Khaled rambles technology, tea/coffee, consumer rights and other interest from Saudi Arabia

December 3, 2011

#noshaya: Demanding a better return policy

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 1:46 pm

If you bought something you didn’t like you get to return it to most stores for a replacement or refund. In Saudi Arabia we have the “البضاعة المباعة لا ترد و لا تستبدل” policy, sold items cannot be returned nor replaced. It’s thanks to the lack of any real consumer protection.

Alshaya” is a well-know retailer in the region with many franchises such as Starbucks. Alshaya’s previous return policy allowed for return or replace (limited though). They have changed it to be strictly “no refund” and if you want to return an item you will be given “store credit”. People are upset and I simply can’t blame them. Why? Let’s compare with how “major” brands deal with “product returns” around the world:

Walmart:

Most store items can be exchanged or refunded with a receipt within 90 days of purchase

Amazon has an extensive policy page

Home Depot, not related to Office Depot:

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, please follow the guidelines detailed below and we will be happy to help you to return your purchase.

Staples:

If you’re not 100% satisfied with your Staples purchase, return it for any reason.

I love this bit:

No matter when you made your purchase, you can return office supplies to us for a full refund, including Staples® brand office products.

Kmart

Just search google for “return policy” for many examples.

There is a movement on twitter to boycott alshaya, simply search for this hash tag: #noshaya.

Alshaya “brands” are:

debenhams mothercare next Bhs H&M Topshop Topman River Island Oasis Coast Oltre Motivi Claire’s Limited Too Evans Dorothy Perkins

Update: Sorry about the repeating text. I blame STC.

July 11, 2010

Knockoffs ad in a major newspaper

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 6:00 pm

In Alriyadh newspaper, advertisement for fake knockoffs and stolen designs. So much for quality of service.

Photo by @SaudiLawyer was tweeted originally on Yfrog. He wonders what is the Ministry of Commerce doing. Apparently their site isn’t working.

May 3, 2010

Saudi Toyota and Lexus dealer finally recall some cars

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 12:01 pm

Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd., Toyota and Lexus’ dealer in Saudi Arabia, has finally announced a recall for the following cars:

  1. Toyota Prado VX manufactured between August 2009 and April 2010.
  2. Lexus GX manufactured between November 2009 and April 2010.

As advertised on today’s newspapers.

Thanks Bander for taking that picture.

April 18, 2010

UAE suspend Lexus GX 460 sales, what about the Saudi distributor?

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — Khaled A. @ 8:28 pm

Apparently there is an issue with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) in the 2010 Lexus GX 460. The distributor of Lexus and Toyota in the UAE, Al Futtaim Motors has suspended sales of this SUV and are contacting all of their customers. As reported by Arabian Business.

The Lexus distributor in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Latif Jameel Co, hasn’t announced or did anything regarding these issues with the car until now.

What consumer rights? Why am I not surprised.

December 28, 2009

STC: one month of SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 1:25 am

STC continues to brib… I mean “thank” their customers by offering a month of free SMS/MMS. This came after a month of free calls. Oh yeah, many customers are saying that they got billed for their calls for the last month.

I will say it again: STC is still having problems with their billing system (from the complaints I see on twitter). Arab News talked about it in September and November: people still receive a bill way higher than their bill’s ceiling credit. CITC refused the original promotion only to back down from their decision.

stc-free-messages-1-month

Here is what’s bothering me: STC continues to turn a blind eye to their billing issues. They probably paid so much money for the new billing system and are too stubborn to admit that they have problems.

They call their offer (in Arabic) “استمرارا لمكافأتها التاريخية غير المسبوقة” which translate to “Continuing their historic, unprecedented rewards”. Yes, dear customer. We messed up your bill so much that we will grace you with a reward. STC should just admit it already, say that they are sorry and that they are making it up for their customers who did not abandon them.

By the way, %40 of mobile phones are now Mobily numbers.

And here’s something interesting: Al Eqtisadiah (The Economist) Arabic newspaper had a fascinating article about STC’s free SMS “promotion”. They had some observations: people are abusing the SMS system, sending idiotic messages such as “achoo, I sneezed”. Hoaxes and rumors are also being started using these messages. Don’t forget: a lot of Spam! The following video comes to mind:

The flood of SMS has apparently affected an important service that customers are paying for: Mawjood Extra. This service sends an SMS when you missed a call. According to Al Eqtisadiah many customers receive their Mawjood SMS after hours of the call. This “offer” is effecting the quality of service for many customers.

May 31, 2009

Crazy retail mark-ups in the UAE

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 3:06 pm

Armina Ligaya over at the The National have written a great story on the crazy retail markups in the UAE. I decided to check it out since the Saudi Arabian and the United Arab Emirates markets are similar in many ways.

Most of the brands in Saudi Arabia are available through the UAE. For example, Apple in Saudi Arabia is distributed by Arab Computers who is a representative of Arab Business Machines in the UAE. So our two markets are similar in many ways.

An investigation by The National shows that local outlets for some of the world’s best-known shopping chains are marking up prices by 70 per cent or more. The evidence is hanging from the items themselves: the original price in the currency of origin and the local cost. Among the worst examples were a pair of girl’s jeans with a 78 per cent mark up, a photo frame with a 70 per cent mark up and a birthday card that was more than twice the original cost. Naeem Ghafoor, the chief executive of Skyline Retail Services consultancy in Dubai, said while import charges might be seen as an added expense, retailers in the UAE are exempt from the taxes applied in many parts of Europe and North America and enjoy lower labour costs.

Now this is an important fact, we have no taxes and that should understandably reduce the price instead.

“There’s no problem with charging more money, but it’s how much more you charge,” he said. “In my opinion, prices that are 10 to 15 per cent more expensive are acceptable. If you are over that you are ripping off the public.”

I can find a brand new Nokia N97 in the US for only 2,400SR while in Saudi Arabia it will be sold for 3,400SR.

Because the dirham is pegged to the US dollar, the exchange rates between the two currencies are stable. Yet, a Hallmark family photo album tagged at $20 (Dh73.40) for US consumers was sold at Gulf Greetings in Dubai for Dh125, a 70 per cent markup.

Being tied to the US$ didn’t help at all. This is an interesting article and I hoped that it would talk about technology as well as cloths and furniture.

I have talked about price gouging (or should I just call it “high mark-up”?) in Saudi Arabia (using Nokia E75/N97 as examples). You can read The National’s report on their site. You can also check their interactive price guide.

May 29, 2009

Nokia in Saudi Arabia: Screw the consumers

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 11:20 pm

Update: This will happen again with the new Nokia N900 that will be released in Saudi Arabia soon.

I had high hopes when Nokia decided to officially enter the Saudi Arabia market (through their Nokia Stores) that the prices of the Nokia phones will be reduced to more acceptable rates. But instead those Nokia stores are doing what I can only describe as price gouging.

I will quickly explain “price gouging” as I will talk more about price gouging tech in Saudi Arabia. Price gouging is a pejorative term for a seller pricing much higher than is considered reasonable or fair.

nokia-e75Let’s start with the Nokia E75. Before the phone was released the Saudi Arabia Nokia Stores took pre-orders on the phone. You had to pay 100SR deposit and pay the rest later. The phone was sold for about 1,900SR for pre orders only. But when the phone was released it was sold for 2,300SR. Now it cost 2,199SR. These prices were for the “black” Nokia E75 only. The red edition of the phone (same features) was only released this week and it cost 2,499SR. So you are paying 300SR (almost $100) more just to get a different color. The 2 phones are identical in every way, both are sold for the same price at Amazon.com. This is neither reasonable nor fair.

The pricing on the Nokia E75 is not fair for Saudi Arabia as well. The Saudi custom fee is cheap on electronics. Yet the Nokia E75 is sold in by Amazon.com for $450 (1,750SR) much cheaper than 2,200-2,500SR sold by the Nokia Store. The E75 is sold in Jordan for what’s equivalent to 1,880SR! But to be fair the Nokia E75 is sold by Amazon.de (in Germany) for 382 EUR (1,988SR). Update: Nokia E75 is sold in the eastern province branch of Hyperpanda for only 1,990SR! Thanks Ahmed for reminding me.

nokia-n97The second example is the upcoming Nokia N97. The Saudi Nokia Store is beginning to take pre-orders for the the phone and the posters only showed the white model. I expect they will do the same as what they did with Nokia E75 red and gouge the price even more. The expected price of the Nokia N97 in Saudi Arabia will be 3,400SR! The N97 is expected to be sold for 3,000Dh in the UAE!

On Amazon.com the Nokia N97 will be sold for $604 (2,300SR). You read this right! 1,000SR difference! In the German Amazon.de website it will be for 650 EUR (3,384SR). Not reasonable or fair, isn’t it?

This is just Nokia’s way of thanking the Saudi Arabia market, by overcharging us for their phones. What do you think? Is Nokia justified with these prices?

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