Monday, May 16, 2005
The Quest for the Holy Grail
[or "Decent Customer Service Is Hard To Find"]
by Sassy Springer
So me, Ben, and Bernie (my girlfriend who is visiting from Pennsylvania) are goofing around the strip mall near Victoria Park one sunny afternoon last week. I say to Bernie: "Hey, Bernie! You should check out this store." I turn to the plate glass windows in front of us and point at the racks of clothing. "They have some cool clothes."
Always on the look-out for tasty threads, Bernie responds with an eager: "Ni!" [Actually, she probably said, "Ok."]
And thus begins the neverending and yet, fruitless, quest for Decent Customer Service.
As if on a holy mission...they search high and low.
Y'all know what I'm talking about. Actually...do you even remember Decent Customer Service? It could as well be the Holy Grail - a mythical, magical memento of our time back in the early days at the beginning of the service industry. Nowadays, Decent Customer Service can't be found.
These days, all I ever get from the worker bees in the [lack of] service industry is Crappy Condescension and Couldn't Care Less attitudes. You know how it is: The bank teller (assuming you actually get to deal with a human being) can't do the math on your deposit slip for you anymore; the oil change guy leaves muddy foot prints all over the beige floor mats in your Jeep; the sandwich deli guy gives you brown mustard even though you specifically ask for yellow; your gynecologist refuses to warm the KY jelly. Stuff like that. It makes you want to launch a Holy Hand Grenade.
Yep. Decent Customer Service is as extinct as the dinosaurs...and my last two marriages...(but, I digress....) [Ahem]
I shall continue with my story now: [Scene reminder: sunny afternoon; strip mall in South Florida]
We approach the store innocently, dressed in typical South Florida attire of shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. I think Ben is sporting a "Drifters Escape" visor from our boat; nothing unusual there. Yes, we are wearing sunglasses, but they are expensive Oakleys and/or Bolle polarized lenses. Further, we are clean (I mean, I think we all showered before we left home) and none of us is brandishing a weapon. [You will understand why I point out these details in short order].
I walk up to the glass door and try to pull it open. It doesn't budge. I assume that I have (as usual) overlooked the "Push" sign near the handle, so I try pushing the door. It doesn't budge. It dawns on all three of us at the same time that the door is ..... locked.
We look at each other perplexed.
"Are they closed?" Bernie wonders.
"Did you pull hard enough?" Ben queries.
"Are we in Spain?" I quip.
More perplexed looks from my companions, but this time directed at me.
"You know," I offer by way of explanation, "Spain? Siestas in the afternoon? Businesses close for a couple of hours every.....Oh never mind."
We turn our collective attention back to the unyielding door. Then we spot the problem. The problem is Spot. Well, maybe that isn't its name but a little poodle is running around inside the store so we figure that the door is locked so that Spot (or whatever its name is) can't run out to a tragic end in the parking lot of the strip mall. Ok. That makes sense.
Now, I notice the door bell. I press it.
[ Insert Ding dong sound effect here].
Readers, I want to warn you before you proceed any further - the remainder of this story may leave you speechless, breathless, clueless. It may piss you off. It may make you shake your fist in anger. You may cry. You may laugh. The story may cause you to contemplate felonious acts against store clerks. In the alternative, the story may bore you. Being thusly forewarned, read on at your own risk.
The store clerk (hereinafter "Bitch") comes to the door and unlocks it slowly. I am smiling. And not just my regular, low calorie, sugar-free smile, mind you. No sirreebob! I am offering her my 1000 megawatt, 24-teeth-are-actually-visible smile. You know, the one I paid lots of money to countless orthodontists and dentists for? Yeah - that smile.
Bitch cracks the door open by exactly zero point five inches. [Seriously - I think she used a caliper to measure it].
Sassy: Hi! We just wanted to come in and browse. [Having said this, me, Bernie, and Ben sort of lean forward, assuming the door would be opened wide and we would enter the store.....]
[Still leaning forward, we are now paralyzed by Bitch's response. We look like three Olympic skiers, frozen in stunned silence at the starting gate of the ski jump.]
Sassy: [Smile now downgraded to the 15 megawatt, 8-teeth-showing one] Huh?
Bitch: Fuck off.
Ok. Maybe that isn't what she said. Perhaps it was, "I fart in your general direction." Then again, having conferred with my fellow victims after the fact, it appears that, while I heard her say, "Fuck off", what she actually said was....
Bitch: We aren't that kind of store. We cater to personal shopping experiences. We select items for the individual. You don't just come in and look around. I would take you through the store and show you items that may be of interest to you and you would come in and I would guide you through......
And blah, blah, blah. Seriously - doesn't all of that sound like "Fuck off" to you guys?
Sassy: [Smile now downgraded to 1 kilowatt, only-the-bottoms-of-my-incisors-are-showing a/k/a sneer] Um. What? Do we need like an appointment or something?
Bitch: Well.....[and, still clutching the door close to her chest, she appears to assess the three of us]... Yes.
It now dawns on me that Ben and Bernie, standing behind me, are still frozen in the leaning forward skier stance. I can sense that Ben is somewhat perplexed, somewhat relieved, and somewhat worried: He is perplexed by Bitch's attitude and explanation. He is relieved that it looks like he won't have to stand around in a chick's clothing store while Bernie and me ooh and ahh over stupid blouses. But, he is worried that I am about to go off on Bitch.
Of course, it wasn't me he had to worry about....
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that Bernie has straightened up. Her shoulders are back. I think her hands are on her hips now. Bernie's head is tilted slightly to the right. And she is doing that thing where she raises her eyebrows, blinks once (slowly), and then looks at Bitch from her head to her toes and then back up to her head again. I can't tell from my peripheral view, but my guess is, Bernie ain't smiling at all.
I do some quick math:
Ok. It's about 3 in the afternoon and by way of liquor I've only had 2 vodka cocktails and 1 rum runner. Yep - I'm way behind on my alcohol intake. That's not a good sign. Bernie has had 1 Corona with a lime. Either way you slice it, that's probably not good either. So - adding booze content to combined body mass multiplied by size of Sassy's liver, divided by bitchy attitude quotient of store clerk, subtract Ben's mild demeanor, carry the 6, and.......Ut oh. This could be a freaking blood bath.
In the interest of sleeping in my own bed that night (as opposed to in a holding cell cot with a transvestite named Cynthia), I am compelled to respond as follows:
Sassy: Oh. Ok then. Thanks!
I am delighted to report that the three of us slowly walk away. No blood shed. No frantic 911 calls. Bitch is actually able to lock the door back up and return to the safety of the store and Spot, the poodle. She will never know how lucky she was. [Do I sound threatening with my quasi-gangsta talk? No? Damn.]
Any way, there you have it - yet another establishment on my "list" - i.e., my list of places I will never go back to because the customer service sucks. So, I hereby welcome The World of Jimmy Star to Sassy's "list". All the greeter (and I've met mentally challenged, Wal-Mart greeters with more sense and courtesy) had to do was act polite like and maybe I would have whipped out the Gold Card. Oh well. Too bad, so sad. [By the way, readers, if you want the complete "list" of places I'm boycotting, just email me and I will gladly share!]
And yet, questions remain:
1. What the hell is a "personal" shopping experience? I mean, how is it different from any other shopping experience. I mean, do some people have "out of body" shopping experiences? Am I missing out on that whole trip?
2. How is Bitch going to select items that may be of interest to me? She doesn't even know me, for cripes' sake. And let me tell you - I certainly don't need some Bitch dressed in a wife-beater with crappy hand-painted "graffiti" on it to guide me through my shopping "experience"!
3. How do you do any business when you turn away potential customers? I mean, she didn't even offer me a card so I could make the so-called appointment as required. Weird, don't you think? Maybe I want to try out the whole "personal" shopping thing...
4. Why did she really turn us away? Was it my "tan"? Was it Ben's "I'm not driving a Ferrari" attitude? Did she think Bernie might kick Spot, the poodle, to the curb if it so much as looked at her cross-eyed? Really, what was the problem? [Ed. note: Bernie would never drop kick a small dog. Drop kicking a Bitch, however....well, that's a completely different event]. The point is...she shouldn't have judged a book (or a colored person, for that matter) by its cover....I gots money, dammit!
5. Where the &*@!*&@! does Bitch get off copping a 'tude like that when she works in a 2-bit store tucked away in the far corner of a cheesy strip mall located in the sad end of town? WhateverohwellIamoverit.
[Ok. That was a bit much. I feel a rant coming on.....Let me get back on track here....]
6. Most important of all: Do the knights who say "Ni" wear boxers or briefs?
Anyway, my point is - where has Decent Customer Service gone? I want it back. I am sick and tired of being rung up by snotty sales people who act like they are doing me a favor by showing up to their minimum wage jobs. Yeah. I said it. And that's all I have to say. [Actually, I just ran out of scotch so.....gotta go!]
Service Seeking Sassy
P.S. I miss Monty Python!