Friday, March 6, 2009

First, A Rant

I need to rant. I have started to really hate to shop. Even at my favorite stores. I used to get excited to go poke around at REI (easily my favorite brick-and-mortar store), but even that starts to cause anxiety and irritation. I used to like to shop for clothes - or at least it didn't bother me much and I used to shop fairly often for clothes. Now, I would almost rather run a marathon wearing a cotton t-shirt with no Body Glide on the nips. What precipitated all this you ask? 

Yesterday, I decided I needed to get a couple pairs of jeans. My old ones are ripping and fraying and stained and generally looking like hell. I had a gift card from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket and some time on my hands. Edina (a suburb of Minneapolis and my actual address) is home to the first bane of America's existence - er, I mean the first enclosed shopping mall - Southdale Center. For years this mall had good stores and was relatively un-irritating to shop at. In recent years it has become less un-irritating - OK, I will come out and say it - it's irritating to go there. The situation became damn near unbearable when several years ago a certain unnamed department store headquartered in New York City and known for holiday parades bought the local department store chain from Target (a locally headquartered retail powerhouse). This new store moved right in and lowered standards across the board. I have not liked them since day one and my experiences the last two days have made me determined to avoid shopping there at all costs.

Back to yesterday - I bit the bullet and took my gift card to this store because, well frankly, everything there is on sale. I walked around and selected about a dozen pairs of jeans and not once did a sales associate ask me if I needed help or even acknowledge me. I tried on the jeans after finding the fitting rooms myself and hated every pair. I put them in the bin near the fitting rooms for restocking and went back to select round number two. Again, I poured over racks looking for my size and again no one bothered to ask if I needed help. I am pretty self sufficient so it wasn't like I was struggling, but an offer of assistance might have been nice. With a dozen more jeans hung over my arm I start walking back to the fitting rooms - at this time a sales associate asks, "Would you like to try those on?" as I am walking into the fitting rooms - great powers of observation. There was no follow-up and I never saw that associate again. I found a couple pairs of jeans that worked and bought them - the only part of my visit that went without a hitch. 

Problem is, when I got home and tried them on for my wife and slipped into a pair of shoes, I realized they would be too short. DAMN IT! I have to go back to the store. I thought it would be an easy-in-easy-out, just get the same size longer length, exchange and go. I walk into the store with the store's bag in my hand - no acknowledgment. I walk to the jeans area, pull the jeans I am going to exchange out of the bag (wanted to make sure I had the right color) and again no acknowledgment. They don't have the longer length, or at least I can't find it. I am bouncing from rack to rack searching and again, no one asks if I need any help - actually there was no one there to ask. Finally, I got fed up! I stuffed the jeans back into my bag, stormed over to a cash-wrap and before I said anything, was told they couldn't help me right now, they needed to look for something for someone on the phone. Totally and obviously ticked I ask if there is another cash-wrap nearby and then stormed down the main aisle - right by two managers - until I found someone by a cash register. I dropped my package down and said, "I want to return these." He looked at the receipt and said, "Oh, I see you paid for part with a gift card. I will have to give it back to you on a gift card." I said, "Is there any way you can just put it all back on my credit card, because I would prefer to never have to shop here again." Unfazed, he did just that. His only reply was, "Sorry you didn't have a pleasant experience." Then I stormed back down the main aisle, stormed by the two managers still standing there, and got the hell out of there.

Now, I don't want companies to go out of business and I certainly do not want people to lose their jobs, however, this company deserves every loss it has taken in the past few years and if they were to go away, I would say "Good Riddance." It would seem to me that in this economy a store would want to maximize the positive experience for the few customers they are getting in the doors. I honestly don't know what they are thinking. The associates are frustrating enough, but I can kind of give them the benefit of the doubt. I can only imagine their training was not stellar. What is absolutely inexcusable is the behavior of the managers. If you are short staffed then the managers need to get on the floor and sell and help customers. I would immediately fire the two chuckleheads that I walked by for being stupid, lazy and certainly not customer oriented. 

Now, I am without new jeans and I have to go out shopping again. Perhaps I will go for a run first and get those endorphins pumping. I will probably have to go for another run afterwards to work of the fury. Shopping might actually be good for my training.


Natalie said...

Generally, I find that there is little in the way of customer service in any of the big box stores. I get more than just a little annoyed by the sales folks who carry on their petty (aka personal and not one bit work related) conversations with a coworker while making me wait to ask them a question or even while ringing me up without ever acknowledging my presence. The sad thing is that I'm now surprised and even shocked when I receive good service.

Almost more annoying are the stores where they are required to ask you 3 times in 3 different ways if they can help you out or show you something before they are allowed to leave you alone.

Sorry it was such a bad experience. (and I agree with you on the quality of that store - it was only good when it was Daytons!)

Court said...

Todd, I feel your pain. I think your next stop should be Len Druskin in the Galleria. Good luck.

Maggs said...

I hate shopping at stores. There's always too much help when you don't need it and too little when you do. I buy most of my clothes at Costco.