Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the customer is always right. except, of course, when she's wrong.

disclaimer: if you don't like long winded, lo-o-ng, drawn out blog posts where the writer complains a LOT and moans at length, then better you just keep moving.  this one's for ME!

today i went to wal-mart.
much as it pains me to admit it.
so it serves me right.

the place is under renovation and it's huge.
make that HUGE.
now i know wal-mart already owns most of the free world and has put the rest of the competition out of business, which, in itself, makes me hate them enough to stay away.
and i realize they don't care whether I shop there.
or not.
my measly contribution is not even a drop in their immense bucket.

BUT  i am NOT.
going to shop there ever again.
i made my mind up about that today.
it feels quite freeing now that i've made the decision.

we went to enlarge some photos of her great grandchildren for great nanny noo noo who returns to england next week after a xmas visit with us.
enlarged the 3x5's to 6x8's.
only to find that wallymart doesnt sell frames to fit that size pic.
they had 5x7 or 8x10 frames.
i thought i'd try putting a mat over top of the 6x8 to see how they would look in a frame with a 5x7 opening, if you follow?

endless hunt around the store.
did i mention it's HUGE?
only to be sent on wild goose chases by staff who know less than me about where their stock is.
or what it is.
or, indeed, what it's for.

found out they don't sell photo mats now.
apparently, 'nobody wants them anymore.'
apart from me that is.
me: the only one in the world who wants to buy photo mats.
who knew?

clerk was unable to answer my nice and polite enquiry as to why they MAKE 6x8 photos when they don't, in point of fact, SELL the frames to fit the said photos.
went back to the photo dept  to pick up another pic i'd had enlarged.
it was a nice pic of my little grandson.
the child with the blond hair.
and the lovely smile.
to discover they had decapitated most of it.
his blond-haired head that is.
clerk tried to slide the pic into a large envelope without me seeing it.
i'd made the mistake of paying for it first.
i saw it.
i drew her attention to the top of or, to be more accurate, the lack of a top, on my little grandson's blond-haired head.
she said, by way of explanation,
'this is what happens when you enlarge portrait pictures.'
followed promptly with, as she thrust it towards me,
'if you don't like it, take it to customer service and get your money back. i don't do that here.'

keep in mind, i'd had to wander aimlessly around the store for an hour until the bloody picture was developed in the first place.
did i now feel like joining a massive line up for a $2.57 refund?

during that hour i'd gone on a hunt for adult games.
try to get your mind out of the gutter.
not THOSE kind of adult games.
i mean the kind that adults play at parties.
not THOSE kind of parties.
the kind where you answer trivia questions before the timer runs out, or guess the mime, or draw a picture to illustrate a phrase, all before the buzzer goes.
THAT kind of game.
we had a party last week and played those kind of games, and it was a lot of fun.
we do have very dull lives compared to yours i'm certain.
so i was on the hunt for one of the games we played, which a friend had brought to the party.
i looked in the toys/games section.
seemed like an obvious place to look.
only children's games.
went in search of a clerk.
do i never learn?

"Hi! where do you keep your adult games?"
"not THOSE kind of games."
etc. etc.

lightbulb went on.

"oh yeah like trivial pursuit, like monopoly and like all that stuff?"
'"yes, sort of."
"over in the toys/games section".
"no. you don't."
"yes we do."
"no. you don't. i  just spent 10 minutes over there and you only have children's games."
scratches head.
a light bulb glowed dimly.
'toys r us?'
i wasn't sensing promotion in this kid's future..
but in hindsight,
managerial material for sure.

after i picked up the pics we made our way to the check out.
there are now 31 checkouts in this wallymart.
inevitably, only 6 were open.
necessitating massive lines of unhappy shoppers and dangerous carts.

there was an express line.
i had six items.
so i went to express.
fool that i am.

NOW i know.

in wallymart express does not mean express in the true sense of the word.
it actually means, "stand over here and shut up. we'll get to you eventually. in our own sweet time, not yours!"
i joined the end of a queue which snaked around those cattle herding barrier things.
which i HATE.
i'm british.
WE know how to form a queue without the aid of barriers.
WE invented queuing for god's sake.
WE are famous, amongst other important things, for queuing.
there were 3 check outs open in the express lanes.
it took me 10 minutes to get 'expressed.'
my blood pressure rose a little with every minute.

'did you find everything you were looking for?'
the clerk, who is programmed to do so, enquired, as she rang up my purchases.
as i'd heard her ask every customer ahead of me.
and she didn't see it coming.
'actually no.' i responded.
'just the opposite."  
"in fact." i explained,  " the whole wal-mart shopping experience has been an exercise in futility and one which i hope NEVER to have to repeat.'

deaf ears.
 "cash or debit?"
 she smiled.
as she packed my items into a plastic carrier bag.
the lid came off.
"DO NOT!" i think i hissed. 'put my items into a walmart carrier bag! i have my own bag. i am certainly not going to promote or do FREE advertizing for THIS store.'
great nanny noo noo had made a bit of  distance between myself at the till, and herself, at the end of the check out line where she waited for me to complete my transactions.
she looked around, anxiously, to see if anyone had noticed the mad woman at checkout 3.
as in, ME.

and one more thing.

i've started.
so i'll finish.

in october i went to another large chain store.
i'm not going to name them.
okay, who cares?
they are called losers,  WINNERS.

i bought a coat.
it cost me $200.
it was black wool and long, below the knee.
just what i wanted.
i thought.
and, hopefully, sophisticated.

i wore it last week for the first time.
and therein lay my mistake.
as i walked along the street feeling smart and hoping that i looked it, i heard a 'ping'.
followed by another 'ping.'
i saw 2 buttons rolling along the sidewalk.
in 2 different directions.
both of them away from me.
i only caught one.
the other went down a grating or maybe a sewer.
i couldn't see it.
the wind was whipping my hair into my eyes but my hands were clutching my billowing coat shut.
against the icy wind.

as i arrived at my appointment i no longer looked like the confident, well dressed woman i had hoped to portray.
i looked the opposite of this to be frank.
the coat now seemed to be a sort of magnet for attracting lint.
white fluff.
magnetic dust.
all over me.
i resembled a walking lint roller.
i looked like a woman who had taken a shabby coat from a homeless person as an act of kindness.
to save them the embarrassment of looking dishevelled.

that afternoon i took the coat back to the store.
whereupon i was informed 10 days had passed, (long passed) since i made the purchase.
and after 10 days i was, to put it in the words of the small print on the back of the receipt,
that i had only worn the garment 1X since i purchased it didn't make a jot of difference to the clerk who waited on me, or the clerk's pit boss/customer service manager when consulted, or the manager of the coat dept who added her two-pennorth, or the manager of the store who was subsequently called in to confirm their policy.
which, it would appear,  i seemed to be unable to grasp.
NO refund.
only a store credit.
with tax i had approx. $225 of a store credit.
i went to look for another coat.
the only coat(s) in stock were the same as the one i had just returned.
once bitten etc.
i felt dejected.
i was about to leave.
but i just couldn't do it.
i only wanted what i paid for after all.
a nice coat.
i returned to the clerk and explained my predicament.
'i have $225 to spend in your store. but i want a coat. and you don't have a coat that i can buy.'
"you can spend it on anything you want." she said.
'but i only WANT a coat. i  only NEED a coat. i don't need/want $225 worth of your stock. alas."
the 'alas' to illustrate my willingness to compromise, to show her how reasonable i was trying to be.
enter clerk #2, beady eyed, slightly annoyed look of  'oh it's YOU!  again."
clerk #2 explained the store's policy; this time in a louder voice, with more than a hint of impatience.
nay, downright snooty intolerance.
with a dash of condescension.
i held my ground.
in spite of internal combustion which threatened to erupt.
i did not show my true colours.
(my mother would have been so proud.)
enter clerk's boss/customer service manager, and then dept. manager again.
exchange of knowing looks between the 3 and another reiteration of the store's policy on refunds.
NO refunds.
end of.
"NO buts'.
enter the manager.
all businesslike.
once more.
prepared to wrap me up and dispatch me quickly, troublesome woman that i was.
i explained my position.
to wit: the coat i had originally bought was not satisfactory.
not worth the money i had paid for it as anyone could now so obviously see.
it lay across the counter looking like a bedraggled rag.
therefore, they, as in the store, had fallen down on their end of the deal.
my part of the deal was to pay for a coat that would,
a) look good; as in look like it was worth $200. and
b) not fire buttons in all directions into the street and into sewers or at passing pedestrians as i walked downtown and
3) not make me look like a walking lint roller.

a large sigh.
and a hand.
to me.
in front of my face.
as in "STOP!"
i retained my poise, tho it took every shred of my being to do so.
i knew what was coming.
store manager to clerks #1, #2, customer service manager, and dept manager.
with another sigh of resigned disgust.
as she threw, yes threw, the gift card for the store credit of $225 on the counter and walked away.
'give her a refund.'

she might as well have shouted,
'take your money back and get out of our store NOW. and never darken our doors again. you dissatisfied customer you. you person who expects satisfaction or desires to get what you paid for. you damned NUISANCE. get out. and stop bothering us. we have customers to er serve. well not serve actually. but to sell things to. GET OUT!"

does it have to be this way?
why do i have to get angry when i go shopping?
i'm just not going anymore.
it'll be easier all round.

on a lighter note.
and just in case you've read this far.
(and if so, i thank you for indulging me.)
i'm not sure if i could have returned the favour if this was YOUR story.

my new year's resolution, or one of them, among a thousand other much needed self-improvement resolutions, is to lighten up.
i agree.
it's not before time.
lest you think i am always in a bad mood.
because, of course, i'm not really.
not ALL of the time.
so as i said, on a lighter note.
great nanny noo noo bought herself a pair of track pants. or yoga pants, or jogging pants, last week.
whatever you want to call them, they may seem a little at odds with your picture of my 86 year old mother in law.
sweet old lady and all that.
she thinks they're comfy and that they're great for wearing when she's doing the housework.
(which she can do faster and more thoroughly than you or i  AND most able bodied people of 1/2 her age, to be truthful.)
in walmart, during the hour we had to wander aimlessly around while they cut the head off the enlarged photo of my poor grandchild with the blond hair, she went in search of a 'gentleman' to help her find another pair of the said jogging pants.
honestly, that's what she calls sales clerks.
doesn't matter how spotty or monosyllabic they are.
in her mind, sales clerks are all "gentlemen"!
and female sales clerks, she always addresses thus: "excuse me, Miss."
and when she retells what THEY said to HER, they've always addressed her as "Madam".
in your dreams.
a throw back to a long defunct golden age?
she must be shopping at Harrods.
not bloody wallymart.
where was i?
"i wonder if they have any?" she mused, as she looked through the racks.
"what are you looking for?" asked a spotty kid with time on his hands.
she thought for a moment, searching for the right word, which i know, often escapes her just when she needs it most.

'jodhpurs?' she blurted.

just as i fell over the rack spluttering and gagging.

i know, if i don't lighten up,  i'll certainly never live that long.

thanks for reading.


Busy Bee Suz said...

Ohmygosh,if you can't tell a story, well then NO BODY can tell a story.

You are a hoot Clippy.
And, FYI, I was in wallymart today and had an eye opening experience too (read next post) but of course...I did not have photos of headless children and I was not in search of adult games or jogging pants either.
No matter what...that place is an experience. Really.

Happy New Year to you and your family and I hope you find the perfect coat now.
Not with falling off buttons.
or lint covered.
Hugs, Suz

Pam said...

Great story - of course I read the whole thing and it was great. I've had similar experiences at Walmart but I get my own back by allowing my kids to mess with the toys while we go round - and we go now about 5 x year tops. You're not angry you're normal because I feel the same. Or are we both angry? Ha!
Happy New year..

Gypsy said...

I thought it was a rivetting story and so close to many of my shopping adventures I took strange comfort in the knowledge that it isn't just me.

I hate laughing when someone is having a rant but I am known for inappropriate responses so why change now? I thought this post was hilarious and you told it so well I felt as though I was a fly on the wall watching the whole debacle unfold.

I applaud you for wearing down the heirarchy of the coat store. Way to go Clippy.

Hope you and yours have a fantasic New Year.

ChiTown Girl said...

I'm sorry to say that, once again, your pain and angst was thoroughly amusing!!

I can't believe you have such experiences at your Walmart. I LOVE my Walmart, as is evidenced in my multiple visits each week. I believe that I was there at least the first 5 days in a row of my Christmas break! The people who work there are always friendly and helpful, and I seriously don't think I've ever had a bad experience there.

Now, the coat store is another story! I'm so proud of you for getting that refund! I think those "no cash back" policies are just ridiculous! I generally refuse to shop anywhere that has one.

Your mother-in-law sounds like a hoot, by the way.

Happy New Year, my friend, and good luck with keeping your resolution. However, I personally don't think you need to lighten up at all. Besides, I like reading these colorful little rants, and I would miss them terribly! ;-)

Steve said...

Proof, were it needed, that retail therapy = aversion therapy...

Molly Potter said...

You are a female John Cleese!!!!

'Well done' is what mostly comes to mind.

Bloody shops.

The Incredible Woody said...

Your whole problem started with that very first line..."today i went to walmart"...

Snooty Primadona said...

OMG! Totally hilarious... all of it. And yet, I know the same frustrations & I'm never willing to let people off the hook easily. I like to push their ignorant little buttons, lol. Way to go on getting that coat refund!!!

All of this is why I like to shop over the internet. I swear the returns are easier.

Did I mention I quit doing FatMart a long time ago? I make hubby go since I know he'll be safe there. You know. Without me.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Wow! I want you to go shopping with me if I'm dissatisfied! :-)

gaila said...

I stayed with you right to the end Clippy - because there is nothing like a slow boiling Brit about to blow a gasket!
Good on you, I worked in retail for a good few years and hate seeing bad customer service.
Happy New Year!!

Kee said...

Ah NooNoo...LOL! I got upset, angry and anxious just reading about wallymart and winners..great blogging as always clippy!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

I would never cope. i bought one present, my wifes. My wife bought the rest. Only my daughter told me what to get. and bought it. And wrapped it. and I used my wifes credit card. I like Christmas!

karen gerstenberger said...

That is totally worth reading! I have laughed out loud many times in the midst of it, and for that, I thank you.
I know what you mean: where have the days of common courtesy gone? I am trying to raise a courteous young man, and I try to be courteous myself, but under the intense provocation that you endured, anyone would have snapped! Maybe it's best to shop online, if only for a bit of a rest.
Happy New Year!

ModernMom said...

Oh dear Clippy
I felt your frustration!!
I was so sad when they took out little Wal Mart and made it into a huge monster where no product or helpful people can be found.
I miss the wee Mom and Pop stores :)

C said...

awww honey!!!!! what a [funny to read] terrible experience in both stores! i am proud of you for standing your ground. my motto is the more noise and arguing you entail in, the more attention it draws and just as all that lint stuck to your coat, a dissatisfied customer always brings attention to those other potentially unsatisfied customers. its not good for the bizness. so shut her up, finally! but at least you got your money back, which is not just a $29.99 small amount of cash but a large one in my book! fuck them, clippy, and the horses THEY road in on!

i too hate wallyworld, but i still go there on occaision. i have my standards, though... of things that i will NEVER buy from there, like meats, [only deli ones] ground beefs, chicken breasties, yuk.

happy new year to you hon, and-

stand proud-
be loud-
dont give in-
just win!!!!!


Expat mum said...

Ooh you've got my hackles up on your behalf. The thing is, there's no Sale of Goods Act over here although you are supposed to be entitled to items that are fit for purpose or something. All this crap about no refunds and just a store credit is fine and dandy if you've just changed your mind, but if the thing you've bought falls apart (or doesn't button) it's not fit for its purpose and you ARE entitled to a full refund. (can you tell I've been through this before?)
I also write very snotty letters to Head Offices of different companies when I get crap service. You'd be amazed at the amount of gift cards I get as an apology!!!

Donnw/2nz said...

Before entering the premises one should always peruse the great unwashed @ the People Of Walmart site.
It is important to lower your expectations far below their prices.

For those of us raised outside of the States the notion of manifest destiny may seem oblique and the ad wizards of Mallwort, it is a Right. Every penny that they spend there is contributing to the zenith of the human experience..the Right To buy Cheap Articles at any cost to the the local economy and the rest-of-the-world...
if such a place actually exists?

We of course have Mallworts in Canada and the corporation even imports unkept extras to parade aboot to make one feel as if you are really getting away with something.

Unfortunately these actors are far too obvious. I have lived here for 50 years and have never seen these people anywhere else in the city?
They're easy to spot;
The Ladies will be wearing a garish ensemble comprised of articles from at least 3 different decades, none past the 80s. I find it particularily troubling that each must display some degree of camel toe and visibly identifiable remnants of their last meal on one of their rows of bosoms.

The men all have mullets cascading from their caps emblazoned with something suitably disturbing like Wine Them Dine Them 69 Them. At least one fifth of their buttocks must be exposed and they will be pushing a cart full of snotty faced disheveled clones who are swearing and punching each other.

As you can tell I don't go there often but when I do, I wear sunglasses, a kevlar vest, and take handfuls of sedatives.

the fly in the web said...

I laughed so much...thank you. The 'jodphurs?' just finished me off.

Someone sent me a video of Walmart customers some time ago...I didn't think such things still roamed the planet...that alone would put me off going into the place.

Gill - That British Woman said...

and that is why I don't shop in the dreaded Wal-Mart!!! You should check out Tracey's blog as she also have a thing on Wal-Mart today.


J. Hi said...

I can't seem to stay away from WalMart. But like Pam I let my kids play with the toys too. Last trip there my 9 year old was riding a pink and purple bike around the aisles chasing the 5 year old. Fun was had by all. :)