It’s actually a very serious question. First I’m going to explain the events that unfolded and it’ll be up to you to decide whether you would want to boycott Saqr or not.
I should mention that I have ALWAYS had such a great experience at Saqr. I found them to have reasonable prices and I was always able to find what I was looking for. (With some of their branches though, I found the staff to be unattentive.) I also truly did want to support a shop like Saqr. It was a great Qatari alternative to Virgin. These guys sell DVDs, BluRay, games, hardware, iPods, Blackberries, accessories, also some awesome limited edition stuff, AND quite a few branches around Qatar! Actually… before continuing, I’m 100% sure that if the owner of Saqr new of what was going on, he’d fire the upper management in a heart-beat.
So I entered into a Saqr branch 5 days ago to buy a Wii. I really wanted to use Wii Fit Plus but they had a US version of the game and my old Wii was a UK version. I spotted nicely bundled Wiis at various prices. So I ask the man why the Wii’s cost different. “This one is Korean and that one is US”, he says. Alright… so what’s the ‘difference’…. Nothing sir, just that one is from Korea, but they are all multi-region. Multi-region?! I thought, that’s fantastic. He warned me that they didn’t give out any warranty so I asked him to test out a UK and US game for me, and he did. “Can I update the Wii?” I asked. “Of course sir!”. I left with a game, some DVDs and smile.
When I got home, I played with it for a couple of days. After a hard-day’s work, playing a game for a bit helps me stop thinking about how I’m going to try and make Qatar a better place and stress involved with it. I decided that I wanted to access the Wii shop to see if there was something to buy online. “Update needed” the Wii commanded. Alrighty… I update it… the system blinks… the system restarts… the system greets me with a message… “Yay!-no wait…not yay…”. Error 303: Unauthorized Device.
Without a second thought, I go back to Saqr and meet some fresh new staff (the staff that were there last time weren’t on this night’s shift). Now the first guy I deal with is fantastic! He checks it out, asks a few trouble shooting questions, and then tries to comfort me and tells me that he needs to make a call to management. Next is the woman behind the register. She doesn’t look so happy. I ask her what’s going on and she explains that someone stole a couple of games and now the management are going to take the cost out of all of the staff’s pay.
I know right? How can they do that to their staff? It’s not like THEY stole it. We chat for a bit and we go back to the subject of the Wii, apparantly we have to wait for management because there was no warranty. “I know it doesn’t mean much, but the sign does say that”. “The sign doesn’t trump the law which states I have 14 days to return faulty goods, and it doesn’t excuse Saqr from selling me an illegal system, plus I didn’t use ANYTHING from the box except the Wii.”. She smiles in acknowledgement. I understand that she has to give it a go.
So I stand around for another 30 minutes while one by one, a different staff member gets on the phone. They’re all very nervous now because if they take back the Wii and because it’s faulty, THEY have to pay for it! I felt bad… I was on the verge of just buying another one, but why should I have to pay 1,000 QR out of my pocket right? Then I try to console them. I explain that they should report this to the Ministry of Labour. “They won’t do anything”, the woman says, “we’ve tried and nobody cares. Plus I can’t lose this job.”.
It really is a tough one, but what happens next really angers me. The manager on the phone tells the salesman that if he can RESELL the faulty Wii, he won’t need to pay for it… What?! The management wanted them to repackage it and sell it to someone who didn’t know better! Wouldn’t that person just come back to the store and ask for another one as well? They’re just delaying the inevitable. The guy’s eyes start to water and he says “Excuse me sir” and runs to the back office. This guy probably makes 1,500QR and they’re going to try and dock him 1,000QR for taking the unit back; what’s even MORE crazy is he wasn’t the one who sold it to me! He comes back and tries to sort everything out for me and brings me a nice new Wii. “Don’t worry sir, if they take it out of my salary, I’ll try to fix it and I’ll have something to play with!”, he tries to muster up a smile. I’m kind of in shock… Is this all an act… ?
So I suggest not telling the management anything in the future if that’s the way they act. “I can’t do that sir. It’s not right.”. I couldn’t believe it. There are three great employees in front of me, none wanting to do something illegal. They all want to do the right thing and they’re not appreciated…. So I gave them my business card and tell them that if they ever need any legal help, just to give me a call and leave.
I left the shop feeling sad and wasted one and a half hours. If this was in the UK or in Japan, it wouldn’t have been a problem. I’d be in and out. In this case, Saqr sold an ILLEGAL Wii, docked their own employees for it and then wanted to resell it. Now… what would YOU do?
I hope that the owner of Saqr reads this one day. I really do want to support that place.