Friday, April 10, 2009

"Frankly, My Dear" Friday

Frankly, my dear, I didn't want to buy it at Wal-Mart anyway!

I needed a new, comfortable office chair. One that is a bit more ergonomically friendly to my back and arms than the one I've had for a few years. I spend a lot of time at my desk where the family desktop is, and so does Thomas. Eler Beth even sits here and uses the desktop from time to time, even though she has her own laptop.

My old chair, besides starting to look worn, was getting on my nerves because every time I'd go to sit in it I'd have to adjust the height back to where it was high enough for me. It was apparently adjusting itself because the rest of the family swore they never changed it. Whenever I would sit in it (and I'm very short, remember) I would find that my eye level was below the middle of the monitor, and I felt like I was reaching up to get to the keyboard. Or I'd go to sit down at the desk, and find that Thomas had brought in a straight-backed chair and moved the executive chair out because the straight-backed chair was easier on his back. Also, one of the castors kept coming off. Yes, it was time to buy a new chair.

I looked at Sunday supplement ads from Staples, Office Depot, and other stores that carried nice office chairs. I knew how much we were willing to spend, and I knew my back would tell me when I found the right chair, so Eler Beth and I made plans one day to hit the office supply stores and do some chair-testing.

But first, earlier that day, Thomas and I were running a few errands and found ourselves at Wal-Mart. On the way to the sporting goods department we passed furniture and I spied about four different office chairs sitting up on a shelf. I told Thomas to go ahead and I stopped to look them over. Two of them looked like what I wanted, but I couldn't sit in them because not only were they up on that shelf, but they were all connected with some kind of wire. It didn't look like it would be hard for an employee to untwist the wire to disconnect the chairs so that I could check them out, so I went in search of someone wearing a Wal-Mart smock. There was no one near, so I stepped over to electronics and asked if they'd call someone to furniture for me.

Very soon (much sooner, than I'd expected, I have to admit) two young men showed up, one of them pushing a hand-truck. I guess they just assumed that being called to furniture to assist a customer meant they should bring a hand-truck. I thanked them for coming so quickly, and I told them "I'm ready to buy one of these chairs right now, if it's what I want. I can't really tell, though, if it's going to be comfortable for me unless I sit in it. Is there some way you can disconnect them so that I can try them out? I'm interested in these two." And I indicated the two most expensive of the four.

These two young men just stared at the chairs for several seconds, both having rather bovine expressions on their faces, and then they both started murmuring at the same time and shaking their heads. They either could not or would not speak audibly and clearly, or they were murmuring to each other and not to me anyway. I said, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" One of them murmured again, and I made out the words "don't think we could do that." Then the other pointed at the wire and said, "They're wired together."

"Yes, I know, but surely people don't buy chairs like this without testing them out. Could you check with your manager or someone with authority to see if you can detach them from one another so that I can see if one of them is what I want?" I even used gestures -- I went through the motions of untwisting the wire and detaching the chairs.

More staring at the chairs and more murmuring.

I have a real problem with service personnel who haven't been trained how to at least try to speak with a customer. I want the person helping me to speak to me clearly and respectfully, and if he can't give me the help I need, I want him to find someone who can or to apologise and send me on my way. These two were just shaking their heads and muttering things like, "no, I don't think we can do that" and "they're all wired together", which we'd already established.

I asked again, "Is there a manger who can help me?"

And do you know, they shook their heads and said no, they didn't think so?!?

I said, "Well. Thank you for coming to help me so quickly. I appreciate it. But I'm not going to buy a chair without trying it out. You may want to ask your manager what to do the next time something like this happens." And I walked off.

Thomas suggested I ask at the customer service desk for a manager, but I was really irritated by then and said I wouldn't buy it from Wal-Mart now if they paid me. I did, however, stop at customer service to get the name and contact information of the store manager. I have left a message on his voice mail, and I have written him a letter. It was a nice letter, but it suggested that some changes be made in how they display their chairs!

Yes, I know, it was pretty petty of me. But, I could have disengaged those wires myself and Thomas could have lifted down one of the chairs. What really got me was the unprofessional way the two young men spoke to me. Neither ever looked at me, much less looked me in the eye, and neither of them really ever spoke to me, they just muttered to themselves.

Well, that evening Eler Beth and I went to Staples. Have you ever spent a whole hour in Staples? We did. A young man approached us as soon as we came in and I told him that we were going to try out their executive chairs until we found one we wanted. He told me to take my time, told me his name and to call him if I needed any help. There must have been 20 chairs accessible to us, and I think we sat in all of them. We narrowed our choices down to about six, then to two. Then I called Thomas to tell him how much the one we really wanted was (and it was on sale, too!) and he said to buy it. We went up front, asked for the young man, and he made a sale. For $7.99 he put it together for us too, right there in front of us. Took him about 20 minutes. I bought the chair, assembled, and a three-year warranty ($16.00), and still spent less than I'd have spent at Wal-Mart for (I'm sure) an inferior chair. And the Staples employee carried it out to my SUV for me. This guy was a young man, possibly a high school student, as were the two from Wal-Mart, yet the service he gave us was excellent, whereas theirs was non-existent. The next time I'm in Wal-Mart I'm going to look to see if their office chairs are still tethered together.

I love my new chair!


Leigh said...

I'm glad you found a chair that you're comfortable with.

And you get a medal for handling the situation at Walmart much better than I would have.

I love your "Frankly, My Dear Friday" idea. And I'll join in the fun-next week.

:) Leigh

Traci said...

It's my biggest pet peeve! Customer service or lack thereof!

Anne said...

I can actually hear them talking in my brain, with the appropriate accent. Are you sure you weren't in a cartoon? No, it WAS Walmart. Glad you and Eler Beth found the chair of your dreams. High fives! Anne

Joyce said...

It was either lack of training for poor raising. I'm glad you found what you wanted and at a lower price. Good for you.
Hugs, Joyce

ladymagnolia said...

Hi lori,

I am so glad you finally found your perfect chair! What a hassel you had to go through at Wal Mart! I avoid Wal Mart at all cost! There is never anyone around to help. When you do find someone they say oh I'm sorry this isn't MY department UGH!! Lol can you tell I am not a wal Mart fan :-).

But I also am in need of a new computer chair & hearing your glowing remarks about Staples it's where I'm going first!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter :-).


Lynne said...

The sad truth is they were probably telling you the truth. I know with my experience with Sears, I was finally told the staff are explicitly trained not to call on managers and to handle it at their level. Problem is, the staff do not have solution skills in order to help the customers, and they also obviously do not understand when to elevate it to the next level.

I'm glad it worked out for you to get your chair. I'm still fighting Sears on a bad range install. Very frustrating. Best wishes...

Anonymous said...

Might I suggest you be as diligent in letting the Staples store manager know that they, and the gentlemen who helped you did an excellent job too!

Far to often we fail to acknowledge great service and hence don't get it as often as we should.

BTW - Staples is by far the best of the breed in this category.

Martha said...

I bet those chairs will still be same way at Walmart. Glad you found a good chair and some good service :-)

Beth said...

I know it was frustrating, but thank you for writing it in such a way that it gave us a good chuckle!

If I recall correctly, I got my desk chair years ago from Sam's Club. It's a great chair, and just right for me (of course, I rarely use it now, because I use the laptop upstairs). But I would never buy a chair without trying it out! For those of us who are vertically challenged, it can be really hard to find a chair that fits us.

Have I ever spent an hour in Staples? Oh honey. I have to stay away from office supply stores. They're dangerous for me. I do love our local Staples, and we've always gotten very good service there.

Congrats on the new chair!

Hugs, Beth

Amy said...

I agree with Martha - I bet the chairs will be up there wired together for all eternity.

ADB said...

Not having a comfortable desk chair can result in all sorts of health problems, so well done in getting a proper replacement. Happy Easter.

Lori said...

Anonymous suggested I let Staples know what a nice experience I had there, and actually I did. I guess I should have mentioned that. I called and asked to speak to the manager on the next day, gave him the name of the person who assisted me and thanked them for excellent service and for not making me feel any pressure or rushed in any way while my daughter and I were trying out the chairs.

Missie said...

I'm with you! If I can't sit on it and try it out, I won't buy it. I love Staples. I never walk out there empty handed! We also like Office Depot.

Rose said...

Glad you found a comfortable is so important when sitting in front of a computer for a long time.

Is there such a thing as good "Customer Service" anymore??

Hugs, Rose

Nelishia said...

Happy Easter. I forgot to post my FDF and didn't even make a post on Friday but if I had've, it was going to be a WM post too.
It means so much to be able to sit comfortably.
Good manners are NOT out of style but that experience you had is all too common for that age group. NO ONE is teaching them right from wrong. In fact, they are being taught selfishness only and that there are no absolutes, so you came face to face with those results. I'm so glad not ALL younger people are like that and at Staples, where I have spent more than an hour in the past, you received customer service.
There is nothing petty about writing the letter. IF more people did managers would take notice but I honestly thing WM doesn't care about anything accept getting our money so they can meet their quota and get their bonuses. Mpo not so humble.
HUGS to you and all,

Ora said...

Hi...I have run into this same kind of service in Walmart...I was in line one day checking out...the cashier took a phone call (cell) and proceeded to talk to someone about where to meet for can bet I took his name and check out number...and found the manager...who proceeded to take the young man from his check out position...and replaced him...I told the manager I didn't want the kid to lose his job...just let him know that cell phone calls are OUT when he is checking folks out...but I am glad you found your chair...and YES I can spend an hour in Staples...I do about once a week LOLOL...lovely store!!!! hugs..Ora

hedwiggy8 said...

I'm glad you found a chair even though you had the bad experience at Walmart. Sometimes I wonder how Walmart go to be as big as they are with the lack of customer service they give. I actually loved reading this story. I got a huge smile on my face and it made me think of some of the crazy experiences I've had with store employees before. Have a great week and enjoy that new chair!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad that the day ended postive vs. negative. I have never been a fan of Wal-Mart, but secomb occassionally due to the convenience.

Gerry said...

I enjoyed this story as it reminds me of when Doc and I went to Fry's Electronics and he found his chair, computer table, and computer all at once! What a day, but I can certainly appreciate having a good display, and a polite and courteous helper to assist, and as a result, there was a sale, which WalMart missed for not being so accomodating. Service is probably what they cut to make the price cheaper supposedly. I am always pleased when someone's buying experience turns out to be very positive. Gerry