First of all, women in Saudi Arabia are NOT allowed to drive. Let me stress to you how difficult it is for many women in Saudi Arabia to get around due to the transportation issue. This means that she has to get her husband or father to take her shopping in the first place. Or if she’s lucky enough to have a driver, the driver must take her, or she can pay to take a taxi to and from shopping. So she gets the product home and for whatever reason she needs to return it - she has only THREE days maximum to get back to the store (if that is their policy) to return the item, again involving her husband or father or the driver or a taxi. On top of that, the traffic is horrendous, plus store hours aren’t anything like what you might be used to in other parts of the world. Businesses have odd and limited operating hours because they are required to close for the five daily prayer times.

But that’s not all!

There are virtually no female dressing rooms in which to try on women’s clothing inside shops that cater to women. The religious police have banned female changing rooms for a variety of ridiculous reasons, including that it’s sinful for women to be in a state of undress outside the home, or that lecherous, perverted male sale clerks might sexually assault women in the dressing rooms, etc.

At some malls, women purchase the item, and then go into the ladies restroom to try on the clothing. If it doesn’t fit and she wants to try a different size, she must go back to the store, go through an exchange process for a different size and repeat the scenario in the mall’s restrooms, trying on the clothing again. But of course, when you go back to the shop, it may be closed for prayer times, in which case you would have to wait around to make the exchange. But some women are not able to try on the clothing in the restroom before they leave the mall, so these women have to wait until they return home to try on the clothing. If the item doesn’t fit, she must make another trip back to the store to exchange or return it, bothering hubby again or taking another taxi ride and timing the trip so the shop will not be closed for prayers.

I guess I’ve just been spoiled all my life by clothing stores in America that have changing rooms where I can take items that strike my fancy and try them on without any hassle. I’ve also been spoiled by being able to drive myself to and from the malls when the urge strikes me and not have to bother my husband - who hates to shop and hates to drive - to take me. I’ve also been accustomed to stores in the US which are generally open from 9am til 9pm or longer. And I’ve also been spoiled by the liberal return policies of most businesses in America that normally allow at least a 30 to 60 day grace period in which to return an item that I was able to try on there at the store before I bought it, but then later decided I wasn’t really that crazy about in the first place.

Businesses in Saudi Arabia are ripping off their customers, especially their female customers, by their lack of a reasonable return or exchange policy. I, for one, dislike shopping for clothing in Saudi Arabia specifically because of these reasons.
As a side note, however, I must express my delight and approval of the new Saudi law requiring lingerie shops to employ female salesclerks, so no longer are Saudi women forced to purchase their undergarments and sexy lingerie from male salesclerks. That is definitely a step in the right direction!

Now if we could just get these stores to change their unfair business practices of unreasonable return policies…

20 comments:

  1. This is one of my big things that I hate here. Stores like H&M and Topshop stopped allowing returns so if it does not fit your forced to get something else even if you do not want to and they do not just give you a giftcard for later.

    I always loose so much money bc my dh works in the week and by the time he can take me I can not exchange anymore.

    I HATE HATE HATE that we can not try anything on yet we can not return, it makes no sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree and sympathize with you, Noor. It's an unfair policy that should be addressed and changed. Women always seem to get the short end of the stick here...

      Delete
  2. Oh wow! That's a whole lot of inconvenience. I hope you can return every so often to the US and get everything you need.

    Thank you so much for visiting, Susie. I've been up to my ears lately in everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kay! I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things with my blog hopping, but I've got a big job ahead of me trying to switch my photo blog from Wordpress to Blogger. Your trip to Japan is so exciting!

      Delete
  3. The shopping drives me crazy. Its not as bad at the Mall of Arabia because at least they have fitting rooms with full length mirrors in the bathrooms, but Red Sea Mall you have to do it in the bathroom (however at least their bathrooms are always clean unlike Mall of Arabia) and so you're guessing to an extent about what you look like in the outfit. Besides which I feel like a fool returning 10 minutes after I purchased something to return it. The returns policy with the Alshaya (sp) card is so unfair. It's not my fault that I can't try the clothes on in your shop and yet I'm being unfairly penalised for it. I try not to shop at those shops that use it and I only buy if I absolutely love it. I'd rather wait until I'm out of the Kingdom for a weekend or for a holiday and shop somewhere where I can actually try on the clothes. But I do love that the lingerie shops and other shops that sell swimwear and lingerie now have female sales attendants. It's great to see.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad to hear ladies will be able to buy their undies from lady clerks. Maybe that means dressing rooms could be added as you wouldn't have to worry about the possible pervert male clerks. What a hassle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll probably still be buying my undies when I'm in the states, unless I find my favorites here.

      Delete
  5. @ Anonymous @ 4:50 AM - Just FYI - I've been pleasantly surprised lately at the condition of the restrooms in the Mall of Arabia. There is always an attendant inside now and they are fully stocked with toilet paper and paper towels. It's a huge change!

    ReplyDelete
  6. totally loving the female sales assistants in lingerie store...they seem to be elsewhere too, ive seen them in ikea and toys r us in jeddah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every time I see women working in shops, I go out of my way to speak to them and tell them how happy I am to see them working. I even spoke with a young woman working in the electronics department at Hyper Panda the other day! Yay!!!

      Delete
  7. At the risk of taking a serious subject and one that I completely empathize with, I'd like to challenge one statement--mostly because I've had to qualify my own statements numerous times:

    Stores in KSA don't actually close 5 times a day for prayer...it's really 4 times, right? The early morning fajr prayer occurs well before stores open for business.

    I suppose technically you're still right. If any Saudi was out and about at that hour he would find the stores closed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know, Veeds - I think about that every time I express it, but I think it would be too awkward and confusing to try to explain it! I try to keep it non-specific and don't say that they close 5x a day for prayers, but that they close for the 5 daily prayers each day. Most stores aren't even open for the early morning prayer like you said, and then you have some shops that just close all afternoon instead of opening and closing three different times, but that gets really confusing... I know I should probably clarify but it's just too much trouble... ha!

    ReplyDelete
  9. So excited to meet a blogger from Saudi Arabia!
    We spent two really happy years in Morocco and think there
    is so much that I find interesting in that part of the world!

    We are now in New York.
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Elizabeth - I keep telling my hubby that he needs to take me to Morocco! It's high on my wish list.

      Delete
  10. asalaamu alaikum...ohh whow! brings back memories. e were in Khobar and in both the Rashid Mall and Dhahran mall there WERE ladies changing rooms...BUT...you would have to purchase the item (usually) and go there and try it on and go back in forth. Now, some of the smaller shops, if you often shopped there and the person behind the counter trusted you, would let you take the item to the dressing room, in exhange for leaving something at the counter at collateral. LOL. But it was very exhausting buying anything. Or even some places would let you try things on like abayaat behind a curtain in the storage area. It was rather tedious, exhausting and ridiculous...this is why if I actually have to buy clothing, clothing...like jeans or shirts or whatever I only ever shopped at a fe selective shops that had good return policies and were good about exhcnages...like Taba in Khobar (kinda low end clothing, but very reasonable return policy and good for everyday wear) or CityMax...although downside to city max is they only did exchanges NOT returns...but places like that were more reasonable. There as this one store I bought jeans at and got home, they didnt fit and I went back the very next day via compound shuttle and they tried to play the 24hr return policy on me and I was like...I am here within 24hrs and I raised heck! For women who arent on a compound with a daily compound bus its hard...for us it wasnt too bad but I had saudi friends who almost never shopped cuz of what a hassle it was!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Umm Ibrahim - It IS exhausting trying to buy clothing here - that's another point I forgot to make!

      Delete
  11. I am 100% with you there Susie. Their policies are ridiculous. Sometimes in chain stores, like H&M, staff refuse to exchange or refund the item right after the purchase. When you show them the written policy behind the receipt, they simply say "We don't do that"! So simple, just like this. There is no control so they can do whatever they want! It's so frustrating.
    Thanks for bringing this up.
    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Curious Kitty - These are bad policies and they need to be changed - they are especially unfair to the women living in Saudi Arabia who have transportation problems.

      Delete
  12. I am from Saudi Arabia, and I live in the U.S.

    Actually I totally disagree with your statement that “…store hours aren’t anything like what you might be used to in other parts of the world. Businesses have odd and limited operating hours because they are required to close for the five daily prayer times.”

    I find the operating hours of shops and malls to be very comfortable and convenient in Saudi Arabia. Most shops are open until very late, 12 or 1 am which makes it very convenient for people to shop and live a night life. Unlike here in the U.S. where shops, restaurants and malls have very ridiculous operating times. Many shops and restaurant in the U.S. close around 7 or 8 pm which is absurdly inconvenient.

    Regarding that shops are required to close for the five daily prayer times, they actually close for 4 and not 5. Also, the daily prayer times organize people’s daily schedules and make their times easily arranged. Closing shops for 10 or 15 mins isn't a big deal at all for people in Saudi Arabia.

    Peace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous - I still feel that shops opening and closing several times a day, or being closed all afternoon is a hassle for many shoppers. Being in a mall in the middle of the day with only a small fraction of the businesses open is very inconvenient. If the businesses closed for prayers for only 10 or 15 minutes, it wouldn't be so bad, but you know very well that this is not accurate. Most businesses close for prayers for a good 45 minutes to an hour. Businesses close for prayer times and there are five prayers, right? So if they are open when prayer time comes, they close. From my own personal experience, my husband is always stressed out rushing to make it to a shop before they close for prayers, which also affects his driving. Also many people do not like going out at night to conduct their business.
      As far as your complaint about businesses in the US closing early, unless you live in a really small town, there are plenty of restaurants and businesses that stay open until at least 9pm or later. There are even lots of 24 hour restaurants and shops.
      So I guess we can both have our opinions and agree to disagree about this issue.

      Delete