Why 75% discount sales in Kuwait may not be good bargain!
In Kuwait the summer season is also known as the time for sand, sun and sales. However, a sales sign does not mean a good bargain. Often a shopper will only be embarrassed and disappointed when inquiring about sales at any store.
Shop windows around town are covered with stickers and banners hiding the merchandize displayed and having barely readable ads announcing 70-80 per cent discounts and sales.
It’s becoming normal to claim such sales, in view of the absence of actual supervision from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry over such sales! Shop window slogans can be so tempting and mouth-watering for so many customers who are lured and hurry inside to find items even more expensive than pre-sales times.
To probe this phenomena, I visited over twenty famous mega stores. “Sorry, we’re out of stock on those items, but we have other good ones with 10-20 per cent discounts”, said a saleslady when I asked about the garments they claimed were selling for only 20-30 per cent of their actual price. I immediately apologized and left to go to another known venue and made a similar inquiry. Checking some items, I noticed that the original price before the sale was KD 10 whilst on that day they price-tagged it at KD 12 and 20 per cent discount.
Daring to ask about why the price had changed over one week, a salesman claimed that it was the manufacturer who increased the price in addition to the increasing cost of freight, shipping, customs and transport……you name it! In another store, a banner read “Buy two pieces, get the third for free”. Checking the prices inside, I discovered that the price of the two pieces already included the third one. For example, the original price of a shirt is KD 6 but they increased it to KD 9 to deceive customers. Buy two for the original price of three with an illusion of getting the third one for free, means that you already pay for the third piece without any discounts!
In a third store, I picked up two items from the casual clothes department where a sign on the shelf had the price of KD 3. To my surprise, the cashier charged me KD 8 for one of them and KD 5 for the other. “The sign means prices start at KD 3?, said the cashier when I pointed to it….! Some other stores may offer over-stocked, defective or torn stock with a tiny unreadable notice next to the cashier noting that ‘Purchases are non-replaceable, non-refundable!’. Which means that you are risking the loss of your money and temper for buying a worthless piece of attire.
Another trick followed by some stores is closing the fitting room whenever they have such sales and hanging the ‘No refund, No replace’ sign so that you get stuck with your purchases and cannot even negotiate a replacement. All this happens without the slightest kind of protection from the customers protection department.
On the other hand, many stores follow a strict ‘No Refund’ policy and only give a 30-day valid voucher to buy other items to force customers to shop at the same store again, even if you beg and explain you’re travelling for over 30 days.
Shopping at the smaller public department stores might be the best and more successful option, as they are more law-abiding and price tags are very clear and accurate. This could be because the ministry of commerce has a stronger grip over them compared to the more elegant stores selling famous prestigious brands that never observe quality, price or sales regulations and laws. This makes the buyer only drive to less elegant outlets that are more committed to such rules and sales!
By Sherif Ismail