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Friday, December 12, 2008

Down With Big Box!

I have to whinge today (my husband is British- it's means whine and complain and be all cranky about something, it's a good word:-) about the crappy customer service at Big Box Stores. I'm gonna name names too!
The other day my friend told me that Future Shop was having a one-day-only Customer Appreciation Sale: 10% off everything (except Ipods of course, nobody discounts the mighty Apple, perish the thought)
So, I log in and find the cutest PINK Canon Powershot digital camera for my daughter's birthday. On sale already, plus the 10% off, cool.--- ok, I log in and order it. Ohhh....and LOOK- you can set it for pick up at your local store to avoid the shipping charges. Perfect. We have a Future Shop within spitting distance from our house. Oh, Not Perfect. They are out of stock at our store. That's ok, find another store about 25K down the road that has it listed in stock. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great!
Next morning I wake up to an email saying my order has been cancelled due to the camera not being available at that store. It says my credit card has not been charged and I need to start over and order it again.
But wait...that was only a one-day sale! So, I call up the customer service number on the website. Nice, friendly call centre guy says "no problem, just order it again and call us back and we will credit you the 10%' Ok, that's a bit annoying, but it will work.
Back to the website. Ordered it again, this time at a store downtown. We had plans to go to an event near that store 2 days later (last night) so I set it for pick up there. Checkout. Confirmation email. Great! This time, I get a "your order has been filled" email. Yes!! We're all set. It says "you have 3 days to pick this item up at the store" Perfect.
I call the customer service number back. "I'm sorry ma'am, but we can't apply discounts for online purchases. It will be up to the store to decide if they want to give you the discount" He says he will call the store for me and find out. He comes back and says "ok, they agreed to do it if you bring in the appropriate flyer mentioning that sale" I figure the flyer must be in the pile of newspapers I have waiting for recycling, so I agree. (of course, the flyer was no where to be found) I figured I'll just argue for the discount in person.

So, last night we get to the downtown store and line up in the (long) line at the Customer Service counter. I show the printed copy of my "your order has been filled" email, and the worker bee goes off to the little room around the corner to find our camera. We see an empty box for the same camera behind the counter and the other CS guy says 'this is what it looks like' and puts the box on the counter. We discuss how we are going to carry that around all evening (ridiculously large box for a tiny pocket camera) Our CS girl comes back out of the room empty-handed, smiles at us slightly as she walks by and out into the store "I'll be right back" she says. I realize she's going out to the camera dept to try to find one on the shelf and I KNOW she isn't going to find one. The website showed low stock and very few stores with any left.

She's gone for a while. (we are now late for the event we were attending) The other CS guy says "I know we have one of those locked up" and goes off after CS girl. We stand there for many more long minutes. We see CS girl across the store animatedly chatting to another worker bee. Obviously not work related. We imagine "yeah, I'm going out after work tonight, what are you doing? That's sweet dude, where did you get your nose-ring?" Blah blah blah. We shift from foot to foot.
Eventually, she saunters back over to the CS dept (empty-handed as we expected) and lays our paper on the counter. "It seems to be gone" she says flatly. Other customer service guy steps in as I say incredulously "Are you kidding me?" He starts tapping on his keyboard and brings up a list of stock. Negative 2. I say "someone sold my camera to another customer?" CS girl says "you have 3 days to pick it up" I say "this is day TWO--- here we are" CS guy says, "hmmm, it says there is one at Metrotown store, shall I call them?" I rant and rave a bit about "how could they sell an item that was clearly already sold to another customer?", etc etc. Jon says something about how they get commission for sales made in the store (unlike online sales) CS guy makes the call...."are you sure? No, Charles-listen- the PINK one. The one with case included....not on the shelf? not in the back? It says you have one left (we are now seriously late for the event we were heading to)....can't find it? Oh, ok"
He turns to us with a fake, sympathetic look and shrugs. I say "this is the worst customer service I have ever seen" He looks like he wants to shrug again, but restrains himself. He says "the best I can do is sell you a silver one for 10% off" I say "No. I wanted that camera" He mumbles something about throwing in a $25 gift card as well. I think he was scared that I was going to start shouting soon.

We take our USELESS order confirmation paper and walk out.

Today, we're off to our local PHOTOEXPERT to find the perfect camera. You know what? I really don't care if I have to pay more. I KNOW they will give me excellent customer service and will probably teach my daughter how to use it if she goes in after her birthday with it.

DOWN with the BIG BOX. Shop the little guy stores....they actually care!

Bonus-- Just checked their site and they have the SAME CAMERA there. SAME price as evil big box empire....yeay! Today is a happy day.

Update: Got an email from Future Shop online asking me to fill out a survey about my online purchasing and store pick-up experience. I can't say I've had more fun filling out a survey in a very long time. I'm sure I will not hear back from them, but it was a nice way to vent my frustrations!


ingermaaike said...

Arrgghh that "sorry can't be helped wasn't my fault" look. Wants you to want to jump over the counter to do some vigorous shaking! Yay for the little guy that cares :0D

BonTons said...

Talk about fustrating. If only the kids knew what we go thru to get them that perfect gift....I'm sure your daughter will love her present!

Dan said...

In their defence, they only do things like this because they hate their customers, and in fact all human life.

Don't get too upset at the CS people - chances are the salespeople sold it anyway (the system allows this), probably intentionally. On top of that, it's trivially easy to lose things in the warehouse.

Having been the warehouse staff responsible for finding things the salespeople have sold but we can't actually find, I can assert that this stuff happens ALL THE TIME. I can't count the times when a salesperson has had to stall a customer for over an hour while we looked for one of the five (!!) large speaker sets that the computer erroneously said we had in stock.

The smaller the store, the easier it is to keep track of inventory.

Helen said...

Thanks Dan. This wasn't really a warehouse situation. They just had a little room behind the CS desk where all the online ordered items were set aside. I'm sure it was sold intentionally. That's my point.
I know it happens all the time...that's also my point!

Jessica said...

James says that I'm a customer service nazi but I don't care. I was in the service industry for years and made the crappy wages and still bent over backwards to make sure customers were happy...because that was my job.

We had a similar experience at Best Buy last year. They didn't have the advertised product in stock...or the next closest thing...or the next. When we asked the woman in the computer department if she could help us out and/or recommend something she DID shrug! We were seriously pissed. We walked out and went to Circuit City, where they were super helpful...and we spent $3500.
We don't shop at Best Buy anymore...

Helen said...

Yep, I think NOT shopping there anymore is probably the best way to deal with a customer service issue that the store doesn't bother to make right.
I bought the camera yesterday at PhotoExpert:-) (last pink one they had!)

Christy said...

How SO frustrating. Sometimes you get the feeling that they really DON'T care because as long as they are still getting paid, what does it matter?

Manderly-Rose said...

OMG! Tis the season for stupidity! I refuse to shop at more and more "big" stores these days. I love your term "Evil Empire". My evil empire is WalMart. I love that someone else uses the same phrase :-)

I hope you get your camera and that your daughter loves it.

Shauna said...

Ugh - what an awful experience! One of the many reasons I don't miss retail. Your story seemed more like an episode of Seinfeld when Jerry rents the car and gets to the rental booth and they don't have any cars left. Go small business and happy holidays!! Sending love from Oregon!