Wed 10 Oct 2012
I usually go into a retail shop like Best Buy, Sears or your typical mall store to actually buy something about once every 5 years. I order most of my retail goods online through Amazon or other online shops largely to avoid the hassle of parking, wasted fuel, long checkout lines, and dealing with idiots. I usually don’t go willingly to retail stores but in this particular situation my daughter needed to get a new pair of shoes and we’d been to every shop in the mall and still couldn’t find the right ones so we entered Sears.
The initial trip to Sears went well and we didn’t find my daughter her shoes but I did see a couple of Land’s End shirts on sale so I decided to buy one and some other items. Because we were in a rush, I didn’t try the shirt on and I assumed the size I picked out would fit since it’s the same size I buy everywhere else. When we got home, I tried on the shirt and it was way too big so I decided to head back to exchange for one size smaller. I don’t understand how a numeric size of a shirt can change so wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. A Land’s End size 18 isn’t the same as a Ralph Lauren size 18 for some reason and it wasn’t a question of a “fitted” shirt vs non-fitted but I digress.
So on the return trip to Sears the next day I was vexed with what happened to me on the first day: idiot consumers. I don’t know how we became a society where making a purchase at the cash register has become so complicated and time consuming that it makes me want to walk out. In this particular instance though I persevered. I waited while hapless consumers couldn’t figure out how much the discount was for the items they were buying. I don’t entirely blame the consumer here because when I made my first purchase, Sears printed out half a dozen coupons for various stuff like $5 off shoes when spending $50 or more and $10 off clothing when spending $60 or more. It sounds simple and straightforward enough until you read the fine print which has dozens of exclusions.
I can only surmise the shoppers in the queue saw $10 off of something then when they got to the counter were flummoxed about why the discount wasn’t appearing on the register. I finally made it through to the register and did the exchange. Once again, I was given half a dozen coupons for $x of of $xx when shopping. On my way out, I saw a couple of more shirts that I wanted to buy and since I had these new coupons I figured I’d just use them now so I pick the shirts and head back to the waiting queue for the register. Lo and behold a large queue of consumers has reformed now and I can overhear the conversations, “why isn’t the coupon working” and “I think that’s wrong” from the other register. Frustrated, I toss the shirts back onto the shelves and walk out. The lady behind me looks at me sheepishly and says, “I’m ready to walk out too, they’re taking too long.”
And here ends the story. Sears certainly lost a sale and possibly two if that lady left after I did and all because it can’t seem to make the shopping experience happen. I’ve been long predicting bankruptcy for Sears and it’s only a matter of time in my view with experiences like this.
Here is the fundamental issue: Why would any shopper put up with service and experience like this? I can go over to Amazon.com or Overstock.com and within a few clicks, pick out clothes and have them shipped to my door (two day shipping and tax free). The same is true for just about any time now as well. I’ve had a 300lb safe ordered through Costco.com and personally delivered to my door, why would I want to run to a store, buy something like this then worry about lifting it into my home?