Purchasing in Lebanon is quite often associated with risk, caution, and regrets. This lack of trust between the buyer and the seller became rooted in the business model and purchasing habits of every Lebanese. Whenever one buys something in Lebanon, he’ll be subject to doubts of finding it cheaper elsewhere, the possibility of counterfeit products, or the absence of a proper after sale service. These worries are the result of slack laws, corruption within the economy, lack of accountability, and a Consumer Protection Directorate with limited power.
After Sale Service
This additional service is mentioned in the communications of most companies but slightly applied or simply ignored. Sometimes upon buying a product, you face difficulties with a seller apologizing for not accepting refunds or exchange and could only provide you with a limited-time voucher. You’ll then be informed that a return procedure takes time, a way to discourage you from even thinking of that option.
Different Product Price
It’s not the result of fair competition or a massive stock sale, but more of special benefits for selected sellers who are exempted from taxes and customs. The frustration a buyer is confronted with when buying a smartphone in Lebanon is a considerably high price difference between different retailers, reaching a $200 variation.
The short time detention of prominent cell phone dealer Kamel Amhaz gave hope that this illegal traffic will come to an end, but in reality, he was simply arrested on a drug-related affair to intimidate him and was released a week later.
Absence of Warranty
Sole agent, authorized reseller, exclusive distributor, official dealer and many other terms are used to provide the buyer with the illusion of legitimacy. Nevertheless, most if not all of these shops are simple retailers who purchase their stock from local importers or foreign dealers and provide the buyer with a limited after-sale repair and warranty service. A scheme that was widely used in Lebanon consisted of selling smartphones with and without a warranty, whereas the variance is cashed in by the retailer.
Inflated Price Sales
The Lebanese market is driven by world sales events that are popular and offers real advantages for buyers. In Lebanon, the same campaigns are adopted but customized to fit the needs of every local business. Black Friday for example, an American concept that offers drastic discounts on most products was adopted in Lebanon with a certain twist.
Many shops overvalued their goods before announcing a rebate; others limited their discounts to 10%, while others shouted out loudly their reduction by excluding certain items, taxes or simply imposing unusual terms and conditions. This created a rush to shops, who faced disappointed visitors wandering around showrooms before leaving empty-handed.
In a country where online shopping is still considered a luxury not a commodity, many companies charge transaction fees on products or services purchased online. Add to that unsecured platforms, non-recognized bank cards, short product list, lack of item details and limited coverage area for delivery make it wavering for Lebanese to adopt this modern option.