It’s None Of Your Business


0001820053030_500X500Sometimes it’s just better to keep your mouth shut.

It was a busy, long night at work and our lead cashier – she’s been on the job almost as long as I’ve been alive – was working the long shift with myself and the manager. It was late, we were counting down the minutes until it was time to go home…a long night.

She bought us packs of Mike & Ikes and Hot Tamales just to keep us going.

Later, she made the “store closed” announcement and a few people rolled up to her register to pay for their goods. The first gentleman had filled his cart with liquids: lots of individual bottles of water and a ton of Gatorade. I mean his cart was full of Gatorade bottles in every flavor (or as most people choose Gatorade, color). But hey, it’s on sale and there was a minimum purchase (88 cents with a minimum of 8 bottles) so he stocked up. I’m sure I would have done the same if I needed that many bottles.

The guy was waiting for his significant other – wife or girlfriend, I dunno – to return with a few items she was still looking for. That’s when the customer behind him looked inside his cart with amazement and spoke up.

“You know, I have to ask you. Why so many bottles of Gatorade? I mean, that’s a LOT of bottles of the stuff.” The guy just kept on rambling on about the quantity of the man’s purchase and really wouldn’t shut up about it. I was called away to do other tasks as he continued to probe the guy about his purchase.

I later came to find out that our cashier, tired of his incredulous and downright stupid remarks, sternly looked at him and offered this gem.

“So? You’re buying 30 cans of beer.”

Touche, my friend. Touche. I was almost in tears laughing when she told us this.

And you know what? She’s absolutely right and I know why she said that.

So what if the guy is buying 32 bottles of Gatorade. What’s the big deal? Maybe he likes it. Maybe he’s the coach of a team. Maybe his body requires more electrolytes than the average person.

The other guy was buying a Bud Light case comprised of 30 cans of beer. At least there are benefits to drinking the Gatorade.

Mr. Beer Can had no room to speak up, and the cashier later told us she didn’t think he even heard her comment because he just couldn’t shut up about someone else’s purchase.

Honestly, dude. It’s none of your business. He could have been buying cases of Fleet enemas and it still would be nothing for you to be concerned about. Now can we make all sorts of assumptions about you being in the store after midnight, by yourself and buying 30 cans of beer?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. Because that would be rude.

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Perspective


I’ve only worked two days at my new job and I can honestly say that it beats anything I’ve done in recent years (mainly proofreading and writing).

The major difference is that I am now dealing with the public, something I haven’t done since the last time I worked retail way back in…I can’t even remember. Oh wait, I think it was 2010. Anyway, dealing with people is a nice change after suffering under a fluorescent tube at a desk, proofreading piles and piles of paperwork that after a while made you wonder if any languages, including English, made any sense.

Some customers love to talk, some don’t. Some don’t care if you “stuff all the shit in the same bag*” while others are extremely particular about item placement. You can make connections with people you would have never otherwise thought, and it’s a beautiful thing.

For all intents and purposes I am a Courtesy Clerk (aka boxboy) at a local grocery store. It’s not a glamorous position nor is it a full-time gig but I am finding so many positive things in my being there.

The perks are many. This store in particular uses Rewards cards and one of our perks is that we are issued an upgraded card that gives us points (cash back) on purchases, and 10 times the points on private-label brands. The amount is distributed four times a year and can really add up. There’s also discounts on cell phones, auto purchases, etc.

I’m also working with a fun bunch of people, most of whom I already know after shopping at this store for nearly 10 years. A lot of people we knew, however, have moved on to other stores or left the company but the current staff is about as happy as I am to be there and is comprised mostly of younger people. I’ve already told them that I can keep up with them so don’t worry about it.

Then there’s my commute. It takes me literally 10 minutes to walk to the place, or 5 minutes on a bike or 2 minutes by car. I haven’t had such an easy time getting to a job since…ever.

There’s more good than bad at this point and I’m happy to be a part of it. The pay is minimal but the perks, environment, people, and commute definitely make up for everything else.

Some may see this as a step down when compared to what I used to do or what I could be doing.

In my case, it’s exactly what I needed in order to break the rut I had been swirling in since 2003. It’s all a matter of perspective.

*My city has recently banned plastic bags, so a lot of customers are not prepared for their haul if they find more than their bags can hold – if they remembered to bring their bags in the first place.

Blogging 365, Day 51: The Last Virgin Mobile Post


UPDATE 2/21/13: In the midst of Virgin Mobile’s outage that they are now quietly acknowledging, I got this interesting text today:

2013-02-21-17-02-04

I clicked on the link and it took me here (click image to enlarge or go directly to site):

boost

Ahem. So I went ahead and called my voicemail and it told me exactly what this page reads. This seems very interesting to me since Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile use Sprint’s network. I can’t be sure (nor do I have further proof) but if I had to guess, Virgin is going the way of the dodo and will soon be swallowed up by Boost Mobile.

All of this while they continue to sell phones and charge people for service they can’t use. I smell lawsuit or at least some sort of compensation, which is too bad since we’re moving on (read rest of post).

Has anyone else gotten this? Leave your notes/frustrations in the Comments section.

—–

vm logo

For as long as I’ve been a customer of theirs, I’ve always been happy to write about Virgin Mobile’s bargain pricing and decent selection of phones. After all, coming from Verizon where Ann and I were paying well over $100 for two lines, the lure of paying a mere $25 per line (then $35 after a phone upgrade) was just too much to pass up.

And it worked for us. No, their 3G connection (provided by Sprint) is definitely not the fastest out there but it was reliable and did the trick for upwards of 4 years. SMS and MMS messaging were also trusty and only had a few hiccups now and then but nothing that would make me want to leave.

All was well for the longest time and in fact, Ann and I were looking to upgrade to the Galaxy S II once our tax refund was in our hot little hands. Even better? It’s currently selling for $279.99. All we needed was some cash.

Flash-forward to February 16, 2013, the day Ann’s new month started. I get a text from her telling me she wanted to send me a picture but couldn’t for some reason. She tried again and the phone just refused to do it. Later that day she realized that she had no 3G connection and couldn’t get online unless she was using WiFi.

This prompted a call to Virgin Mobile’s Customer Care line and if you have never called them, be prepared because this is what’s in store for you.

I spoke with no less than 8 people with each person “elevating” my call so that it would get higher priority. Each person asked me for the same information and had me do the same things to the phone, which went a little something like this:

programming

I gave them full access to Ann’s account so that they could try to figure out what was going on. None of it helped and by the 8th person I was becoming utterly annoyed by the service and incompetence of Virgin Mobile’s outsourced call center employees.

The best part? I was disconnected by Person #8 who was supposed to be Tech Support. This after being on the phone for almost an hour. That’s when I became completely unglued and weaved a blanket of obscenities that is still lingering above the house.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I took to social media in the hopes of getting my problem solved. I definitely got responses and emails from @VMUcare but none of them solved the connectivity problem. All they kept asking for was my ZIP code and which error message I was getting.

And for each time they asked, I told them that there was no connectivity or no error messages. All that led to was the resetting instructions you see above which, as you can imagine, didn’t do a thing. I finally threw my hands up after this tweet.

vmtweets

Then I took to their Facebook page.

fbpost2

You know, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if people are having problems connecting to their 3G network then there’s a good chance that the network is having issues. This is what was making me even more annoyed because as the complaints continued to roll in about no connectivity, there was not one mention of such an outage. It was only until recently that the word started to get out that there was indeed an outage.

So until things are back up and running, Virgin Mobile customers are getting screwed out of the 3G service that they have already paid for. I do realize that we are paying a dirt-cheap rate for service but it would have been nice if Virgin Mobile would have told us up front that they were experiencing an outage, rather than make us jump through hoops of fire by following useless instructions in the hopes of getting our phones back online.

And should I mention that my phone is fine? Ann’s is the one that does not have connectivity. I’m doing the calling and complaining because she can’t handle dealing with people who are completely clueless, which this situation has confirmed.

Network issues cannot generally be avoided nor can they be fixed in a timely manner. I truly understand that. But what I don’t get is why Virgin Mobile didn’t acknowledge this in the first place so that we, their paying customers, were left in the dark all this time. And if you think what I told you was bad, I’ve read posts from people with iPhones who have been without service for close to two weeks. I’d be twice as annoyed and pissed off if I were one of them considering the unsubsidized price of the phone.

So, all things considered including the way in which the matter has been handled and the way I was treated when contacting Customer Care, we have decided that we are through with Virgin Mobile for good. This situation has proven that when it comes handling an outage, they have no idea how to go about appeasing their customers and would rather lie to us and delay us by having us try pointless phone resetting.

We have already chosen MetroPCS as our new provider and will be making the switch within the week. Until then, our phones will still be active through Virgin Mobile as they have to be if we wish to port our current phone numbers to our new provider, one who offers unlimited everything for $35 per line (with a Family Plan). This beats Virgin’s $35 plan for 300 minutes.

There you go, Virgin Mobile. For your lack of truthfulness regarding the network outage, incompetent call center, and overall poor service over the course of the outage, you are losing two previously loyal customers.

And I get the feeling we won’t be the only ones.

This is indeed my last Virgin Mobile post. You can thank them for making it happen.

The Fresh and (Not So) Easy Free Turkey


UPDATE 11/21/12: I have since received a very kind email from a Social Media representative from Fresh & Easy who assured me that the matter, although resolved, and the way in which it was handled will be investigated.

UPDATE 11/27/12: I have been in contact with said Social Media representative and I’m happy to say that the matter has been resolved professionally and tactfully. I have also been offered a gift card as a way to earn back my loyalty. This is customer satisfaction that went well beyond what I was expecting when I initially wrote about my experience and I thank them for taking the time to go the extra mile.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the supermarkets are getting a bit more hectic with people running around preparing for their Thanksgiving feast. Fortunately, we have had most of our shopping done well ahead of time but only needed the main ingredient: the turkey.

This is where Fresh & Easy would save the day – or so we thought.

You see, F&E was having a special promotion: if you spent $30 or more, you would get a free Jennie-O turkey (click to enlarge and see the details).

turkey

Knowing this, Ann went shopping on the 15th and ended up spending well over $50, a purchase which no doubt qualified her for the free bird. But when she queried an employee about the promotion, she hit a roadblock.

“No, we’re all out of them,” said one employee. Another one, rather snottily, told her that the promotion was for one day. This, despite the ad you see above clearly stating that it was for one week and while supplies last. This, also, despite the fact that there was a freezer full of Jennie-O turkeys clearly marked as being the promotional turkeys.

Ann’s not one for confrontations so she chose to send an email explaining her situation. The unedited reply is below:

Hi Ann,

I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get the turkey for free like you had expectd. I know that they told you at the store that it was not free, but in order to get any compensation, all that is taken care of through the store manager. Thank you for choosing fresh&easy!

– Joe Blow

fresh&easy listening team

That’s it. And after reading it a few times I’m not even sure if this reply makes any sense – and it also reads like an eight-grade love letter. There’s no mention of bringing it to the manager’s attention, no apology (“I’m sorry to hear…” takes on an insincere tone and seems akin to “I really don’t care…”), or no offer to make things better and ensure that we will remain customers. Just a big F-U and on to the next one.

I even tweeted my annoyance with them:

Their reply:

By the way, I’m @aeromat not @aeromet. I have no idea why that extra one was thrown in there.

Now Ann may not be one for confrontations but they don’t bother me in the least so with receipt in hand, I drove down to Fresh&Easy last Saturday to take care of the matter myself.

As I was walking in the store, there were still ads outside showcasing the free turkey so it seemed obvious that they had some in stock. I made my way to the self-checkout lanes (they don’t have cashiers) and looked around for someone I thought would be able to help me.

At F&E, that’s asking a lot. One girl was making her way down the aisle to the checkout lanes so I thought I’d stop her and ask.

“Excuse me, I…” was about all I could get out as she continued to walk past me, not even acknowledging the fact I was speaking to her. Now it was on.

As she finished whatever was more important than answering my question, she walked in my direction and that’s when it occurred to her that someone standing there looking dumbfounded with receipt in hand just might need her help.

I explained what Ann had gone through and what she was told. She pretty much told me that it was a “while supplies last” deal and that when they were gone, they were gone. She also said that if I wanted to get the free one, I would have to spend another $30 to get it.

That was it. I spoke sternly.

“Okay. So my wife was told that it was a one-day promotion when it wasn’t, she was told that you were out when you weren’t, and now you’re telling me that I need to spend another $30 when we clearly did that already?”

I folded my arms.

“So…now what?”

You know, I try my hardest to not be a jerk in certain situations but when my buttons get pressed over and over and I’m given some kind of story AND have my wife lied to, that line gets crossed.

“What are we going to do about this?” I said. I didn’t bother asking for the manager because I figured that the store’s incompetent employees were probably a direct reflection of their poor training standards to begin with. Hell, for all I know, this girl I was talking to could have been the manager of the place.

But I wasn’t budging. She hesitated, looked around, checked my receipt, then finally agreed to let me take advantage of what was rightfully ours to begin with. She led me to the last aisle of the store and to the freezer which – get ready for this – was FULL of Jennie-O turkeys.

52349_10151191113514118_1398735881_o

This will be the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving feast and a trophy of sorts in the little war that was waged between F&E and two of its customers.

And I will enjoy it.

So thank you, Fresh&Easy for the free turkey and making us jump through hoops of fire to get it. It’s situations like these that will drive customers to take their money elsewhere and which we are more likely to do after dealing with something that should have been so easy to resolve.

Customer Service is Dead


With jobs being sent overseas to Indian call centers, I know that’s a rather redundant statement but after experiencing a plethora of customer service adventures within the last week, I’ll gladly make this declaration once again.

Customer service is DOA. Dead, kaput, ceases to exist, etc.

Now you would think that, given the weak economy and people making wiser choices with their money, retailers on every level would do everything within their power to not only satisfy their customer inquiries but to go beyond their expectations. Hell, competition is fierce when money’s tight so retention should be what’s on a retailer’s mind more than anything.

Not so.

Take, for example, the experience I had at Target the other day when trying to return an item without a receipt. Not only was I treated like a criminal but I ended up leaving the place with said item only because nothing could be done at the store’s level for whatever reason. In addition to all that, I was told that the return required everything that the item was packed in: box, instructions, Styrofoam packing, twist ties, etc. Having worked in retail for years including the Target store where I attempted to make the return (T-195 in Long Beach if you are keeping score), this struck me as being rather strange.

Their policy aside, the ass-hole-ciate at the Service Desk immediately came off with an attitude regarding my situation which didn’t help matters. The item – a motorized Razor scooter for Anthony – is a common item that they always carry. But according to this moron, the item’s availability at this store was questionable and if it wasn’t carried, I’d have to go to another store.

“You would have to go to the floor and get the same item so that we can scan it,” she told me.

“What do you mean I have to get it? Why me? There isn’t one person on that salesfloor that can bring it up here?” I spouted, already annoyed.

Knowing that waiting for another ass-hole-ciate would be like pulling teeth and listening to Kenny G. combined, I ended up going to the floor, taking a picture of the item’s barcode with my phone, returned to the desk and told her, “There’s your UPC. Do what you need to do.”

Then it turned into a big fucking mess that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody and in the end, the manager got involved and refused to take the return. Instead, he told me to call Razor USA for instructions on how to return it. At least he offered to give me the number.

Gee, thanks.

The calls to said company’s overseas “customer service line” were useless. They actually had Ann take apart the scooter, which I believe might have voided the warranty, to check on something she had no idea how to check. And because we didn’t have the receipt, they wanted our bank account number so that they could “trace” the transaction.

Excuse me? Are you kidding me? Fucking hell no are you getting that information!

Fed up, I tweeted @RazorUSA and, in 140 characters and two tweets, angrily made my point:

razor tweet

Turns out that if you light a public fire under somebody they take it a bit more seriously because I’d say within an hour, I had a reply. We are now in direct contact with their US-based Customer Service manager which is great, provided they can offer some kind of resolution to our problem.

As of now, our call has not been returned. (UPDATE 8/17/11: We did, however, get confirmation that a replacement part was being sent.)

That’s just one situation. The other one involves a phone case I bought on Amazon which turned out to be the wrong one for my phone model. Admittedly, it was my fault for ordering the wrong one so I explained the situation to the seller and they agreed to send me a replacement.

I sent the case back to them along with the order information and my phone model. Within 10 days, I had my replacement case: the wrong model replacement case.

So I sent an e-mail to them telling them this was the wrong one. Their reply:

Ok that is not what you ordered with us sorry,,

Well, no it wasn’t, you assholes. With the returned item, I sent the correct model number I needed. Maybe my English isn’t all that good and maybe they misunderstood what I was telling them. Either way, they didn’t seem to concerned that I had the wrong case. Rather than deal with them anymore, I sent this:

Nice reply.

Never mind the return. I will be selling it and getting what I need on eBay.

To which they said:

That’s perfect! Great day

Really, LowerPriceUSA? Are you that fucking lazy that you can’t read an e-mail or is your reading comprehension at a second-grade level and the words I wrote were just too big for you? (Judging from their replies, it’s entirely possible.) How completely lazy are you so as not to deal with a customer return and have no issues with them reselling your item on eBay? You must be making money hand over fist if you can afford to not handle a return properly and risk having the customer write about their poor experience on their blog for the whole world to see.

Whoops…

Wow. So this is what customer service has come to: fuck whatever the customer wants or is entitled to and sweep them under the rug, or ship them off to become someone else’s problem.

Man, have things changed since I worked retail. This is what it was like back then.

Give me my damn pickle already.

UPDATE 8/17/11: The case sold in less than a day, probably in part to my description:

So I bought a case from Amazon and it turned out to be the wrong one for my LG Optimus V (which I am using to list this item, including the picture taken with said phone). I ended up returning it to the seller and, despite describing my phone model in explicit detail and requesting the correct case in exchange, these morons ended up sending me the case you see here. Freaking idiots. 

I sent a few emails to them explaining that this was also the wrong case and got answers that only be described as nonchalant and useless. So rather than having to deal with these dolts anymore, I’ve decided to sell it here. You would think that the mention of me selling it here instead would make them think twice but they practically encouraged me to do it. 

WYSIWYG. Fits the LG model shown on the packaging. Buy It Now for $5 and it’s out of my life forever. I’ll even throw in free shipping. Winner will also find out the name of the Amazon seller so they know who to avoid. 

If case does not sell, it will be sent into space during the next Russian space mission and given to a lucky cosmonaut as a surprise gift.* 

*May or may not happen

Posted with the eBay Android app