Friday, May 8, 2009

Bafflingly Bad Customer Service

I am constantly reminded that we are in a bad economic times with rampant employment.  So can someone explain to me why courteous customer service seems to be evaporating more quickly than my 401k?

I went to a national hardware store this week to buy a new garden hose that was on sale.  I like this company's product and went out of my way to go there for this one item.  The shelves were bare.  The display stacked in the middle of the store was not the correct size.  A clerk who was in the back of the store, when asked if they were out of stock, walked over and looked at the empty shelf and confirmed what I already knew - none on the shelves.

She said I could get a raincheck.  I went to the customer service/check-out and purchased one small item and asked if I could get a raincheck.  The salesclerk, who appeared to be on the verge of some kind of fit, was turning from side to side, and muttering how she was losing her mind.  Ok, I'll play along.  I gave her what I hoped was a sympathetic, yet in a hurry to get out of the store look.

She then said to me "Well did you bring in an ad so I could look up the number from it?" To which I replied in a tone that barely managed to squelch my sarcasm, "Well, no I thought you might have one since you WORK here".  After a little more arm flapping and muttering, she managed to indeed produce an ad, get the info, and shove the little form that asked for way too much information for me to buy a hose.

As I was filling out the form and attempting to pay for my $1.47 purchase, a woman was behind me waiting to check out.  I am moving as fast as I can to complete this transaction, but every time I check my peripheral vision, she is creeping closer and closer to me.  It wasn't like she was carrying an anvil that needed hoisted on the counter so she could wait in peace, she had a couple of paintbrushes.  I do not understand how the whole personal space guidelines go out the window in checkout lines.  We were the only two people there, no need for us to be interlocking.  I have in fact informed people in the grocery store if they got any closer we would have to date or get married.

Today I went to a greenhouse to look at tomato plants.  This place does a lot of mail order and it  looked like Santa's elves in Florida as they were stuffing boxes and tag teaming the mail carrier and the Fedex carriers.

Me, the live in the store customer however, didn't even rate an acknowledgement.  I asked Santa as he bustled by, a pricing question.  He grudgingly answered.

I did my shopping despite the fact that this early in season, a lot of the plants I wanted, appeared to be sold out.

I attempt to checkout.  No one at the register.  No one apparently notices or cares that I've parked a cart with plants I'd like to purchase there.  I circle the elves and ask what the procedure is.  One mutters something about no one being at the register, something my powerful sense of intuition already alerted me to, then grunts at Santa, who agrees to take my money.

As he is ringing, I asked "Are all of the tomato plants out?".   He looks at me like I'm probably a little slow and says "We've been selling them since March 15th, and we will be selling them until June 15th.  We are starting some seeds today".  Ok, so I say "Then the answer is no?".  Not only no, but he then informed that it's "nebulous".  What???  Did he have to look that up to do a crossword puzzle?

More to the point, wouldn't the correct response have been: "Was there something you were looking for that you didn't find?"  But I didn't get that until I'd already made the decision to never shop there again ever, a fact I must have transmitted telepathically.  He moved on to nervous, attempted make-up banter, but it was too late.  I won't be back to see if they restock.


  1. This has been my gripe for....FOREVER. It's in the mom & pop stores just as much as it's in the larger chain stores. I just hate it.

    I've also had to propose marriage to some one standing too close, actually IN, my personal space. yuck. Don't stand so close that I feel your nose breath. gross.

  2. Since an appropriate response to someone would not be to punch 'em in the kisser, I would have just laughed loudly at them and said, "Really?! Nebulous? That's what you're going with?"

    Good grief! What is wrong with people?!


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