Tag Archives: Customer Service

Holiday Retail Pet Peeves Part 2

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday shopping experience is underway for most people. Having spent a good chunk of time as a retail professional, I’ve been on both sides of this simultaneously, several times. There’s those long grinding hours on your feet trying to make everyone’s holiday wishes come true, and then if you can possibly squeeze it in on break or after work, doing the same for your own family and friends. People get stressed out over the holidays. I’ve never really understood why. I think it has to do with unrealistic expectations being set either by yourself, or by others. I think high expectations can be a good thing because it makes you strive for success, but when those expectations are too specific, it can lead to disappointment. For example, I think it’s great to say “I want to find a great gift for my mom this year.” It’s a lofty expectation, but very achievable. When you start saying “I want to find a purple blouse with pink flowers that has a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend in just the right size that will go just perfectly with those pants she loves to wear and that new scarf I bought her last year, but it needs to be from that store that she loves, and can’t be dry-clean only for my mom this year”…….. you might be setting yourself up for a bit of disappointment.

Last year I wrote part one of this blog, and was putting the consumers on blast for treating retailers like shit over the holidays while we humbly aid you in trying to make this ‘the best Christmas ever!!’ This year I will take the side of the shopper, and take aim at a few of the stores, and sales people whose ineptitude does not help us track down our purple blouses any faster. I bring you Holiday Retail Pet Peeves, Part 2.

– First of all, you don’t need to play Christmas music in November. This has gotten about as out-of-control as I ever could have imagined. I love Christmas, and I enjoy hearing Christmas music as much as the next guy, for about 2 weeks MAXIMUM! As a retail professional, I understand the psychological reasoning behind playing it as early as possible. It gets that clock ticking in people’s heads. As soon as Gene Autry’s voice starts singing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus’, all the little Santa Claus’s out there start shifting into the holiday panic mode, and if you’re a retailer, why wouldn’t you want to stretch that out for as long as possible?? It makes perfect business sense. Here’s the problem….. It’s fuckin’ tasteless!!! There is absolutely NO NEED to play Christmas music before December 1st. Even that’s early for my liking, but it’s a compromise.

– As a retailer, if you’re going to run a promo for a limited time, you had better have that promo item in stock! For your customers, and for the poor bugger on the sales floor that’s going to spend his day getting yelled at. This should never happen, but I’ve seen it happen a number of times. The last time it happened to me, I was working at a major national department store in the seasonal department (aka the Christmas Tree department). They put out an ad in print and on their website which was email blasted to their database. It was a great promotion on a particular make and model of a Christmas Tree, but it was a one-day sale. I can’t remember what the discount was, but it was substantial. When I got into work that morning, it was the first I’d heard of it. I checked to see how many of those trees we had in stock. We had none. ZIP. ZILCH. ZERO. We had already sold out of them. Now, if you run an ad like that, you’re probably smart enough to put something on the bottom that says ‘while supplies last’, and that typically gets you out of most customer service situations….. but when it’s 10:05 in the morning, and you opened at 10:00, and you have 3 or 4 customers there already asking for this tree, you’re gonna have a tough time convincing them that you sold out this morning already. Maybe at 1 pm I can make this claim, but not at 10:05. So I spent my whole day explaining to customers that we were sold out for several days leading up to this event. You get the whole ‘why wouldn’t you save some for the event?’ (Because customers of course assume that the same poor slug who’s selling them the tree is also responsible for advertising and inventory levels of a national retail chain….. I mean, wouldn’t they be???) Anyways, I spent the whole day hearing stories of how far they drove, and how much it meant to them, and their opinions on our customer service and blah blah wah wah wah. Lovely.

– Every time I turn my head, the mall hours keep getting longer and longer. A few of us were chatting the other day about when they first introduced ‘Sunday Shopping’. Malls around here used to be closed on Sundays. Man, what a world! I think I like the option of shopping on a Sunday, but they just keep creeping the hours, earlier, later, longer. Why would a mall need to be open on a Saturday night? In December I get it, but all-year-round? Maybe if there’s a movie theater in the mall, and a bunch of hip restaurants, but I would say most malls should be closed at 6 pm on a Saturday. Let mall employees have a life for crying out loud. I don’t think it brings anybody new to the mall. I don’t think there is a sub-culture of Saturday night shoppers who wouldn’t do it any other time of the day/week that we’re finally capitalizing on. People will work within the parameters you give them. We always did before.

Well, I’ll save some for next year. All the best in your holiday shopping endeavors. Be safe out there.

Things Are Going to Be So Much Better Now That I Have A New Phone

Today I finally bit the bullet and bought a new phone. Actually I didn’t buy it, it was free! Shout out to Bell for making this happen in under 5 interactions with store/customer service (4 to be exact). I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of my contract renewal. Let’s just say that they wasted a bunch of my time, and I inadvertently pulled their phone off the wall while talking to the customer service department. I should have been way more embarrassed by that, but my experience with that company never should have culminated in that particular store visit (ie if they all did their jobs properly, I wouldn’t have ended up using that phone with a really long phone cord, lulling me into a false sense of security as to the pacing radius I could use, and pulling it off the wall and onto the floor……..the guy didn’t look impressed, but guess who else wasn’t impressed with the fact that I had to call customer service to begin with….. eye for an eye!).

Now…. it’s just time to bask in the glory of a new phone. Everytime I watch TV, I see a bunch of commercials, and in almost all of them, there are people who look really really happy with their phones. I’ve never been unhappy with mine. I’ve achieved some pretty good longevity with some of them. Sadly, longevity is not valued in the world of cell phone users. The paying public wants it to be new. Always new. So while, I’ve never been unhappy with my phone, I’ve also never experienced the euphoria that a new phone seems to provide the handsome actors and actresses in the commercials. I’ve seen a lot of different commercials, and the automotive industry doesn’t even have commercials where young people are this excited. I just want that feeling. That glow that only can seemingly be achieved by bragging about your new phone! I’ve seen it!! Just let me feel that!!! Just once!! LET…. ME…. FEEL….. THAT….. THE GREATEST…… FEELING…..EVER!!!!!!!! Oh god, I wish I knew how to use an emoticon other than happy face/sad face…. I bet there’s a perfect one for this.

Sadly, I don’t feel any different. It could be because I didn’t get the newest phone available. I got one that’s older. It’s new by my standards. Or maybe it’s just way less old than the one I had before. The sales associate couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t get the new one that had just come out. I told him that I would get that one. Next time. When it wasn’t new anymore. I figure that all the bugs will be figured out by then. I’m always worried that when you get the newest thing available, there might be a bunch of problems with it when it first comes out, and I don’t like the headaches. The associate seemed to be part of this new culture of people who need everything to be new. He explained that the new phones have way more cool stuff, and even though he understood that I’m not a user of a lot of cool stuff, he just thought that I’d like it better. Maybe he was right, but the one I got was free! Most importantly however was the fact that it is ‘NEW TO ME’.

I’m going to go into that concept further with you as I did with the sales associate. He looked like he listened to rock music, so I asked him if he liked Led Zeppelin. Just to be clear, everyone that likes rock music likes Led Zeppelin. If you find yourself reading this and thinking ‘hey, I don’t like Led Zeppelin’……cool….. but then you don’t like rock music. (Moving right along), the associate confirmed that he indeed enjoyed listening to Led Zeppelin. I was puzzled. They aren’t new. I would suggest that he might not be old enough to have been around when they disbanded, and he damn sure wasn’t around when their first album came out. I asked him how he can be a fan of them, when he wasn’t there when they were new. He didn’t know the answer. I did. It was because Led Zeppelin is new to him. It’s no worse for him than it was for people who were around at the time. I wonder if my son might like them. I don’t know if he’ll be into rock or not, but if he is (and as I established earlier), then he will like them. They won’t be old though. They’ll be new…. to him. Just like the phone I bought is new to me. Just like the new phone that I didn’t buy will be new to me by the time I buy it.

The sales associate didn’t think I was a fountain of deepness, but I had also just ripped their phone off the wall, so my credibility was limited. I hope you all understand though. Chronology is overrated. Things can always be ‘new to you’, and whether they’re actually ‘new’ or not is irrelevant. The sooner you all figure that out, the more awesome you’ll be in my mind, which is just like being awesome in real life, except it’s not real life, it’s just my mind…. which is really awesome in its own right.

Rock on!

Bag it up!!

I know nobody wants to say this but I’m personally tired of the subtle attitude I get from lazy treehugging cashiers when I ask for plastic bags. Listen, nobody wants to save the planet more than I do. It’s not the planet’s fault that humans are stupid. The planet got a raw deal. Most of the other species that inhabit earth do a way better job at taking care of earth than we do. Which is appalling considering we’re supposed to be the smartest. What we’ve done to this planet is the equivalent of having sex every night on the same bed sheets for thousands of years and only washing them maybe every 4 or 5 hundred years. Disgusting when you think about it. Easier to not think about it. Here’s the thing though….. I feel guilty for that, but not to the point where I don’t want my friggin groceries to get bagged.

When I was a child, I fondly remember my father coming home from work with Paper Bags full of groceries. I’m no expert, but it seems that nowadays we could just recycle paper bags, couldn’t we? I don’t think we recycled back then. Probably just set everything on fire, I don’t remember. Then we got plastic, which is way more awesome for holding groceries, but bad for the environment. Suddenly, society grew a brain and decided that there should be a movement towards saving the planet. So now plastic has been replaced by an optional ‘bring your own bag’ system which makes perfect sense. I’m happy to do it. I’m doing it for the environment dammit!!! When I remember that is.

There is a fundamental flaw with this system which is the ‘optional’ part. Due to a combination of laziness and forgetfulness, and me personally being afflicted with both, I often don’t bring my own bags. I have them. I must have a dozen of them. Chances are they are just outside in the trunk of my car, but I’m not walking out there to get them once I’m already in line with my shopping cart. So then I get to the front of the line, and the cashier is asking me if I need bags. I tell her I do, and she asks how many. The thing is I don’t know! I have probably a hundred bucks worth of groceries to buy, so why don’t you just bag them up, and then you can tell me how many we used. I didn’t know I was required to keep count of how many bags my purchase would potentially take up so I could accurately assess that for you at the time of purchase.

Then there’s this new thing where I’m now kind of expected to bag these groceries myself. She either puts the bags I brought over to the side and rings everything through, and doesn’t start bagging until the end, or she grabs 6 or 7 plastic bags and sets them over there too. Now when she sets my bags to the side like that and bags at the end, it’s one thing, but when she grabs 6 or 7 plastic bags and sets them over there (not using the hooks that keep the bags open, so you can just drop the items in), the expectation is that you want me to bag my own stuff. So you want me to bring the bags, and now you want me to bag my purchases too? Why don’t I sweep the fucking aisles while I’m at it. I’m sure there’s a couple of skids of frozen goods I could consolidate as well. If I didn’t want service, I would have gone to the self-serve checkout, or I would have gone to some no-name brand carrying discount store. I know this isn’t a gourmet fine foods retailer, but it’s a half decent grocery store. When I go to a half decent grocery store, I want half decent service!

Let me bring it back to the environmental issue. I am sensitive to this, although my sensitivity wears thin when I’m made to feel guilty every time I use a plastic bag. I want all you blog readers to know that I do re-use these plastic bags. I keep them, and I use them to line the garbage cans in my bathrooms. So it’s not a one-dimensional life for these plastic bags. They get to do 2 jobs before destroying the environment. All you grocery store lineup hippies giving me the look because you remembered your environmentally friendly bags, and I forgot mine…….what do you line your garbage cans with??? Do I see Glad Kitchen Catchers going into your eco-friendly bag? Or the big green garbage bags?? Don’t be a hypocrite! You better be all plastic free, or cast your judgemental eyes aside!! I’m tired of this shit!!!

Or…… maybe none of this is really happening…. maybe it’s just perceived, and I’m just really really tired and need a vacation.

Just as an aside…. If you use self checkouts, then you support robots taking over the planet….. more on that in another blog some other time!

Holiday Retail Pet Peeves

So it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’ve cancelled all plans to bring you this blog. I said I would blog on Mondays, and I won’t be stopped. Not even for the biggest party night of the year! Don’t worry about me though. I’m fully equipped with a bottle of wine, 4 different kinds of cheese, and a screaming baby in the background. I’ll get through this.
I’ve spent a few chunks of my adult life as a Retail Manager, and during the holiday shopping season the job description includes being a sales person and letting my paperwork pile up. I don’t mind that. I like being on the sales floor (when I’m in a good mood, and I find people tolerable). The holidays only come around once a year and it’s time to get that money if you’re a retailer.
I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of people talk about their holiday shopping nightmares, and you’ve probably had some yourself. Let me tell you that on the other side of that equation it’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs either. It’s more like caffeine and tolerance. For I have crossed path with every pigeon brained bozo allowed to roam the malls freely, and it’s changed the way I view humanity.
Here are (just) a few of my Holiday Retail Pet Peeves…….

– People who say ‘just looking’ after you say hello to them. I didn’t ask why you were here…. I just said hello. I kind of don’t mind this if I think you don’t speak English, but I find it kind of rude the rest of the time. I’m sure you think that I’m some crazy shark of a sales person (which is true) who’s going to hound you until you buy something (which isn’t true), and I’m sure that you’ve been victimized in the past by somebody very slick that has ridden you around the store like a donkey, and made your life completely miserable. So maybe it’s a defence mechanism to avoid situations like that. I understand, but I still don’t think it’s reasonable that when someone says ‘Hello’, or ‘How are you?’ that you should treat them like a non-human by saying ‘just looking’. Show a bit of courtesy by answering the question you were asked. You’re a guest in my store. Be polite!
– People who come in on December 23rd to try to resolve warranty issues. Don’t you know that this is the absolute busiest day of the entire year? You’re bringing me this issue that you could bring to me ANY DAY OF THE YEAR, and you chose today?? Have some respect!!
– People who try to get price adjustments for ANY reason whatsoever. If there’s a sale, and you weren’t there, you missed it. Too bad. If you bought something and the price lowered a week later, too bad! Why are you visiting items you’ve already purchased anyways. Part of buying something when its new is paying full price. If you wait until it’s stale, then maybe you get a discount. You shouldn’t be able to have it both ways, and any store that accommodates this is stupid. The customer is almost always WRONG. Let’s get the culture back to that reality. My favourite is when they come in whining about how they missed out on a promotion, and tell you it’s not fair (like a 4-year-old). Cancer isn’t fair!! You missing out on a sale is just fine in the grand scheme of things. Grow up!
– People that leave their Christmas shopping until December 23rd, and expected shit to be sweet when they get to the mall. They can’t believe an item isn’t in stock. They can’t believe there’s such a huge lineup at the cash. They can’t believe nothing is on sale. BELIEVE IT! It’s December 23rd!! I won’t lie. I’ve left my shopping for the 23rd many a year, but I never walked into a store with lofty expectations of how awesome my shopping experience would be. That’s just ignorant.
– People who have really detailed specific desires of a gift they want to buy someone, but nobody sells it or makes it. Like that purple sweater with a red stripe. They come in asking for ridiculousness, and then they’re mad when you don’t sell it. Then they tell you sad stories about them looking EVERYWHERE for it, and then asking for recommendations about where they might find it at another store, as if any reasonable human being would know where to find a purple sweater with a red stripe. Then the whole frustration conversation about ‘why doesn’t anybody sell this’, and before you can say ‘because it’s ugly’ or ‘I really don’t have time for your stories’ or ‘only a loser would want that’, you’re knee-deep in a conversation about the holidays and gift exchanging with someone you’ve never met, and would love to never see again, until getting stabbed in the eye with a fork seems like the lesser of the two evils. It’s December 23rd! Either lower your expectations or purchase a gift card, but either way, please stop talking to me and get out of my store.
– People who call the store to see if you have something in stock, but nobody can get to the phone, so they leave a voicemail with no name, and a mumbled phone number. Why do people always talk so slowly during the message, and then zip through the phone number which is the most important part. Then they don’t leave a name either, so I have to call back this number which I’m not even sure is accurate, and ask whoever picks up the phone if somebody called my store earlier?? WTF.

I’ve got a million of them, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Happy New Year everybody!