Bad Service and The Art of Doing Business

Anecdotally, Singapore is not known for high service standards. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate to meet sales and service staff who are pleasant or at least reasonable.

That is why I am still puzzled by my experience at ARTMARK, an art supplies shop located at Bras Basah complex.


This is an account of what happened:

1) I bought 10 sheets of fabric transfer paper from ARTMARK for $12 on Tuesday 7 April. The man who made the sale said they are for Inkjet printers and reminded me to print onto the rough side of the paper.
2)  On Friday 10 April, I attempted to transfer the designs I printed and realised that they will not adhere to the fabric. I rang the store for assistance.
3) A lady answered the phone and I explained that the transfer paper I bought didn’t work as promised.
4) She quoted the ‘Goods sold are not exchangeable or refundable’ clause printed on the receipt.
5) She also stated that she has sold many pieces of the transfer paper and has never gotten any complaints. In fact there are a lot of return customers.
6) This led her to conclude that my printer is faulty even though I was able to print the images to be transferred onto the paper.
7) Realizing that a telephone conversation might not be the best way to resolve the issue, I made a trip to the shop on the very same day. The lady who answered my phone call was also the one manning the shop.
8) She repeated the same statements she made to me over the phone.
9) When informed about the Lemon Law, she said there’s no such thing.
10) When shown a print-out of the Lemon Law she said it doesn’t apply to their shop.
11) She also said she is just an employee and is bound by what her boss has printed on his receipt.
12) I then requested to speak to her boss.
13) She said he is very busy and was currently out stationed.
14) As the papers are sold as loose sheets, I requested to view the box they were packaged in for user instructions.
15) She said that there is nothing written on the box and no instructions included as the papers are imported.
16) Seeing that she was unable to say or do more than she had, I left the print-out of the Lemon Law and my calling card for her to pass to her boss.
17) When I requested for his card so I can get in touch with him to follow up on the matter, she gestured to my receipt. This happened twice.
18) Confused, I finally asked how is it there is no name card printed. It was then that she pointed to a card holder at the other end of the cash register.
19) I obtained a card but seeing that there was no name indicated, I asked for the name of her boss.
20) I had to repeat my simple question several times before I got an answer: Mr Ong.
21) I also asked for her name and the name of another lady who emerged from the office much later.

One might asked if it was worth all that trouble for $12.


If we as consumers keep mum about bad service encountered, errant businesses and service staff will continue to thrive. Consumers are as responsible as businesses in providing responsible feedback to ensure ethical business practices and high levels of service standards.

As much as the experience has left a bad taste, it reminds me of five important qualities service staff as well as their bosses must possess:

1) Product Knowledge – Know what you are selling VERY WELL.

2) Honesty – If you don’t know your products well, say so. Do not try to lie your way through. 

3) Pro-activeness – Learn about the product and get back to your customer.

4) Integrity – Have the courage to admit you are wrong and put things right.

5) Sincerity – Genuinely want to help solve problems customers face with regard to your products. 

Although I did not get to meet Mr Ong, the boss of ARTMARK, I hope that he is a businessman who possesses these five qualities.

I hope Mr Ong is able to tell me why the paper I purchased didn’t work as promised.

I also hope Mr Ong is able to resolve this unfortunate episode.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s