Customer is… King? By Safiya I. Dantiye


CUSTOMER is king or is always right, as the saying goes. However, it happens mostly in theory and observed by few in our environment.

May be, due to lack of training or guidance, some traders are hostile and get angry quickly, especially if they insist that an item is the one you have asked for, while you know that it is not.

“I know the type I want, it is not this type,” you say and the angry trader would say, “Ok, it is not the type, go and get it elsewhere.”

Some would not accept returned items even when they should. For instance, you bought a hair cream and you just stepped out of the shop when you realised that it was a gel instead of a cream and went back to change it.  They would say you have already paid and they would not change it for you.

Years ago, one woman told me that when she was living abroad, she bought yogurt and found that it had spoilt after she reached home. She took it back to the shop. The attendant was asking her many questions when the supervisor came and asked what the problem was. When the woman told her, the supervisor said: “Of course, we have to change it for you.” And they gave her another one.

In any case, some agencies that rely on customers for their survival treat customers as if they are doing them a favour; they would ignore you or be impatient with you such as electricity distribution companies.

Perhaps due to some factors, some traders have mastered the way to treat their customers very well. They hide annoyance from overbearing customers, they even apologise when they are not in the wrong, because they need customers to buy their goods or services to make money.

Some traders even go further by giving water or soft drink if you have to sit for a while. And this thoughtful gesture, and business one at that, would draw customers to them.

One young woman went to buy cloths in Kantin Kwari Market in Kano; the shop owner gave her daughter sweets and biscuits. She insisted on going to that shop again and even took people there.

In the same Kantin Kwari, you see people become very thirsty going from one shop to another and I thought if only the shop owners would keep a cooler of pure water and give it to customers.

However, in super markets and such big establishments, the staff are trained to be solicitous like in private hospitals where you are treated well from the lowest staff to the highest unlike in government hospitals where the labourers and the ward security are the terrors. They shout and harass you.

There are also quarrels between patients and record officers. If you ask them a simple question, one can say: “I am not going to answer that question until 8.00 o’clock when I begin work. It is not yet 8.00 o’clock.”

In any case, some agencies that rely on customers for their survival treat customers as if they are doing them a favour; they would ignore you or be impatient with you such as electricity distribution companies.

New meters are being installed in Abuja without the owners being notified, so you may wake up and find that your meter has been invalidated and the one that is supposed to replace your own has been taken somewhere else by the installers contracted by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).

So, you go there and they find the mistake made by the installer and try to retrieve it and bring it back to your house for days. Meanwhile, you don’t have light, but they are encouraging you to pay N20,000 for direct connection which is the minimum per month if you want light. And in case you pay and they retrieve your meter the next day, you have lost your money.

Instead of them to bear the cost because it is their fault, they are pushing the offended customer to bear the brunt.

The irony of it is that the installer even said he might have to apply for another meter if they couldn’t trace your own.

In this case, the stranded customer has taken the issue to higher authorities, saying AEDC should do direct connection for free pending when they would bring the meter and if it decides to take the money out of the contractor’s, it is up to them. But how could a customer pay for their lapses and inefficiency?

In saner climes, they would definably bear the cost and gladly. After all, customer is king.

There should be measures to be taken such as training and disciplinary actions taken against offenders to protect the hapless customer whose only offence is s/he is a customer.



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