A bad encounter at Duty Free

November 13, 2018

First of all, I would like to thank all my friends and even those I do not personally know, who sympathized with me regarding my unfortunate experience with cashier Michael Boston at the Fiesta Mall Duty Free Philippines over the weekend.

At the same time, I apologize to my countless friends from DFP, including the higher-ups who also happen to be friends --some of long standing -- if I had to post my sad experience on Facebook.

Once again, as I’ve said in my post, I would have let it slide if Boston did not ORDER/DARE me. A friend of long standing --also a cashier -- said Boston was sorry and he was just in a bad mood at that time because he was already hungry and his reliever had not arrived yet. Well, I have yet to hear that from Boston himself.

For the sake of those who did not see the post, here’s what happened. After lining up for more than 30 minutes, Boston rudely dismissed me and said he could not process me and instead directed me to the perfumery since I was paying for perfume and bags. Politely, I said I wish they inform the customers ahead of time or post an advisory or notice just like the sign on the cash register, saying priority is given to senior and handicapped, which was why no one complained if an elderly or handicapped gets prioritized.

I would have let the first rudeness slide but he again spoke rudely: ‘Kasalanan ng pabango ’yun ba’t ’di ka sinabihan,’ with matching tone and facial expression. I asked if there was really need for that kind of tone but he said, in an even ruder manner: ‘Nagpapaliwanag ako!’ That was when I asked ‘Ba’t ambastos mo naman. Ano ba name mo. ’Di ka nagpapaliwanag, nambabastos ka na.’

He arrogantly flashed his ID and said ‘AYAN O i-FB MO!’ I jotted down his name on my cellfone’s notepad and left, but realizing later that he might yet victimize others with his rudeness and arrogance and that as a customer, I did not deserve such treatment, I decided to take on his challenge. Again, the only reason I posted the incident was because HE DARED ME to. In fact, it sounded more like an ORDER, considering his tone. I merely did what he wanted me to do.

‘The customer is always right’ policy applies only in cases where the customer is wrong. In my case, I was even on the right side of things. Firstly, it is not incumbent upon customers to ask what the rules are. It’s management’s responsibility to inform in the absence of which, the cashiers should have taken it upon themselves, specially if the problem already presented itself. If a sign about prioritizing senior citizens can be posted in front of cashiers, why not the sign as to what items can or can’t be paid there?

System has it that during sale days, all cashiers there -- except home section -- may receive payment for whatever sales orders are presented to them but I learned that in the case of Boston, he did not have the card for discounting at that time and only got one at past noon. In that case, he should have indeed posted a notice or verbally informed those in line. A lady next to me who was also apparently buying perfume and with whom I had been chatting while waiting was also surprised upon learning that payment for perfume cannot be processed there.  She quickly left the line angrily, to rush to another counter and suffer another long queue. Then, some more followed.

It was one instance when I could have pulled some strings by contacting friends from higher-ups but I did not. I knew they were all very busy and did not want to bother them anymore. Lodging a complaint at that time was also not a very good idea since I knew that some of them might have not even eaten lunch since the mall was full to the brim, which is why I opted to just post on FB and specially since this was what Boston wanted me to do in the first place.  Also, filing a formal complaint would surely cost him his job soI’m still thinking about it since Christmas is just around the corner.

I have many friends from DFP for over a decade now, from those holding high positions down to the humblest security personnel but I have never come across someone like Boston, who, I believe, also has a mother, sister or maybe even a daughter. If someone, specially a man, showed them rudeness which I hope doesn’t happen, I’m sure he will not like it and understand where I’m coming from.

I’ve gained extra friends from Fiesta Mall when I previously defended, also through my column,  a lady supervisor and a male cashier after they were publicly scolded by a rich and famous customer who got upset when his ID was demanded for his credit card use. The cashier was ordered to apologize on bended knees. I did not know any of them personally but I wrote about it simply because I pitied the cashier who was on the right side of things then. I risked earning the ire of the high-profile customer to defend a cashier whom I didn’t even know and had never met until now. That customer later apologized for his outburst.

Let me draw a comparison. At Shakey’s NAIA 3 yesterday, I asked server Mark Joseph Ferrer if their discount promo on chicken also applies to delivery. In a very apologetic manner, he said he could not answer my question because he does not know, since they do not deliver in NAIA. He went asking around and then came back to me, again apologizing since he could not provide any answer to my query. Ditto with her manager Jeanne Soliman and server Beverly Santos who all showed utmost courtesy even when not necessary.

This is one thing Boston should learn. He is frontlining for DFP and should know that whatever attitude he displays or subjects the customers to, will reflect on the DFP whose very existence relies on customers, specially frequent ones. It’s called ‘malasakit.’

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