Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Customer Disservice

As most women do, I spend an inordinate amount of time in retail venues of one sort or another. There is food, clothing, entertainment and edification to be procured, and as the household steward, it falls to me to provide them. My role has led to a startling observation regarding customer service, which is, quite simply…nobody cares, least of all the managers who are charged with the running of these establishments.

At the grocery store, I am met at the checkout by a sullen gaze and stony silence which is broken only to bark out a total. My eggs are packed beneath a pound of flour and a bottle of Juicy Juice. My bread is sandwiched (pun intended) between canned goods, and my chips are ground into greasy smithereens by a box of laundry detergent. And nothing, but nothing is quite so maddening as arriving home to find that a small much needed item is missing from the bags, but not the receipt. I have taken to packing and carrying my own groceries and will forcefully discourage baggers from approaching with a malevolent glare. Groceries are too expensive these days to risk such destruction and it galls me to have to tip someone who has blithely mangled my muskmelon.

And what about clothing stores? I remember the days when salesladies would gladly fetch a hopefully smaller size, suggest a matching top or accessory, and offer honest, but kind opinions. Nowadays they simply lurk in the aisles, glancing around balefully; watching with eagle eyes as you enter the dressing room, but not venturing near enough that one might mistakenly assume they are there to offer assistance.

What is to blame for this decline in industry standards? I think it is the industry itself, which has become like the discount warehouse stores we frequent so gleefully. There is anything one would ever want in every size, shape and color one could possibly want it, but no window dressing, no amenities. The pride that once came from ownership is now swallowed up by the corporate bottom line. Customer service takes a backseat to profit margins and fiscal concerns.

I live in a large Metropolitan area. The phrase “urban sprawl” is woefully inadequate to describe the relentless development that occurs here. In such a place, mom and pop businesses are hard to find. When I find one, I patronize it with single minded loyalty as my own personal screw you to big business. I am under no illusion as to the impact this will have on Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart, but it makes me feel marginally better about the state of things.

I like being called by name. And I don’t mean in that I just read it off your credit card way. I like being thanked for my business. I like it when a store owner or clerk recommends an item because they remember me and they remember what I like, not because the computer gave them an itemized list of my last 47 purchases. Is that really so much to ask when I am handing over a disconcertingly large percentage of our hard earned money? I don’t think so, but apparently Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart does.

Still, I suppose Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart serves it’s purpose. I guess those who drop out of highschool because they got the head cheerleader pregnant have to work somewhere. And I suppose that all those children in Columbia would just be out on the streets doing something shiftless like…playing if they weren’t working in sweat shops turning out more affordable crap for the American consumer. And who would clear all that irksome forestation that clutters the landscape with unsightly greenness if not for Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart?

Yes sir, they are an important cog in the Capitalist wheel. And hey, who needs meaningless pleasantries when you can get your heart’s desire for $9.99 or less?


  • At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am glad to see your migrane is gone! I think that consumers have contributed to the decay of the retail world as well. Being busier - i.e. more rushed when shopping - means that many time people do not want help, assistance and/or suggestions. They not only want cheap and imitation, but silence and ambivalence. It's also a much more cynical society today, meaning, "is that shopgal just showing me that because she wants to sell it? (duh) or would it REALLY look good with this shirt?" I think we, as a society, have dug our own hole. I, personally, like to support every retail establishment I can. So I shop everywhere! ;-)

  • At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also think it stems from manners not being important to some. One of my biggest pet peeves is not being thanked for shopping/buying at any establishment. For some reason, it bothers me even more at McDonalds and I don't know why. I always make it a point to look into the persons eyes and say Thank You just to show that even though I only bought a $4 meal, I still appreciate that they cooked it and bagged it for me so I could eat on the go.

    Interesting post - thanks for the food for thought! Also, I really like your blog.

  • At 1:45 PM, Blogger Antique Mommy said…

    Two things - the whole service issue, or lack thereof, is frightening considering we are service based economy. These days if someone actually does/delivers what they were supposed to, I'm surprised. The other thing is that my MIL has had a little Main Street boutique in a small town for 25 years and it's sad how Wal-Mart has decimated small town retailers.

  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    I'm with you, I love the Mom and Pop stores and I try to frequent them often. Unfortunately, the party line is this: If you shop at a smaller store you're paying higher prices for similar items that the Mega Stores sell at a fraction of the price (not always true) because they buy in such large quantities and, subsequently, get discounts... which they pass onto the customer. However, I would happily pay the extra money to get prompt, courteous service with a smile. Hell, these days I would be happy to stumble across an employee that knew their ass from their elbow.

  • At 2:32 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    I am so with you 100%.

    Last week one of my favourite little mom and pop stores closed down because they couldn't compete. Makes me crazy.

    But there is demand and the masses seem happy to support the sweat shop produced propaganda. Oh actually I could get going on this and not stop. If you lived closer I'd invite you out for a drink!

  • At 7:16 PM, Blogger Tori said…

    It's funny because I come from the UK where there is zilcho customer service. You even have to pack your own groceries....
    So to me the US is still a world apart from what I'm used to. Still even in the time that I've been here, I've noticed a change. SOmetimes I think I should have been born in Victorian times. We recently went to the Train Museum in Sacramento and walked through an old sleeper compartment. There was a man (not real sadly) who handed you your towel after you'd been in the bathroom! Love That!

  • At 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, as someone who has something more than a GED, who also works a second job at a Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart, and who works very hard to provide friendly, knowledgable customer service, I will say that for every return "thank you" I get from a customer (that is, if they can get off their cell phone long enough to look me in the eye), I get "you're just a high school drop-out lowly minimum wage retail worker so I can treat you like crap" attitude from another thrity customers. It begins to wear.

    I've found that the best way to change the service you're getting anywhere is to complain to the management, in writing, and copied to the District Manager at least.

    Believe me, a lot of us would love to work at a mom and pop store if the job were available, but often times, somewhere between integrity and ideals are four small mouths that need to be fed and a husband that left for another woman. So, go easy. If your eggs are being crushing your eggs, a gentle reminder and a kind smile might change both our day.

  • At 5:50 AM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Oh believe me, I know very well that rudeness is a two sided coin. I have worked in retail as a teen-ager and as an adult, and I too tried very hard to give the kind of service I would like to receive. I know that attitude that you refer to well. Perhaps I should have done a piece about manners in general, as they seem to be generally lacking these days.


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