8 February 2008

Are You Being Served? - the Bad Service Fairies strike again!

| bunnycoat
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I went to Fyshwick today to try to buy some lamps.

Visited 6 stores – only one where anyone seemed to be interested in helping me by asking what I was after and checking their catalogues and floor stock.

In one other (national chain) store I was greeted and directed to the relevant area of the store where 3 young women were too busy talking to each other to pay any attention to potential customers.

Another (national chain) had no floor staff in the furniture section. In another store I was faced with a surly “nup we don’t have anything like that” and I left to find the car blocked in by a delivery truck in the customer car park.

The other stores were completely empty of all floor staff so I could easily have helped myself to anything, including the cash register. Maybe these stores have come to the conclusion that paying staff to provide bad service is more negative to their business than letting potential customers help themselves to free goods.

Alas, the lamp hunt continues…..

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Holden Caulfield4:42 pm 12 Feb 08

Anyone been to grapefoodwine on the Federal Hwy recently?

Harvey Norm and Doymayne fall under the same umbrella along with a number of other chains. In most cases they consist of individual franchaise holders under the same roof. Makes bundling impossible as you need to make individual purchases as you go instead of one swipe of the card at the end of your shop.

Agreed. Where I work we are now taking uni students in part time to become part of the company, so we don’t have to fight as hard for the good graduates. We have one facility in Australia that employees several hundred uni students on a part time basis. The traditional Woolies and Pizza Hut jobs just can’t compete with this.

Ingeegoodbee12:09 pm 11 Feb 08

VY I agree with your observations on the kind of people in service roles today. Not long ago many people in jobs like supermarket checkout, food service etc were there because they were high school or university students on their way to some other profession. It seems that now days, for the people in these jobs – its about as good as they’re ever going to get.

On the Domayne thing, I was told that it was operated by Harvey Norman and was designed to capture the market segment that wouldn’t go to Harvey Norman because it was considered too Pov. It’s certainly the same business model – It all looks like one seemless store but in reality, each area – washing machines, televisions, vacuum cleaners are in fact separate and independent businesses.

neanderthalsis12:01 pm 11 Feb 08

I prefer the “male” approach to shopping: you wander about the store, sitting on things, pressing buttons and generally trying things out. A shop assistant usually comes over if you have all the TV / Stereos blaring at full volume or you are bouncing on a bed to test the sturdiness. If one does not magically appear, you find what you want then proceed to drag it to the counter.

When I was in USA, I found that when shop assistants come to greet you, ask you what you would like help with, measure you, show you different things etc etc to be a very weird experience at first. This is their standard though, which is high. They inevitably make you spend more though.

Coming back here, you get the usual shit service, being ignored in shops, snarly shop assistants and not knowing what they sell.

I believe the ‘mayne’ in Domayne harks back to the Joyce Mayne days.

I don’t buy from Domayne anyway, as they seem kinda expensive to me. They may not be for some things, but when I’ve been in there the stuff I looked at was more expensive than elsewhere.

Plus, the ‘ay’ component of their name seems bogan to me, and I am always suspicious of bogans.

I was in Domayne the other day looking for a new laptop for work and there service was fantastic

Just wait until you need to return something. Domayne Electrical are all sweetness-and-light until you want to return something that is faulty. Then it becomes a Jekyll and Hyde routine for the salesguy (SG).

Me: I need to return this clock radio as the AM reception is no good.

SG: Oh, ok, would you like to swap it for another?

Me: No, it was the only one that was suitable, so i’ll just take a refund.

SG: We cannot give you a refund, but we can give you a store credit.

Me: Well actually you can and will give me a refund. According to my statutory consumer rights you have to give me a refund in one of three circumstances:

1. If products do not meet a basic level of quality and performance.
2. If products are not suitable for any purposes the consumer made known when buying them
3. If products do not match a description or sample they were given or shown

Option one is clearly the case as the item has very poor radio reception, which is supposed to be a key feature of a clock *radio*. Option two is also applicable as I mentioned that I wanted to listen to the radio when I bought my clock *radio*. Option three is also appropriate as the packaging clearly stated that inside the box was a clock *radio*, and one would assume that a basic feature of a clock *radio* would be the ability to receive radio.

At this point the salesguy (a portly fellow with a name beginning with a letter somewhere between ‘i’ and ‘k’) realised i’d won this round and that a refund was forthcoming. Rather than admit defeat he decided he’d screw us around a bit longer and make us sit there while he set the thing up and tested it, and then also while he packed the whole thing up again. Throughout this entire process there was an enormous air of hostility and unfriendliness from the salesperson.

I’ll now only buy from Domayne as an absolute last resort.

I’m gunna get flamed for this, but I’ll push on anyway…

Because there are so many available jobs in Australia now, many people are employed in jobs that during previous generations would have been considered ‘too hard’ for them to do. This is true throughout the white and blue collar world.

As such, there has been an upward shift in the employment ‘level’ of an individual. Accordingly, many persons who would previously been unemployed, or unemployable, now work in jobs at the bottome end of the food chain.

Now this doesn’t mean that all people in retail or low paid jobs are idiots, because they aren’t. But bugger me, the proportion who ARE human turnips is high. I think service standards have declined massively over the past 10 years or so. I did my time in fast food and retail when at uni, and I would have been sacked for some of the things I routinely see going on in shops these days.

I work in retail – and although I don’t work in a large store like the chain stores you are eluding to above, sometimes it is difficult to keep everyone happy. Who ever made the comment about “Monkey’s Wages” is right – today I made 4% (!!!) of what my store earned in a day. That’s disgusting. Sometimes it’s not the service staff but the customers who need to realize that retailers aren’t going to bow to their every need (and when I say every need I mean above and beyond the call of a shop assistant) on $12 an hour.

I’m not saying that you’re being rude to shop assistants (to the original poster) I’m just pointing out that it’s not always their fault. It may be the management, poor training, or even the customers themselves.

As for whoever posted the new comment – a few days ago I posted news, about an event that will be held in Canberra (Eating Disorders – Dispelling The Myths) and I recieved no comments, yet rants like these get many (including your) comments.

Service in this town is shit !!!! I work in customer service and i feel insulted half the time i try and go shopping.

I seriously just feel like the inconvience the staff deal with so they can receive a paycheck.

Build a bridge, and get over it.

Oh wait the NCA has been cut back!

Ingeegoodbee4:31 pm 09 Feb 08

Danman, I disagree. Any store has a limited window to get it right – If I get poor service from a store, or anywhere else, my job is to tell as many people as possible what crap service those people offer. Why should I go cap in hand like some nanny to the store manager to complain? Forget it … let them feel the pain through loss of reputation and loss of business.

Good point sepi – I don’t need to be hassled on the display floor, i don’t need to be shown matching pieces of furniture, i don’t need to be told all about where the wood that made the bed come from – i just want to be acknowledged when i show interest in a piece and maybe answer a few questions, then take my damn money when i’ve chosen!!!

Cheaper prices are no use to anyone if there is no way of buying the stuff.

I had three separate appointments with Doors Plus to come out and measure up for the doors we’d chosen, and they never turned up or rang to explain. After three attempts I gave up and went somewhere more expensive who turned up first go.

Personally I find being able to connect with local people to share info very useful – is there a better site for that than RiotACT?

I agree with The Jas – Domayne is excellent. There’s a woman in the kitchen fit-out area called Sarah who was fantastic when I re-did my kitchen; then I went back more than a year later for an espresso machine and she actually remembered me. But all the staff are pretty good in the electrics department (oddly they seem to be completely crap in the furniture area though, so I don’t know how they do their recruiting there). I was also impressed that I’ve come in looking for some pricey designer kitchen appliance and they’ve told me actually I would be better off buying the much less expensive model which has better features/is more reliable. And they’ll also offer discounts, sometimes without even being asked. So yeah, I think the electrial sectyion in Domayne is pretty good. But the furniture department is useless – a shame, because they have some very cute things.

I’ve found Southside Lighting in Fyshwick excellent, the guys go out of their way to find odd bulbs and bits and pieces I need. Agree that the guy at Kambah home brew is very helpful, hard to get out of there sometimes.

While I’m so agreeing with everyone, I agree with Danman that there’s too many rants and not enough news. Hard to know how to fix it other than by posting news though.

I was in Domayne the other day looking for a new laptop for work and there service was fantastic. Plenty of staff and the guy who served me was very helpful and knowledgeable.

@Snarky, you should in theory be able to get the best of both worlds, cheaper prices and good service. The cheaper store, like the better one still has to pay staff to be there so it doesn’t cost more for the owner, the fact the a lamp in one store is $50 and one in another is $100 should be irrelevant, unfortunately most of the time it’s not the case though,

This isn’t a shot at Sammy, chaton or the guy at the brew shop in Kambah, but a genuine question.

Sammy, what would you prefer – helpful / exceptional service that costs a bit more, or no / unhelpful service but cheaper prices?

the guy at the home brew shop in Kambah gives exceptional service

His prices are a little on the high side though.

the guy at the home brew shop in Kambah gives exceptional service every time – not I suppose not everyone would have a need to go there!

I really appreciate good service in shops, because it’s getting so bloody rare. Good ones lately (it’s easier to list the good ones, much quicker….) were Timberland furniture in Fyshwick. A chap in his 40s, I think, was helpful, chatty, but not pushy. So we bought off him.
Manuka Coles continues to try to ensure customers don’t stand in line for too long.
Angelo’s shoes in Manuka has some very skilled sales ladies, once you’re trying on a shoe, they produce others that are similar in your size! argh. Ended up with 3 pairs yesterday but they’re all gorgeous.

Oaks Estate grog shed has a bunch of friendly, knowledgable staff, you never get ignored OR hassled there.

And that’s about it.

For lights, Ikea (in sydney) is pretty good. And there’s a light place in Queanbeyan on Crawford st, up from Aldi (going towards Oaks Estate) that seems to have lots of nice ones in the windows, dunno what the service is like though.

What do you expect from those on monkeys wages ?

Use your superior intellects (that you are proposing you have), and negotiate a better deal by pulling the wool over the eyes of your inferiors.

I regularly find myself several hundred dollars up on purchases in this town, merely on the monkey not scanning what I present to be paid for, there is further discount avaliable in negotiating and outright ‘I am only going to pay $50 for that item’ sales.

AFAIK lamps are pretty similar no matter which store you go into, so the purchasing options reduce to either confusing the monkey, or informing the salesperson that you can buy it cheaper at ‘hardwarelightinghouse’.

Anyways, bad service in Canberra is merely a perspective. As a customer, you reserve the right to walk away whenever you like, its up to them to impress you, not the other way around.

el ......VNBerlinaV811:43 pm 08 Feb 08

I generally agree. Service in most industries here is fking awful.

danman, I hope this isn’t too “emotional” for you, but you’re an absolute jerk. If you had any common sense, you’d make a split second decision on which RiotAct article/story/rant/whinge, advertisement, free plug or news you want to read. It’s not rocket science, or didn’t you ever do the speed reading course in the Public Service and you find it all a bit overwhelming???

bunnycoat and iluka, I too am disturbed by the lack of service in this town. Happens everywhere. People just don’t care. Quite embarrassing when we are labelled as being “super friendly” by many people in other countries. I haven’t found a friendly customer service floor person in Canberra since I moved here …

LOL @ all comments re me..
Did you try communicating your concerns with management before posting here ? I am a big fan of giving teh benefit of the doubt.

I do not mind waves on RA – but it seems to be coming quite frequently a rant site. Everyone vents lately – barely news worthy.

If you genuinely wish for results I would take it up behind the scenes – talk to store managers etc.

Failing that then post away…..

Either that or make the story less emotive

Lines like Another (national chain) had no floor staff in the furniture section. In another store I was faced with a surly “nup we don’t have anything like that” and I left to find the car blocked in by a delivery truck in the customer car park. are totally unrequired. Maybe they did not have any lamps, and maybe you accidentally parked in the wrong place.
In any case, I am not sure exactly how this part of your trip added up to your woes ?

PS Best you never order a pizza from APK Civic – long story ….

Or the USA. While there are many bad things about a culture of a minimum wage and service staff who can only reach the poverty line via tips and commission (such as actually being one of them), when you are the customer, it’s frickin’ brilliant.

I’m sure it’s a canberra thing, we often comment on bad service around town, it’s like they really don’t have to try to make the sale.
I love visiting cities like Melbourne for this reason, people who know service seem to live there!

I think Danman is the type who just likes Riotact to not make waves…you know, just regurgitate what he’s heard on 666….more of a gnat than a blowfly…

Danman, while I am capable of being assertive with the best of them I can hardly fix the problem for myself when the sales staff are invisible. BTW do you work at Hardly Normal?

el ......VNBerlinaV87:30 pm 08 Feb 08

I’ve experienced identical treatment in a large national chain store multiple times (lets call them “Narvey Horman”)

I rather think my problem becomes the sales assistant’s problem whilst i’m in their store, trying to buy one of their items… Why shouldn’t they solve it for me? Isn’t it their job? Or should i be punished for daring to intrude on their social catch-up (or whatever the hell they were doing while they were invisible on the sales floor)!?!

mebbe danman, but these inept sales staff are in your town, serving you… (or not, as it were…)


Another blowfly who complains from behind an ISP because they are too timid to fix their problems for themselves.

RiotACT Canberra new……errr Canberra rant

A similar thing happened to my partner and i a couple of weeks ago when we tried to buy a bed. We visited a particular large furniture store – a national chain, let’s call it Store One. In it, we found the perfect bed. It was a pretty good deal, too, so we were willing to end the search there, and started to look around for a sales assistant (none had offered any help up to this point). There was only one in sight, and he was busy. My partner wandered up towards another end of the showroom, looking for help (the staff were all wearing fluro “SALE” shirts – shouldn’t be too hard to locate one, surely!). He asked a staff member he found near the sofas and coffee tables, only to be told that she couldn’t help him buy a bed, he’s need to find a bedroom furniture staff member. We eventually found one, who told us straight out that the bed we liked wasn’t in stock. He said “I can ring Barry if you like, he’ll be able to tell you when we’ve got one coming in.” It sounded like a bit of a chore for him, but we said Yes please. He wandered off, talking on his mobile, waving at us to indicate he’d be back in a minute.

Several minutes of standing around later, during which time another staff member asked us if we needed help (Baaaahh!!), we wandered over to the other side of the bedroom area – only to see “our guy” (inept sales assistant) assisting someone else!!!! Stuff that, we thought, and left!!

Unfortunately, we visited 4 other chain stores and found that the service was no better anywhere else, but the prices were much more pointy. We sulkily dragged our feet back to Store Number One and returned to the staff-poor bedroom department, to our favourite and budget-friendly bed. We saw “our guy” again, and avoided his gaze – we searched out another staff member (found one this time!) and made our purchase.

I hope they work on commission at those shops.

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