On Friday I was looking for a magazine. I headed to a couple of places that were close to my home to see if they had it. They didn't, but I wasn't necessarily expecting them to.
Before I headed over to a place with a more extensive newsstand, I called 411 first to double check if they carried it. I was connected to the store, I asked if they had the magazine, and I was asked to hold on.
I waited for about a minute, maybe a minute and a half. From what I could tell the employee was standing right there while I waited, I assume searching on the computer. I have no evidence of this, of course, but I don't get the sense that she was walking over to physically look for the publication (this assumption was, again, not proven, but largely confirmed for me later).
She reported back,
"We should have it."
I thought about asking if someone could go look, but decided against it.
Let me pause to note here that I had been to this location before I called. From what I remember, there are no employee kiosks on the second floor, so I assume this employee was talking to me from one of the phones behind the front desk on the main floor. The front desk is quite close to the magazine rack. In the amount of time she had me wait on the line, assuming she was not in a wheelchair or on crutches (even then, I think she had enough time; and yes, I realize I'm assuming a lot, but I think many of these particular assumptions are within reason), I believe she had plenty of time to walk to the rack, more than casually scan the selection, and walk back to the phone.
Also, while I was waiting on the line, I didn't hear a lot of typing, as if she were searching for information in the computer, although that is not to say she wasn't doing so. I don't think she was spending the time visiting the magazine rack, given her report back to me of "We should have it." But I also didn't hear her talking to a customer during this time, nor did I get the sense I was on hold--no spunky music, no recorded advertisements, etc.
Which leads me to assume that she was just searching a computer during that time (and typing quietly?). Or reading the last issue they had in stock of the magazine I was looking for, for all I know.
I drove myself over to the store, searched the most likely sections of the rack where the magazine I was looking for might be. I searched less likely sections. I didn't find it. Nor did I find an employee who was not behind the front counter or already helping another customer on the main floor (of these I believe I only saw one). So I got in line behind the customers who had something to pay for, waited, then got to the register and asked for help in finding the magazine.
A woman was recruited to help me. Without a lot of flair or pizazz in doing so, and by that I mean a lending a sizable smile, she looked for the magazine. It was not in the store.
I asked where I could find it in town. She suggested I go to one of their other locations, neither of which was super close by, especially by L.A. traffic trends at that time of day.
Today I called another store entirely (I'll make this second story quick, don't worry) to ask if they had alarm clocks.
I was told they sometimes had them, but she couldn't guarantee that they did, and asked if I could call back in 30 minutes in order for someone to go look for me later.
I did not call back.
I would have rather been put on hold for 10 minutes while this employee finished up with a customer (if that was even the case; it was unclear; she told me that the other employees were busy with customers, but did not, if memory serves, speak for her own current hindrance in offering me assistance). Or, if I wasn't put on hold, I would have liked for her to offer to call me back. (I had already done my own research before calling by searching the website, but couldn't tell if they would have alarm clocks).
Now, I am not one to complain too much about customer service. If I am on a date with a man and he says something particularly rude about the wait staff, let me tell you that is a huge turnoff and quite telling to me about his character, or at the very least how I will evaluate his character for some time until he works pretty hard to reverse that evaluation. I don't like it when friends say rude things about employees who aren't doing a flawless job at every last moment. Etc. etc. I like people to give other people a break, and let them be tired and less than flawless sometimes.
But sometimes I've gotta complain.
People, get off your duffs, and go look for whatever it is I'm looking for when I call your store to ask if you have it. It is not that hard. It is your job. And it makes me super annoyed when you are not willing to do something very simple for me, your customer. Or maybe not your customer for long, if such service continues.
Currently I still plan to patronize these two businesses, and if service continues to be poor I would probably first patronize the same businesses at other locations, and then if service really went downhill would maybe stop buying from the business altogether. I don't foresee this happening, but I just thought I'd offer you my short and long term plans. But. I did largely stop attending a particular coffee shop whose staff became too nonchalant for my taste. I am not afraid to seek out other places to find magazines and alarm clocks, should it come to that. But like a first date with a man who maybe gives the wrong first impression but seems like a well-meaning guy overall, I will give you each another chance, two businesses who will remain unnamed here.
And in case you're wondering, I haven't tracked down the magazine, but I did find an alarm clock somewhere else.