So I had to buy a new computer last week. Between HR consulting and writing, it’s just not feasible to work with the terrible piece of junk I’ve been using. The problem is, I don’t know much about computers except I like them to work. I am also terminally cheap (though I prefer ‘frugal’). I had put off buying a computer because I don’t know what I’m doing and it sucks but one crash too many sent me to a large chain store. A quick google search revealed that there was a laptop that should serve my needs as part of their spectacular 4 day sale that ended Monday morning, so Sunday afternoon I gritted my teeth and drove to the store. I resolutely walked past the blue shirted guard…errrr…attendant at the front door and was directed to the laptop section. After waiting in a brief line, the woman behind the counter (Hi, her name was Julia) asked if she could help me. Foolishly optimistic that she could, I told her I was there to buy a laptop. Her response, verbatim was “Which one? We have a lot of laptops here, you know.” I was caught off guard and said that I needed a new system and wasn’t sure, but knew they had a sale. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me which computer you want.” Things continued to decline, as she insisted I tell her the exact make and model I wanted so she could make sure it was in the store. Then she told me it probably wasn’t on sale anymore because their sale ended Saturday. I told her what the website said and she shrugged. I finally tried prompting her. I said “I don’t know what I want, but what information do you need to know from me to help me find the computer I need?” Apparently, nothing less than the exact make and model would do for Julia. Then she told me docking stations don’t exist. At that point, I said “With all due respect, Julia, you’re going to have to find someone else for me to talk to now.” So the geek guy came and indicated that yes, docking stations were not something I had conceived of in a fugue state and did in fact exist and were IN THE STORE. Unfortunately, he, in his white shirt splendor, left and I was left with the curiously hostile, blue shirted Julie who apologized for ‘our’ misunderstanding and asked which computer I wanted. I had to tell her that it was time to find another associate to help me.
If I may interject here, this is not something I would always have done. In the past I might have either desperately picked a machine so Julia wouldn’t keep being mad at me or, more likely, stormed out of the store after matching Julia insult for insult, hurling invectives at all and sundry and rendering myself unable to shop at (we can call it “Mest Muy” for anonymity’s sake) again. I am quite pleased with myself for dispatching the misery-inducing Julia so effectively and in such a way as to not invoke a restraining order upon myself.
Anyway, Julia slunk off to go pick on another hapless victim, and I got Vijay. He smiled and asked how I was doing and asked what kinds of things I’d be doing on my computer. He asked what was prompting me to need a new one, and if I had any preferences. He basically asked everything he needed to know, showed me the model I had been considering, explained why it might not be the best solution, and asked my permission to show me some other (more expensive) models. At the end of the day, Vijay sold me a computer, software, DOCKING STATION and a maintenance package and I walked out of there spending almost three times more than I had originally intended AND was happy about it. AND I love my new computer.
So, Mest Muy, and all your conglomerate compatriots…I may not shop with you all the time, but when I do, I will NOT buy from rude, unhelpful or plain ignorant associates. Please ensure your staff are aware of your promotions and stock and please ensure they have the desire to apply what I’m assuming must be some customer service training you provide. If you don’t provide this, I know of an awesome HR Consultant who can provide some to you. And please promote Vijay and others like him. Staff like this is saving your store because I was 5 seconds away from leaving, never coming back and definitely not going quietly into the good night. As long as you keep employing Julia’s, you will need your Vijay’s to be more on top of their game than ever, with the ability to soothe ruffled feathers in addition to knowing what questions to ask.
And fellow shoppers…know that ultimately, you are the one in control and you don’t have to spend money with mean people. There are great ones out there and you can ask for what you want in a reasonable way.
As a side note, I sent a cleaned up, pared down version of this to the store manager and he responded same day thanking me for my time and promising to talk to both employees involved. That was cool, so I think I’ll go back to that store again!