Why I will never shop at Sears again…

My approach to blogging is to write about optimistic topics that showcase the positive aspects of life; however, today I feel strongly compelled to voice my opinion on a dragged out and unpleasant customer experience I've had with Sears Canada. What I thought would be a quick and easy gift registry purchase turned into a week-long debacle filled with grumpy customer service reps and missing inventory. I was very surprised to find that employee product knowledge and customer service had declined so much in the year since I last shopped there. I have now purchased the gift and even though I am thrilled to be giving it to the bride and groom to-be, I am bitter to have spent my time and money at a store that did not value me as a paying customer or as a human being. I consider myself a tolerant person and I understand that people are sometimes a product of the environment they work in. For all I know, Sears could be having a tough time financially and funding cuts to employee training programs may be to blame for inadequate service and dwindling employee moral. I get that; I'd be upset too. But come on people--don't take your frustrations out on your customers. I wouldn't write about this topic if I didn't have strong evidence to back up my beliefs. I've worked in restaurant and customer service roles for more years than I can count on fingers and I know a thing or two about what constitutes acceptable client-facing behaviour. From initial order to final pick-up, my pleasantries and smiles were met with stone faces and saucy remarks. Take for example my first phone interactions with hotline representatives: The first man scoffed that I had reached the wrong directory, recited another number and swiftly hung up; the second woman told me the first man was wrong and spat out a different number; the third time I was disconnected. No "how are you", no "how may I help you", no "have a nice day". I finally reached a woman whom, despite her broken English, was able to place an order for me. I was told that my item would be ready for pick-up at my designated location in a week's time. Hurray! So the Sears hotline reps were having a bad day and desperately needed a crash course in Phone Mannerisms 101, but I had high hopes that the in-store staff would more than make up for their follies. I was thankful to receive two voicemail messages alerting me that my item was ready for pick-up. Unfortunately I was unable to drive to the mall right away and lo-and-behold, the subsequent phone call was reprimanding. An associate called me Saturday morning and warned, "You better pick up your item before Tuesday or else we won't hold it." Okayyy lady, we'll be there this afternoon! Oh my goodness graciousness. Should I bring these negative people some buttercups... cupcakes... cute fluffy bunnies... Prozac? Not only did Roger and I drive all the way to the mall on Saturday, we spent close to an hour waiting for staff to track the gift registry item down. They could not locate it. They then had the audacity to ask me repeatedly if I was sure I sent the item to that location. After an associate promised to resolve the issue in the morning, we left empty handed. I did not receive a call on Sunday. Or on the Monday after that. I called yesterday evening and once again, no one knew where the item was. The phone was passed to a lady by the name of Linda--bless her heart and soul--and she vowed to get to the bottom of things. She called me today with the good news that she found the gift and apologized on behalf of her associates. Just when I thought Sears had redeemed itself, I was greeted by another Grumpy Gertrude at the store tonight. I smiled sweetly and asked how she was doing. (After all, it wasn't her fault I was only getting the item now.) She simply grumbled grumpily, "How are you paying?" I did NOT want to pay. But I did. I also left a small tip. Yep, I was the crazy lady who left a dissatisfied comment in the comment box. I'm normally quite placid, but the staff was unprofessional, disorganized, and unfriendly (save for Linda!) and I really hope that my feedback will help to change their ways. Maybe they will consider expanding their gift registry to allow for online orders, especially if they are not willing to make an effort to cater to their phone and in-store customers. I can't speak for all stores across Canada, but this location is definitely one I will never, never, ever visit again.