Posts Tagged ‘complain’

Justifying Obesity

September 23, 2011

“This is the United States, why the hell don’t stores carry larger sizes?”

My customer goes on a tirade, yelling about the fact we do not carry his size 40, and beyond–I also assume other stores in the mall also do not carry his size. He’s so upset while ranting about the size of American people and the fact obesity is so rampant and thus stores should cater to them, his wife is patting his shoulder calming him down. After justifying his obesity for the store, and venting his frustrations at me, even though I honestly tried to help him find is size in black slacks, he throws his clothes down and walks out of the store. Now, I felt about compassionate for him, though not as much as I do for short people whom cannot even fit our shortest clothes and must either hem everything shop in the children’s section nor people whom have extra large thighs or calves or rear-ends, for these are often genetic in origin. Some obesity is genetic, we know as a country, especially the United States of America, this argument only goes so far because many of us were raised on fat and grease, fast-food, unhealthy eating, and growing up with the worst habits possible because of our wealthy spoiled social self-beliefs. Shall I include smoking, too?

In a country where ‘super-size me’ is an epidemic being curbed, you’d wonder if society is being helped out by making it harder to acquire the largest sizes; where extremely heavy-set individuals must pay for two plane seats to ride, if they do indeed take up two seats; even the ideal of having a super-heavy duty-sized car comes with additional taxes and prices just because of their sheer size, which is obviously a detraction, but still worth noting. I don’t often hear an argument from large people who fly on planes saying, “I only wear size 44-pants and XXXL shirts, I can only fit so much in a suitcase, obviously you shouldn’t charge me for extra luggage, because this is a vacation I’m going on I need a minimum amount of clothes and it won’t fit in one suitcase!”

Honestly, when I first started working in retail the topic of size came up, and the cost of clothing. I did argue that larger sizes should cost me, of course I was surrounded by much larger coworkers whom were upset with my remark, and of course took this in the most illogical way possible, commenting how fat people are already ostracized and discriminated against–as if gay people, and straight men aren’t discriminated and prejudiced in the fashion world as well? How many times do I have to act more girly just to make a woman believe what I’m telling her? Or how many times I’ve been passed up by a customer so they can ask a sloppy dressed new-girl her opinion just because she lacks a penis?

Either way, let us say you walk into a fabric store and you find a roll of fabric you love for $5. You find another roll of the exact same fabric, yet lo-and-behold, you can get two yards for the same price! Would this make sense to you? Would you pay for one-yard of fabric for $5, if you can get two-yards of the same fabric for $5? If you pick the first option, I really need to find something to sell you. Obviously, you’d want more fabric for the same cost. When I’m shopping for denim fabric in the sale section, do you think I’m going to buy the smallest sizes available? Not when I can purchase the largest size and get twice as much fabric for the same cost. You know, some companies are catching onto this, they may call it shrink, but they will charge more if you request larger sizes, because realistically it costs more for more fabric. Hopefully they charge less for the smaller sizes, too. They don’t offer a ‘super-size’ for free (unless it’s a special deal) and they definitely won’t charge you the same price for the kid’s meal. Why? Because of economics.

Also economically speaking, if we consider medium to be the median or middle-size, and this size was chosen as the average size of most human beings in the region–thus American and European sizing is different (I hope you already knew this). Depending on the market in the surrounding area, medium should be the first size to run out–small and large should be secondary, and thus extra-small and extra-large would be the hardest to sell. Time-and-again I used to have extra-extra-large customers come in and raid the sale section, amazed at all the deals they could find–because no one was buying them, because so few customers came in looking for it. Economically speaking, to remain profitable I would make the extraneous sizes harder to acquire. Yet, the sizes are still available online for purchase, which today’s customer didn’t find comforting.

Returning to the subject at hand, justifying obesity, defending obesity, sometimes society does things which I personally acknowledge. The movement away from the popularity of smoking for example, wonderful. The social outcry to environmentally friendly, astounding. The American movement to stop being the most overweight country, to bring health and consciousness back into our lives, and trying to break through the hurdles of self-created weakness and lack of accountability with one’s personal well-being and social inadequacies, especially on a world-class scale, I approve. Just as much as customers need to learn how to treat other people like human beings, they also need to break through other beliefs they grew up with and stop using them as crutches. Some of the most brilliant people emerged from the poorest regions of the world. It is not because they allowed the world they were born into to control them, it is because they capture their own self-worth and belief to take them where they wanted to be.

 

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Retail: The Point

September 19, 2011

The Point is when customers come in, we don’t expect them to buy, we don’t force them–we hope they desire or want what we have to offer. That is our relationship. Somewhere along the line, stores started to add ‘benefits’ to attract the customer. Great customer-service is one thing, slavery is another, but when you add in things like commission, then you begin to enforce this erred system. If people know you are benefiting from their purchase, they know you are worth ‘money’ to them. They know you must cater to them, please them, and find them just what they want to purchase, so you make money off of this. Even in situations where there is no commission, but customers perceive you to be working off commission they treat you differently. They get offended when you’re too friendly, because they think it’s fake. They don’t want to feel like you’re forcing yourself to help them, and they often take genuine help as a sort of contrary–you can’t actually be helping them because you want to, can you? This is how far the simplicity of The Point has gone.

We no longer live in the purity of a system where we provide something you desire, and thus you purchase. We live in a system of competition, most often aganst other companies, but always against ourselves. With modern-technology, we question how many people have visited our stores day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year. We scrutinize numbers, believing them to have the answers, like a Holy Grail. If in the age of mystery, legend, and magic, we could not find the often symbolic, mythical Holy Grail, we will definitely not find it in number crunching. Sure, we can contemplate how to get more customers into our stores. We can consider how to get more people to buy things, but in this process have we lost the Point? In all truth, have we lost the true Holy Grail, which was a simplicity of terms and ideals. It was not mystery and complexity, it was truth hidden before our very eyes. The magic is the fact its not hidden at all, its hidden in plain view.

The technological-age has given us and companies the idea that privacy no longer matters, that customers aren’t just customers while they are in the store, but anywhere and everywhere. We can argue our customers are wearing our clothes, and thus carrying our store with them–as conceited as that may sound. We can argue customers are thinking about our store, and having an online brand is essential to fulfill their needs at any time of the week, day or night. Are they our customers while they browse our websites? Maybe. Are they just our customers the moment they press the buy button? Surely.

The moment we ask customers to fill-out a survey, giving them our name, we lose the Point. If a customer deems our service so commendable to actually fill-out a survey, that should be entirely under their purview. In all honestly, our society and the people whom live within it have only learned to use surveys and reviews for personal uses, often as their own complain box. The impetus for a customer to write something positive is far smaller than it is to write a complain. If we could scale it, I’d say positives are worth pennies to customers, and complaints are worth dollars. They believe in the power of complaint and the smallest irritation is more reason to complain than great customer-service. Ask yourself, to you remember more the salesperson who finds everything you want, and gives you great customer-service or the one who doesn’t do it? Do you remember it because you expect this level of service, that you feel it should always be met and reached? And in all honestly, how often do you even receive this level of service anywhere you go? Yet, it persists in your mind. Yet, you still believe in this level of superior service, and don’t acknowledge the fact it happens far less than it should. Some people say we believe in luck as long as it happens at least once, even if it is one in every thousand. Do we believe in great customers service being the norm, too?

The moment we ask customers to sign-up for a credit card, we lose the Point. I can say any time a store asks me for a credit card, I can just reply with, “Do you have a credit card with this company?” Odds are, they will say no. Odds are, they’re trying to sell something they only ‘know’ about by reading and training. These people aren’t selling something they understand or use. This isn’t like clothing, where you can wear, relate, and communicate to customers to sell in something you believe in. On the rare occasion someone offers me a credit card and has on, we can have a real discussion. Otherwise, this is yet another conundrum retail has created for itself.

The moment we ask customers for an e-mail address, we lose the Point. Sure this is a new age, and a new step forward. We can now send receipts to customer e-mail addresses. Now they can never claim it has been lost–unless it’s a gift, which they’ll solve or have already solved. In the long-run, this will save more trees and create less trash in a world direly in need of eco-friendly methods and ideals. Yet, customers also know this is a step into the ‘privacy’ of their lives–will the receive unwanted e-mails now? Will your store intrude into their personal lives? Sure, you think they’ll think about your store more. Maybe you’ll get more customers to come in. Yet, do you have to ask them to give their e-mail to you? There are many ways to get e-mail addresses from customers, it is how and when you do so which makes a huge difference.

We do not ask for anything from customers, we never should. Our relationship is clear as water. We provide merchandise, we help them find what they want, we help them desire it, and we help them purchase it. The intimacy of that relationship ends then and there. Yes, customers become living advertisements for our clothes. Yes, they can use word of mouth. Yes, they are the power, the electricity that powers and keeps stores alive. Yet, they do so at their own feeling. They tell people because they want to. They’ll wear that perfect outfit when they feel like it. Do you not see, some companies will think of ways to force customers to share their ‘love’ with their friends, they’ll find ways to make customers wear their clothes. This is the greed, the want and the desire of the company, without putting into consideration the customer. This is where the clear water becomes muddied, thick, and filled with grease.

Those who truly understand the Point, these people carry the Holy Grail. This is the Galahad you want by your side. You want someone who understand to just help the customer find what they want. This salesperson will make the customer love what they want, because they love it, not because they have to. Not because they receive e-mails about discounts, not because their credit score is now under your influence, not because you give them the power to complain about your flaws. No, your Galahad will fulfill the needs of the customer and that is all you need. You don’t need to force-feed people to make them happy. Imagine a company whose entire wealth of popularity and fame is based on it’s customer-service–not slavery–but service. They don’t ask anything more form the customer than to see what they have, and to hopefully fall in love with it, and leave with bags of love. This is the company which will not fail. This is the company which shall survive. This is the company which desires to be reborn.

The Company Divorce

August 29, 2011

I was sitting with an older employee, at least one who has been with the company for far longer than I have. She was telling us about one of the worst customers she ever knew. This customer is a woman who they would always help, always give the best service to, and always ended with a smile. Then the woman would leave the store, and call the customer support line to complain about the store. She’d say how rude the employees were, how they didn’t help her, and how she felt so ridiculed and insulted by the service, and she didn’t want to ever shop there again. In response, the company would compensate her with gift cards, free purchases, or some other form of compensation for her terrible experience. Then the store would be called by the corporate-level and spoken to about how they treat their customers, get the sales training workshops, etc.

Eventually, the store manager caught onto this little game. The next time the woman came in, they gave her the absolute best service imaginable. They found everything she was searching for. They did all they could to please her. Then she left, and the store manager called the customer support line to tell them exactly what just happened, and the experience the woman had. Soon after, the woman called to complain about the service, and was caught red-handed. Because of all the ‘gifts’ she had received, she also left a paper-trail of all her ‘complaints’, which were unfounded. The company officially divorced her, and told her she was not welcome back to their stores ever again, and they would not appreciate her business any longer.

It is at least nice to know the customer isn’t always right.

Customer Types: The Complainer, Capitalist

Legal Precedent

December 22, 2010

There is an older woman who comes in and always, always has some problem, or demands something in her favor, even if it is against our policy, and even ethically wrong. Today, it’s busy, I have customers to help, and she comes with her daughter and drags me to find things and do things. Really, there are fifty customers and only one of me. I find the belt they’re looking for, then she wants me to get sandals off a mannequin.

She wants a certain size, and I tell her, “Our mannequins only wear larger sizes, it can’t fit that size.”
“Well can you check the other mannequins?”
What, I don’t speak English? I just told you, it doesn’t fit the size you’re looking for, so it is an impossibility for any mannequin to be wearing that size. “Our mannequins only wear the larger size, it can’t fit that size.”
“Don’t you have more in the back?”
“It’s two days until Christmas, our stock is totally out. Everything is on the floor.”
I go and ask my manager for confirmation, and yes, “No mannequin wears that size. It can’t fit.” So I tell her about this customer, who is always high-maintenance and demanding.
Instead, the woman finds another manager to ask, “Can you check the mannequins if they have this size?” This manager asks the manager I just spoke to, and this woman gets two more confirmations that we don’t have her size.

Let me rewind to the last time she came to the store, and the reason why I won’t put up with her anymore. We had a special sale, during a certain time in the morning. She comes in the night before asking to speak to a manager. You need to ‘check-in’ at our store using a phone application (app) and you can qualify for the special sale.

First, she says she doesn’t have the application, so it’s unfair against her. A manager points out, you can go online, and any phone or computer–even the stores in the mall which have computers–allow you to use this application to ‘check-in’.

Then, she says, “I have a job. I have to work every day from nine-to-five. I can’t come in to this sale. I can’t make it.  This is discrimination! I work at a law firm! This is a legal precedent. I should know! I want to speak to your store manager!”

To which, the store manager is having a conference call, and she said she’ll wait. The whole time, she’s arguing with the manager of the fairness of the sale, and how it works against her. Again, threatening the company as being discriminant against her because she doesn’t have a phone application and she can’t come in because she has a job. Eventually, the store manager does arrive, and tells her the exact same thing she’s been told. And they have a ‘civilized’ argument about it, where the store manager consistently says, “No, it doesn’t work like that. If you can’t make it, find someone else. You aren’t getting the deal.” She continues to argue, saying she’s going to call the company. My store manager says she’s fine with that, and gives her the corporate number.

Fast-forward to today. She’s standing there, pointing at me, while speaking to my manager. The other manager is waving at me to hide. Later, the manager comes to me and says, “She was complaining about you. She said you were so horrible today, you must be in a terrible mood. Usually, you’re so nice and helpful. But today you weren’t helpful at all, and you were so rude.”

Well, lady, I’m not going to be nice to you anymore, you aren’t worth my time or my energy. You are a waste of the time and energy of just me, and my store. I hope your legal precedent and your law firm teaches you more, because you sure don’t know a lot about anything–other than being rude, demanding, stupid, ignorant, irritating, and frankly, I have the right to refuse service, and I refuse to be your slave again. Go panhandle your worthless crap to other people.

Finally, as ‘thanks’ to the manager who helped her, she bought her a shirt as a gift. Obviously trying to curry some favor with at least one of our managers because every single other manager knows what she’s all about. Of course, we can’t accept gifts at our store, as it is legally and ethically wrong, so my manager returned it after she left. I’ll show you legal precedent…

Customer Type: Big Baby, The Capitalist, The Complainer, Micromanagement, Tattle Tale

I See It’s On Sale

June 4, 2010

I’m standing near a table folding, and a woman comes up to me asking, “Everything here, it’s on sale, right?”

Usually such a question is rhetorical, but here she points at a sign on a bench, then waves at a table near it. (Just so you can understand, there is a larger table where the main product is placed, and then there are lower benches near or around the table–like satellites, or moons around a planet.) One bench has a sale sign, and it’s half-hidden by the higher, larger table–so all you can see is the top of the sign, which says, “Sale”. You can see 3/4ths of the word.

I try to tell her the bench is on sale, but the table is not, otherwise a sign would be on the bench and the table. I show her what I mean by placing the sign on the table (which also says, “Sale, Select items”), saying, “This would mean the table is on sale.” Then I put it back down on the bench and say, “This means the bench is on sale. And it says select items anyway.” She keeps arguing with me, saying, “But I can see the sale sign from here! I can see the sale sign from here, that means everything is on sale.”

First, while her jaw is going ‘blah-blah-blah’, I’m thinking, “Okay, the sign is a little big, but it isn’t even on the same table. Well, actually, it’s been there for a while now, and she’s the first person to get confused in over a week, making problems, and getting weird about it. You know, some people live their lives causing this kind of trouble for themselves. They just create stupidity.”

Then, I’m thinking, “If a wall nearby says sale, it doesn’t mean everything in the area is on sale. You can’t point and say, ‘Well I can see the sale sign, that means everything is on sale.’ Who says that, other than this woman? Even when a window says sale, it doesn’t mean everything in the store is on sale.” We’re just arguing semantics, and a customer’s ability to demand stupidity. I tell her everything on top of the table is going to ring up full-price, because it is full-price, but the sale items on the bench, they’ll ring up on sale. It’s not like I can change that fact.

Yet, she goes on about being able to see the sale sign; that it’s misleading marketing; that I was trying to trick her into buying something that’s not even on sale; that now she doesn’t want to buy anything at all. I’m sorry, you caught me in my dirty tricks; I wanted you to take something to the register and think its on sale, as if you would not whine and cry when you get there saying, “I can see the sign!” I am left to assume such threats and insults work to scare someone into changing their mind, saying everything is on sale? I just shrug and say, “Okay, but if you change your mind all this stuff on the back bench is REALLY cheap.”

I remember telling my boss about the dumb, fat woman, saying she’s a size-12 and she wanted a new pair of denim on sale, because she could see the top of a sign nearby. My manager replies, “She’s not that fat!”
“Well, because she’s so dumb,” I tell her, “That makes her fat-ter.”

Customer Types: Big Baby, The Blind, Capitalist, Don’t Kill the Messenger, The Dumb

Heat: Bad for You, Worse for Me

May 4, 2010

Our air-conditioning hasn’t been working for a while, and there is no cold-air in the back of the store where the fitting rooms are located. I can basically handle the hot air with very little sweating and no whining and complaining. Yet, customer after customer comes into the fitting room for five to ten minutes and come out saying, “Wow, I’m so hot, why is it so hot in here? I can’t handle it.” They say this with a mix of surprise, and some with irritation and anger towards me, as if I broke the air conditioning, because I’m the Devil. (As my old friend used to joke, “It’s so hot the devil came up and asked us to turn down the heat!”)

The entire time, day-after-day for weeks I worked in the fitting room, running on dehydration and hazy delusions, listening to everyone complain about the heat, and only one–one customer–said to me, “Wow, it’s so hot in here, it must be terrible for you!”