Monday, October 5, 2009

Try 411

So I answer the phone with my usual greeting identifying the store and giving my name, and then I ask what the caller needs help with.

"Yeah, do you have the number for Arrow Fastener on route 46?"

As I usually do when caught off guard, I just kinda sat there for a moment before finally spitting out, "I'm sorry, Sir, what did you need?"

"I need the number for Arrow Fastener on route 46."

I don't know who he thought he was calling, but I politely informed him that he'd called a retail store.

"Oh," he says. OK, so he didn't realize who he'd called. A simple mistake, right? "Well, do you know the number?" he asks.

"Sir, we don't exactly keep a catalogue listing all the phone numbers of other businesses in the area."

"Oh," he says. He sounded genuinely thrown off that we didn't have those numbers there for him. "Well, where do you think I can get it?"

"Did you try calling 411 for information?"

"That's a good idea," he says. "Thanks for your help."

What I want to know is what drove him to dial our number in the first place. Was it a miss-dial? Did he just hit a bunch of numbers to see what happened?

Shopping tip of the day for 10/5/09: Contrary to the accusations of many, retail employees for the most part (and I stress that - FOR THE MOST PART) are not out to get you. If you ask for a particular type of product, and we suggest a specific model, it isn't because it's cheap crap that you'll have to replace in a month thus bringing the store repeat sales. If we decline your return, it isn't because of the color of your skin. If we put something on sale and it sells out, we aren't trying to bait-and-switch you - in fact, in almost all cases we will offer to order it for you or direct you to another of our stores in the area that has it in stock. Whatever the situation, we're not walking around all day coming up with schemes to rip you off at every turn. If I suggest a printer based on your needs, don't accuse me of chosing that one because the cartridges for it are expensive. If we don't carry a pen refill, it's because there are too many pens out there for us to ever be able to carry the refills for each one, not because we're trying to force you into buying entirely brand new pens.

Now, I will say that there are companies and/or associates that will attempt to take advantage of people by various means. Having worked retail for eleven years and seen a lot of employees come and go, I think I can safely say that the percentage of retail workers who fall into that catagory has got to be around 2%. Granted, they say 90% of statistics are made up on the spot, but the point I'm trying to make is that I've come across very FEW people who actually try to take advantage of customers. So I guess I'm requesting that you give us the benefit of the doubt and try not to assume that we're somehow scamming you. When you have that perception, it comes across in your attitude, and that will affect OUR attitudes and make the entire experience worse for everyone involved.

Besides, what do we have to gain by trying to scam you anyway? The majority of retail stores don't pay commission anymore, so what would be our motivation? A more profitable company? Bah, that does nothing for us. It's not like they raise our salaries when the company performs well, so what do we care?

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