Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Show It Online When It's Not In Your Stores?

     This is a quick recap of an interaction I had the other day with a customer over the phone.  I hope you are as amused by this as I was.
     I received a call from a customer who was looking for a product he had seen online.  He wanted to come in and see the product before making a purchase.  We get these phone calls often and it’s typically no big deal.  He gave me the store’s special product number for the product he was looking for and I proceeded to look it up in our computer system.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t finding anything.  I figured that I had misheard him or he just gave me the wrong number.  That second option is a much more likely scenario:
     “Sorry, sir, that isn’t the model number.”
     “Are you sure?”
     “As sure as several years here can make me.”
     I asked for the model number as a second option but I still came up empty.  I asked him where he found the item that he wanted and he told me it was my store’s website.  I went online and sure enough it was right there when I typed in the model number.  There was just one problem.
     In big letters it said, “NEW ARRIVAL” and the “Add To Cart” button was blocked out.  Now, whenever a company is blocking you from purchasing something, you typically can’t buy the product because the manufacturer hasn’t released the product for sale yet.  Why would a retailer, in the business of making money off of the stupid shit people buy, want to withhold said stupid shit they could sell?
     I tried to explain to the customer the situation.
     “I’m sorry, it looks like we can’t order this product just yet because it’s not in stock at our warehouse yet.”
     “But it’s on your website.”
     “I know, but it just hasn’t arrived to our warehouse yet.  It’s a new product.”
     This is where most people would realize that it’s out of our control and they’ll just have to wait if they really want the product.  Most people.
     “Well, alright, I tried to make a sale with you but it’s your fault that I’ll have to go get it from somewhere else.”
     My fault?  I’m sorry, did any of you see the part where I was promoted to CEO of my company?  By the way, I can guarantee you all that that has not happened.  How can an hourly employee be in charge of who puts products up on our website or the time it takes manufacturers to send their products to our warehouses?  And the product he wanted wasn’t even more than $300.  My store was not going to close because we lost a $300 sale.  Had I been on commission, I wouldn’t be losing sleep over letting a big sale like that get away from me.  Don’t try to make it seem like you were doing me a favor by throwing me such a large sale.
     Don’t shoot the messenger, everyone.  I’m not paid enough to feel heartbroken because you couldn’t receive your Snuggie and have to trudge to another store for it.  I have no special powers that can make something you want appear out of thin air.  If something can’t be gotten, it can’t be gotten.  Simple as that.
     More soon from the frontlines...