Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Store Policy Vs. The Customer Is Always Right

Believe me, I understand in business there is very rarely anything that is black and white; there are always multiple shades of grey in between. If you're in the retail/customer service industries, this means you need to ensure your employees are trained sufficiently to deal with these types of situations.
Here are two true life (mine) experiences, both occurring today within 30 minutes of one another which, I believe, illustrates my point.
I purposefully went to Target today in the late morning because I figured the store would be relatively empty. Why? Because I was attempting the dreaded "bathing suit search". All of you ladies completely get what I mean here, right? When looking for the ever illusive bathing suit that looks ok on you (read: does not make you want to run screaming from the dressing room), you don't want a lot of people around. You need to take your time while browsing the racks, checking sizes, pondering color schemes, and hoping no one will notice if you get the smallest size top and the largest size bottom. I was in luck (I thought) today because all of Target's bathing suits were on sale, and, a GOOD sale, too. Hey, I don't really need a new one; I still fit in my favorite two (one bought in Maui in 1997 and the other from Victoria Secret in 2000) BUT I am tired of them and thought something bright and snazzy for the cruise was in order. This is TMI, likely, but, I want y'all to get the gist of how much I'd thought about/planned out today's excursion.
As I'd hoped, there were hardly any folks in the store and only one other lady in the swim suit area. She moved on fairly quickly and I had the place to myself. I found several pretty things to try on except for one suit, I couldn't decide if I wanted the matching (print) bottom or a solid, bright purple bottom (Mr. B loves purple, BTW). So, I selected both to try and, armed with seven items, I went over to the dressing room where I promptly met the Godzilla of dressing room attendants.
First off, let me say that there was NO ONE else there, all the rooms were empty and it didn't seem as though she was overly wrought with her task of the moment (which appeared to be sorting the different color hangars that designate how many items a person has in the dressing room with them (a process that I was even surprised to see was still in use)).
She looked up and asked me how many. I counted just to double check, although really, who cared?
"Seven" I replied.
"Only six in the dressing room at one time" she shot back, taking the suits from me to count them and, I guess, decide for me which one didn't make the cut.
"Oh, c'mon!" I said in my friendliest tone; woman to woman, meaning, let me take one extra one in with me, for crying out loud.
"No. Store policy" she said curtly.
At which point, I lost all of the patience I've been holding close to the chest for the past several weeks. No, I didn't deck her, I just said (as curtly if not more than she) "Forget it" and stomped off and out of the store.
I stewed about this I continued the rest of my shopping errands. I mean, really. I guess I might have understood her refusal to make an exception if there had been tons of people waiting in line in nasty moods waiting to get into her dressing rooms OR if I'd been some young teeny bopper who just felt like trying stuff on with no intent to buy, but, seriously. She should have taken a harder look at me and realized I was a woman intent on a mission, I am in my forties, and why the fu$$ would I want to leave out one item, try on the other six, put my clothes back on, go back out, give her one of the items I tried and get the other?
I resolved mid way to the next store to refrain from shopping at Target until I got an apology.
I only needed a few items at the grocery store so I didn't get a cart. Then, as I was surveying the huge bags of dog food, I realized my error. No matter, I hoisted the 20 pound bag (on sale for $15.99 plus I had a $2 off coupon which is why I selected that brand (Lucy is not a picky eater)) over to the check out counter. The checker, a guy, rang it and my ginger root, celery, onion and a new toy for Lucy up. As I stood there watching the display, I noticed that the dog food rang up at $16.99. I said, "Wait, the dog food is on sale". Now, get this. He asked me, "Oh, how much is it?" So, I told him and he took off a dollar plus the two dollars for my coupon.
No questions asked. No scrutiny to ascertain if I was some disturbed lady who routinely goes into stores and quotes incorrect prices to save a buck or two. He just assumed I was right (which I was) and gave me the $1.
What a difference!
When I got home, I went to Target's website in a (what turned out to be futile) attempt to find a way to contact the manager at the store via email and complain. This is sort of funny; every time I entered the key words "complain to store manager" or "voice a complaint" or anything with the word "complain" in it, it returned as, "We found nothing for your search. Please try again". I guess they don't want to hear any complaints.
Seriously, I know I can pick up the phone and get in touch with the manager, or, send a complaint the old fashioned snail mail route. As I am writing this, I am wondering if this falls into the category of things I might better just let go as relatively trivial and who cares, anyway; I'll just go buy my new bathing suite somewhere else and that'll show old Target who is boss.
I do feel better having written this, and, hey, my Blog DOES attract people who do searches on Google, so, you never know, someone from Target may actually stumble across this, anyway.
Somehow, though, I just have the sneaking suspicion that one of those suits would have been "the one"; another that I'd keep for ten years. We all know what finds those are! So, based on that, I am going to boycott Target. At least for now.
Mrs. B


Analee said...

chances are, a swimsuit from target wouldn't last past one season. that is why they cost so little. ;)

maybe you should try belk, they had a ton of swimsuits and they are always on some sort-of sale. (belk is my favorite store... for two reasons: the clothes are decent quality and not too expensive when you get them on sale plus the coupon in the paper, and #2 no person standing at the fitting room door enforcing their 6 items only policy!!! of coarse, unless you go first thing in the morning, be prepared for heaps of clothes in the fitting room where previous users didn't remove their items from the room!)

i rarely get clothes from target (or walmart). same for the kids clothes. they are cheap and last less time than what i pay for them. the kids clothes hold stains some kind of bad. gymboree is my favorite for kids things. i asked them once why their clothes release stains so well and they said it was because they have a tighter knit cotton. :)

Doc said...

Try and look at it from the other perspective. She might have been new to her job, thus was enforcing store policy. She might have been trying to keep her job, thus was enforcing store policy.

In the end, when you do return to Target, just say you have six items when they ask. Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.

But remember, you now KNOW the magic number!

Mrs. B said...

Analee, you are right. Buying a bathing suit from Target is probably not a good idea, regardless of their silly dressing room policy. I have a few weeks to find something and even if I don't, I still have my other two.

And, Doc, you have a point. Maybe she got in trouble before for letting someone in with more than six items.

And, yeah, SIX is the magic number but I doubt I'll buy clothes from them now.

Anyway, this is one reason why I decided to let it go. Not worth it. Mr. B says I'm doing REALLY good with this these days :-)

Margot said...

I write (old fashioned!) the manager... after I cool down and am coherant. Occasionally get a nice reply & coupons.

I also write when a clerk has been xtra nice, efficient, alert.

The grocery clerk... they have such a huge turnover in stores that they usually don't challenge a customer unless it's a big ticket item or the customer is obnoxious.