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Good News, Bad News

Posted on: June 26, 2010 at 1:20AM

by BacSiSteve
The Good News: Gaya Boutique offers four floors of stylish clothing and home furnishings (furniture, lacquer ware, table ware, etc.) in an elegantly designed, inviting space. The shop attendants are very pleasant young women who endeavor to make your shopping experience as pleasant as possible. The Bad News: The proprietess, Madame Michele de Albert (a Paris-born lacquer-ware artist), sadly demonstrates that classic French arrogance and ill-temper are not always improved even after more than a decade spent living in kinder, gentler Viet Nam. My wife (a native of Viet Nam who has lived in the US for >30 years) and I spent a very pleasant few hours browsing in this shop and amassed a modest “shopping cart” (<$300 USD), with plans to return multiple times in the future to furnish a home that we are building in Viet Nam. Early on during our shopping tour, we were told by one of the shop girls that a 5% discount was offered if one paid with Visa and 10% for cash payment. Only when it came time to ring up the sale, did they bring out the small placards (previously concealed) stating that discounts were restricted to members of specific groups. We reluctantly, although somewhat grudgingly, accepted this explanation. We then inquired whether they accepted American Express as a form of payment, to which we were told “yes.” Although all items in the shop are priced in US dollars only, the charge slip proffered for signature was in VND, at a very unfavorable rate. Mme stated that this was “today’s official rate,” although when shown a Citibank receipt from earlier that day displaying a different rate (more favorable to the customer), she rapidly pivoted and revised her statement to “American Express charges us an inordinate rate so we pass this on to our customers.” She further stated that “All shops in Ho Chi Minh City charge only in VND. Please remember that you are in Viet Nam, not in the US.” This statement was also clearly untrue as both earlier and later that same date (as well as numerous times during the previous month) we charged items in USD throughout Viet Nam. Although we never had signed the charge slip, it took them 10 minutes to issue a credit. All in all, it was not a very enjoyable experience. Over the past 27 years, we have shopped all over the world: from the finest stores in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris (Lalique, Baccarat, Louis Vuitton), Rome, Milan, Zurich, etc. to the ancient quarters of Hoi An and Ha Noi, the Arab Shuk in East Jerusalem, and the market places of Costa Rica, Mexico, etc. Never have we been treated with such disrespect. Bottom Line: If you are prepared to be treated with gross disrespect (should you be foolish enough to question any of their quirky, less-than-ethical business practices), the shop’s merchandise is quite nice. However, if you are accustomed to be treated with civility, respect, dignity and honesty, this may not be the shop for you.