Friday, September 11, 2009

Warning: Your Next Visit to Walmart May Require an IQ Test

Is the main goal of corporate America screwing with its customers? Seriously, 'Evil corporate America' aside, have you ever walked into Walmart and noticed the ratio of how many registers there are versus how many are actually open? You end up having to stand there, hordes of questionable people invading your space, secretly judging you ... If that weren't enough, the American consumer is rude, impatient and, in some cases, completely insane.
And then there's the 'Self Check-out Lines.'
These are an entirely different spawn of evil. A part from being a cruel joke, they're completely hazardous to your health. I mean, there are still about 18% of Americans who think the sun revolves around the earth. Should we really be trusting the average consumer with scanning and paying for their own items with limited supervision? Could you imagine a Sears Self Check-out? Or a Kay Jewelers Self Check-out? No. Because most companies know that the average consumer needs help finding well-marked items and, in most cases, cannot be trusted with those well-marked items.
I would like to share with you one of my own recent experiences, just to illustrate why customer service is necessary; at Oscar's we have 2 for 1 drafts all the time (shameless plug), in this particular instance, I'd just finished explaining which drafts those included. Here is the actual two-minute conversation that followed:

Emma: "Can I get you something to drink?"
Average American Consumer: "Yeah, I'd like Bud draft."
Emma: "I have Bud Light on Draft. Would you like that?"
Average American Consumer: "No. I want your 2 for 1 Bud draft."
Emma: "I only have Bud Light on Draft.."
Average American Consumer: "I want a Bud."
Emma: "So would you like a bottle? I have Bud in a bottle."
Average American Consumer: "No. I want Bud on draft."
Emma: "I only have Bud Light on draft."
Average American Consumer: "I want the Bud. On draft."
Emma: "I don't have Bud on draft. I only have Bud Light."
Average American Consumer: "Oh. I'll have that then."

*pointed stare*

That aside, I'll give you my Walmart self check-out experience (in which I was a fellow customer):
Matt and I were in a rather lengthy line, surrounded by other lengthy lines, waiting for our turn on the computer. Ahead of us was a lady buying two discount cds. After scanning the items, but having no luck with a gift card, she called over our 'adult supervision.' With an experienced 'I-deal-with-this-all-the-time' flick of the wrist, the gift card was scanned and the customer was told she a total of $2.14 left. A part from being a complete and utter reflection of the state of our economy, the woman turns to the teller and says: "Can I write you a check?" ... which completely threw me off guard - being in self check-out - but seemed to suprise the teller naught. The teller calmly told the lady that, after the gift card, the total was too low to write a check.

This line of conversation is repeated a few times and, just as the people behind us started to wonder about the hold up, she began to sigh heavily, turning to roll her eyes so that the rest of us could see she was at a total loss. Seconds go by and she's continuing to roll those crazy little eyes ... as if they are a pair of magic eyes that will take the hint, roll right out of her head, and do a magic trick that will make Walmart and the silly idea of a monetary system disappear. I don't know what she was planning to do before she realized that Walmart and the monetary system were staying put. I don't know how long we would have stood there waiting for her to decide. Suddenly Matt handed me $2.10 and whispered, "Just give this to her." After showing the right amount of embarassment, and seeing the lengthy line behind her, she accepted the gift.
She even waited outside for us to say thank you again, to which I replied, "Consider it a birthday gift, whether it's late or early, Happy Birthday!"

Besides highlighting the art of compassion, it showed me just how far down the rabbit hole we seemed to have slipped. Maybe it stems from that wonderful saying (we all hate): the customer is always right ... even if she wants to write a check for $2.14 ... or doesn't understand that no matter how bad she wants it, you won't have certain beer on tap ... or when they insist on using the crowded self check-out without knowing what a touch-screen or scanner is.

Needless to say: you should be warned that your next Walmart visit might be prompted by an IQ test before you're even allowed to enter. We'll see how small the lines are then, even if it's just me who stops you before you venture in ...