Thursday, September 3, 2009

Uh... What?

Short and sweet today.

A guy comes up to the front with a lamination machine and says in a heavy accent, "Can you tell me how much is machine? I cannot find price anywhere on shelf."

I scan the box and it comes up at $62.99. "This one is $62.99, Sir."

He shakes his head. "No, on shelf it says $49.99."

...What?

Shopping tip of the day for 9/03/09: Most people don't seem to know this, so I'll explain it here. The "Telephone Operator" position was eliminated from most retail stores long ago. When you call a store, you're most often getting the Customer Service cashier. And in some cases, that cashier just might be the only cashier working that shift. That means that the person you're talking to on the phone more than likely has at least two or three customers right in front of them that they're trying to ring up while talking to you. And, of course, those customers are getting angry that the cashier is too busy talking on the phone to help them. So if you call a store and the person on the other end sounds distracted or uninterested, there's a good chance they've just got too much going on at once.

Here are some simple tips to help make calling a store easier for everyone:

1: Start by asking for the department you want. If you have a question about a bicycle, ask for someone who knows about bikes.

2: Keep it simple. When you do get transferred to the proper department, the person who answers will likely also have customers waiting on him. Don't give him the history of how you learned to ride a bike or tell him your whole story of what made you purchase your latest one. Just get to the point. "My bike chain broke. Do you sell replacements?" Easy enough.

3: Don't shop by phone. If you want to know if something is in stock or if they have a large selection to choose from, that's fine. But don't expect the person on the phone to sit there and compare the features of each model with you. If you have that many questions, come into the store and see for yourself. It's a general rule of retail that the customers who got off their butts to come into the store are considered more important that those on the phone.

4: Don't get too technical. Unless you're calling a store that specializes in one particular type of product (a bicycle store, for example), don't expect the person on the other end to know all the technical terms of each component or the specifications for every random product they sell. Remember, if we knew all the technical information about these products, we'd be putting that knoweldge to use to get higher paying jobs than retail sales.

5: Don't complain. We've got customers in the store to take care of. We can't exactly ignore them, but we can easily put you on hold and never come back to the phone. We have customers who actually came into the store to spend money. Of course we'd rather handle them instead of listening to you blame us for not mentioning that shredders weren't designed to shred license plates.

6: Call the right people. If you have an HP printer that won't turn on and it is within the return policy or you bought the extended warranty, call the store. If you have an HP printer that is outside the return policy and you didn't purchase the extended warranty, call HP.

And there you have it. The bottom line is that if you call a store, you're not going to get dedicated assistance because that kind of a position just doesn't exist in most places anymore. If you're on the phone, you're second to the customers who are in the store.

Thus ends the longest tip of the day ever.

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