Monday, 16 August 2010

Deutschland: Land der Stempel!

Germany: Land of the rubber stamp!

I thought I would 'pop in' to Staurn, the electronics megastore on the Zeil, in my lunch break today to swap a faulty (and somewhat moustache-like) headphone/microphone headset. My first error. I went to the till to tell them that the item was faulty and I would like to bring it back. "Sorry, you have to talk to a salesperson in that deprtment."

So I trotted apparently miles across the vast shopfloor to Computer Zubehör (accessories) and asked the salesman there if I could return the faulty item. "Sorry, you need to go to the service desk."

So I trotted more miles across the vast shopfloor to the info desk (another error on my part). I asked them if I could return the item. "Sorry we can't help you but the security man there will give you a form."

So I went over to the security man who looked at the item and looked at the receipt and filled in a form to say I had brought the item with me and it wasn't stolen. He signed it and stamped it so I asked the lady on the counter if I could return it now. "Sorry but you will have to ask a salesperson in the department you bought it from."

So I trotted off across the vast shopfloor back to Computer Zubehör. "Can I return this now? I have a form!" "Sorry no, you need a bigger form, go ask at the service desk."

So another epic journey across the vast shopfloor, back to the info desk. "Can I return this?" "Sorry you need the service desk over there." Cue another expedition through the aisles of electronics.

I reached the service desk. The queue was very long and not moving anywhere. I had to get back to work.

Work finished early so I decided to 'pop back' to Saturn - surely the service desk would sort this out and I would have a Gutschein (gift certificate) in no time at all!

I queued up at the service desk. I was first in line but both staff members on the desk were occupied: one by a man having an in-depth call on his mobile about what to do about the item he was returning, the other by a family arguing with him and his manager about the finer points of German retail laws. I waited.

I considered the German love of forms and rubber stamps

Another position opened and I was called to the desk. "Can I return this please?" "When did you buy it?" "Saturday" "Oh yes, definitely a gift certificate." The man looked at the form and photocopied the receipt. Then I had to write my name and address on the paper. Then my form got another rubber stamp. "Now you need to take this to a salesperson at the department."

So I trudged what seemed like miles across the vast shopfloor. When would this end?! I was back at Computer Zubehör once again. A different salesman was at the counter this time. There was a form to fill in on the computer. He said he spoke English but I said I needed to practise my German and he seemed happy enough. I had to give him my name and address. I almost forgot how to say "drei" which wasn't the best start. He printed out the form. Then realised it was the wrong form. Then had to fill it all out again. Then he went to check with is boss it was all right. "So is this a gift certificate then?" "Oh you can get your cash back if you want, you just have to take this to the till."

So en route to the till I picked up a different brand of headset. I went to the till. I gave the cashier the form. I paid the 3,00 EUR difference. I had to sign the form to say I had had my refund. I finally left Saturn.

Was it really worth all that for 9,99 EUR?!

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