Where Did All The Responsible People Go?
I hate to say it (no I don’t) but I’m rapidly losing what little faith in humanity I had left. This country of ours, I’m afraid, has exactly the government it deserves. Our ‘leaders’ in Washington can’t get their sh*t together to save their lives, or worse yet think that shutting things down is the way to get things done, and the government is closed for two weeks. Real peoples’ lives are impacted negatively, but screw us, a new law has been passed that a very few in congress don’t care for so they throw a hissy fit and shut down the government. That’s not the way a democracy works, but this country hasn’t been a functioning government for a very long time.
Anyway…where was I? Oh yes. Incompetence. It has invaded the highest level of our government, but it hasn’t stopped there. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s just a symptom of me getting older, but I swear to god I can’t go anywhere without having to work around somebody or something’s staggering incompetence.
My latest example of this (I’ve got lots of examples of incompetence…millions…but will only expound on this one here) happened over the weekend.
I had ordered an item online and scheduled it to be picked up at the store’s local location. I won’t name the store, but it rhymes with lows. Now, online retail shopping has been around for a long time now, going into decades. The process is simple. It SHOULD be simple. A customer places an order from the convenience of his or her own home or place of business, selects a pickup store, and voila the item magically shows up a few days later, ready to be picked up, with no shipping charges. Fantastic. Space-age stuff, really.
I order lots of things this way, because it’s easy, it’s fast, there’s no shipping (I’m cheap. Whatever.) I can shop wearing nothing but my underwear (if I want. Not saying it happens.) It’s convenient. Scratch that. It’s SUPPOSED to be convenient.
So I had ordered this item last week and was told it would be ready for pickup on Saturday. I didn’t get notification of it arriving until Sunday. That’s not the problem here, the day really didn’t matter.
HERE is the problem: Stores that have online order pickups have a large area set aside in the store specifically for these items. It’s usually around the customer service desk. I arrived, stood in line like a good customer and waited my turn. I give the nice clerk my paperwork. I wait for 5 minutes while she tries to access the information on the computer. It should not take 5 minutes to do this, but it does. OK. The item isn’t in the pickup area. Where it should be. I’m thinking to myself “If somebody called me to tell me the item was ready for pickup, shouldn’t it be sitting in the ‘Ready for Pickup’ area?” The answer to my rhetorical question is, or course, HELL YES IT SHOULD BE. But it isn’t.
Now the phone calls to various departments around the store call. Customer here for an order pickup. Anybody seen this guys’ stuff? No. Nope. Haven’t a clue.
Finally, somebody in the “Backroom Area” has an idea of what’s going on. Oh yeah, it should be back here somewhere. Let me look for it.
THIRTY MINUTES LATER: The clerk calls to see what the holdup is. “He still hasn’t found it. Now he’s looking in a different backroom area.” Lovely. I have nothing better to do on my Sunday than stand around Lowe’s (whoops. lows.) I’ve had lots of experience, unfortunately, in digging around retail backrooms looking for things, so I’m tempted to say just look, why don’t you let me go back there and look? But I don’t. I wait. I send furious texts to my wife, who rolls her eyes back at home. I don’t know she does this, but I have a sneaky feeling that’s exactly what she does. I send lots of furious text messages her way.
40 minutes after I showed up to ‘conveniently’ pick up my online order, a scruffy looking kid comes sauntering up to the counter with my box. ‘Found it.’ Well jesus christ, thanks kid! Nice job!! I take my package and leave. Oh, first I have to get stopped at the exit to have it checked to make sure I’m not a goddamn criminal.
By the time I get home, I’ve settled down to the point that I can laugh and joke about the whole situation. Wait, no…that’s a lie. Three days later, and it’s still pissing me off. Can’t ANYBODY do ANYTHING right? I mean, as I explained above, the online order/in-store pickup concept is a simple one, and it’s not exactly new. In this case, it worked well enough for my item to arrive at the store and for someone to acknowledge said arrival and call me to tell me it’s ready for pickup. The part of the process that DIDN’T work, was where whoever called me actually took the package (which weighed maybe 10 pounds, it’s not like it was too heavy to move) to the pickup counter. No, that part of the process completely broke down, forcing a customer to spend 39 minutes more than necessary to pick it up.
It wouldn’t be upsetting to me if the people at the store gave half a damn about the way-too-long wait. I got a half-assed ‘sorry about the wait’ from the admittedly overworked customer care clerk, but that was it. I did get an online survey, and I did not pull any punches in my evaluation, but I doubt it will do any good.
This country, hell-bent on paying people way too little to do way too crappy jobs so the fat cats at the top can get their million dollar bonuses, has created a situation where nobody really gives a shit about their job performance. You know it’s true; good customer service, especially at the retail level, is the exception to the rule these days. And that attitude seems to be spreading. When the only jobs left are low-pay, low-level, interchangeable service jobs, nobody cares. Nobody has pride in what they do. Or maybe it’s just my curmudgeonly attitude taking over, I don’t know. Look around, what do you see?
The lesson I take from this latest situation: Pay the stupid shipping, cheap ass, and have it delivered to the house.