Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making It Right For The Customer

My husband and youngest son
I've been shopping for a camera every since the Kirkwood Children's Chorale Holiday Concert when, in the excitement of the college student's return home, my  husband and I fumbled the pass as we were trying to take photos in the beautiful surroundings.  The result...this is the last photo of my Canon, 14 megapixel, 12mm zoom digital camera...handsome, aren't they?

The hunt for a replacement began, three years after the purchase of the other one, and unwilling to spend another $300, I started looking.  In the meantime, my husband used his really good smart phone to take photos of the kids during the holidays.  I, on the other hand, was image-less, and quite sad about it.

Target, where I live, has a cute little photo department with helpful employees.  They had a Nikon on sale for $99 about three or four weeks ago and I started eyeballing it.  It turned out the one on display was the only one they had and they couldn't sell it.  The guy told me it would be marked down as clearance eventually but he didn't know when.  He also gave me the inside scoop that they mark down electronics on Mondays and that since I wanted to take great photos, that would be a good camera, Nikons are better at photos, he said.

I started watching and waiting...and making my husband use his phone for those can't-miss-photos...but this very amateur shutter bug was missing shots and the uber-cheap, Five Below, camera he picked up for our baby girl just wasn't cutting it.  I needed something that would take crisp, clear pictures that I could print out or upload...a bit of the photo hound in me, I guess.

Finally, and I mean finally, I decided to go to the Brentwood Target on my return from taking my husband to work.  I didn't need a cart, was heading straight to the photo department.  This school board candidate needs a photo now and needs it from a good camera!

I got there and it was an echo chamber...no one around.  I amused myself by waiting and trying to find the Nikon on display - it wasn't - but the one my husband broke was now marked down to $79.99.  I thought I would settle, but remembering what my helpful Kirkwood Target camera guy told me, I spotted a warm body and called them over.  I told him what I needed and eventually the electronics girl showed up.

That is when my shopping experience went downhill fast, like nosedive fast.

I told her what I wanted and she responded that they were locked up below, I mean like bend down below.  She  unlocked the cabinet and then began to profile and stereotype me in the most egregious way!

She first let me hold the box and read it and as I was comparing it with the others on display, deciding if this $99 was worth it with all the little ones on sale.  She was in my personal space, like we could have hugged or something, and kept looking me up and down, speaking rapid fire, and saying that she is just going to take this and literally took it from my hands.  I was asking her what was the problem, why was she in my space, and why was she profiling me. I told her I wasn't going to steal the camera and yes, rolled out my pedigree and that I teach marketing, management, and retail and she was not giving good customer service.

I asked her to write down the zoom and megapixel information so I could compare, she did and barely handed it to me, not apologizing for her rude behavior or anything.  I finally turned around and walked out.

Prepared to leave the store in a huff and about to really dis one of my favorite stores, I stopped at the front and demanded to see the store manager.  The guy behind the counter was also the original guy that found me the photo girl, I told him no, I needed the store manager, not him who was "a manager."

Matt, the store manager, came and talked to me and yes, I was really hot!  I was polite, but hot and went on to explain my displeasure with the shopping experience with the photo girl, Stacie.  I wrote down her name because I didn't want to forget.  I told Matt about my experience in retail and that I teach this stuff and that customers do not deserve this type of treatment.  He kept apologizing and was asking how he could make it right.

He and I chatted for a while, I was really upset, the girl was so rude and abrasive and hovering over me that I was really mad.  I have never entered Target and just walked out without buying what I intended to buy (and then some, again, much to my husband's dismay at times).

Finally, he offered to walk me back to electronics, show me the camera, answer any questions I have, and do what he could to make it right, apologizing all the way.  He was very helpful, explained that he was also a camera guy and which ones they use and that yes, the Nikon was a good camera.

He made it right, telling me about his childhood growing up in a small town with his father's hardware business.  He said his dad reminded him that good customer service was how he was able to eat dinner that night.

Matt, the store manager at the Brentwood Target, showed me what I needed for the camera, explained to me what would happen if I put my old memory card in the new camera and helped me figure out what I needed to be photo ready.  When we were finished, I ended up paying less than what the sale price was for the camera, getting batteries, a photo card, a card reader, a service plan (thrown in), and a smile.

He did over and above what I would have expected and his "let me take a percentage off" ended up being 50% off the sale price.  It was a small gesture in the grand scheme of this multi-billion dollar company, but for me, he made it right.  And I said so to him and his district manager.



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