Monday, January 21, 2008

When Customer Service Goes Wrong

As many people are well aware, CompUSA is going out of business. Their stores everywhere are offering up to 40% off what they have left in stock (although most of it is only 5-10% off). I went to one last weekend (in CT...I don't think they have any in the Lehigh Valley) and picked up a carrying case for my Wii. I just read a story on The Consumerist about a man's experience in attempt of purchasing a 10% off iMac. Apparently, he was turned down when he tried to pay with cash, and was impolitely informed that "a purchase like that" needs to be paid with a credit card. Odd policy for an electronics store, but apparently legal for each store to set its own policy. Maybe they had an incident when someone purchased something expensive with counterfeit bills.

Anyway, I understand that the story is coming from the consumer's perspective, but it sounded like the CompUSA's employees handled it very poorly. They lost a sale for it. It's amazing how rude people at the register can be...and they contribute to lost sales.

I ran into one of these incidents last weekend (also in CT), at an Express. I found something to buy. Now, first of all, their store layout was not conducive to organization (the registers were formed in a circle, and racks were placed too close to the registers (point being, it made it difficult for customers to form a line).

I decided that a line extending from this circular register formation was the most appropriate, but noticed that another customer was already there, who took on the "wrap around the circle" formation. I would have moved, but there was a rack in the way, so I stayed put, duly noting that the other customer would go before me. "Do you need a fitting room sir?" "Umm, no, I'm ready to checkout" "Ok, because there's actually one line, over here [pointing behind the wrap-around customer]" I hesitated (because she said it in a bitchy tone), then walked all the way around the racks behind the other customer. About 2.9 seconds after I got there..."Can you all form a line over that way? [pointing exactly where I was previously standing!]"

I quickly debated in my head whether she was screwing with me or simply dumb enough to make me move twice (I decided on the latter). Now, I'm a very patient person...there are people who would have jumped over the register and ripped the girl's head off for doing what she did. But even in my patience, I debated just throwing the item back on a rack and leaving. I decided to go through with my purchase (remember that MTV show Boiling Points? I totally would have won the money on that show). My point is, if you're ringing people up at the register, shouldn't you realize that you're making a huge impression on the customer's experience? I went through with the sale (at a whopping 16 bucks), but the next time I see SALE signs in front of an Express, I won't go...and just because of one sales rep's actions (16 bucks/year down the drain for them!)


Kev's awesome GF said...

That sales rep (that's what they call them there- I totally was one in HS) was a grade A dummy. Not that my insult is particularly clever, but she couldn't have 'registered' her way through that store, never mind dealt properly with customers. And this isn't to say that I didn't make Kev wait another five minutes while I searched for velour pants in a small, but I AM saying I wouldn't have bought them anyway. Ha.

KW said...

I love it..."couldn't have 'registered' her way through..." ZING!!