Property Grunt

Monday, August 14, 2006

Putting Duane Reade on notice.

When it comes to customer service, I am pretty much a stickler. I try to be polite and efficient as possible with my customers. I do whatever I can in my power to provide the best service that I can. If I screw up, I know up to it, apologize and do my best to resolve it. And even if it isn’t my fault, I keep a stiff upper lip and take the verbal abuse. Why? Because it is part of the job and whether you are an agent or a broker or a manager you are going to have to exercise the highest level of customer service in order to succeed.

Whenever I enter any business establishment I am highly sensitive to how the employees interact with the customers. It has been a mixed bag for New York City. At one store, I was assisted in a return by a salesman even though he would not be getting a commission from the transaction andI later found out that he was working on his day off. He was quite kind and courteous and I thanked him for his help. Then again I expect no less from Brooks Brothers.

At one hardware store, I was in need of paint supplies however I did not know where to find it. I would have asked the salesman but he was on his cellphone and I had no desire to stand and wait for him to conclude his conversation, which was obviously more important then his job.

It was only after I went to the register that I was able to get one of the cashiers to assist me who called upon a salesman who turned out to be Mr. cell phone.

Probably the most disgusting display of customer service or lack thereof happened this past Saturday at a midtown Duane Reade. I had a hankering for snacks so
I stopped in to grab some deep fried processed carbs and sugar water and I got on line with the rest of the cattle. I was right behind a postman who was about to be served when the cashier, a young girl probably still in high school, with long curly hair left her post to talk on the phone. Right in front all of us she spoke on the landline for almost 5 minutes with her back turned to the line she was supposed to be working and blatantly ignored us as if we were nothing. If glares were bullets this stupid wench would have been swiss cheese. Obviously this girl doesn't understand the concept of work which is to do your job which does notmean abandoing your customers when you feel like it.

Very quickly the line dissipated as customers went to the other line or simply left. The Postman and I were the last ones standing but I was getting annoyed and did not wish to waste any more time waiting for this plebe.

Her much older colleague was quite irritated being that she was the only cashier at the time and she was carrying the load. She was also having problems of her own with the register. A customer was returning something and the register wasn’t well, it wasn’t registering.

Finally Ernestine got off the phone and farted out of her mouth a half hearted apology to the postman who like all postman, exhibited eternal patience in waiting for her.

I decided to stay in my new line, which proved to be a mistake as the cashier was unable to rectify the problem. The manager was also having trouble operating the register. Apparently that course isn’t covered at the college of Duane Reade. The frustrated customer began to whine about being late for her train and finally after what looked like pushing random buttons they conclued the transaction. The customer left giggling which only infuriated the cashier. Finally it was my turn and it was obvious that the cashier was in a world of rage and expressed her anger over her place in the world by slamming my food into my bag. One of them items was a glass bottle, which could have easily shattered. But she didn’t give a f**k. She was in a bad mood and that is all that mattered even if it meant damaging the merchandise of customers who had nothing to do with her life. I stared at her coldly but she didn’t notice or didn’t want to. Then she pushed the coin change in my hands. I swore to my self if she threw my cash I was going to go off on her.

But I guess she noticed that I was ready to go to toe to toe with her and because she gently placed the rest of the cash in my hand. However before leaving I switched the items since I was positive the bottle had a crack in it.

There will be some of you telling me that I should stop being a whiny b***h, that poor customer service is par for the course and if you are that pissed you should said something right there.

As New Yorkers we are senses are dulled so that we don’t go crazy over the stupidity of some of the people in the service sector. In fact no one on that line complained about telephone girl. And because I have a tendency of empathize for customer service I usually give it a pass. But that those stupid yentas have tapped me out completely.

So I am putting Duane Reade and all other businesses that utilize customer service on notice. The next time I encounter any unprofessional service, I will call your employees out and they will know their role in the economic food chain after I get through with them. And if it means making them cry and humiliating them well so be it.

Don’t even try to argue that I am being too harsh and that these people, like those two shmucks, don’t get paid enough to give a damn. I disagree. For acting as cashiers they are being paid the proper amount because what they do is not brain surgery. I don’t mean to belittle these positions but I don’t think the incompetence I dealt with is justified considering that the workload and skillsets involved in operating a register and interacting with customers is not of a hazardous nature or requires a great deal of training. It's not as if these two people were building a plumbing system from the ground up or were on patrol in Baghdad, these people should care because there are people out there who have a lot less and act in a more professional manner.

Mind you, if they treat me with respect, then I will respond in kind. But start slamming my groceries and give me attitude and there will be hell to pay. Honestly, the only thing I am interested in doing is concluding my purchase and leaving. That’s it. I am not looking for a fight. I could care less about the problems that trouble customer service representatives in their personal lives. But I refuse to be used as punching bag. I will not allow myself to become target for people who are supposed to take care of my purchases and instead choose to let loose their inner demons on their customers. And I will exercise my right to penalize those who act in a negligent manner and waste my time.

I urge all of you out there if you experience the same type of behavior that I have, well then be silent no longer. Please be tactful and please make the effort to discern professional and unprofessional behavior.

As for those who I address, as long as you do your job we’ll have no problem. But if you have such a strong dislike for your job, well then quit and find another. If you can’t, well then suck it up.