Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Case of the Rat in the Packet

The Case of the Rat in the Packet Ok, I don't want to give the impression that this is the only paper I read, but this article had some interesting points and quotes, and Katja and I were discussing it. I remember this case in the news upon my return from Russia in October, as I almost bought some sukhariki to try while in Moscow. Katja didn't like them, but suggested I could try them. I was quite surprised at the number of flavors available ... they are eaten sort of like potato chips in the US, I guess. Little flavored croutons.

Some interesting points to take from the article are the concept of customer service and returning merchandise.
To the foreign observer, a Russian's consumer rights can seem limited, with businesses here appearing less accommodating than in many other countries.

In Britain, for example, although the law allows shops to refuse a refund unless there is a fault with the product, most shops will exchange a product within two weeks, and many will do so within a month of the purchase.

Large Western companies working in Moscow are more ready to accept goods back "as they are concerned about their image," but smaller companies cannot afford the losses, Komissarova said. "For some companies, it's like a mosquito bite, while for others it's more like being bitten by an alligator."

The law has many loopholes, and consumers have been known to buy a Gucci dress, wear it once and then demand a refund, she said. A customer can legally demand a full cash refund for a computer if it breaks down under warranty, which, owing to the rapid depreciation of computers, can mean a big loss for businesses.

Companies are fighting back against the law, however.

Komissarova holds seminars on consumer law for businesses, teaching them how to foil customers' refund requests.
I had mentioned to Katja that one U.S. company, L. L. Bean, actually makes it reputation on a lifetime guarantee on their products. You can literally buy some boots or a knife from there, and return it or exchange it years later if you aren't happy. No receipt necessary.

Much of this is the difference in consumer attitudes in both countries. I joked with Katja that if L. L. Bean existed in Russia, someone would start counterfeiting their products and return them for cash refund and a profit!


Katerina said...

I agree with the guys, these factories have no boundaries. Only a lot of bribes to sanitary inspections.So,go, go guys with rat! :)

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