Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Poor Customer Service Can Lead to a Better Deal

I was just out to buy a new bottle of cologne when I encountered a poor customer service experience that led me to a huge deal!

Poor customer service often occurs because of a lack of common sense. That was a perfect description of a recent visit to one of those big-box discount stores — you know the ones: they have 36 checkout lines but only three open at any one time.

The cologne I’m used to buying sells for close to $20 for a bottle that’s nearly two ounces. I had run out a while ago but kept forgetting to replace it when I was near this one store I’d actually seen it in.

This time, I remembered. So I walk over to their cologne and perfume section only to find a new obstacle: all of those little potions were now behind locked glass.

I can certainly understand the challenges stores face these days with trying to keep their merchandise from being shoplifted.

But the problem was that there was no employee immediately nearby. This particular store’s layout put the fragrance section at the end of a main aisle. If you were facing that shelf, health and beauty aids are to your right, a  section of more health and beauty merchandise is straight ahead in aisles behind the fragrance shelf; housewares — towels, bedding, etc. — is to your left, and home improvement is behind you across one of the main aisle that go from the front aisle to the rear.

The logical solution was to look for an employee in the health and beauty aids section. When I finally found a worker, it turned out to be a stocker who did not have a key. He paged for a manager who he said did have one. I waited. Two minutes. Then five minutes. After eight minutes, I gave up.

I called the store’s toll-free complaint line and explained that if they’re going to place merchandise behind locked glass for which no available employee has a key, they might just as well box it all up and ship it back to wherever it came from. After all, I said, no one can purchase merchandise they can’t get to.

They apologized for the poor customer service experience. I was advised that the next time I was in the store, I should walk across that main aisle to the home improvement section because those workers should have keys.

I laughed at that.

“Put yourself in your customer’s place for a second,” I said. “If you’re in a store wanting to buy a bottle of cologne, would it ever dawn on you to go ask the guy mixing housepaint to let you into that cabinet?”

Predictably, they didn’t have an immediate answer for that.

A better deal awaited.

Aggravated with the lackluster apology — I still don’t think they get the problem I was trying to point out to them — I decided to browse online.

I was fairly convinced that Amazon wouldn’t have the cologne I used. (I was actually fairly certain that they didn’t sell cologne at all.

I was wrong. On both counts.

Not only did they have my brand, they had it in a size twice as big as what I had been paying at the big-box store and for a few dollars less! So that $19.88 bottle with 1.8 ounces that’s still locked up got replaced with a 3.7-ounce bottle that cost me $17.57.

Sometimes, when the customer encounters poor customer service, better service and even a better deal is waiting for you somewhere else.

I won’t be begging for a key at the big-box store for that particular item again.

The joke’s on them.

Have you found a better deal at a different store when you’ve experienced bad service at your usual shopping center?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.