May 30 2011 by Ellen Roseman
Are you tired of going into a big store and not being able to find help? Retailers should treat you with respect when you try to spend your hard-earned money. Instead, they make you do all the work.
You have to figure out where the stuff is located and how much it costs. To choose among several items, you have to do your own research, since you canâ€™t rely on store staff to know anything.
Then, you often have to scan and bag your own purchases to avoid line-ups at the cashierâ€™s desk. Whatever happened to service with a smile?
Thereâ€™s nothing more frustrating than being ignored or shrugged off when you try to ask questions. But thatâ€™s the status quo at many large retail chains.
I recently went to my local Canadian Tire to buy an iron. I found two $49.95 models with the features I wanted. But the cashier rang up one at $59.95 and one at $69.95, saying they were on the wrong shelves.
A staff member was sent to track down the lower-priced irons that matched the shelf tags. Nothing turned up. I ended up paying $10 more than I thought I would, just to minimize my wasted time.
I think Canadian Tire needs a shake-up. While some franchise owners care about service, others donâ€™t seem to want our business. They let customers fend for themselves.
In contrast, the Hudsonâ€™s Bay Co. has upgraded its staff training. I used to wander around looking for someone to help me. Now I find greeters on every floor and people who know the products they sell. Itâ€™s a welcome change.
So, whatâ€™s going on? Caitlin Kellyâ€™s book, Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail, talks about working at The North Face, a U.S. chain. She says sales associates are treated badly, leading to surly service and lots of turnover.
A Canadian journalist living in New York, Kelly found her writing income dried up during the 2008 recession. She took a part-time retail job at $9 an hour, but found her work unsafe and injurious to her mental health.
Retail workers are treated oppressively by management, in her view. They’re forced to work long hours with low pay and little chance of advancement. She quit after two and half years, unable to quell her dissatisfaction.
As a customer, Iâ€™ve decided to stay away from stores that stint on staff. If enough of us boycott underperformers, we can start a revolution. Letâ€™s try to bring about change for shoppers and sales associates.
Please tell me your retail horror stories and happy stories. My Moneyville post on this topic drew more than 120 comments.