How To Put The “Ass” In Assistance

So the backstory is I’m heading to Death Valley for some camping this Veteran’s Day weekend and I wanted to pick up a new cooler and a couple of camping chairs. Though I’d planned on a lunch-hour run to the local Sportmart, in the paper this morning I found a Big 5 ad coincidentally selling the very type of chairs I’m looking for. Bonus: the nearest Big 5 is closer than the nearest Sportmart. Yay, right? Not so fast.

Leaving the dry confines of my cubicle I roll through the rain during my lunch hour over there to the Big 5 on Victory in Burbank, nearly deserted because of the weather. I beeline it straight to the camping gear and can’t find the advertised chairs. On top of that the coolers are stacked high enough up that they are out of reach and their pricetags are unreadable. Spotting a sales rep coming from behind the gun counter I walk over to show him the ad and ask where I might find the chairs.

Barely breaking stride he tells me “If we even have ’em they’ll be over there,” and lets fly a dismissive wave of his arm in a broad arc that could include not only the camping section from where I’ve just been, but also all points from Santa Clarita to the Salton Sea. Before I can even formulate the words “cooler” and “too high” in my brain, he’s over by the shoe section and gone. Gee, thanks.

So I return and look again. Nothing. There are camping chairs there that are very similar to the ones shown in the ad, except they’re $5 more than the ones on sale. “Eh, what’s five bucks?” I think as I begrudgingly shut off my internal bait-and-switch alarm and set a couple aside. As to the cooler, I gaze longingly upward at the neat stacks of storage goodness way up there and teasing me like so much large unattainable perfection. Looking around I’m not surprised to find no one either nearby or willing to — gawd forbid — providing a customer with help, so I pick up the two chairs and almost settle for them and a lone smaller-than-I-wanted-and-more-expensive cooler that was on the floor in front of the chair display… almost. Until I realize there is no fucking way I was going to buy anything from a store whose employees so couldn’t give a shit and who didn’t even have advertised products available (or the cooler I wanted within reach, dammit!).

So I left Big Whup without so much as looking back and proceeded straight to Sportmart where I should’ve gone in the first place. Not that their floor personnel isn’t as well-versed in making ithemselves scarce, but the chairs I wanted were there for the same price as the ones on sale at Big 5, and a bigger, better and cheaper cooler was within arm’s reach as well.

10 Replies to “How To Put The “Ass” In Assistance”

  1. Between this, the Screamfest post, the Nickerblogs experience with Sony, and just about everyone in LA’s run ins with Kinkos, there should be an LA customer service blog.

  2. This is not such a trivial issue. I’m almost 47 years old. Over the last ten years or so I’ve witnessed an overall decline in customer service. I can honestly remember when clerks in chain book stores were knowledgeable about books (Good luck finding that today), when the guy at the hardware store understood what you were trying to build and knew what tools you would need to get the job done, when the customer was treated with nothing but respect. Those days are long gone.

    Lament, lament.

    What mid-life crisis?

  3. The level of customer service in sporting goods stores is unbelievably bad here in LA. Here in Palmdale at the local Sport Chalet I have waited for 10 to 15 minutes to get help. What is amazing is the number of employees (really people hanging out and getting paid) that walk by WITHOUT acknowledging that I am needing help. I was looking for some new sunglasses a couple years ago so I hauled my wife and two kids to Sport Chalet. I stared thru the case at all of the shiny $100+ shades. Not a single person came over to EASILY take my money. We waited around for about 15 minutes. Should I have said something? NO, absolutely not. It is their JOB to help people. If I have to remind them to do their JOB then they don’t need my cash. So we went to the mall and I got a sweet Briko unit for $99.95. Up your’s Sport Chalet.

  4. Customer service has certainly gone straight into the shitter. When I’m trying to give a company my money, I don’t expect anyone to kiss my ass; I’d just like someone to pretend to be polite and helpful.

    One thing I’d recommend, though…when you get poor service like this, particularly with the big box chain stores, don’t just walk out. Tell the general manager (or better, corporate offices) *why* you’re leaving and taking your money with you. Remind them that happy customers generally tell 1-2 people; unhappy customers tell 10-20 (or blog about it.)

  5. Recommendation highly agreed with Burns. First thing I did before venting here on B.la was go to the Big 5 website and submit my experience to their feedback page. If I don’t get a response I’ll certainly follow up with a hard-copy to their corporate offices.

  6. Hm, I had a different experience at the Sports Chalet in Marina del Rey. Twice, to be precise. The first time last year when I bought a heart rate monitor. The young lady at the counter was very helpful. And about 4 months ago I went there to get swimming gear, and the people around that department were quite attentious.

    My biggest pet peeve is still Best Buy. Anywhere.

  7. It’s surprisingly hit or miss. I got amazing help at Sport Chalet in the Beverly Connection while trying to create a survival kit (I am ready for the end). I also got really friendly service at Smart and Final.

    But I have gotten plenty of dickwads in my time. Wolcano ass wipes on Beverly and don’t get me started on Cynthia’s. I am sure I could think of more if I try.

  8. “No REI stores in your area eh? I’m kinda torn between Best Buy and Fry’s for worst customer service.”

    Rei is opening up next spring at the old ToysRUs in Santa Monica.

    And Fry’s is notorious for bad customer service – they don’t even pretend to care. Fortunately, the deals and selection I find there makes it worth.

    Hands down worst customer service remains Kinkos. Unfortunately, I end up there at least twice a month, and I don’t think there’s been a single trip where there hasn’t been a problem. The copier I pick spits out dirty copies, overcharges me, or there’s no working copiers available because six out of the eight self serve machines are broken, and theres a line for the other two. The worst was when a floppy disk in to print something out. The computer jammed up. When I asked for help, they Kinkos clerk told me, “oh yeah, that computer has a virus on it. But we’re not liable”.

    I will add the only exception to this rule has been the Kinkos in Burbank next to Warner Bros – when doing large format or specialty projects, they’ve always been top notch. A shocker.

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