Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Omar Effendi - A case study in Inefficiency

A lot of hype surrounded the reopening of Omar Effendi after the takeover and its make over.

While the makeover has been significant looks-wise, that is exactly where it ends. The level of service remains non existent and the amount of inefficiencies in the system are mind boggling.

Such strong words from me? Well the situation merits it. We went to Omar Effendi yesterday to buy a couple of plastic buckets.

Our first look inside the store was a pleasant surprise. The same sky blue theme on the outside continues inside too, alternating a bit with sea green. The display looked very smart and upmarket. I would liken it to Shoppers Stop/Lifestyle in India and midway between K-Mart and Macy's veering closer to Macy's.

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. But unfortunately, that was the end of the pleasantries.

We were looking for plastic buckets. There were no clearly marked signs to say which floor housed which items. An ignorable problem. We walked around and figured it was up on the 2nd floor. We figured out the floor and the section on our own by walking around and checking areas.

There were no service staff in the plastic/kitchen section. No problem, we are used to walking around and selecting the items we want like in Carrefour, so we did that. Then we picked up all the items that we required (trolleys, baskets and service staff not in sight) - 3 buckets, a plate drying stand and some other bulky plastic items. Between the 2 of us we made a couple of trips and took it to the cash register (computerised) manned by a smartly dressed employee (herein after referred to as CRG- Cash Register Guy) in the store uniform and stood in queue. (i.e. behind the one person who was already at the counter)

As we waited in line, a salesperson materialised from somewhere and handed a slip of paper to the CRG. This was a new trick to cutting the queue, but we tried to maintain our patience. The CRG billed the person who was tagging along to the salesperson even though, we were next "in line"

When we reached the counter, the CRG signalled one minute to us and disappeared for 7. During these 7 minutes we solved the mystery of the disapparating staff - they were all huddled in the TV section watching highlights of the football match that had taken place earlier that evening on various sized screens.

The CRG came back after 7 minutes, took a look at our unwieldy stuff and then asked us to wait again, while he served the person who was next in line to us but was actually standing at our side demanding to be served.

At this point my husband insisted that he serve us first as we had been waiting in line more than 20 minutes. (each billing cycle was taking about 10 minutes) So he told us we need to wait for the arrival of some guy. Locating this "guy" took another 15 minutes as cleaning staff and others had sporadic conversations on where this "guy" could possibly be. The "guy" finally arrived and with the help of the cleaning staff, picked up our intended purchases and headed back with all these unwieldy items back to the spot we had originally started from - halfway across the floor.

Then started the hunt for "the book" The book was one of those old fashioned bill books where every bill is filled in triplicate. Next step, the cleaning guy rips off the dual language (English & Arabic) bar codes from the intended items and handed the bar codes to "the guy" who then read out the code and item name to the "book guy" who painstakingly wrote down the details in arabic and then - hold your breath - stuck the bar code sticker on top of the page where he was writing. By the time he finished with our items, you could not see any of the writing.

Then we had to take the lovely set of triplicated bills to the cash counter with the cleaning guy providing us an escort service to the counter. The CRG now scanned the bar code stickers that were stuck on to the bill and printed out a computerised bill. Our escort had by now disappeared and we were told to take it back to the book guy.

We walked back to the book guy with the computerised bill. He stamped something on it with a rubber stamp and then sent us back to wait with CRG. The cleaning guy, was somehow located and pressed into delivering the items that were in "book guy"s custody to CRG. After a few more stamps being pressed all around, we were finally released from the brain numbing exercise to successfully walk out of the store after 1hr 20 minutes clutching our purchases.

Time taken to locate items - 8 minutes
Time taken to select items - 7 minutes
Time wasted at CRG due to our ignorance of billing etiquette @ Omar Effendi - 20 minutes
Billing process including waiting time - 45 minutes!

Overall verdict - Items @ Omar Effendi may be cheaper than other airconditioned locations, but the amount of time wasted and duplicated work effort is TERRIBLE!


Anonymous said...

that's because of the stupid management of the company, leaded by a pimp

Anonymous said...

I went to Omar Effendi yesterday to buy some furniture and to my surprise just because I look arab the guy told me why didn't i speak in arabic. Holding my breath and the desire to curse him out, I smiled and said I am not egyptian, and he said but i heard you said 2 words in arabic. I was like hmm ok! I can keep killing your beloved language if you like but aren't we speaking english right at this second? Your english is better than my arabic why don't we stick to that ? apparently the cultural i am a man you are a woman you do what i want stood up in this situation and this is one of the things I HATE ABOUT EGYPT!!!!

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