Makro needs to think things through

August 20, 2007 at 6:47 am 9 comments


I suppose I shouldn’t really patronize the likes of Makro because I believe that wholesalers like Makro and Walmart (which is entering the Indian market) are going to impact heavily on the small mom & pop operations in both countries.

But off and on when I am on a schedule, it is just so convenient to go to one place and buy everything in airconditioned comfort. It is a 15 minute drive from home, there is sufficient parking and I get all my grocery shopping done quickly. Of course it is quite irritating if you don’t want to buy in bulk … but if you don’t want to buy in bulk, i guess you shouldn’t be in a wholesale store.

Anyway, enough with the rambling. Let me go ahead with the story. Yesterday morning I got to Makro at around 9 a.m. There were very few people around so I quickly got the stuff I needed and made a beeline for the check-out counter that had no queue. There was a young lady at the counter who asked if I had a Makro card. This is a standard question posed to me each time I shop there. Usually they just say okay and proceed to check you out.

Yesterday was different though. She told me that without a Makro card number she could not proceed with the transaction. It would take a minute to get my “details” and I would have a card. I guess it would have been easiest to just give her the information and proceed.

However, I wasn’t in a mood to be forced into having yet another card made for no apparent reason. So I asked this young lady what the advantages were to having a Makro card. She looked confused so I elaborated. “In other countries if you apply for a store card, you get something in return. It entitles you to a discount or it’s a stored value card or something of that sort.” She thought about this and said that the Makro card entitled the customer to nothing like that. So I asked her again why I should want to have one.

Poor kid – it wasn’t her fault and I felt sorry for making her life difficult (actually it was nice to see so many young women working in different positions in the store) but I was trying to make a point. If Makro has a card for which they want customers to provide information about themselves, then in exchange for this information they should be providing a service. Why should my “details” be freely available to them or anyone else? Why have a card if there was no perceived advantage/value to the customer? Are they trying to restrict the number of customers who walk through their doors?

Anyway, the young lady went off to several of her colleagues and supervisors and I could imagine her saying to them that there was this argumentative woman asking all sorts of difficult questions and refusing to apply for a card (she needed my National ID Card to complete the registration – I asked her why I should be out on a Sunday with my ID card – although I did have it in my wallet). The saga ended when she came back and checked me out without another word.

It was only when I got home that I noticed that, in order to bypass the problem, she had been asked to use the ID of Ashraf General Stores whoever they are. Absolutely ridiculous! Shouldn’t the management of Makro think things through before trying to implement a policy such as this? Or is the customer just supposed to roll over and play dead because they say so?

Entry filed under: Posts.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vic  |  August 20, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Privacy issues need to be frontstage. Too many marketing companies are run by managers who simply do not understand the issues involved in data collection without safeguards.

    Even your national ID system has the potential for much misuse. I was told reliably that till today, a large percentage of people remain uncovered by it, especially women in more conservative regions.

    In such circumstances, the potential for wrong entries and leaking of entries to unauthorised persons – and also the authorisation of access to dubious people – remains very high, when there is such a lack of transparency in governance.

    Much worse when such personal data is collected by commercial organisations. In this case, the company is partially owned by a foreign entity. Who owns the personal database?

    These questions need to be asked, and a framework of personal data security set for all citizens.

  • 2. Nauman Faridi  |  August 20, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Is Makro really like Walmart? Or is it more like Sam’s Club?

    Since I had nothing better to do Monday morning, I searched Makro’s site and found this:

    “Makro is a high volume, low cost – low price, no frills cash & carry wholesaler, selling to registered professional customers a full range of food and non-food products…”


    It is indeed like Sam’s Club.

    So why did they not force you to get their card and, worst yet, sold you the stuff on Ashraf General Stores’ account? Good question. Something you can bother them with on your next visit.

    Getting back to look-busy-do-nothing…

  • 3. Jehan  |  August 20, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Vic, you are right about the piracy issues. That is what concerns me about all this forced data collection for no apparent advantage. What will they do with my information? Who will own the database? House of Habib or Makro International? There should be some sort of restriction on the collection and use of personal data.

    Nauman, Makro is not like Walmart at all – I was just comparing the opening of warehouse outlets in Pakistan to similar stores opening in India and the effect this will have on the small shopowners. Makro in fact mainly stocks wholesale food items, some garments, limited furniture and electronic items, crockery, etc. Who knows why they didn’t force me to get the card? Maybe I looked ferocious!

  • 4. owaisz  |  August 22, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    The idea is to discourage casual shoppers. They are a wholesaler and not retailer and they focus on the retail market and not end customers.

    Its like TESCO and SAMS CLUB. You cannot shop at SAMS CLUB without membership either.

  • 5. DMART - Retailing Pakistani Style « Life according to me  |  August 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    […] – Retailing Pakistani Style A recent post by Jehan on her blog about MAKRO made me think about my experiences with some of the […]

  • 6. Kashif  |  August 22, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Congrats on making a tough day for somebody out there. The ‘young lady’ at checkout counter will love you for that.

  • 7. Jehan  |  August 22, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Kashif, the purpose was not to give her a hard time. I was very polite but I believed that Makro (her employer) should have a reason for registering members. And if that was a requirement for shoppers, then it should clearly be spelt out at the entrance and on their website. I was happy to see so many young women in different positions of responsibility at Makro and I wouldn’t dream of just kicking up a fuss for no rhyme or reason. You don’t know me otherwise you would know that.

  • 8. Kashif  |  August 27, 2007 at 10:17 am

    The way you put it, seems you were enjoying the show:

    Anyway, the young lady went off to several of her colleagues and supervisors and I could imagine her saying to them that there was this argumentative woman asking all sorts of difficult questions and refusing to apply for a card (she needed my National ID Card to complete the registration – I asked her why I should be out on a Sunday with my ID card – although I did have it in my wallet).

  • 9. Ateeb Iftikhar  |  May 16, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Actually, MAKRO Pakistan is registered as a “Cash n Carry” Whole seller in Pakistan. Both, “By Pakistani law” and by the “rules” of their parent company (MAKRO Asia) they are not allowed to sell to the end customers ….like me and you.

    So the lady at the counter used a dummy account “Ashraf General Store” …to bypass the law.


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