3/31/2007

 

Bad Customer Service Alert: Hastings

There's only one thing that makes me happier than a bad customer service experience, and that's writing about a bad customer service experience on my blog and exposing the rancid perpetrator to the whole world. Hastings here in Coeur d'Alene is not necessarily well-known for it's outstanding employees, granted. On a normal day, the cashiers have two speeds: slow and stop, and the floor staff are severely lax in the product knowledge department. One of my favorite examples is the time I overheard a gentleman ask the kid working at the music desk where he could find a copy of The Band's classic album The Last Waltz and the kid replied "You're gonna have to be more specific about the name of the band, but you'll probably want to look in the Classical section cuz that's where all the Waltzes are." Stuff like that. However, at least most of them are friendly, unlike the dismal little shit that totally ruined my Hastings experience the other night. Every now and then I go through my CD racks and make a pile of stuff I don't listen to anymore and take them in for store credit. I assume this is a normal, everyday procedure since they have huge signs outside and in advertising for people to bring in their used stuff. Doing a buyback, as they call it, is a bit time consuming, and not really a blast for the music department person who has to look up every title in the ancient, slow-ass Hastings database system. No-one has ever acted really thrilled about doing it, but it is part of their job, and they should at least be civil to the customer. So, the other night I went to the music desk to begin the process and encountered Jon, who immediately rolled his eyes and greeted me with a sigh and a frown. "How dare you interrupt my oh-so-busy night with your pathetic little trade-in. I hate you." He didn't actually say the words, he didn't need to - he was just oozing with the attitude. In fact, he didn't speak a single word to me the entire time. No "Hi. How are you?" No "I'd be happy to help." Nothing. He just peered out at me silently, all googly-eyed from behind thick glasses and started going through the CD stack. I thought "Ooooh kay, here's a real friendly one" and announced that I was going to browse and would be back in a moment. Strike One. A while later he raced by me with a pile of my CDs and I followed him to the front register where he hastily threw my pile of CDs on the counter and wordlessly disappeared. I've been through the buyback process a hundred times, and I know it well, but imagine that it was my first time selling CDs there, I'd be utterly confused by the lack of explanation. As it were, I noticed that he had only taken about half my CDs up front - where were the rest, the one's they didn't want to buy? I walked back to the music desk and found the rest of the CD pile sitting there so I grabbed them, Jon appeared suddenly. He finally spoke: "Um, I need to look at that pile again." "OK" I said, not really thinking about why. He quickly scanned the titles and handed them back. I realized that he was making sure I hadn't tried to slip another new CD or something in there - he was insinuating that I was a potential thief! I gave him a look of disbelief and he glared back at me with a full-on frowny face. I had to chuckle at his paranoia and went up front to finish my business. Strike Two. I got my store credit, and I was ready to shop. I wasn't looking for anything in particular just seeing what might pop out and grab me. I am huge fan of David Bowie and a collector of his music. Normally when I see anything Bowie-related and I don't have it I have to snatch it up no matter what the cost. So imagine my delight when I discover there on the Hastings rack a series of Japanese Bowie import CDs that are packaged in exact miniature reproductions of the classic original vinyl album sleeves. I'm a sucker for cool packaging but ouch! $25 a pop for music I already own. I notice they're packaged in those little resealable plastic sleeves that open and close so easy, and I'm curious to know what the inner packaging of these CD's involves, so I carefully peel open the flap and, without actually pulling anything out, I just peered in the open edge to get an idea. I figured if I'm gonna pay that much for a CD, I wanna know what I'm getting before I buy. I guess, I could have asked for assistance, but I didn't want to deal with Jon any more than I had to. Poof! Googly-eyed Jon appears from out of nowhere, beet red. "You need to put that back in the package right now!" he spoke through clenched teeth. I said "Sorry, dude, but if I'm paying nearly 30 bucks for a CD, I want to know what I'm getting - anyway, it's resealable - meant to be opened and closed, see?" He continued staring. "And anyways, are you trying to accuse me of stealing again?" He glared and stammered "People steal all the time around here. " "So what", I thought? I've been shopping here pretty much once a week since the place opened in the early 90's and I deserve better than to be made to feel like a criminal by some pencil-necked weirdo with a paranoid power trip. "Don't open any CD's in here or I'll kick you out" he hissed, as if I made a daily habit of running wildly around Hastings and undoing the shrinkwrap from various products and then pocketing them. So I told the little runt that I was planning on purchasing all 10 of the $25 Bowie Japanese mini-LP-sleeve collectors discs right then and there but he had just blown the entire sale with his rotten attitude, and how I couldn't wait to come in and tell my good buddy Daniel, the store manager, all about it the next time I saw him. OK, I was over dramatizing a bit for the sake of making the point, but still, it could've been true. He googly-eyed me one last time like a frog in headlights and hopped off. My head throbbed with customer angst. Strike Three - Out! I spent my store credit in the video department instead (DVD of "Borat"). When I was being rung up, I made sure the cashier was looking as I slipped a customer comment card in my bag and asked "What's the kid's name in the music department again?" "Jon" said the clerk, "Why, didn't he treat you nice?" "Um, noooo..." I shook my head. "Why, what happened?" he asked. "Oh, I'm sure you'll hear about it later" I replied ominously. I don't think I'm actually going to fill out the comment card or talk to his manager. I knew it would get back to Jon and hopefully just put a little scare in him. Just beware when shopping the music department at Hastings, for you may find yourself at the receiving end of a mean, googly-eyed glare.

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Comments:
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My suggestion is to patronize The Long Ear for buying and trading in CDs. They're always friendly, have a great selection, and good prices.

But the book dept is good at Hastings. The ladies are helpful and knowledgeable.
 
I sold my CDs at Hastings once, years ago. They gave me $2 for each one. Pathetic. I can get more than that through eBay for most of my stuff.

But I've experienced what you have: rudeness, ignorance, and just bad customer service.

Don't these people know the one rule of retail? The customer is always right. Even when you know they're wrong, they're still right. It should be a mantra with these people.
 
You could just save them all and hop on down to LA and we'll go to Ameoba.. in fact that reminds me I have a pile of CDs to go to Amoeba.. whoo I'm going shopping. Where was I? Oh yeah, my pal Amy in Portland blogged today about HER terrible experience with a shoe salesman... weird
 
Had troubles with Long Ear in recent years, as well, but I won't get into it here. I will say they are VERY picky about what used CD's they will buy back and I have some pretty obscure stuff in my collection. At least Hastings will pretty much take any title as long as the disc isn't scratched.
 
Cull out your collection every January, and take the used CDs to The Long Ear. Whatever they won't buy, donate to the KPBX recording and video sale.
 
Jon doesn't know you, so I wouldn't blame him for watching a random customer for shoplifting, but the general attitude is pathetic. Unfortunately, I doubt you've put much scare in him - having worked in such jobs before, what's most likely is that the cashier will ask Jon about it, Jon will give his point of view, his friends will believe him, and they'll all laugh and roll their eyes at the idiot who looked at David Bowie. It sucks. Sorry, man. But I'll keep it in mind next time I look to shop at Hastings!
 
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For the unenlightened:

Let me inform you of a few things. First, Patrick worked in the music department at Hastings in the Spokane area back in the day. So I think he's pretty damned familiar with how things work at the store. And I worked in the book department in the mid nineties at the store in Coeur d'Alene.

Once upon a time, customer service wasn't a completely alien concept at Hastings. Does anyone else remember the free video rental if you were in line for more than five minutes? Hell, we all walked about with a wad of free video coupons in our apron pockets.

Anyway, prior to leaving dear old mucky Coeur d'Alene, I'd noticed that the service at Hastings had gone down hill with the rapidity of a drag queen hitting a line of coke. The shitty attitude displayed by the employees there is on par with the employees of old Café Minnies on Broadway before it shut down.

So, yeah, perhaps the Hastings drone will roll his eyes with his co-workers and go on about the awfulness of customers but it shouldn't end there. Patrick, you ought to kick up a shindy and make a glorious to do out of it. The store manager needs to know and I would certainly point out that a nice sale was lost because of it.

Hell, just don't go there any more and get the fuck out of that plague spot and back to Seattle.
 
Just to point out that it isn't just a regional thing here's my story:

Hastings in Roswell, NM has made me upset.

After renting a game that I couldn't play (not hastings fault) we made it back to the store a couple of hours later. I ended up with a voucher worth two dollars less than I spent which I couldn't use because they didn't have the movie I wanted in stock.

I don't know what you all think, but shouldn't there be some sort of store credit system in place. Maybe I shouldn't have accepted it, but I feel cheated.

-Mad at hastings.
 
Not to be contradictory here, but...having worked retail and actually working at a Hastings store presently, I have to sympathize with Jon. For one thing, nobody but the employee can know what exactly's going on. You could have walked in right after somebody bolted with a stack of CDs, or maybe a couple of people called in sick and the store is terribly understaffed. These are no excuses for poor customer service, but try and understand that these are humans you're dealing with, here, not robots in aprons.

And another thing, if something's got any sort of packaging on it at all, regardless of its condition and the ease with which it can be opened and resealed, you should never, under any circumstances, 'take a peek.' A book or magazine, sure, but if you want to actually see the contents of a sealed item, you need to ask. And if Jon is giving you a crappy time, go find Bob, Sue, or Zeus, anyone else.

All I'm saying here is yes, Jon made several mistakes. He shouldn't have so callously disregarded his duties. He should have made sure you got the CDs back that he couldn't buy. That would have prevented the need to verify that they are all, in fact, your CDs. He should've been polite, if not enthusiastic. But regardless, your cashier is just like you. They get chewed out by their boss, get in fights with loved ones, have extremely lousy days, and sometimes the last thing they want to see is a time-consuming project that'll make them stay another 40 minutes after closing tonight.
 
I experience and heard some bad customer service experience and that is really disappointing.. I am agreed with this quote about bad customer service “If someone thinks they are being mistreated by us, they won't tell 5 people, they'll tell 5000.”
Small Business Answering service
 
I Just Love How Everyone Is Always So Fast To Report Bad Customer Service But Never When Its Good. I Have Worked In Cuatomer Service My Whole Life And Comparing Good To Bad It Us Probably 20 To 1. As Bad Winning. Could People Please Write An ESsay When Ther Service Is Good. ThanK You
 
Having your own 1800 Number is nothing if you are not equipped with credible customer service professionals.
 
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