Idon’t know this fashion designer, not any of his labels out on retail in malls all over Metro Manila. But yes, I’ve heard of his abusive behavior at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall Outlet in Parañaque some 10 days ago. Asked to produce an ID before he could use his credit card, witnesses say he blew his top, cussed, threw his passport on the face of the cashier, DFP casual employee Marvin Fernandez.
And when store manager Susan Gonzales tried to intervene, Fajardo supposedly cussed her as well, called her fat, threatened to have her fired because he had “connections.” The entire scene ran for two hours and ended only after Fajardo demanded two things: That he slaps Fernandez, or Fernandez kneels before him.
A spokesperson for Fajardo reasons he spoke out as typical “bakla,” and indeed I’ve heard my gay friends bark out “Lumuhod ka!” to friends who commit indiscretion of some sort. Except all would be in good fun, and no one would actually kneel.
A YouTube video clip shows the cashier knelt before Fajardo, and why he did, I do not know. I also don’t understand why Gonzales let an employee in her charge kneel before a customer, no matter how angry the customer, regardless of the customer’s identity and “connections.”
Not that I’m defending Fajardo, who explained on TV news that he’d just arrived from a long trip and hadn’t eaten yet, so he was quick to anger that day of the incident. Like he expected to be let off the hook dahil gutom siya, when the best thing he could have done was grab a sandwich first before shopping. Myself prone to fits of temper, I know better than to gad about on an empty stomach.
For Fajardo’s unexcusable taray, he will pay. “To give him a lesson and to stop him from victimizing the underprivileged over and over and over again,” here’s what I found on my e-mail box:
“1. We are calling all citizens to stop patronizing Boyet Fajardo’s RTW labels such as Substance in SM department stores, Boyet Fajardo and Initials in Landmark and Robinson’s department stores;
“2. We are calling on all malls to pull out or stop distributing his products. If SM, Landmark and Robinson’s will not adhere to this request we will call on the public to boycott the three department stores;
“3. We are calling on the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Labor and Employment and all human rights and labor activists to take appropriate legal actions on this matter;
“4. We are calling all foreign embassies to deny him entry to their respective countries; and
“5. We are calling on the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines to dishonor him of his membership and profession.”
Where this ends, I can’t really say. But having made clear that I do not condone Fajardo’s conduct, there’s something that has to be said about the sad state of sales assistance in most, if not all, of our department stores and malls. I’ve written about this here, one time too many.
Subpar is the state of service offered in almost all of our malls and department stores today, and yet those who dare grumble are treated worse than thieves and shoplifters. Complaining has become the sin, the more grievous error. Customers are expected to accept treatment of whatever kind, the aphorism that “the customer is always right” is now bullshit. You look for a specific object in a store, no one knows where it is. You ask if there’s someone who can help you, and they say yes, we will look for him, sandali. Sandali ticks away into minutes that become half-an-hour, and when you raise your voice for the umpteenth inquiry, you become the monster whom they sullenly ask what was that again that you were looking for?
Sure there’s a recession, but here in the Philippines, it’s not shelling out payment that’s wearying, but the procedure. A purchase of a single item brings the buyer face to face with an army manning the cash register. A kahera accepts payment, whether cash or credit card. A second person makes sure the cashier does the job correctly by checking the item up against the serial number that came out on the register, and stamping it approved with the end of a pencil that holds an “OK” seal of some sort. A third puts the purchase in a paper bag, a fourth counter-checks if the purchase is in the bag. It’s not like this anywhere in the world, onli in da Pilipins.
You ask for an official receipt, consider yourself lucky if you get one right then and there. You get a thermal print-out and that is the OR, they say. You reason out thermal paper won’t keep long enough for when you turn it over to your accountant so your accountant can compile it for the Bureau of Internal Revenue for next months monthly VAT filing, but that is the OR, they say. You point out, no, this is only the invoice, and still that is the OR, they say.
So the despatsadora tells you that they don’t sell rice cookers, when you’re both standing by the glass counter where rows upon rows of rice cookers are on display. So the salesman tells you he will bring his manager over to you to explain the difference between two model transformers and never shows up again because (a) his manager went out to early lunch; or (b) his manager doesn’t know the answer to your question, too. Do you blame them, do you bring out your “inner” Fajardo and demand that they dance around in circles, stand on their head, whatever? How silly, if you do. How so out-of-the-loop, if you don’t recognize that all this inefficiency is brought about by the pagtitipid of big business, their refusal to hire contractuals and no one else but.
Management is not obligated to give health and retirement benefits to contractual employees, in the older days known as casuals. Time was when casuals were hired only for extra work during Christmas or beginning of the school year, but that was then. Casuals are now THE work force of all department stores and malls hereabout. They aren’t trained so naturally they get the ire of the customers. Sila ang napapaluhod ng mga Boyet Fajardo ng mundo, when really, it should be the likes of big business moguls.
(For comments, write to email@example.com) –Daily Tribune