Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Horrors of Retail

I continue to be stunned at the ineptitude and ignorance of sales people. Am I just “blessed” with bad luck which always leads me to direct my questions to the salesperson who has just started working at that particular store five minutes ago? Or are people (as I suspect) actually getting dumber?

I used to work at Eaton’s for seven years, so I have a lot of sympathy for salespeople. I know that customers can be really awful and demanding and that the pay is not very good. I’ve had customers expect me to undress them (I didn’t do it), strip in front of me (in the middle of the store), pay their account in small change causing my till to overflow, call me a “fat, little thing”, and a bunch of other treasured moments. Still, I can’t believe the lack of service and knowledge I encounter in stores today.

We recently renovated our kitchen and in doing so, had to do a lot of shopping and ask a lot of questions. In Home Depot, which I would have thought would be a fairly good place for service, the staff was completely ignorant. Every time I asked about painting my kitchen table, I got a completely different answer. One salesperson, when I dared to interrupt with a question, glared at me and said, “can I finish what I am saying first”. When I went looking for undermount sinks, a salesperson told me that they don’t sell undermount sinks at all. He then directed me to the appropriate aisle, which was FULL of undermount sinks. He came to check that I had found the right aisle and when I said that there were in fact undermount sinks, he answered, “oh yeah, we sell lots of undermount sinks”.

At Ikea, the old lady who processed our order, ordered so many extra items that we returned $500 worth of stuff. How she could order extra parts when we had made a detailed drawing/diagram and list of everything we wanted on Ikea’s own software, I have no idea. When the measurements for our countertop were made, we ended up owing Ikea money. When I called Ikea, the woman on the phone had no idea what I was supposed to do. When we drove there to straighten it out, the salesperson went to look up our file. This entailed her opening up a cupboard full of wire baskets that were overflowing with papers. She proceeded to pull out a pile and ask one by one “are you Jane”, “are you Susan”….When I didn’t match anyone in her pile, she went to the back room to look further. We sorted it out finally and paid up. A week later someone from Ikea phoned to say that we owed them money…

When we wanted to buy infloor heating, Pentti shopped around for the best technology at the best price. He decided on Rona (I think it was) and called there, asked about pricing and stock availability. It was all good, so he went in to buy it. When he got there, the salesperson informed him that the particular flooring he was looking for was not only NOT in stock, but that they in fact had not carried it for THREE YEARS!

The countertop people took the cake, They kept calling to reschedule. Or actually, we had to call them when no one showed up for scheduled appointments. The day of the installation they kept calling, until 4pm when they called to say they weren’t coming at all. They rescheduled for 11am the next day, and showed up at 3pm. Then, they proceeded to wait in our driveway for at least an HOUR for some third dude to show up. From Coquitlam. In rush hour. No, I didn’t offer them coffee while they waited.

This past weekend, I went to Seattle for a little retail therapy. I stopped in Gap Kids to look at clothes for the boys. It’s a big store, so I asked the sales guy where the clothes for toddler boys were. He gave me the all-too-familiar deer in headlights look. Then, he very nicely told me that it was his first day (the store had been open for about 30 minutes) and that he would find out. I nearly died laughing.

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