Monday, March 12, 2007


So my lovely wife gives me a gift card to a large electronics retailer (to be fair, we'll call this retailer "Best Buy") so that I could purchase a car stereo. I located a fine Alpine stereo unit that I had my eyes on and approached a pimply-faced employee who hissed through his braces, "What kind of car do you want it installed in?"

"2004 Honda Civic," I reply.

"Okay, let me get with my installer and see if it'll require any additional parts."

Here's how these guys do it. They advertise a "free installation" which covers your labor charges (which is really nothing because these guys are not professionals--estimate your labor charge at about $35-$40) and then they start adding on all of these parts, harnesses, wires and, the silliest charge of all, a parts fee. I'm already paying for the parts themselves, but then there's an additional parts fee of $6. I guess this to pay for someone to open the box that contains the parts. Not really a labor cost, it's a parts fee.

So this twerp at "Best Buy" hops on a phone, turns his back to me and begins talking to a guy about five feet away on the other side of a window. They start moving their hands rapidly as if they're deep in a discussion about this difficult question. The installer looks in his computer and starts shaking his head, says something into his phone, hangs up and walks away. Pus-head whirls around and says, "He's not sure if it would require additional parts or not. Honda's a tricky, he says. We would have to get into the dash to see what we're working with before I could guarantee that we could get it installed." You would've thought that I brought in a Ferrari with an eight-track player in it.

Cooly, I return, "Has your installer never put a stereo into a Honda before? I didn't realize that Hondas were so rare." I then stare at him thinking that he'll pick up on my sarcasm and make a turn toward honesty as opposed to attempting to ring every freaking dollar out of me just to get a $200 stereo installed into a Honda.

"I'm sorry, sir. I'm just going by what the installer tells me. Did you want to drop your car off so we can look at it?"

"So you can rob me blind? No thanks, kid."

I walk up to the "customer service" desk and demand that they credit my wife's "Best Buy" account the amount of the gift card that was purchased and I'll take my business elsewhere.

"Okay, just a second, sir," says the man behind the counter. He makes no attempt to resolve the situation and asks no questions to help identify possible remedies to the situation. I try hard to be the bigger man and not completely explode at the situation and, lucky for this cat, I manage to quell my emotions and leave peacefully although I almost took a swing at the security "guard" who stands at the outdoor and always asks as you're leaving, "Find everything alright?"

"Yep, I came looking for mindless morons and tools of an evil soul-sucking corporation and found it without a problem. Thanks for asking, jerkoff."

"Find everything alright?" And if I didn't, would you help me? What would you do about it?

So I go down the road to a place that we'll call "Circuit City" and attempt to get the same thing done which any level-minded individual would've advised against. Nonetheless, I arrive and locate a kid who I had dealt with a weekend before when I was gathering information on some stereos. I tell him of my experiences at "Best Buy" and he laughs and says, "Yeah, that doesn't surprise me." I'm thinking, "Cool, now I'm getting somewhere."

I find a nice Pioneer stereo that I'm happy with, we go through the process of scheduling the same-day installation (remember, it's only worth about $35), the hit me without all their tricky parts fees and explain it'll be about two to three hours to complete. It's 11:00 in the morning. I say that's fine because we had some errands to run.

We run some errands and go home. Five hours later I've heard nothing from "Circuit City." I call them up and navigate their touch-tone phone menus. Someone picks up the phone in the stereo installation department and I ask if they're done with my Civic. "We're about to pull it in right now, it'll be done in an hour." It took twice the time I was quoted for them to even get it in the garage. Believe it or not, I'm not really pissed yet.


I go out there at 5:00 to pick up my car and, when approaching the back of the building I see my car sitting in what seems to be the same location that I had parked it before. I go up to the window and peek inside to see the same factory stereo that was there before or, in other words, they ain't even touched my car. I walk into the garage to find not a single automobile being worked on and an employee pulling in his truck to show off the hydraulics that he recently had installed. The lazy employees gather round and watch him lowering and bouncing his truck. I'm not so impressed.

"What the hell have you been doing all day?"

I'm met with blank faces. "I dropped off my car at 11:00 and there wasn't a single car here and I come back six hours later which is twice the time I was quoted at 11:00 and there's still not a single car here and my car hasn't been touched."

"We can get you in right now."

"Oh, don't rush to it on my account, dude. I gotta go anyway. I don't have any more time to invest in your same-day installation."

"Well, how does first thing in the morning sound?"

"Yeah, first thing in the morning, I'll be here."

We go back and forth a little longer and this guy picks up his clipboard and starts counting the automobiles they've apparently spent all day on. I drive around to the front to speak to a manager at which point, I'm approached by some loser with a nametag who sits there and just listens blankly to my rant. He asks what he can do for me and I say, "I don't know. What do you normally do in this sort of circumstance?" He then, tucks his tail and walks back to the managers office. He returns about two minutes later after talking to his manager (who we'll call "Joe") and says, "The most we can do is just reschedule you."

"Yeah, dude. Appreciate that, but I've been rescheduled all day and I've already taken care of the rescheduling myself. I got first thing in the morning."

"Well, that's the best we can do." This jerkoff couldn't even look me in the eye. He just kinda turned his side to me like he was about to walk off and avoided all eye contact. "You're a piece of work," I said.

I walk out.

I come back the next morning.

They pull me in and say they're going to get "right on it." Two and a half hours later, after I sit there watching and waiting for it to be done, they call me in to inspect their work at which point I see the new stereo sitting so deep in the console that it's hardly operable.

I tell him, "Dude, this ain't gonna work. I need you to fix this because I'm not taking this installation like this. This is not satisfactory."

He says he'll do what he can, but Hondas are a little difficult to work with (here's the Honda thing again). I ask him the same question I asked the guys at "Best Buy": "Is this the first Honda you've worked on? You mean to tell me you do the same shitty job on every Honda?"

I tell him I don't care how long it takes, but I want it done right.

It took only 15 more minutes and it was just right.

What happened to the customer service in this country? It's horrible. This was the worst service I've ever received and it was on a $300 purchase. When you're putting that kinda money down on a stereo and installation, are you asking to be treated like garbage? I don't expect red carpet, but I do expect a minimum of timely and complete installation.

You go anywhere in retail these days and it's like kids just don't wanna work. No one takes pride in their job. And the managers (like the manager at "Circuit City" and his assistant) would much rather not deal with upset customers because they'd rather avoid confrontation and hide in the back looking at their buddy's lowrider. Customers just aren't that fun. It's a job, dude, if you can't do it then go work construction.

I'm probably the easiest customer to get along with because I've worked retail and I realize the headaches, but when you piss me off, you've done wrong. Gotta get to work. Take care everyone.


TX said...

Agreed. Customer service is a joke anymore. You go into any respectable restaurant in CA and you get the same crap. You have to go some upscale joint to get good service and they'll only give it to you because they need the tip. Otherwise, folks act like they're too good to work for your tip and can do without it. I guess the only reason we don't have to deal with it too much is because we don't take crap from anybody and treat them pretty well initially. But the retail cats are all the same. I sat in a VW dealer once for 8 hours "on principle" while nobody updated me on the condition of my vehicle. Lucky for me, one of the "regional customer service reps" was in that day and heard me complain. She took care of it...she was from Louisiana which is an otherwise idiotic state. But she was good. That's why I don't, won't, can't every drive a VW again...pathetic customer service.

K-Fleet said...

Yea, "Best Buy" will always give you the run around and "Circuit City" usually takes care of things, but hire idiotic people to deal with. Sadly, customer service these days is about who screams loudest, wins.