Saturday, July 2, 2011

In-Store Music

     There are a few music artists I believe owe everything to their music being played at retail stores or grocery stores on endless loop.  Rod Stewart and Neil Diamond, I’m looking at you!  “Cracklin’ Rose” needs to be banned from ever being played, sorry.
     An in-store radio, if you’re lucky, has more than 10 songs played on a constant loop.  The grocery store I worked at had a decent selection of music that they played.  I could almost go an entire day without hearing the same song played twice.  I’ve also been quite amazed with the good music I’ve heard being played at a grocery store.  From David Bowie and The Beatles to The Killers and Jimmy Eat World – some grocery stores really try to make the sounds around you pleasant enough.
     The same can’t be said for electronic stores I’ve worked at, which is kind of surprising.  At one store, the music would repeat after the sixth or seventh song.  You’d think a place that sells CDs would be able to play more to show the diverse tastes they offer customers.  What fills me with dread about hearing those same handful of songs being played on repeat is the fact that some of the songs I know to be bad tend to grow on me.
     Hey, that song by the Jonas Brothers isn’t half-bad. I wonder if the CD is out yet, I’d think to myself before realizing, Wait, what? No!  You’re not a 12-year-old girl!
     But, by that point, the damage is already done and my taste in music is ruined.  Oh, who am I kidding?  My taste in music was never that good.  I digress!
     The music only gets worse by the holidays.  That music selection dwindles even at the grocery stores.  Just because you play “Jingle Bells” five different ways does not mean your selection is any better, either.  That minor irritation is probably why employees feel like tearing into customers during the holiday seasons.  It’s like when a parent has a headache and they want to yell at their child for doing nothing out of the ordinary – the headache just makes everything seem more annoying than usual.  Same concept.
     The holiday music drives me nuts because my job feeds a local radio station into their system each year to get people in the holiday mood.  Sadly, with the ever-expanding Christmas season, the holiday music begins November first.  One can’t even come out of their candy overdose from Halloween before being bombarded with Burl Ives or Bing Crosby.  No offense, if there are still days where the weather can reach fifty degrees, that is not Christmas music weather, and stores should zip it with the tunes.  This encroachment by Christmas needs to stop and holiday music on in-store radios is the first line of defense.
     Please, stores, if there’s one thing you could do to improve your workers’ experience while on the job, it’s the music.  We spend 4-10 hours there a day and if the music selection repeats after an hour, well, you can do the math.  That’s a whole lot of repeated songs in a month, let alone a year.  Or just increase our pay, you know, which ever.  Is that a no on the pay?  Okay, I had to try.
     I know it’s a matter of copyrighted materials and being allowed to air them at the store level but please, if I have to hear “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis one more time, I’m going to check into Heartbreak Hotel.  Yeah, that joke’s bad but maybe if my jobs played more than the same 10 songs, I could think of some other song to end that joke on.  Now, to go download that new Jonas Brothers song…
     More soon from the frontlines...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Me, Me, Me

     This entry ties closely to a few previous entries but I’ve had enough annoying situations of late that I wanted to expound on this subject a bit more.  That subject is the greatest bane of every retail worker’s life and the worst two-word phrase in the English language:  customer satisfaction.  Don’t get me wrong!  I don’t think companies should tell customers to go fuck themselves.
     Well, maybe not all customers.
     Companies should promote a relative level of warmth for customers when they enter the stores.  I don’t, however, believe in companies bending over backwards to make sure every customer feels like they can treat the employees like homeless people or relatives they didn’t like.  Often, there are customer interactions where I feel like the store’s the girlfriend who never feels good enough for their boyfriend no matter how hard they work on their looks or try to keep them happy.
     For instance, customers come into electronic stores and often believe it’s a flea market and not a retail store.
     “How much for this stereo system?”
     “Three hundred bucks.”
     “How about two-fifty?”
     “How about you keep the two-fifty and kiss my ass?”
     Since when are prices adjustable?  I’ve mentioned that before but really, it’s the store’s fault for letting customers think they can get away with that.  In a desperate attempt to get every dollar they can, I’ve seen retail companies take money off of products for no reason other than to just to get a sale.  Then the customer thinks, “Oh, great, next time I’m at the store, I’ll just ask for money off and they’ll do it!”
     It’s great to make a person feel like they’re being taken care of but they should feel that way just by the store having good prices as is.  There shouldn’t be a need to discount something just for the sake of discounting.  If someone can’t pay the price of a $300 I-Pod, maybe they shouldn’t buy the $300 I-Pod.  Don’t live beyond your means – or hasn’t this economical clusterfuck taught us anything?  I don’t go out and eat at 5 star restaurants every night because I can’t afford it.  I don’t go there and ask if I can get a discount on the steak just because I’m a good customer.
     There are also retail companies that allow returns without receipts. What!  There are ways to look up most transactions in a store’s computer database but there are times when that isn’t the case, and yet in those instances people can still return items.  I’m sorry but a store shouldn’t accept your shit back for no reason (and let’s be honest, shit that probably isn’t from the store they’re returning it to). 
     Then there are some grocery companies that do any tiny thing that the customer could easily do at home just to create a friendly, helpful atmosphere.
     “Cut this whole chicken up into ten million pieces for me.”
     “Do you own a knife at home?”
     “Oh, so you’re just lazy on top of being rude.”
     People are infants when they walk into a store and they expect everything done for them or done their way.  It’s become so bad that normal sales aren’t good enough for people.  They need discounts on top of discounts.  They expect it because it’s a “special” price just for them.  Well, if everyone expects it, then it’s not so special and the store’s not so profitable.
     “I know this refrigerator is nine-hundred dollars off but is there any discount on that?”
     “Besides the nine-hundred dollars you just saw as the sale?”
     “Oh, but it’s still so expensive!”
     “Then go by one that you can afford.”
     Retail stores & grocery stores shouldn’t be afraid to tell a customer “no”.  Just like you had to learn to tell your child “no” when he or she wanted to eat Twinkies as their breakfast.  Maybe, if the customer hears it enough things will go back to being normal.  Customers won’t think they can walk all over a company just because they know the company will do anything to please them.  And if a customer threatens to walk out the door and shop elsewhere, well, to paraphrase the line, “If you love something, let it go.  If it’s meant to be, they’ll return.”  I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen walk through our doors and tell me, “I never thought I’d be shopping here again…”  Time heals all wounds and all egos.
     Again, customers:  live within your means.  It’s nice to have the BMW but maybe you’re just a Ford kind of guy.  It’s okay if you weren’t born in the top 3% of the income bracket.  Shit happens!  Do you think I like slumming it with the rest of the 97%?  Let me put that in a more friendly way…
     Welcome to our store!  How can we help you??
     More soon from the frontlines...