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Old 26-05-2014, 16:26   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Poor service from Mifsuds

Unfortunately yes I did have a bad experience with Mifsuds in 2013. It was a shame as I had always had exemplary service up until that one incident.
In 2013 after having made a number of camera purchases over the years, I purchased a AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 zoom to go with my recently purchased D800 (from Mifsuds) It was an excellent piece of kit I had been looking forward to owning.
However after a couple of weeks, I felt a slight knocking/clicking (excessive looseness/play)had developed in the lens barrel when extending the zoom. It didn't feel right for such an expensive optical item, so I checked with a colleague on the phone who had the same lens and he assured me his was still as tight as a drum after 6 months usage.
I decided to visit Mifsuds on a Saturday morning, as I always enjoyed a mooch around the store to view the latest items. Purely as a template, I asked the young female assistant if I could look at a new 24-70 f2.8 zoom. She presented me with the item and I obviously checked the barrel movement. It was perfect as I felt it should be. I then presented my own recently purchased lens and pointed out what I considered the looseness, and excessively play in my lens. She took the lens and disappeared into the rear of the store for 10 minutes. She later emerged telling me a technical staff member had checked the lens and in their opinion the play, whilst evident, was not considered excessive. In essence they were telling me that in their opinion there was nothing wrong with it.
I challenged their opinion comparing it with their stock example and the experience of my colleague’s lens. I told them I had only bought it from them two weeks before and it had not really had any use other than one outing. I asked them whether they would exchange my unit for a replacement as I was not happy considering the high level of quality and craftsmanship expected from a professional Nikon product of this calibre to say nothing of the fact that it cost in excess of 1,200.
The young assistant returned to the back office, but re-appeared a short while later to tell me that she was told they were not prepared to offer an exchange. I asked whether the technical manager Tim was available as I had always had an excellent rapport with him and found his customer service manner exceptionally good and very professional. Unfortunately it was his day off. I then asked to speak to a more senior member of staff as I appreciated that the young girl was not in a position to make decisions regarding exchanges/refunds etc.
An older gentleman (whom I was unfamiliar with) emerged claiming to me a member of the Mifsud family. I explained the situation and once again reiterated that I was unhappy with the quality of my lens, given the timescales and that I felt a replacement was in order, given the expected high quality of such a Nikon product, further explaining that I had been a long term regular and loyal client of Mifsuds over the past years traveling over 120 miles from my home to make personal visits to the store at least twice a year. Mr Mifsud had apparently checked the lens himself and my request was turned down again.
At this point I began to feel frustrated as it was wholly apparent to me that the lens was less than perfect and I was not prepared to accept anything less than 100% quality. I had not expected this scenario to have developed. Even the initial young sales assistant had stated in her opinion the lens was somewhat looser when compared to the shop item. I retorted to Mr Mifsud that I expected them to remedy the situation. I was firmly told that their opinion was final, but they would be prepared to return the lens on my behalf to Nikon for evaluation. I was told it would take approximately 4 - 6 weeks turnaround which means that I would have paid over 1,200 but be without the lens, as they were not prepared to lend me one (even second hand or otherwise).
I then began to remonstrate that under the Sale of Goods Act 1989 the item must be fit for the purpose to which it was designed and be of merchandisable quality, both of which I felt were not the case with this particular optical item. I was once again told by Mr Mifsud that his offer (of a return to Nikon for evaluation) was final and that if I wished to quote the Sale of Goods Act to him that was my choice.
I must admit I felt complete frustration at the impasse that had developed. It was one of those moments when your mouth becomes dry and you really don’t know what to do or say. This situation was wholly unexpected and I felt my stand about the matter was perfectly legitimate. Rightly or wrongly having only owned the item for 2 weeks from new, I had honestly never expected this situation to have developed. I had fully expected to walk out of the store as a satisfied customer again (as in the past) with a replacement item or a refund and a good reference to say in respect of Mifsuds customer service standards. Unfortunately, or perhaps even fortuitously I had never had to return a faulty item to Mifsuds before, so this was a first and it was rapidly going downhill.
By this time other customers in the store had obviously become aware of the debate between Mr Mifsud and me. To say the least I found the whole situation unpleasant, embarrassing and more importantly wholly counter-productive as far as Mifsuds were concerned ,because at this point I was wishing, after many good years’ experience with Mifsuds I had never made the purchase in the first place.
By this time, frustration was evident on both sides. I told Mr Mifsud I was not prepared to leave the store unless my problem was resolved to my satisfaction. I suggested that he give me a refund and I could take my business elsewhere. I was told I would not be getting a refund either.
This situation was rapidly deteriorating. It was almost unreal and I could not believe the stance Mr Mifsud was taking. I do believe other customers in the store were feeling uneasy at the situation that had developed between the retailer and the customer. At this point I retorted to Mr Mifsud that I would not leave the store until I received satisfaction regarding the issues at hand.
Mr Mifsuds response was then unbelievable. “In that case we will ask you to leave and if you don’t we will get the police to remove you!!!!” As a perfectly respectable, intelligent, and professionally educated 61 year old adult, with a perfectly rational consumer issue this was becoming almost unreal. I was completely shocked at his statement. I suggested that they should then perhaps call the police.
I do then believe, by the very expression exhibited by the two younger staff members and various customers in the store that they thought Mr Mifsuds comments were completely out of order. This situation was rapidly becoming untenable. I commented to Mr Mifsud that I felt his comments were out of order, unnecessary and downright provocative. I remonstrated once again that I felt the product I had purchased not 2 weeks before for over 1,200 was less than perfect, as confirmed when compared to the item in the shop, and taking on board the comments made by his own junior staff members. I once again stated that I expected a full refund or a replacement and nothing less and that I was not prepared to leave the store until I received a refund and an apology for the suggestion Mr Mifsud had made towards me.
I had never found myself in this position before and I was determined to stand my ground on the issue. I felt I had a genuine grievance regarding the condition of a Nikon high precision professional optical lens I had purchased. Fact……It was not functioning correctly. Period!
At this point Mr Mifsud disappeared into the back office. The sole remaining customer approached me and commented that he felt I was absolutely right in my stance and Mr Mifsuds comments were completely outrageous.
10 minutes later, Mr Mifsud re-appeared and presented me with a personal cheque for the cost of the lens. I truly believe Mr Mifsud had suddenly realised the implications of the situation that had developed. His manner had become far more conciliatory and whilst he was not prepared to consider a replacement, even though one was in stock he was prepared to offer me a refund, which I accepted.
However I noted when looking down at the back of the hand written cheque, as I left the store, perhaps as Mr Mifsuds parting blow, he had hand written on the back of the cheque, “payment as a good-will gesture only”.
I am afraid I am unlikely to ever visit the store again, despite being a regular customer spending a considerable amount of money over the years. In view of the events that I experienced that day I would find it hard to recommend the store to anyone else.
In truth it wasn’t really the issue of the lens itself, which killed the relationship. Problems can and do occur. No-one is perfect and people have bad days, even Mr Mifsud. As a customer relations exercise, the whole issue was an absolute train wreck. My experience with other members of staff, namely Tim, the technical adviser, had always been fruitful, pleasurable and a joy to experience. He always displayed a wealth of technical knowledge and was more than happy to help. His and other staff member’s general demeanour and customer services manner had always been exemplary.
I suggest however that Mr Mifsud takes time out to develop his customer service skills, spending perhaps more time, learning to interface in a more customer friendly way with the people that make his business what it is and sharing their experiences, whether good or bad. After all it is in his customer’s experiences that his business will make or break. I can buy a Nikon product in lots of locations. I do like the hands on, personal touch of a business that is there to serve the customer and provide advice. That’s why many of us don’t mind paying a little bit extra for it and we avoid the Chrome and neon suppliers on retail parks. I would have preferred to have remained a loyal customer to Mifsuds. That’s going to be difficult for me in the future for obvious reasons.
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