On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, I went to the Melcom shop at the Santasi Roundabout in Kumasi for grocery shopping. I had thought that the few goods I picked would cost about GHȼ200 or GHȼ300, but to my consternation, when the teller keyed in the goods, they cost more than GHȼ500.
While brooding, after payment, I realised that the teller had short-changed me. I was flabbergasted. I asked her about the 18 pesewas balance she had not given me before she counted one pesewa coins and handed them over. When I got outside and counted, she had given me 16 instead of 18 pesewas. She really was determined to steal from me.
I am compelled to write about the occurrence because it is not an isolated one. Several times, I have experienced same treatment at the Adum Melcom as well. Sometimes, 20, 50 pesewas or more. The last time I shopped at the Adum branch, I checked the receipt on my way home and commented that I had been short-changed. The taxi driver responded that Melcom tellers would steal from shoppers at the least opportunity. I referred to such fraudulent behaviour in an article during customer service week in 2022. At the time, I mentioned a number of retail outlets which steal from shoppers.
The cheating by tellers at Melcom shops should be condemned and halted with immediate effect. No shopper would be allowed to take out goods without full payment. If I had been 18 pesewas short, the teller would not have allowed me to take the items. I would have had to forego some groceries to fully pay for others. If I cannot take out any items I had not paid for, why should Melcom tellers refuse to give me full change?
The cheating culture implies a certain level of mindless greed. The only reason tellers have a job is that people buy from the shops. The patronage earns the company revenue from which it pays tellers. By stealing from the shopper, tellers are biting the hand that feeds them. Who does that? Should Ghanaians decide to boycott Melcom because of the behaviour of their tellers, the shops would close down, and the tellers would lose their income. Are the tellers oblivious of the implications of their actions?
This fraudulent behaviour at Melcom underscores the shabby treatment meted to the Ghanaian consumer, and poor business ethics. In the corporate world, business goodwill determines the core principle, “the customer is always right”. In contemporary times, that is also explained as the “You Attitude”, which implies that businesses place the customer’s interest first. The opposite is the selfish “I Attitude”. Apparently, tellers at Melcom champion the latter.
The foreign entity is operating successfully in the country, judging by the rapid springing up of branches across the country. It is an Indian company, so the financial benefits accrued from operating in Ghana spirals directly to India. The company must therefore ensure that its tellers respect customers.
The flip side of the issue is that the tellers are Ghanaians cheating fellow country people. The management may neither have a hand in the cheating culture nor an inkling of the shady behaviour of the tellers. If that is true, then it would simply be another instance of rapacious Ghanaians duping fellow citizens, as has become almost a national trait now. Utterly deplorable behaviour!
If the management of Melcom did not know about the cheating going on in their shops until this article, then it does now and should take prompt steps to end the practice. The tellers may be initiating the cheating, customers may be blaming the company. The fact that the former is destroying the reputation of Melcom ought to prompt the management to act, else it becomes culpable.
No one should raise the mundane argument that the amount involved is not significant, so the tellers should be allowed to keep it. They are breaking an ethical principle in business. Customers should be treated fairly and respectfully. Anything less is unacceptable. By short-changing shoppers, the tellers are disrespecting shoppers. The Ghana Standards Authority ought to intervene immediately to ensure best business practices.
The Indians believe in the Law of Karma: “What goes around comes around”. New supermarkets spring up by the day. No one shop has monopolised consumer patronage. One of these days, Ghanaians might just have enough of the cheating from Melcom tellers, and then what?
The management ought to remember that the tellers can cheat some of the customers for a long time, but they cannot cheat all the customers all the time. If the nauseous practice is not stopped, disenchanted shoppers will take their business elsewhere. No business worth its salt supervises the loss of its customers.
In the meantime, shoppers must not only be diligent but also assertive and demand full change from Melcom tellers. If I shop at any Melcom shop again, I will instruct the teller to give me full change before I pay and I will count my change at the counter to ensure that the teller does not short-change me. Enough!
The writer is a Sr. Lecturer, Language and Communication Skills,
Takoradi Technical University,Takoradi.