I know it isn't Thanksgiving yet, but the retailers haven't seemed to notice and have started their holiday advertising and decorating very early. In fact, I would say that right after Halloween had come and gone, the retailers went into full holiday mode. That's all fine and good - they want to move onto December before the second of November, that's their call. I just ask that along with the pretty decorations and advertisements they take some time to tend to their registers and properly train their employees.
Today, my husband and I went to a big box electronics store to pick up yet another “project laptop” for him. We went at about 11 am and the store was not busy. A young salesperson asked if we needed help the minute we walked into the section, so kudos to him for that. My husband and I are probably two of the easiest customers to deal with in the computer section. We knew exactly what we wanted and knew they had it in stock. We really never have any questions for the sales people. Having to deal with one is usually just an added and unnecessary step for us (though necessary for the store's physical security internal controls). We brought our pile of accessories to the sales guy and he started to ring up our items with the laptop.
I am a member of their customer loyalty program, and as a member, I get coupons emailed to me. I had one for triple member points (which for this purchase was equal to an additional $40 in future discounts) and one for $20. In addition, because we purchased a laptop, we were entitled to an additional 15% discount on three of the accessories. Well, I guess this was too much for the first register because after all of the items had been scanned, it froze up and refused to process anything more. So, after involving another salesperson, we moved over to the next register, now with two salespeople in tow. They explained that while the last register acted up, the one we had moved to was temperamental and liked to beep at them a lot. Comforting, I know. The young sales guy managed to scan all of the items successfully but then the matter of coupons came up. The computer didn't take them. We had three sales people trying to figure out how the system should be manipulated to get the discounts done properly. I'm pretty patient, but this was ridiculous. I nicely suggested that they let me back there to look at what had and had not been scanned into the system - and they did! Two of the sales people took off to attend to others. The original sales guy stayed to ring us up and told me that he's only a seasonal worker and had just received his uniform yesterday. Why was I not surprised? To their credit, all of the sales people had been trying and were pretty conscientious, they just were lacking in training and equipment. We went through what had been scanned and which discounts were applied and how to manually apply them. Luckily, it all worked out with me behind the counter with him making sure that everything got applied properly. (I know I'm an accountant, but I shouldn't have to audit something like that.) I wished him luck for the holiday season - God knows he needs it.
So in addition to the lights and the music and the ads for the holidays, I'm hoping that they get their employees some training and some registers that work. I'm going to do the majority of my holiday shopping on the Internet again. I think I'm going to avoid that particular store like the plague until the new year.