Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The death of the salesman

Whatever happened to service? You would enter a store, the shelves beautifully stocked and a salesperson would assist you. They may suggest colours or offer advice help you. Today there appear to be two types of stores. The first is the no-service, serve yourself warehouse like Ikea or Costco. Here the items are strewn throughout a large warehouse and you go armed with a cart to hunt down what you want. To reward you for your efforts..you have to wait in a long line. Wait a second...no service, a huge messy floor...and a lineup? Oh and in the case of Costco you PAY for this. They claim there are bargains but really?

The second type of store is the pretend service store. These are stores like La source, where you go in and the salesclerks ignore you..chatting with their friends. If you ask a question, they are dumbfounded and thus worse than useless. If you DO find a salesclerk they roll their eyes and act as if they are doing you a favour, despite the fact that you pay their salary. These stores should simply save costs by firing their space taking salespeople and choose the Ikea or Costco model.

The type of store I prefer is like Tip Top Tailor, Lee Valley Tools or smaller speciality stores. I get served in these stores, people know their products. The salespeople are not ignoring me, chatting on their phones. They are interested in what the sell and are interested in serving you. I bought Cyril a pair of shorts at Tip Top today. The salesman was very helpful when I explained Cyril's height and preferences. These people know men's clothing..thats why I went there. Sure I could have rummaged through piles of shorts at Costco but would there have been anyone to speak to? I think not.

Shopping is something I don't do very often, but when I do, I like to be served. I am afraid like fine pens..the days of good service are in a palliative state.

Monday, June 17, 2013

IKEA...Swedish retail torture

Yesterday I went to IKEA to pick up a shoe horn. They make very good long and inexpensive shoe horns that my husband needs as he is in recovery.

I should have stopped when I saw the GIGANTIC three stories high monstrosity in yellow and blue with the letters IKEA. But how hard can it be?

The store asks you what floor you wish to go to, and you have to walk through endless and I mean endless mazes of things that you do not want, do not need and have no intention of ever buying. You cannot go quickly because there are people, mainly women I may add that browse and oohhh and ahhh for pleasure. Yes, there are people that enjoy the experience!  I am sure there is medication for these deluded people worshipping the alter of consumption.

Why should I have to pass by bathroom displays, rugs, childrens rooms...kitchens, living room and lighting to get the shoe horn. Ahh but you do that is part of the experience. And just as you think you are at the end...and see the glorious sign saying EXIT and PARKING you enter another maze, this time a restaurant with Swedish meatballs.

To me IKEA is a giant maze and we are the rats. We want the cheese but by God we have to work to get it. I met a man, equally annoyed who had to lap the store three times before he found his cheese. I like warehouses with a catalogue. I pick out my item, and an employee enters the vast warehouse and maze and finds my item. I am not interested in exploring mazes and figuring out puzzles and fighting through reams of fabric displays to get my one small piece of cheese.

As I went to pay, the young clerk said "Do you have a rewards card..they are free you know" I said no, this is my ONLY time I will ever shop in Ikea. By the way, I bought TWO shoe horns.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why I hate Christmas e-cards

Nothing says "I can't be bothered" like a Christmas ecard. You know, the ones with the canned message, the falling snow and sometimes awful music. You send it and can send the same card to all your 'friends'. Viola.. an old fashioned social obligation accomplished.

Email messages, ecards tell the recipient in pixels, that you just don't care. You are too ' busy' to buy cards, let alone choose a card..and the idea of writing a personal note...well not enough time. Christmas is a season where the only thing we should do is spend time with others, to visit and bring cheer. If we waste our time on shopping, or decorating....to the exclusion of our friends, are we not really saying that Christmas itself is a bother and a humbug?

My friends (and yes I send real cards and get real cards) can be divided into two camps. I have religious and secular friends. My secular friends send funny cards with penguins or wolves...or socially meaningful cards reminding me that the proceeds from this card supports David Suzuki. My religious friends opt for nativity scenes with proceeds going to some monastary or nunnery. Secular or religious, what  I love about cards is the fact that they all contain a message for us. It need not be long, but it signals to us that we are being thought of as the letters are addressed and the notes written.

Emailed Christmas messages, like email cards are a very poor and lazy substitute for the 'real' cards, Our cards sat on our fireplace mantle, colourful and beautiful from all around the world. I did not print out the emails and I deleted the cards..there is no room on my fireplace mantle for such expressions of  callow sloth.

For those of you who think cards are a relic of the past...think again. They are a gesture of thoughtfulness in an age where most of us spend our time running in circles screaming about "HOW BUSY WE ARE"

Valentines day is coming. Why not skip the flowers and the chocolates and send an emessage instead? See how far that gets you!

Karine's Blog

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