Thursday, April 10, 2014

What's Wrong With These People? (Powell's)

Dear Madame L,

I recently went to Powell's, the famous bookstore in downtown Portland, to sell some books and buy some new ones. As usual, my experience there was not so good.

First, there were three bookselling guys at that counter. The first one had a sign in front of his place that said "Next buyer." I smiled at him and started to walk past, since, you know, I can read, and I could tell that he wasn't there to help me in any way, shape, or form. Still, he decided I was illiterate and ignorant, I guess, because he frowned at me and said, "Next buyer."

At least the buyer who looked through my books wasn't as rude and dismissive as they usually are: He actually chatted with me a little while he went through them, instead of talking with the other guy the whole time. He only bought back half the books I had and didn't give me a good price for those ones, but he didn't make me feel like I was scum for being there.

I found some "new" used books to buy, and went to the checkout line. There was a lady in front of me with a little girl, and when it was their turn to go up to the front, they got distracted by something and just stood there. I waited politely for them to finish what they were doing, but politeness is obviously not part of the normal everyday procedures of most of the Powell's employees: The man at the check-out counter frowned at me and said, "Next!" and waved for me to go on up there.

So I did. He scanned my four books and told me the price without ever once looking at me. I said, "I have a paper here from selling back some other books." He sighed with boredom and/or exasperation and said, "Lemme see it." I gave it to him and he said, "I need a photo ID." I showed him my driver's license and he said, "You still owe four dollars."

I said, "I also have a coupon for ten per-cent off," and I gave him that. He practically snatched it out of my hand and said, "Lemme see it." He stapled it to his copy of the receipt and said, "You still owe four dollars." I said, "What about the ten per-cent?" He said, "I did that."

I paid him his four dollars and he gave me my receipt. I looked it over carefully and said, "It doesn't look like you gave me the ten per-cent off." He frowned even more and said, "That's right, I didn't, because it doesn't apply with the books you bought today." I said, "Then it's good for another time?" He frowned and unstapled it from the receipt and gave it to me, very reluctantly.

And then he looked past at me and frowned at the next person in line and said, "Next."

What's wrong with these people?

Sincerely,

I only go to Powell's because it's the only place around here that buys books, but let me tell you, if there was another store that did, I'd never go to Powell's again!

Dear Unhappy Customer,

Madame L sees your misery and raises you a hundred. Madame L never sells books at Powell's any more. She would rather give her books away to a charity than deal with the rude and disrespectful people there. She also buys used books through Amazon.com rather than have to deal with Powell's.

Madame L believes they must have mandatory employee meetings where, instead of getting their workers all hyped up on customer service, they yell at them, "The customer is always wrong! Wipe that grin off your face!" And so on.

And then they complain about how people aren't going to bricks-and-mortar stores any more. 

Sincerely,

Madame L

1 comment:

Laura said...

That's too bad to hear about bad customer service at Powell's. I've been there twice and enjoyed it both times, but that probably has more to do with it being so FULL OF BOOKS, kind of like going to a church for bibliophiles- that I didn't mind it. Of course, I didn't interact with any employees either, other than to pay for my books. Apparently they're quite happy to take my money. Sounds like their issue is with giving money away.