National Azabu Renovations

Normally if a supermarket renovates its interior, I wouldn’t take enough notice of it to write a whole blog post about it, but this is different.  National Azabu is a fixture in the expat community of Tokyo and in 2011, it closed, razed to the ground, and rebuilt.  It just opened in August 2012.  So why, less than 3 months later, is it closing for a couple of days for renovation?  The answer is to respond to client demand.  The people who shop there have been complaining that the new layout is confusing and not intuitive.  It’s difficult getting through the aisles.  So people complained and the “powers that be” are responding.

But there’s more.  The supermarket is closing in part for two days to re-vamp the whole thing, and they’re so concerned about it that they’re offering a special sale to make it up to customers.  In addition, the postcard I got in the mail announcing the disruption in service has a little man on it who I am positive is looking down at the ground saying “gomen nassai” – apologizing.

This is yet another thing I love about Japan.  Customer service second to none.

2 thoughts on “National Azabu Renovations

  1. You’ve probably tried to return something in Japan and found that customer service doesn’t extend to making good on a purchase after the sale has taken place. I recently bought a wall screen from an upscale shop in Midtown but the brackets they sold me to hang it on the wall didn’t fit the screen they sold me. When my wife tried to take it back for one that was the right size or get a refund for the brackets they gave her all kinds of problems. At first refusing to do anything – telling her that in Japan you can’t return things. After arguing for a long time, suffering their snide remarks about foreigners, they finally allowed her to exchange the brackets for another item. The store knew we had spent many hundreds of thousands of yen with them and now they have lost me as a customer for good. What sense does it make for shops to treat customers like this?

    • There are so many things to love about Japan but then you run into something like this and it is wildly frustrating. Yes, it has happened to me before. In the end, like your wife, I did get an exchange. But that’s just not part of the culture here – returning something. To an American, returns are a part of good customer service (think: Nordstrom!) but to Japanese people, returns of a purchased item are unheard of. I have no idea why!

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