Retail Service Sucks!!!

We begin today’s bitch-fest with a story. It’s New Years Eve ’95, or maybe ’94. The year doesn’t really matter. It was my year to have my kid over the holidays, so we decided to have a nice meal to celebrate before the Beavis and Butthead marathon began. We headed to Hy-Vee and stocked up on t-bones, shrimp, soft drinks…and a bit of bubbly for myself.
We’re in a bit of a hurry because the first episode of the Moron-o-thon was set for 7 p.m. Ahead of us in line was a middle-aged couple with just a handful of items. No problem, I thought. We’ll be out of here in a minute or so.
Alas, this was not the case. The old clementime ahead of me had a coupon to save a quarter on her favorite brand of aspirin. My guess is they were actually for her husband, whose defeated look reminded me of an older Al Bundy. All should have been well, except that Hy-Vee had their own sale on that particular item – buy one and get one free.
A normal person would have just put their coupon back in their pocket, wallet, or purse. Not this cow. She demanded that both sales be honored – in other words, she wanted to be paid a quarter to take that aspirin off their hands.
The pimple-faced cashier did everything he could to explain why this was not possible. This wasn’t good enough for her. He had to call a manager, and when she still didn’t get her way she demanded somebody even higher.
Finally, I had enough. I pulled out a quarter and flipped it on the conveyer belt. “You obviously need this more than I do. Take my money and hit the road, bitch.” You can imagine her response, but out of the corner of my eye I saw her husband fight back a smile. It was probably the happiest moment of his life.
I’m re-telling this story today because these sorts of situations are becoming more and more commonplace these days. At least in this example, it wasn’t the fault of the store. I’m the first to admit that I’m pretty impatient. But there are situations where I know walking into the store that things are not going to run as quickly as I desire. For example, I know that when I walk into Barnes and Noble there’s a good chance that a senior citizen will attempt to start up a lengthy conversation with the sales clerks about…well, nothing. It’s probably her only contact with another human being, so I let that one slide.
There’s also a good chance that at least one of my numerous stops at Black Sheep Coffee will see me behind a group of yuppie scum ordering foo-foo specialty drinks for their entire office. You know, like a half-skim, half-soy medium decaf mocha with lo-fat whipped cream, sprinkles, and two ice cubes. I just shake my head and deal with it.
Yet there are other situations where there is no excuse for such a wait. For example, just yesterday I visited a local electronics store for new release Tuesday. Typical for this store, there were only a couple of checkout lanes open. And typical for my luck, the guy ahead of me was purchasing something that required a ton of paperwork and a lengthy phone call to open an account with the manufacturer. Plus, he gave in to their annoying pleas to subscribe to Entertainment Weekly and/or Sport Illustrated. Jumping to another register was not an option, as there were similar transactions going on and not a single line was moving.
Finally, I escaped…but I had another stop. This time I headed to Office Max for some materials I needed at my office. There’s no reason why this visit could possibly take more than a minute or two. Fifteen minutes later, I was finally out the door. Only a couple of registers were initially in operation, and when another finally opened a half dozen people were able to jump in ahead of me. The reason for my wait? The clem ahead of me was special ordering an item, so not only did he have to fill out a couple of forms but the cashier had to find help for a couple of questions, and he had to get the order okayed by a manager…or at least that’s how it seemed to me.
These situations are not isolated incidents. Questions are not reserved for the employees that are wandering the stores – they’re asked at the register. Warranties, rebates, delivery schedules, special offers, magazine subscriptions – these items could and should be handled in other ways. I may not have a life, but my time is precious.
At least these sorts of situations can be avoided at Hy-Vee and most other grocery stores. They figured out years ago that people with a six pack of beer and potato chips shouldn’t have to wait for a heavyweight family of six to unload their carts. This concept of an express lane should be extended to other retailers. Why not have a lane just for CD’s and DVD’s at Best Buy? Why not a lane at Office Max just for those of us carrying only an item or two? How about a cigarette line at gas stations? A drinks-only register at movie theaters? A non-foo-foo drink line at coffee shops? I beg of my favorite retailers to give these ideas a few thoughts. The quicker I can get in and out of any place (other than a strip joint) the more cash I’ll drop on junk that I don’t need.


Popular Posts