Welcome to the Black Hole Known as “Customer Service”

Turns out my Ma over there in Pittsburgh got the “wrong” Wii game for a Christmas present for one of our kids.  Being the Ma she is, she called me in a panic and asked if maybe, just maybe, I’d trudge on over to the big box retail store where she bought the game and exchange it for the correct Wii game.

Sure.  Why not?  I mean, the woman did give birth to me and all.  How hard could it be to exchange one unopened item from a gigantic coast-to-coast retailer WHEN YOU HAVE THE RECEIPT IN HAND?

Clearly I must’ve been hitting the nitrous oxide when I agreed to this plan.

First, I spent about 10 minutes at the front entryway having my return item scanned and re-scanned and re-scanned again before I could even bring it into the store.

Kind of felt like going through an airport security line.  In Istanbul.

Then, I spent another 20 minutes in line at the so-called “Customer Service” desk where there were TWO frighteningly slow moving employees slogging their way through a line 15 people deep.

When I got to the counter the gal there says “Yeah we can do an exchange but you need to go back to electronics and see if we have another copy of this game in stock.”

That’d be a good thing to know BEFORE wasting 20 minutes in line, wouldn’t it?

When I get back to electronics I ask the counter guy if he can open up the sliding glass door so I can get myself the Wii game I need and be on my merry way.

He says “Sure, but I don’t have the keys.  There’s another electronics employee somewhere in this department who does.”

Great.  Of all the luck.  I get the electronics elf who wants to play the holiday version of “hide the sausage”.

I said, “Well that’s just super.  You think you could help me find that person or should I just stand here and yell “KEYSKEYSANYONE GOT THE KEYS!”

So electronics guy turns to a co-worker and says, “Do you have the keys for the Wii games?”

No I don’t have them.  Maybe Marsha does.”

But Marsha is at lunch.”

Right.  Maybe she gave them to Jim before she left.”

Well, have you seen Jim?”

Nope.  Haven’t seen him since this morning.”

Now all of a sudden I’m living inside a bad episode of Candid Camera although I’m quickly suspecting that even Alan Funt wouldn’t find this funny.

I said, “Are you telling me that with the volume of video games you must sell in this store, only ONE person has the keys to open the cabinet and there isn’t really any system to tell you who that person is or where they might be at a given time?”

Yes sir,” he said, “it’s for security purposes..”

I said, “Well, it’s definitely securing me from wanting to spend my hard earned money in your crap hole of a store.  So in that sense, I guess it’s working.”

After about 10 more minutes of this Keystone Kops routine I went back to the Wii display case only to realize that they didn’t have the game I was looking for anyway.

So back I trudge to Customer Service where I gotta wait in line for another 10 minutes just to get my original receipt BACK from the gum popping gal behind the counter.

All told, I wasted about an hour of my time and never got even remotely close to accomplishing my goal.

I understand that these are challenging economic times we’re living in but I’m convinced that the main problem with the global economy isn’t the recession, or interest rates, or inflation but that good old fashioned notion businesses used to refer to as “Customer Service”.

Dear retailers of the world, please note:

Without service you ain’t gonna have no customers.

Stick that on your Wharton School of Business Diploma.

Oh, and one other thing.


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