Although the UCI Bookstore’s prices don’t appear to be consumer- friendly, students should not be deterred because the bookstore has fair business practices.
A couple of days ago, I tried to save a couple of dollars and walked across the bridge to Textmania, the alternative textbook store off campus.
This store is known as a place where students can save money on their textbooks.
Sound good so far? What most students don’t know about the store is that it has a rigid return policy that isn’t well-publicized.
When I bought my book, the policy was not made known to me. No one bothered to tell me that by buying the book I was committing myself to a long-term relationship with it until I decided to sell it back at a significantly cheaper price. The receipt did not even have that courtesy red stamp that reads ‘Nonreturnable’ that the UCI Bookstore provides. I didn’t even receive a complementary bookmark similar to that of the UCI Bookstore that states the return policy.
The next day, I brought the book back in the same new condition, but was refused a refund.
According to the manager, although I might not have been made aware of the policy, the policy still stood and no refund would be issued.
The promise from an employee to provide me with a full refund was trampled by the tyrannical power of the extremely rude manager.
The book I bought was only 50 cents cheaper at Textmania than at the UCI Bookstore, but I would have rather paid 50 cents and even a few more dollars than to have had to experience this low level of customer service.
Even if I feel a little part of myself die when I look at the cost of my textbooks, I would rather pay a little extra for the peace of mind that I will not be held accountable for an unpublicized policy.
From that day forward, I have chosen to bid all loyalty to the UCI Bookstore because it treats people fairly and educates customers on its policies.
This new pledge of loyalty makes me wonder how there are so many stores selling the same products yet some are more successful than others.
Nordstrom is known for its superior customer service; employees are taught to build relationships with its customers to improve the consumer experience.
Unlike many retail stores, Nordstrom’s return policy is very flexible and has no expiration date.
Online customers can avoid nasty return shipping costs by returning their purchases at any Nordstrom store.
If a buyer chooses to exchange an item, free exchange postage and insurance is included. Nordstrom’s online shoppers also receive a low flat shipping fee of $5.
Low shipping costs give Nordstrom a big plus in my book. I avoid extraneous shipping costs whenever possible.
This is one example of putting the customer first, even though its probably more costly and complicated for Nordstrom to offer this option to its customers.
I was deterred from Victoria’s Secret’s Web site when I saw that online returns cannot be made in the store, but had to be sent out instead. On top of that, shipping rates increase as your sales total increases.
The extra effort to improve customer service doesn’t merely exist to benefit consumers. Like many other companies, Nordstrom knows that a good experience will ensure loyal customers.
Costco is an example of a membership warehouse company making use of good customer service to their advantage. The company offers an excellent return policy that ensures buyers 100 percent satisfaction in merchandise and membership.
Great customer service provides incentives for shoppers to give their business to companies.
Nowadays, lower prices don’t always bring a larger crowd; you could get cheap merchandise anywhere, so the difference is the shopping experience
Target and Wal-Mart are both known as bargain stores that offer lower prices in merchandise and services such as, photo development, portrait studios and optical and pharmacy services.
Generally, Target has higher prices compared to Wal-Mart but still attracts more customers.
Rather than facing chaotic aisles of products, Target customers enjoy a clean and organized shopping environment. They pay extra for the cute bulls-eye dog mascot and the red-and-white color scheme found throughout the store.
Target also provides its customers with telephones placed throughout the store that, when used, will alert the nearest associate to provide assistance within seconds.
The customer experience offered by a store is crucial when I decide which stores to give my business to. As consumers, we should all be picky on where we shop and never settle for anything less than perfect.
After all, you could have chosen one of the numerous other stores that offer the same services. Companies should thank you and treat you well for your decision to choose them.
Jocelyn Kim is a first-year economics major.