I make requests, not demands…

It’s true. In all my years as a customer, many times an irate customer, I have yet to make a demand, unreasonable or otherwise. Having had enough retail and/or customer service jobs has led me to feel that I should be treated the way I’d treat a customer, while not forgetting who’s the buyer and who’s the seller.

Yesterday after work, I went to Pentagon City to pick up a few things. I hit Yankee Candle and when I walked in, was greeted and asked if I needed help. They correctly assumed that my headphones were off and spoke to me normally. By the time I was ready to check out, every employee that had passed near me greeted me and asked if I needed any assistance. It turned out that one of the items I’d purchased wasn’t eligible for the buy one get one 50% off offer on the largely advertised sale banner and the woman at the register apologized that it wasn’t more clear. I wasn’t bov’vered, because I didn’t want any of the sale item scents.

I had similar experiences at Cole Haan and Coach, where I was just browsing, but each of their employees listened to what I was looking for and showed me a few items. At Kenneth Cole the employee went into the back and brought out a few extra briefcases trying to find something I fancied. Unfortunately I did find something I like, but I’m thinking that the price might just be too high, even if I am treating myself to a gift.

Then I got to the Apple Store. I walked in, no greeting, not even an acknowledgment from the employees that weren’t helping other customers. I found what I needed on my own, though the iPhone cases were kept separately from the iPod cases and I couldn’t browse them initially due to an overzealous sale to a customer. Even saying excuse me didn’t get the employee to move. After I had everything stacked up that I planned to buy, I didn’t see an obvious place to check out. They had changed the layout of the store since I was last there, but there wasn’t any clear “cash register here” signage. I remembered what Tom had said a few years ago, that the employees carry around mobile terminals to check people out, so I kept approaching them, only to have them walk away, or see that they were so involved in their personal (and I mean personal) conversations that I wasn’t sure if my business was even desired! I finally tapped one on the shoulder and asked if I could check out and he looked at me like I was disturbing him and then said, “Is that all you’re buying today?” Well geez, I’m sorry I’m not in the market for a macbook or an iMac, just this $150 or so of merchandise for me today. He didn’t smile, he didn’t make conversation, he couldn’t even work the card swipe terminal correctly and it totally threw him when I asked if they offered a government discount — they used to ask that up front. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I’ve had days when I walked into that same store and was at least asked if I needed any assistance or wanted to see them demo a product for me. I feel like next time I may as well just order online, with free shipping the items would come right to my office and I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone face to face.

I’m sure it was my already distracted state of mind, but that Apple Store run really soured me on using their retail locations, or at least that one. Unfortunately, until they put one in DC proper, it’s the most convenient for me. Ah well, I nabbed some Honeycrisp apples at the farmers market today, so I’ll just be happy about that. It’s also National Cheeseburger Day, so I think I’ll have to celebrate this evening when I get home. Also, I feel like I’m talking/blogging too much, someone get me a cocktail to shut me up, can’t drink and blog at the same time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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7 Responses

  1. esprix says:

    OK, they were downright rude. I’d have asked to speak to a manager.

  2. shin says:

    Re: Apple – the question should be, “Who do I have to frak to get service around here?” Perhaps guy with the mobile terminal was in need of some lovin’ – ok, stop right now.

    You’re overdue for that happy hour.

  3. Chris Woody says:

    Brian,

    There is a blurb at the bottom of your receipt that gives you a link for the customer service survey. I strongly suggest that you fill it out. As a former employee of that store, I can only tell you that things won’t change until enough people push for it, because not every Apple store is like that one.

  4. Brian says:

    @esprix: If it were a normal weekend day and I hadn’t been at the office all day, I might have. I’m slowly learning my limits of patience when it comes to asking for a manager. In this case, asking for one would have taken up more of my time and likely had no lasting effect.

    @shin: I could do so much better. :eyeroll:

    @Chris W: Good point, I’ll check the receipt and fill out the survey. It was just disheartening because I’ve seen that store as such a good retail addition, but last night it was like “typical DC” no service, clockwatching, commission sale or forget it.

  5. Fredo says:

    RE: Apple Store
    Wow, it sucks you had such a screwy experience. As a current employee, I promise that not all stores are like that. We’re not perfect, but we do our best to acknowledge everyone that comes in. In fact, I think that’s one of the first things covered in training.

    Stores are getting remodeled/rearranged, and cash registers are slowly going away. My store was due for a remodel two months ago and it’s been pushed back. And unless something’s changed since my last shift a week ago, government discounts can only be done at the register, not the handheld units (aka Easy Pay, which even the more experienced staff have trouble with sometimes).

    It sounds to me like you got someone new and/or inadequately trained. I’ll second what Chris said about the feedback link and esprix said about talking to a manager.

  6. Chris Woody says:

    In the Pentagon City, Gov’t Employee Discounts are rung up on the Easy Pay under the Business Discount category. It’s a special exception that is made in that store due to the lack of cash wrap post-remodel, until the next Easy Pay update comes along that will provide that functionality without a workaround.

    As a manager, it used to drive me nuts that the staff in that store was not dedicated to the customer. It showed in their metrics, their customer service feedback, and most of all it showed just in how the store felt when you shopped in it. I finally grew tired telling the same people over and over to go help customers instead of sharing stories about their weekend, and it’s unfortunate since I really used to love my job.

  7. lew says:

    As an Apple employee, having worked in CA., then transferred to a new store opening, I’d like to apologize for how poorly you were treated. It is true that offering a greeting regardless of current involvement is part of training. Sadly, ๐Ÿ™ not everyone heeds those admonitions. I would encourage you to offer feedback to the management team, positive or negative. As a person “not 20 or 21 anymore”, I find the lack of initiative and common courtesy in my co-workers appalling. If management is unaware of a problem, it can’t be addressed. Please don’t allow this unfortunate experience to sour you on Apple retail. There are many in the division that genuinely care and are passionate and knowledgable about the products and services offered.

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