Thursday, April 05, 2007


A couple of notes about customer service.

First, a good story. I recently purchased a new 32" LCD TV and companion DVD player for my girlfriend. We bought them at Best Buy, even though I haven't always been a fan. I run hot and cold on BB; sometimes I get good service, sometimes I don't. In any case, less than a month after purchasing these items, the Philips DVD player crapped out. My girlfriend returned the DVD player to the Apple Valley, MN, Best Buy, where we had purchased it. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the same unit to replace it with, so they sent her down the road to the Burnsville BB. This store also didn't have any replacements, so they just gave her the "upgraded" model instead. The upgraded model is actually a DVD recorder that sells for twice as much as the original unit, so we got a much better unit for the same price, very little hassle. Good job, Best Buy. You have two very satisfied customers. (And the cheapie Westinghouse flat screen we purchased is a surprisingly good performer, considering the $699 price.)

Now, a bad story. Best Buy's competitor, Circuit City, had a bad year last year and is now in the process of cutting costs. The way they're doing that is to fire their highest-paid store employees. (Not management, of course, just the in-store guys.) So they're taking their most experienced, best trained, and presumably best performing employees and giving them the old heave-ho. This tells their remaining employees that there's no point in sticking around or improving their performance, as this just leads to getting canned. And it tells their customers that they'll be getting worse service from now on. I used to like CC, thought they had better service and better-trained personnel overall than BB, but no longer. Apparently Circuit City thinks their customers don't deserve good service.

As a customer who appreciates and demands quality service, I say "fuck you, Circuit City." The quality of service at retail has declined significantly since I was in the retail business twenty years ago. It's apparently what the consumer wants; lower prices take precedence over quality service. That's too bad.

So the next time you go into Circuit City or some similar big box retailer and get served by a disinterested, uninformed, incompetent salesperson, know this -- you get what you pay for. And for the American consumer, poor service is exactly what you deserve. (But the prices are so cheap!)

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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