Monday, September 15, 2014

Pot With Missing Cord Doesn’t Come With a Guarantee

Pot With Missing Cord Doesn't Come With a Guarantee / 14ymedio, Regina
Posted on September 14, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Regina Coyula, 8 September 2014 — Tiendas
Panamericanas [Panamerican Stores], owned by the CIMEX corporation, has
just launched a grand (for Cuban national standards) shopping center.
Utilizing the building formerly occupied by the old towel factory,
Telva, on the corner of 26th Avenue and Calzada del Cerro street, a side
addition was built, doubling the space. The opening of Puentes Grandes
has been well received, being that until now only small stores have
existed in that neighborhood, and the closest shopping centers — La
Puntilla, Galerias Paseo, and Plaza Carlos III — are located about two
miles away.

Spurred by curiosity, I visited Puentes Grandes last Saturday. Hundreds
of people had flocked to the place. There was a line at the handbag
security station, because bags and purses are not allowed inside stores
that take convertible currency. There was another line at the entrance.
We were going on half an hour already. In other circumstances I would
have left, but resisted the impulse just to be able to write this
article. Finally, I went through a narrow entryway where, as always, are
those who wait, and those other, clever ones who butt the line. The
interior entrance is quite spacious, with metal shopping carts, and
other cute small plastic carts on wheels for which I predict a brief,
happy life, and baskets. All is set up for the customer to select his
purchases; merchandise is kept behind the counter in the perfume and
household appliance departments.

A large interior arcade connects the grocery and housewares area with
the hardware department, where I was detained by an employee. To go from
one area to the other, you have to now go outside and re-enter, even
though just days before you could walk directly between departments and
check out at any register. Why is this? The employee doesn't know, but
he was assigned there to enforce the trajectory. I had placed various
items in my cart, then had to stand at the register line, go outside,
stand in another line to leave my purchases at the handbag security
station, then go stand in another line to enter the hardware area.

Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don't know
whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD
factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been
on the market. At the exit of every Cuban store there is always an
employee who compares purchases to sales slips

Employee: "You're missing the guarantee for the pressure cooker."

Me: "And where do I get that?"

Employee: "In Household Appliances."

Back at Household Appliances, the young (all the employees are very
young) lady told me "no," in that overly-familiar, faux-affectionate way
that many mistake for kindness:

"Mami (Mom), do you see a power cord in this pot? My department is
*electrical* household appliances. The guarantee is given at the register."

The check-out girl assured me that she had no guarantee certificates at
the register, that it was at Household Appliances where I had to obtain one.

Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don't know
whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD
factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been
on the market.

I know how to be patient. Besides, this ridiculous episode was prime
material for my article. I returned to Household Appliances, where I
told "my daughter" (she had called me, "Mami," right?) if she knew the
meaning of "back-and-forth." The girl gamely took my pressure cooker and
marched over to the register. The ensuing argument over the pot without
a power cord was priceless. A half hour was spent on that silliness,
just to conclude in the end that the guarantee for the pressure cooker
is the sales slip.

I asked to speak with the management because it is inconceivable to me
that a business can operate in this manner. The manager was not
available, but there were various people in his office who turned out to
be his superiors. I'm not going to repeat my complaint here — you can
put two-and-two together and imagine it. The interesting thing is what
those officials, who have been spending opening week in a kind of
mobilization mode, told me.

For almost all the personnel in the store, this is their first work
experience. The cash register system is new, the check-out staff do not
understand it very well, and the registers frequently get stuck,
producing electrical overloads that trigger the circuit breakers,
leaving whole zones of the shopping center in the dark. On opening day
they had to suspend a children's event. Adults and children were run
over by the crowd, and nothing less than a sacking of the place
occurred, what with many people taking advantage of a power outage to
eat and drink for free in the food court. From the hardware area there
even disappeared an electric drill, among other, less valuable items.
The neighbors (not the officials) say that even a flat-screen TV went
out the door without being paid for.

These officials, who themselves are retail veterans, expressed amazement
at the level of theft they are encountering here. For example, they told
me that on Friday (the day prior to my visit), they had surprised five
people in the act of thievery; two customers had had their handbags
stolen inside the store and one other in the adjoining cafeteria; and
all of this is in addition to the disappearance of many small objects
from the shelves. They told me that they had never had such a hard time
at any other store, not even at Ultra, which is located in a
densely-populated and troubled area of Central Havana.

The solution (?) has been to divide the two areas of the shopping
center, creating an inconvenience for the customer which I don't think
will solve the theft problem, because the cause of this phenomenon has
to be sought outside the store.

I thanked the officials for their friendly explanation. However, as long
as the customer of this center remains nothing more than an annoyance to
the staff, the oversized photo at the door of the smiling young woman
promoting efficient service and customer satisfaction will be just one
more Kafkaesque detail of the whole picture.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Pot With Missing Cord Doesn't Come With a Guarantee / 14ymedio,
Regina Coyula | Translating Cuba -

No comments:

Post a Comment