February 11, 2008

Why I shop online. Why local stores fail.

So I finally decided to replace my old bedroom TV. After a weeks worth of research and reading product reviews I decided on the model and headed out to the local Best Buy knowing I had plenty of time to meet my sister and her family for lunch. I would have bought it online and saved hundreds of dollars, but I wanted the extended service in case something should fail. Plus it's easier to return to a local store, than to have to figure out how to ship it back.

I was happy to see that they had the model I wanted on the shelf, and so I waited watching the other people get asked if they needed any assistance. And I waited...and waited. Apparently I didn't have the appearance of a sucker or a buyer. I was standing in front of a big wall of TVs out in the open. I know they saw me.

After about 45 minutes of standing there someone asks me if I've been helped yet. This poor kid looks like he's just awoke from his nap in the break room. Clearly he's the bottom of the sales food chain. The one that gets to help the people no one else wants to help. His lucky day. Only problem with this kid is that he's full of bad info. I always ask a few loaded questions. Usually some really obscure spec or feature. I don't expect these guys to know every feature of the 50 TV models that they have to sell. Really I'm looking for them to admit if they don't know something. I'm fine with them not knowing. Just don't BS me. This kid's answer was yes to everything he wasn't sure about.

I pay for my items and ask my sales kid if someone can help me load it. He says "sure, there are people up front that will help you." So I head to the front of the store. He was right. I spotted three employees standing by the "customer service" area next the shopping carts. I head their direction, they look at me, then they turn and walk off. I'm not sure I've ever had more of a WTF moment in my life. Now I'm 0/2 in customer service confidence. I thought about getting a manager and asking if they make a ton of money by giving half-ass customer service, but decided on just leaving while I was still calm.

I meet my sister and her family for lunch at about 2pm, well after the lunch rush. For the most part it was fine. I've had worse, the waiter forgot half of what we ordered. Which is pretty sad considering it was only three adults and a kid. Surprisingly I don't get mad at restaurants anymore, again this is the kind of half-ass service I expect. I know it's not an easy job and I never yell or make a big scene. I even leave a tip hoping good karma will land me some better service in the future. 0/3 for customer service so far.

I'm not even going to elaborate on my call to the cable company that day. Let's just say more than once it's ended with me hanging up on them in the middle of some excuse of how they can't do what I need because the FCC mandates them to rip me off. Or at least that's what I've gathered from the parts I've heard. I could be wrong.

It seems like customer service is in the toilet. Which is why I shop mostly online. I don't have to deal with people that don't care about their jobs. Don't like where you work? Go find a job you like. Don't want to work? Yeah, no one does. Get over it. And make sure you don't get a job in customer service or sales.

On a positive note my friends over at TeleCapture have a call tracking tool for managers and business owners to help identify the bad apples. I hope they invent a device that shocks sales and customer service people every time they act like asshats.

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