Why Chain Retail is Dead.

Look, I try to shop local most of the time, I really do. But since I live right next to the asscrack of nowhere, sometimes I need things that are out of town. Also, if the price difference is more than 30%, I just can’t do it . Sorry. When I am not buying stuff from my local peeps, I do one of two things – either go to the big boxes sort of nearby or buy stuff online. I am here to tell you, as far as buying things from actual retailers, I’m done. I’m not getting my ass out of this chair for jack-shit anymore. It’s all online from here on out. Let me tell you why. Here are 3 stories of recent purchases I have (or tried) to make recently: a TV, a  car, and a book.  All showed a lack of melding between the digital and retail world, poor customer service, and severe pouting and ranting on my part.

After Christmas we decided to get a new TV. We had a 20 year old Zenith console that was given to us by my parents a long time ago. After researching prices, reviews, etc., etc., online, we decided on a model they had at Wal-Mart. LCD,LED, nice and big, energy efficient, flat, HD, all that stuff. Before we traveled to the sort of close Wal-Mart, about 30 minutes away, we checked to make sure they had some in stock. Yup, website said they had 5. Great. Go to Wal-Mart. Tell TV clerk guy exactly which one we want. He says, “Great, I’ll be right back.” Then he disappears. For like, 30 minutes we stand around in the electronics department. Finally another clerk comes up and says, “Can I help you?”
Husband says, “Yeah we told an older guy with glasses we wanted this TV like 30 minutes ago.”
New Clerk says, “Oh, yeah. That  guy went home.”
New Clerk,”Anyway, we don’t have any of those left in stock.”
Husband, “It says on your website you have 5 in stock.”
New Clerk,”Yeah, I know. It says it on our computer too. We can’t find them.”
Husband, “You can’t find them?”
New Clerk,”Yeah. I guess they’re like lost or something.”

We left and got a similar TV at Best Buy. But only after having similar experiences at Sears and Target. Also, apparently Wal-Mart can just lose 5 $600 TVs and no one gives a shit. I really need to sneak into their warehouse.

After about 4 years of bitching and complaining and 6 months of research, I decided to get a new car. One that can get up my driveway.  I decided on a Honda CRV. Since the used car market is insane and way over-priced right now, I decided on a new car. Great. Get pre-approved for a certain car at a certain price through Honda America. Print out information, head down to BERLIN CITY IN SOUTH PORTLAND MAINE.  Drive car. Like it. Go in, give them information. Get this in response, “Oh, we still have to do our own stuff blah blah blah” Hm. Ok. An hour later, “Yeah, here’s your car payment!” Um…yeah $200 higher than where we said we’d go, and what we had been pre-approved for.

Us:” NFW”
Them, “Yeah, Ok.”

You should know, my family was in the car business for 50 years. I myself, for about 10. I have never in my life seen a car place drop the ball so epically. Did they offer to give me more for my trade? No. Did they offer to find a different vehicle? No. Did they attempt to argue with me about the payment and how it’s my only option? Yes. Did I basically tell them to fuck off and leave? Yes. About three days later they called me back and were all, “So, what happened? Why did you leave? Can we put you in something else?”

Me, “If you think I’m going to drive an hour, again, to be jerked around by you assholes, you’ve been eating crack sandwiches.” Ok, really I said, “No, thanks.”

One week later, I contact Charlie’s Honda in Augusta. (Who despite bad things I’d heard about them being pushy, we loved and highly recommend them.) E-mail them. Tell them what we want, what we want for a  price, and give them our info. They e-mail us back, ” Yup no problem.”

We E-mail them again, “Cool. We’ll come up tonight, but know this – if you are dicking us around and if you are lying about car/payment we will leave. Car dealers don’t scare us.”
Miracle of miracles we  get up there, they have the exact car I want, and the exact payment I want. Weird?! Why couldn’t the other place do that? Oh, maybe because they’re dicks? Car manufacturers and dealers, you guys have got to get your shit straightened out. If one of you is telling a customer that they have been approved for a certain car, at a certain payment THE CUSTOMER EXPECTS TO GET THAT. It’s not rocket science.

Just today, I returned from Borders empty handed.  I had a coupon for 40% off anything in the store (except for a huge long list of exceptions) and I really, really want the book The Passage by Justin Cronin. I figured I’d buy it since, though they have it at the library, it’s super long and my late fees would probably cover the cost of the book. Here we go, check on-line do they have it? Yup. Get to store, is it there, on the shelf? Nope. Check in store computer, do they have it? Yup. Go ask clerk, she goes to find it. “Yeah it’s not here, I guess it’s lost.” Again with the losing shit? Really? Then she says, “Do you want me to order it from the website?” and pulls up the Borders website.

Me: “No, lady, I do not. I know this is your job, and not your fault. But I do, in fact, know how to use the internet. If I had wanted to order the book from your website, I would just fucking order it from your website. I wanted it in my hands RIGHT NOW. Which is why I came all the way over to your store, 30 minutes from where I live. ” Ok really I said, “No, thanks.” and stomped off.

I guess this is the price I have to pay from attempting to shop at soulless, evil, chains. I think all the big boxes might as well shut their shit down and just go online. Seriously, or get your shit together in an epic way, which I kind of doubt will happen. Especially since your employees are so prone to “losing” merchandise.

5 thoughts on “Why Chain Retail is Dead.

  1. Been there, been pissed off by that and don’t get me started on car dealers. I slugged one once when he told my mom that he didn’t think she could afford to pay cash and perhaps she should ask her husband what he thinks. In my defense, my parents were going through a rather messy divorce in which HE, not she, was taking her to the cleaners. My inner feminist was sort of proud that she was the one getting robbed in the deal and the car guy needed to know that.

    I try to shop the local small businesses when it is feasible and won’t destroy my wallet, but for most stuff, it is all online anymore. It used to be that you went to a store to get better service and to be able to see/touch what you were buying. Anymore, I get better service from an automated email thing asking me how the experience with my order was. Online retailers are more willing to go the extra mile, stores just want to make you walk an extra mile.

  2. Sounds like you have to move to Manhattan. Here you never have to go more than a block away to find whatever you want from at least five different places. Of course that convenience comes with a NYC price tag. And truth be told, I do all my shopping online too. Even grocery.

    1. Be still my heart. You probably get everything delivered too. My brother just moved to Brooklyn. Maybe I should just move into his guest room.

  3. ::sigh:: It sounds like you live where I live. The Kmart, that is now closed, used to do that all the damn time… it was in the ad and they’d have zero in stock. And when asked the store clerks didn’t know anything….ever.

    I like shopping in stores and actually seeing the products that they have, but when I go in for something specific and they don’t have it I get rather annoyed too!

  4. Seriously, I would die if I had to drive 30 minutes to get something…anything. DIE. But not before killing someone. Or everyone. EVERYONE. “Lost them” ???

    Nope. I don’t think so. Machete time. I’m not a woman with patience, in case you ladies haven’t figured that out by now. You freakin’ yanks are nuts.

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