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Friday, December 9, 2011

Business in Paradise

There's an inherent trust issue with business in Sri Lanka. To be more precise with the relationship between seller and buyer. This in turn leads to huge frustration and the want to kill each other in whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Perhaps it is the result of colonialism; back then the Brits were the businessmen and Sri Lankans were the customers and they more often than not fucked the customers. Sometimes literally but mostly figuratively. Or maybe it was the presence of the the lefties who continually influenced most of the governments after Independence. Or else it's just the way we Sri Lankans are. I'm not really sure why. But whichever the reason is, the general public has an unfavorable attitude towards business. Often business is considered as unethical or immoral. If not at least not as good as the government. Business is perceived as some sort of evil entity who's out there to get you. That it's only purpose of existence is to trick you and get every cent out of your pocket. Hardly is a business seen as something that's out there to provide you some good or service and get money for it. General conscience is they will only give you some cheap stuff and get a shitload of money out of you. It always is evil. 

On the other hand, not many businessmen, ranging from street vendors to multinational companies, are doing things to improve this either. Customer is often treated as a piece of shit. They are seen as cheap people who always rant about high prices, irresponsible and are looking to use every small opportunity available to make it so that the companies will lose something. You need to scream to get the attention of the Kadey Mudalali. Sri Lankan Airlines think that customers are at their mercy and that they can do whatever they please whenever they please. Dialog seems to think So what if we lose one customer? There are so many more! Only the other day I found out that they allocate phone numbers which were not in use for a few years to new customers even without letting the previous owners know about it. Taking your customers for granted much?

Simply neither party trusts the other. That is exactly what you don't want to happen in a healthy relationship. Compare this to that of a country like Japan. Well probably it is a little unfair comparing it to Japan, for Japan is one of the oddest countries in the world anyway. Nowhere else in the world is this relationship stronger than in Japan. But the truth of the matter is that is why they are so good at business. Companies genuinely try to offer customers something worth their every penny, and in turn the customers are ready to trust the companies to do their job well. Services are even better than goods if that's possible. I was at the dentist a few days back and it was close to 8 p.m. when we were finished. She prescribed me some meds and took the trouble to call the nearby pharmacy to ask them to not close it until I go there. That's even without me asking her to do so. Wonderful things is that it's not a surprise but the norm. Trains arrive in time, and in rare cases they don't people are ready to accept it for it is truly rare. If you go to Starbucks to buy a coffee but is sold out, cutie at the counter will apologize to you with a face similar to what she would use if she accidentally spilled the only remaining bottle of medicine in the world that would cure my terminal wife who's lying in her deathbed.

Really, if you want to be a customer, you want to be a customer in Japan. If not for anything else, just to see that face.

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