It’s almost Christmas and if you’re brave enough to head to a major department or grocery store – as opposed to shopping online – here’s what you will most likely encounter (or not encounter, to be precise): customers as far as the eye can see, but very few sales assistants.
“Excuse me,” you say to middle-aged Mavis (*not her real name), whom you catch sight of, gossiping with her colleagues in a stockroom at a major department store. “Can I please get some help over here?”
You just want to purchase an item, nothing too taxing, but poor, ol’ Mavis purses her lips in the manner of a cat’s bum, adopts the air of a seriously slighted victim and regards you with contempt: how very dare you interrupt her, you needy, horrible customer?
Being ignored in retail is an all-too familiar problem these days, but equally frustrating is the barely-legal sales assistant who makes a mockery of helping you, almost as if his or her job is beneath them.
Just recently, my best friend and I were shoe shopping at a major department store, and when I asked a young sales assistant for a particular size, she delivered the box, and then asked me to return all the wrong size shoes to the shelves. Say, what?!
Then, another friend recently recounted the tale of when she dared to ask a very young sales assistant for a price on an untagged designer dress, only to have said sales assistant roll her eyes and say her manager would have to get back to her sometime the following week. Frustrated by this appalling lack of customer service, but keen to purchase the dress in a hurry for an event that very night, my friend persevered, and gently suggested: could said sales girl take the time to phone head office to get a price?! Problem solved.
Big business seems aware of the problem – take Myer’s new “Find wonderful” ad campaign: the retail giant’s first brand re-launch for nearly a decade. Finding wonderful? Hell, sometimes, you’d just be happy to find an actual sales assistant in this great era of cost cutting and automated checkouts replacing actual human beings.
And so for many people, shopping online is the Holy Grail: no queues, no parking woes, no one slamming their trolley into your ankles, no sales assistant’s drought = far less stress.
But avid shoppers will surely agree – online shopping definitely has its place, but when it comes to shoe or dress shopping, for example, nothing can replace that actual traditional bricks-and-mortar sensory shopping experience of being able to see, touch and feel different textures and fit.
And, listen up retailers: when you actually do get some great customer service, I don’t know about you, but I’m often so pathetically grateful I feel more inclined – obliged even – to spend up big!
And when it comes to dining out, or staying in a hotel, customer service horror stories abound here too. The smarmy waiter who greets every woman with “Hello lovely lady” who seems more intent on picking up than serving the hordes of actual hungry customers and/or the five-star hotel staff who never even ask you if you enjoyed your stay.
So, is poor staff training and/or an extreme lack of etiquette to blame for the dying art of customer service?
What do you think? Do you have a recent customer service horror story?
Main image via clubtroppo.com.au; second image via setster.com; and final image via blog.zopim.com.
Over the next few days and weeks, many thousands of families across this mighty nation are getting ready to fill their pantries, fridges, freezers and receive those Christmas gifts that they have been paying for all year. Painstakingly selected about 12 months ago, 26 or 52 payments later, here it comes. There might be some cool toys for the kids, a bar set for dad, some grog for the old uncle or even a five-star holiday for the family.
You might have guessed that I’m talking about Chrisco, Hamper King, Castle Hampers and others that cash in on Christmas via payment plan industry. These have been around for years and now the variety has stretched way beyond the humble tin of baked beans in a Chrissy hamper.
Now, I’ve looked into these before and seen many friends and family members empty their energy-sucking fridges and freezers to accommodate the goods they’ve purchased. Not only have they paid decent sums of money for this stuff all year, but then they pay overpriced energy companies for food storage all the way through summer and beyond. What, the air-con isn’t going to add to the price; you need to store excess food as well! Bad luck if the power goes out or someone mistakenly turns off the freezer. Now, I’ve seen that happen too. OMG what a waste!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been handed catalogues and marvelled each year at the ever-increasing range. Gee, that quad bike looks amazing, the kids would love that Metallica pool table and OMG I’d love that new computer. Now, that stuff I understand why people would be tempted. But tempted is all I’ve ever been.
My main deterrent has always been the price. I fail to understand why intelligent women and some men, for that matter, still go through these companies to load up at Christmas time. If I were to head down to the local shops or jump online and have it delivered, I’d be paying around 25% less than what people are paying these companies. That’s $25 for every $100, people!
I’m not the greatest mathematician, but I can certainly see when I’m being ripped off so significantly! So why is this still popular? Why are many struggling families doing this each year? Doesn’t anyone have a smartphone, table, laptop or PC where they can shop on-line and get a Christmas delivery to save a bit of cash? Personally, I’d rather pocket that extra cash. Don’t people do this because Christmas can be so difficult to afford?
Not necessarily. Sheer convenience is all that I can put it down to. I totally understand that it’s much easier to break down Christmas spending into a weekly or fortnightly payment, but there are much better ways to do it.
For example: There are some smaller supermarket chains which you can deposit funds into specifically for Christmas shopping. They offer the same thing and don’t charge you any extra; 100% of the money you pay each week or fortnight is given back to you to spend in-store. They provide a voucher and you don’t need to spend it in one big hit either. You can shop when you like and won’t end up paying extra for food storage.
Then there’s banks or saving institutions. Why not hunt around for a low-fee, high-interest account where you can get a small portion of your pay slipped in there each payday and withdraw the lot at Christmas and shop where the specials are? You can do the Christmas crawl to the shops or shop on-line. It doesn’t matter, because it’s your money to spend anyway you like.
You certainly won’t be limited to what’s in a few catalogues, that’s for sure! You can even pay off holidays and cruises these days, so why on earth are people still doing this? My only advice is, that before you order next years goods, check out the supermarket prices on-line and look into other options. You might still want to pay for the convenience, but with on-line shopping and other options, you can still have that, without the hefty price tag.
Anyway, hopefully I’ve given you something to think about while you’re gearing up for a great Christmas!
Image source: http://automediya.ru/wa-data/public/blog/img/Christmas-Delivery-Dates.jpg