Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Started a Riot, Sort of, at Jo-Ann Fabrics

One of the things you might not know about me is I am outspoken. I see something stupid I comment on it. I also step up and try and do something about it. Come on! If something is "stupid", fix it!

Wake up, Sheeple!

For example, not a car in sight, nada, zilch, I look both ways, nothing. I look again. Nothing. Here, I am on a corner, DO NOT WALK sign bold as brass. Thirty people all standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change so they can cross. I'll say it again, not a car in sight. I cross. Only after I get to the middle of the road, do the other sheeple wake up and start slogging across the motorway. Okay, you say, "Where was this!" Granted it was in West Germany, I suppose they'll never let me back into the country (Germany)now, but come on! This herd mentality is what got you people into trouble in WWII...

So it probably doesn't surprise you to hear that when I am standing in Jo-Ann Fabrics with my son and I can count 30 people in line ahead of me (YES, 30!) and the two Suzys at the cash register haven't moved in more than 3 minutes I am going to comment. Out loud.

Okay, obviously the cashiers have some sort of issue. Also very obviously, I have watched the older of them call for back-up a couple times, and no one has appeared. Having circumnavigated the entire store just recently, I also remember there are at least 2, maybe 3 employees reshelving items, and 4 employees standing (not cutting) at the cutting table. So as I begin my scintillating story about other mindless customer service horrors recently at a fabric/craft store, I also send my son back to inform the cutting table that they really do need some help up front and tell him to be sure to include the number of people in line.

Thing is, my recitation nearly turns into a focus group for customer service.

I begin to tell the story (to anybody listening) of going to a different store during hours I would assume them to be open (11:40 on a Sunday). To my disbelief, posted hours are Noon to 5:00 P. M. I drove an hour to shop there, I don't live closer to any fabric store. so I wait. During the 20 minutes (actually 25, they opened 5 minutes late). My son and I talk about what should be appropriate hours for such a destination shop, and surprisingly begin to count other would-be customers who also try the locked door in disbelief.

We count 24 potential customers in 25 minutes.

Now in a fabric store, I would theorize that the first 30-60 minutes of sales are fairly low because of the need of customers to look at patterns, fabric, match thread, get fabric cut, so even though there is sales activity going on, there is a decided lag between it and a sale.

As a former manager, I would surely want to know if there were a sizable percentage of customers checking my door and possible driving away before my business was open. I share my informal business survey with the cashier (who I am sort of thinking is also the manager) on my way out. Her response, "These have been our hours for years!"

Whoa! For years?

We only review our business model every few years? In these economic times, yet!

So I can't help but think my comments went right up and over.

The other customers standing in line at the latest customer service snafu are amazed.

It is like a dam bursting.

Everyone in line begins to add their thoughts. They have all been there long enough by the time I step into line to have given it a lot of thought and are now starting to talk very loudly about the poor customer service. A salient point, not lost on me, is unlike other stores, in fabric stores they have "captured" your sale the minute you have something cut off from the bolt.

My son returns and says the people at the cutting table were pretty non-responsive to him, saying they, the cashiers, would have called. He dawdles long enough though to hear an exchange on one of the employee's radios, about "Hey, I called you three times and got no responses..." So in the time it takes my son to relate the story, there are now 7 cashiers up front and I am checking out.

Customer service problem solved... this time. So I stood in line about five minutes, total. I have to think that is a tiny proportion of how long I could have waited. I am sure the two cashiers overheard an earful. The other customers will probably also repeat this story, and my other story. In these economic times, a lot more people are sewing and crafting to help with their budgets.

The American consumer is one of the mightiest economic forces the world has ever seen. We have the power to change the world. Collectively, our purchases matter. Spend wisely!

America, repeat after me, "We are not sheeple!"

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