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Washing machines seem to be a rare good

When I last told the story about buying a washer or how to loose a customer I believed that this were a problem of that particular store. It's almost unbelievable, but apparently it is not.

Last Friday we bought a washer at another store called Novey with several outlets throughout Panama City. They promised to deliver it on Saturday or at least Monday, but they would call us in advance. As on Monday nobody delivered nor called, we called them just to find out that they didn't delivered, because the price of the machine changed since we paid for it. What? You pay for something, they change the price and want you to pay extra before they deliver it? My wife talked furiously to the store manager and eventually got the washer delivered the next morning.

Let me explain something. The issue is not that here in Panama people want to screw you. It's more a problem of the relationship between the employees and their bosses. It seems employees fear more their own boss than a dissatisfied customer. In our case the employee responsible for the shipment simply tried to avoid a mistake and did not realize that with our payment on Friday we already closed a contract and the price change on Monday cannot affect it retroactively. The typical Panamanian boss will not fire the employee in such a case, because the employee just protected his boss' money. We, in our different culture, probably would have insulted the employee for treating our valued customer so badly and for not knowing that a contract can't changed retroactively.

My guess is that in a country like Panama lots of employee just don't get proper training and as they are paid near the minimum salary of currently about $220 a month they simply try to avoid any mistake that could anger their boss. To them it's the boss who pays them, not the customer as we tend to believe.

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