Anne’s View Uncut – Week 31

Image: Retail Sales

I’ve had little time this week to do much more than walk from shop to shop and complain. It feels as though I’ve spent more time dealing with idiot sales people than I’ve dealt with computer problems … and that’s saying something. To date, I have crashed 4 computers and owned 6. The head count for idiotic counterjumpers is incalculable!
One High Street chain in particular (the name of which is more in keeping with hot spicy food than electrical appliances) earns my eternal scorn and criticism for their less than helpful customer service – on more than one occasion …

An Undertaking of no Hope!

I have had grounds to complain a few times just lately and all for the same reason. It seems that I am asking too much of retail staff in Cambridgeshire stores!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good set-to every now and again. It’s what separates me from the powerless. But of late it’s been damn near everyday – and everything I attempted to purchase!
I mean, far be it from me to overstretch the little dears whose job it is to serve the customer or, dare I suggest it, even know a little about the product they are supposed to be shifting.
But it appears that I am asking too much of the young counterjumpers of today to be familiar with their own stock or able to make change without counting on their fingers.
For instance, I set myself the task of buying a new digital camera since my previous model had all but given up the ghost. Well, actually I fear it was more that I had downloaded a corrupt file and somehow in doing so I deactivated my camera … either way I was left camera-less and in need of a replacement.
Wouldn’t you think that such a mission would be rudimentary – what with today’s glut of all things technical, electronic and digital on the market? Did you know that there are actually digital toothbrushes in the stores? Evidently if you programme the bionic contraption to remember your preferences for dental maintenance, you are guaranteed a consistent cleaning routine twice a day! How bloody bone idle do you have to be to rely on a machine to memorize the amount of pressure to apply, which direction to brush in first or for how long? And who was complaining about the manual toothbrush so much that this gratuitous species was invented?
But I’m getting off the point …
Anyway, while in conversation with a particular lad concerning said camera, I began to notice a lack of confidence when I asked him the simplest of questions like, whether one brand used rechargeable batteries or cell batteries.

Now, I don’t wish to imply that the kid is stupid but obviously he’ll never be NASA material.

Now, I don’t wish to imply that the kid is stupid but obviously he’ll never be NASA material. Furthermore, for me to recognise someone else’s lack of technical proficiency is rather like President Blair recognising a lie (see …see how I worked that in there? I’m not even talking about politics and I managed a dig … I know, it’s a gift).
To demonstrate my incompetence – it recently took a computer technician four tries before I was able to identify what driver my CD was trying to install into, onto, whatever, and I only had two choices. And I’m not even sure now that that was his question! Unfortunately for Mr. Technician his troubleshooting was being done via the telephone so he was stuck with me until I finally established what he was talking about. Clearly I am not what you would call scientifically minded! However, I’m practically a computer geek compared to this no-hoper working in a popular High Street electrical store. In the end I decided to forgo all dealings and try another retailer. To cut a long story short, three “another retailer” later and I was still without a camera.
This same pattern was repeated two days later when I attempted to exchange a lamp. The bright spark (pun intended) at the counter asked what was wrong with it once the item was debagged and sitting in front of her. I replied that the fault was that it didn’t light up … the bulb …. you know, that roundish thing inserted at the top bit (for a split second, I could’ve sworn she didn’t know it was a lamp). Bless her, she eventually unfurled her confused brow and managed to ask if I had tried a different light bulb. Her insightfulness would have held a lot more weight had she not been staring at the plug with utter bewilderment! Needless to say, my answer was less than Christian!

What is it with sales people? I mean, it isn’t as though I went into a bakery and expected them to clean my shoes.

What is it with sales people? I mean, it isn’t as though I went into a bakery and expected them to clean my shoes. I didn’t arrive at the electrical goods store and ask that someone comb my hair! But I might as well have on both occasions. And what exactly does their training consist of if not product awareness and customer management?
These days it’s almost a regular occurrence for a large retail outlet to go bust … And I’m beginning to think it has a lot more to do with the dopes they hire than the needless contraptions they’re trying to sell!

6 replies
  1. Helen Blake
    Helen Blake says:

    Nice to see the new re-vamped Ely Online site.

    I left Ely/Little Downham nearly a year ago and I miss it a great deal. I am now living on the Isle of Lewis in a very remote village. The weather is beyond awful and I can’t remember the last time I was warm. The worst thing is the fact that nothing grows here. All of you living in the Fens should make the most of the fact that vegetables and fruit (we even had grapes just before I left) grow well in the rich soil and are not regularly blasted by force 9 gales. On the plus side up here we have a wonderful selection of wildlife and interesting rocks…..when you can get out to see them!

    On the shopping front if Anne de Bondt thinks Ely is bad, we have the equivalent here, in Stornoway. Forget trying to buy clothes, you only need a basic winter wardrobe or oilskins. Nope, the main fight here is to get your hands on fresh fruit and veg, especially if the ferry doesn’t make it in bad weather. Oh well, at least I am not spending 3 hours per day on trains.

  2. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    How snooty and assuming of this Anne woman! There I was searching for something very different from what this subject/internet site holds, but still, I came across this article and I’m not sure what caught my eye, probably boredom but anyway…

    How snooty and assuming of this Anne woman waffling on in her snobbish tone about how she got some bad service in an electrical store. Diddums! It does make me angry when people put all service industry workers down to being lowly and brainless. But how wonderful of Mary to step in there with her words of wisdom – well done!

  3. Anne de Bondt
    Anne de Bondt says:

    No, no, no … Sorry Mary but I can not accept that appalling customer service is merely/possibly down to badly trained employees. The management may very well deserve some blame for not taking sufficient interest in their proletarian apprentices … and it might even be a case of a junior executive leading an even junior’er trainee … but c’mon!
    The dopes I encounter would have difficulty finding their derrieres with both hands and help! That’s not a case of poor preparation and training; at best it’s a case of the blind leading the blind.
    And I find it difficult to allow the McIdiots of this world or the dope trying to remind himself exactly what it was he was supposed to be selling when I attempted to buy a camera from him the benevolence you afford them.
    You may have been a one-in-a-million employee but you stand alone. Even with better instructions on customer care or product awareness, most shop boys and girls of today would continue to be a few pennies short of a pound!

  4. Mary McGuire
    Mary McGuire says:

    I hear what you’re saying Anne – I’ve been treated pretty shabbily in electrical store, myself – but I think that while yes, some of these people are a bit gumby-ish a lot of it’s down to management or the way the company structure works (badly). So, before you dismiss them all as idiots I’d say this.

    One, I used to work for a simalarly large, amorphous organisation and the difference between, say, two teams of people in a call centre doing exactly the same job could be huge. They were all people like us, the difference lay in how they were managed.

    The reason the lad didn’t know about the way the camera worked was not necessarily because he wasn’t NASA material, trust me, if my own experience is anything to go by he’s probably two years into his English degree and only works part time. Nope, it’s much more likely that the problem was caused by a complete absence of any training on the part of his employer. Either that or they are training him about their range of fridges and with characteristic aptitude have put him on cameras because they’re short staffed. Doubless he had never been briefed about that particular product – he probably didn’t even know they stocked it until you pointed it out to him and began to ask questions. Doubtless he hadn’t been shown how it worked, either and so he was trying his best to help but genuinely didn’t know about it, beyond the point and shoot basics. That’s not his fault, that just makes him somebody who doesn’t know about cameras, it doesn’t make him an idiot but it does mean his employers are MORONS. It also means his line and store managers are unlikely to be the kinds of people who could manage their way out of a paper bag – let alone manage anything else.

    Two, on a more general note, but kind of leading on I’d like to say this. Judging by the way members of the public have treated me in my various “service industry” jobs – with something between disdain and outright loathing – it’s no wonder a lot of “McIdiotsâ€? can be a little defensive to customers.

    I was absolutely gobsmacked at how unpleasant people were to me for absolutely no reason other than that they disliked the organisation for which I worked or perceived my job as being “lowerâ€? than theirs and treated me accordingly. Cambridge is especially bad for this kind of behaviour – hence the extra surleyness of our “service industry” employees.

    As a result, no matter how polite you are, yourself, as a punter, you may well find that a lot of people in “lowly” (I use the term advisedly) jobs are conditioned, by their previous experiences, to assume all customers will be rude and condescending – rather in the way many of us find that we are conditioned, by previous experience, to assume that they will be surly idiots. They have no pride in their jobs – another thing which bad management takes away – so they already care little about customer satisfaction. Worse, as customers, our low expectations may be subtley reflected in our behavour or our tone of voice, putting them on the defensive before we even start.

    Short of sacking all their managers and starting again there’s no real cure – all you can do is try to put yourself in their shoes and treat them the way you would want the customers to treat you if you were unlucky enough to have their job.

  5. Anne DeBondt
    Anne DeBondt says:

    It’s funny you should mention Starbucks, Levi – And particularly the Cambridge location …
    I’ll be interested to see if the Ely staff are any better at serving stale muffins or over stewed coffee!
    And if you really want a good laugh try asking a Mcidiot to hold the pickles… honestly, the look on their face is priceless!

  6. Levi
    Levi says:

    Ooh, you’d better not go to the new Starbucks when it opens then, if the Cambridge staff are a benchmark of intelligence!

    Sales people are rude where ever you go as a rule. The trick is to play the game…

    Ask a member of Curry’s for a Vindaloo, or someone from boots for some knee highs,

    Ask if they have it in ‘Extra medium’

    Or… Go into Burger King and order a Big Mac, when they get upset ask to see the ‘McManager’

Comments are closed.