Warranty service is a foreign concept in Uganda. If your purchase breaks a week after you buy it, the store owner is likely to give you a blank stare if you try to return it. It's as if to say, "That item doesn't belong to me. It became yours when you bought it. Why are you asking me to fix your problem?" By contrast, check out these warranty stories we have had in the last few days:
1. "Game" is a department store in Kampala that specializes in the western concept of low price guarantee and customer satisfaction. When I went in this week, I asked what I could do about a malfunctioning CD player. It had stopped working, but I didn't have the receipt. The lady told me plainly, "You bring it in and tell me when you bought it." They are now repairing the CD player under warranty, simply based on my word that I purchased it there 3 months ago!
2. That same day I took my ailing laptop to an authorized Toshiba service center in Kampala. The computer has been giving me fits for over 2 months. Only recently did I realize that the one-year warranty in the USA actually had an international service option. So I cruised into the shop on Monday with a copy of my receipt dated December 15, 2007 - exactly one year earlier. The man laughed that I arrived on the very day the warranty expired. However, he didn't put up a fuss. I was armed with evidence of previous service efforts with other stores and my case number from Toshiba USA to show that the problem had been ongoing. He contacted me the next day to let me know that he was ordering a new motherboard. Though it won't arrive for 3 weeks, the warranty is in effect and it's not supposed to cost me a dime (or a shilling)!
3. Upon returning from Kampala last night, we received an e-mail from Amy's parents. Our Black & Decker power tools won't work because the battery charger stopped working. We purchased the charger in May just before we came to Uganda, but the 2-year warranty is only good in North America. So we returned the charger to Amy's parents, via a pastor who had come on a mission trip here. He "just happened" to be from the same area of Virginia, so he hand-delivered the charger to Amy's parents last week. Knowing that it was purchased at Lowes in Southaven, they took the charger into Lowes in Lynchburg to see what could be done. With no receipt in hand, they prayed for God's favor before they went in. The returns desk contacted the tool department manager and sent the Roots to the Customer Service desk. As they were explaining the situation to the lady there, the tool manager walked up with a new Black & Decker charger still in the box. When asked how to ring it up he replied, "It has a two-year warranty. Just exchange it for them." The new charger will come to us when Amy's parents arrive here for a visit in just two more weeks.
Amazing! Whether it was Ugandan, International, or North American only - all of these warranties worked out in our favor, mostly with no questions asked. Just this morning I read Psalm 4. Verse 6 states, "Many are saying, 'Who will show us any good?' Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!" In the midst of many trials, God is good; He has indeed shone His light upon us. He relieves our distress; He hears our prayers. "Thank you, Lord, for being gracious to us!"