By: Natasha Smith
MORE THAN four months after British expatriate Gary Lopez was overcharged at wholesale outlet Makro in Albufeira, the situation is still unresolved.
In November 2006, Gary went to Makro to purchase goods. He gave the cashier 1,100 pounds sterling, but she said that it was not enough and asked for another 90 pounds sterling. Believing that he had made a mistake in his calculations, he gave her the money.
She then asked him for a further 150 euros, which he handed over, but disputed it and went to the reception to see the manager. His receipt showed only two transactions, not three. One was for 1,100 pounds sterling and the other was for 150 euros. There was no reference to the 90 pounds sterling on the receipt. Foreign currency in Makro is not stored in the till, it is placed in a chute and when it was checked, only 1,090 pounds sterling was there. According to Gary, the amount in the chute was 100 pounds sterling less than he had given to the cashier.
CCTV footage showed him hand over money to the cashier three times, but it did not show what happened to the extra 90 pounds. Gary said they treated him “like a common criminal and asked me not to come back”.
After he contacted Makro in the UK, an investigation was launched. Gary was told that he would receive his money and a letter of apology. He received his money around three months later, but no letter of apology.
Last week, he attempted to write in the complaints book at the store, but they told him that they did not have one. It turns out that Makro is not legally obliged to have a complaints book because the company defines itself as a wholesaler to professionals. The majority of the people that shop there are business owners and therefore Makro does not sell its products to the final consumer, which, under Portuguese law, would require it to have a complaints book on the premises.
António Pinheiro, from Makro headquarters in Lisbon, said that “whenever there is doubt, we opt to return money”, which is why Gary was reimbursed. He said that there was no proof that the cashier had stolen Gary’s 90 pounds and declined to comment about the investigation into the theft claim, not confirming whether the case was still pending.
Gary met with the store manager, António Barbosa, last Friday, where he was told that if he pursued the case, Makro would take legal action.
He has been given no indication that he will receive the letter of apology, which he was promised, and the manager did not offer him a verbal apology.
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