Listen up Sears Canada, I have a fantastic idea for you. You can increase customer satisfaction, and it’ll likely cost you less than $10000 annually. Seriously, you should consider this.
Let me back up and give you the sad, frustrating story.
The Girl decided to redo her bedroom, which meant new paint on the walls and new bedroom furniture.
Truly don’t know why she’s not satisfied to continue using the bedroom furniture her mother bought thirty years ago…kids these days, huh? It’s okay to listen to thirty year old music that sucked thirty years ago and sucks even worse now that the cast of Glee has decided to put their shitty little spin on it, but when it comes to furniture, well, geez, let’s get a little more 21st century, huh?
By the way, in case you missed it, that last paragraph was sarcastic in regard to the furniture, but I meant every word about Glee. Hate that damn show. But alas, this is not a Glee rant. Back to Sears.
She picked up a couple of pieces from Ikea that we took home and put together. Gotta tell ya, say what you want about Ikea, but they have their shit together for the most part. We had no problems picking the items out, no problem picking them up, no problem putting them together. Exactly what you want.
The Girl also ordered a couple of pieces from sears.ca. We waited about three weeks for them to arrive, but when they did, all seemed in order.
I attacked them last Friday evening, starting with the chest of drawers. Now, I’m really not the type of personality to follow instructions, however I’ve learned with this stuff that everything goes a lot smoother if you pull all the pieces out and organize them. This includes all the little plugs and screws and connectors as well. So I’ll indicate this right up front, that’s what I did.
Then I proceeded to build the whole thing. All went really well until the last of the six drawers. Turns out I was shorted two very small but very important items. I know I was shorted them because I sorted everything up front.
I have no idea what this damn part is even called, but it looks like this.
I was missing two of them.
This meant I couldn’t put together the last drawer, because now I had to keep one more back to stick in my pocket for the search.
I didn’t think it would be a big deal, so I just shot over to the local hardware store. When I held this little grommet up and told him I needed two of them, he shook his head sadly. “Ikea?” he asked.
“Sears,” I answered.
“Ah,” he shook his head again. “Try Canadian Tire.”
So, I tried Canadian Tire. They had them, but they all seemed far too large for my purposes. I bought the ones that seemed closest. Only $4.09 for four of them. Wait? A buck each? Shit. I bought them anyway.
Brought them home. Sure enough, too big.
No biggie, I thought. I’ll just give Sears a shot tomorrow.
So I did.
Let me set the scene. I went to the Sears Home store in Whitby, not far from Thickson Rd and the 401. I walked into the store and, in walking from the front to the back, I saw at least three signs or posters highlighting the 24 hour ease and convenience of shopping via computer at the sears.ca site. They truly seemed to think this was a good thing.
So then I got up to the customer service/catalogue order desk and a somewhat friendly woman offered her assistance. I held up the damnable grommet, explained I was shorted two of them and did they have any kicking around.
“Did you buy the furniture here?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “My daughter ordered it online through sears.ca.” I waved vaguely at the sign just to my left that again trumpeted the benefits of Sears on the internet.
Her response? A downturn of the mouth, and then she said, “Foolish girl.”
Now, I’ve worked for a lot of places in my time, and not all of them were the most amazing places to work. In fact, there’s two off the top of my head that I’ll happily rip into for their unbelievable management practices, asshole managers and ridiculous working conditions. But I’ll also do that because both of them are no longer in business, as they deserved.
I was brought up to not slag the place that you work for. It may not be the best place, but dammit, if they’re employing you, if they’re paying your wage, you don’t cut them up. Or, put slightly less delicately, you don’t shit where you eat.
This woman was happily crapping on her own dinner plates.
Anyway, instead of showing the requisite empathy, even a simple “I’m sorry to hear that” in commiseration, she tossed that to the wind. Granted, at no point was she rude to me, that must be stated. And she also did go into the back to see if “the boys” had any spare parts, coming back, unfortunately, empty handed.
She handed me a brochure with the customer service phone number on there and told me to give them what for. “You know what I’d, do,” she said. “I’d demand they send another chest of drawers!”
“But I just need two connectors,” I said, showing her once again, the pitiful little piece of cheap metal that had be driving from Bowmanville to Whitby.
“Still,” she said. “They didn’t deliver what they promised.”
“So, if I call customer service, they’re going to have to mail them out, right? I’ll have to wait a few days…” I said.
“Well, you could try going to one of our competitors and…you know…bend the truth. Tell them you bought it there.”
So now she was sending me to the competition, where I, quite frankly, wished we’d done three weeks earlier.
I left the store, casting a final rueful glance at one of those sears.ca posters. Then I went to Home Depot and Rona, only to strike out at both stores.
So, not wanting to wait, instead, I went home, pulled out the drill, widened the holes and used my Canadian Tire grommets. It’s not pretty, but it did the job.
Now, back to where I started this. Everyone I talked to at the hardware stores says they have people coming in constantly for this stuff. I’m sure it’s not just from Sears, but still…
Here’s my idea. Most of the screws and plugs are standard issue that can be bought anywhere. But the special stuff, the connectors I was looking for and their accompanying specialized screws and the like…I’m guessing at most they’re costing you five to ten cents each. Hell, let’s go high and say they’re twenty cents each.
Let’s say there’s ten different types of various grommets and doodads and thingamabobs for the furniture. At twenty cents each, that’s $2.00. How about you keep a running stock of twenty of each them per store. 10 x 20 x 20 cents. That’s $40 worth of inventory per store. Times about 150 stores, that’s $6000 to cover Canada.
Granted, that’s the initial stockpile, and you’re going to have to replenish every once in a while, but still, shouldn’t take much. It’s a small price to pay and it would make your customers a hell of a lot happier.
Of course, putting the right number of damn parts in the furniture would help more, but I know that’s not always in your control.
What is also in your control is having employees who will empathize with you and not slag the company they work for, even if it is subtly.
Honestly, the whole situation soured me on a company that’s been around over sixty years. There’s a lot of other companies out there vying for my money who’ll treat me better.
Ikea, for instance.