My Walmart John Quinones moment
What would you do?
You're not getting the service you feel you deserve, but you don't want to get someone in trouble. Or, if you're feeling like me at this moment, you're not giving a second thought to getting someone in trouble. You just want to get out of the most depressing Walmart on the planet.
It seemed like a step up when they turned a Zellers in that dead zone between Riverdale and Leslieville into a Walmart. Locals who had once railed against the prospect of big box stores invading the neighbourhood couldn't complain about this barely noticeable indoor transformation.
My guilt over picking up a DustBuster at the Walmart as opposed to a local Ma and Pop purveyor of DustBusters subsided when it occurred to me that no Ma's or Pop's in the area sell DustBusters.
Post-purchase, it was brought to my attention that we had a gift card which I could have used to buy the mini vacuum. So back to Walmart I headed for a return and re-purchase transaction.
Arriving at the customer service desk I was greeted by ... no one. "Poor customer service" I thought to myself.
In situations like this – at retail stores, restaurants, car rentals – I play a little game. I try to wait it out. By doing so, I can accurately gauge the length of time it takes before my presence is acknowledged, and base my complaint on that measurement of lost time. The problem is, the longer I'm made to wait, the more steamed I become. By the time I am finally noticed, I've gone from an indignant customer to an impatient little child who wants his baba.
On this day however, I'm provided with a new option. Posted on the back wall of the customer service department is the name, photo and phone number of the store manager. If he's going to provide his number, I'm going to call it.
So I do. Only to get his machine. I leave a polite message stating my presence in his store and I leave my number. A couple of minutes later, a store associate shows up to deal with my exchange. I complete the transaction, leave the store and take to Twitter to share my ironic experience.
The first responder to my tweet is a Labour-loving acquaintance I haven't seen in years. Predictably, her response - "@downsdispatch Tonguebiting." I volleyed with no shortage of cheek, "Littlepersonfiring."
Then I started to feel guilty. Caught up in my three-minute, white-person-problem of my day, I took several actions that could very well get people into trouble. I was completely within my right to do so, but does that mean I should have? Sure, I felt slightly disrespected. Anytime a business allows for there to be a gap where a customer goes unnoticed, it is bad form. But does the fault not lie with company management who may end up very easily replacing low-paid grunts on the floor with new low-paid grunts?
Perhaps it's another argument to, whenever possible, support Ma and Pop operations. Because if you're not happy with the service, the only ones who need to answer for it are Ma and Pop.