Friday, 3 October 2014

Retail Blues - the Sequel

I continue to be amazed by the poor service offered by so many retailers in our little part of the world (See my earlier post).  I understand that many in the retail sector may not be very well paid, but if you agree to do a job, then try to do it well and if your company makes a promise, fulfil it.  This all brings me to two recent negative experiences.

Back in August, I somehow managed to break one of the rear wheels on my Craftsman lawn mower.  So, I went to the Ottawa location of the Sears Parts and Service centre only to find that it has closed.  So, we're off to a bad start.  I came back home and after spending a half an hour on the Sears website trying to find a number I could call to order the part (I imagine this is a pretty significant part of their business, you would think they would make the number easier to find) I managed to reach someone at what is clearly an offshore call centre.  This always makes me laugh because the guy with the thick, nearly incomprehensible Indian accent on the other end inevitably says his name is some plain vanilla-flavoured English name like "Bob".  After telling "Bob" what part I needed, he told me it is on back-order and will take a month to ship.  So, here we are, a month and a half later and still no part.  I have just fired off an e-mail to Sears and I will see if I get a reply.  Stay tuned.

The second incident is far worse.  A little background:  Our daughter, Lena, wears glasses.  Her eyesight has reached a level where she now has to wear them to play soccer.  This past season, she wore her regular glasses on the pitch, but Kate and I were not entirely comfortable with this because if she got a ball to the face, or was otherwise struck, her glasses could shatter, possibly causing serious injury and, less important, significant expense.  So, we started suggesting that we buy her a pair of sport glasses, which are impact resistant.

To say the sports glasses sold in retail outlets are not fashionable would be understating the point.  So, for an 11 year-old girl trying to fit in with her peers, wearing these things would rank up there with getting her arm hacked of with a butter knife.  After weeks of resistance (and many shed tears) we relented a little and reluctantly let her play the remainder of her season with her regular glasses, figuring she was due for an eye exam in the fall, and her enthusiasm for the sport seemed to wane a bit, so we would see how things played out.  Finally, she decided she wanted to do the winter development program, so now we insisted she get a pair of sports glasses, or try contact lenses.  She agreed.

So, one day we were walking past the New Look Optical store in the St. Laurent Shopping Centre and I suggested to Lena that we go in to try on a couple of pairs just to get her used to the idea of wearing them.  As I've said, she is extremely insecure about wearing them,  The woman who served us got Lena to try on a pair.  Lena turned her back to us so she could watch in a mirror as she tried them on and when she turned around, the woman burst out laughing.  Indeed, she had a hard time controlling herself.  Lena hung her head but seemed to take it okay.  I didn't make a big deal of it at the time, but the more I thought about it on the way home, the more it bothered me.  This was the worst possible reaction for a girl who already had serious trouble bringing herself to wear these things.

By the time I got home, I had worked myself up pretty good.  When I told my wife, Kate, about the incident, she was similarly offended.  So, I left a comment on New Look's Facebook page.  To their credit, they responded quickly and within two business days the woman who served us called to apologize.  But, I'm afraid that's too little.  I can't see myself going back to that location and I may even boycott the chain altogether.

I should say that we have been to this location several times in the past and have had very good service from our favourite optician, Kaylee, but she doesn't seem to work there any more and so we have less than no incentive to return.

The upside is that just two days ago we got Lena her sports glasses at the St. Laurent location of Lens Crafters and we got very good service.  So, New Look's loss is Lens Crafters' gain, I guess.

Would love to hear about your own retail experiences - good and bad.


  1. I had so many experiences of horrible customer service when I lived in Canada. It was pretty bad. But I've had plenty of lousy experiences here in the states too. It seems like way too many businesses don't care about the customer anymore. Just about the customer's wallet.

    1. And I doubt the people working in the stores don't even care about the wallet.