Showdown At Staples: A Duty To Confront Saga [Corrected]

This morning, my wife sent me on a mission to buy a new portable calculator. At the nearby strip-mall, there are three retail options right in a row: Target, Staples, and Best Buy. Target looked crowded, and the Best Buy is huge and bewildering, so I chose the more modest-sized Staples, where ProEthics has an account.

When I entered, none of the aisle and section signs—there were about two dozen— indicated that the store even offers calculators, though I knew that couldn’t be the case in an office supply store. There was a 15 foot banner proclaiming “CUSTOMER SERVICE,” however, with one female clerk beneath it, processing the purchase of an ancient man who was moving in slow motion. After waiting a few minutes and realizing that the transaction might take until Arbor Day, I asked the Staples employee where I could find the calculators, assuming it was an easily and quickly answered query and that I could get the information before the aged customer finished searching through his wallet.

The employee obviously had no idea. She said, “I think it’s down there somewhere,” pointing to the other side of the store. “Is there an aisle sign that I should look for?” I asked. “You know, let me check with somebody; just wait a minute,” she replied, and went back to Methuselah.

“Bye!” I said sharply, and left the store. [ Update: I was wrong to write that, because I did NOT say anything, sharply or otherwise as I left Staples. A sharp “bye” would have perfectly expressed by state of mind, however. Still, that was a false account.] I then went to Best Buy; its customer service staffer gave me directions, pointed out a sign and a section, and I had picked out the item in less than five minutes.

After completing the purchase, I went back to the young man at the service desk and thanked him for his competence. I also told him how his counterpart at Staples had blown it, and that Best Buy had my business from now on.

I wasn’t done yet, however.

I returned to scene of my discontent, and found the Staples manager, conveniently enough, standing behind the counter with the giant “CUSTOMER SERVICE” sign behind it. I told him about my experience in his store, and showed him my Best Buy purchase. “I expect employees of a retail establishment to be able to direct me to its merchandise,” I said. “I shouldn’t have to wait around, and I shouldn’t have to go to another store to get served competently.”

“Calculators are on aisle 20,” he replied.

“That doesn’t do me any good now,” I said. “I needed that information when I asked 15 minutes ago.”

“Well, sometimes a new employee won’t know everything,” he said, unapologetically.

“Yes, that’s what training is for. That’s no excuse. I came to customer service, and couldn’t get the information I needed,” I said.

“We don’t have a customer service desk.”

“You are literally standing under a huge sign that reads “Customer Service”!”

“That just means that we have customer service, not that this is a customer service area.” He actually said that. I laughed.

“Well, I’ve been coming to this store for about 30 years, and this is the last time, because you have no customer service, obviously.”

“You have a nice day,” he said, turning his back on me. The guy never apologized or made any effort to be cordial. He averted a “Bite me!” by inches.

I will follow this episode up with a letter to Staples headquarters, for all the good it is liable to do.

Recent polls indicate that U.S. consumers are experiencing vastly deteriorated customer service since “experts” shut down the economy in terror over the Wuhan virus. This time, I suspect the polls are correct: I know I have had the same experience everywhere from filling stations to veterinarian offices to restaurants to pharmacies, and the excuse always is the same: “Oh, it’s the pandemic!” No, it’s lousy management and rotting work ethics. if retail outlets want to guarantee that Amazon takes over the world, they can continue to hire cheap, language-challenged and inept employees and dare customers to respond as they should, which is what I did, and intend to do more noisily and aggressively henceforward.

Consumers need to accept that confrontation is how cultural and societal norms are maintained in the face of concerted efforts to lower standards. Businesses that behave like my local Staples did need to be shown that there will be consequences; management needs to be exposed be made to reform.

I’m not going to take it any more, and neither should anyone else.

25 thoughts on “Showdown At Staples: A Duty To Confront Saga [Corrected]

  1. I think you made a mistake, Jack. There are seven things you never say to customer service if you want to get anywhere, and you said one of them.:

    1. Never say you’re going to get a lawyer involved, because that will kill the conversation and guarantee that only the lawyers will continue it.
    2. Never say you’re going to get somebody fired, because the odds are you can’t.
    3. Never say you’re going to put the place out of business. Who are we kidding?
    4. Never say you’re going to the media. You probably don’t have the access for it to mean anything.
    5. This is the one you did – never say you’ll never do business with whoever again, because then he has no incentive to help you.
    6. Never curse anyone out, because that’s a conversation killer also, and could get you marked as a crazy customer.
    7. Never threaten violence, because you might end up in jail.

    You gave this guy no reason to try to please you once you said that you were never doing business at that store. He just turned his back on you, which was not very polite, but it was a way of telling you that the conversation was over. He could have told you at that point to “please leave,” and what then?

    • I didn’t expect to try to please me. I don’t trust him anyway. I needed to really convey the message that his crappy management, and poor staff conduct lost him business. A competent business owner or manager would then say, “I’m sorry. I agree that this was unacceptable, and I’d appreciate it if you gave us another chance.” Then he would offer a coupon, or a discount, or some benefit to show there is genuine recognition of wrongdoing and a sincere desire to win back the disappointed customer’s trust. His reaction made it clear that he wouldn’t do that, and thus he deserves to lose more business. Which he will. And I will do my best to make sure he does.

      • Remember, I had already made my decision that Staples was off my list. I made a point of returning to the store specifically to let the manager know. What good does it do to remove business as a reaction to bad service if the store doesn’t know about it? And that’s why I will alert Staples headquarters as well.

  2. I had a similar experience at a T mobile store after just buying 2 I phones. There is no point confronting an inept manager who probably has zero concern for you as a customer and even less ability to make needed changes that a district manager will allow.

    Go right to the top and avoid the heartache. Make a conspicuous point on social media about how stupid it is for the manager to stand under a customer service sign and tell you there is no customer service at this store. He was not lying there was no customer service at Staples.

  3. A few observations.
    You denigrated an elderly man in this post (and maybe the elderly in general), and it’s possible that attitude showed through in your body language at the store.
    You, in effect, jumped the line, expecting a quick answer, which wasn’t to be had. That sort of line jumping often is tolerated, sometimes pleasantly, when it’s important or very quick. But, the implied message is the same regardless; ‘My business and I are more important than you and your business, and therefore I come first.’
    You did not have the patience to wait for the directions you wanted, and yet you likely spent more time by buying at a different store and then returning to confront. I wonder if that kind of lack of patience ties into the concept of billable minutes – let’s see, at $5 per minute, even just a few minutes will cost more than the value of that calculator.
    In a time when retail establishments are having difficulty finding employees, you could not accept that a (possibly) new employee could not give you directions immediately while in the middle of a transaction with another customer.
    Pro Ethics has (or is it now had?) an account at the store, and you’ve been going there for 30 years, implying service there has been good in the past. So, one small incident vs. 30 years? OTOH, I’m not implying that after 30 years you should know your way around the store; I understand the difficulty of that.
    The manager was rude and dismissive. Perhaps there is something more in those 30 years that led him to behave that way. I do recall that there were other posts here relating encounters with less than ideal retail service; don’t recall if any were at Staples. So, possibly there is some kind of pattern. Also possible, given his prompt reply (aisle 20), he was prepped by the employee you encountered earlier.
    My conclusion: had you waited your turn in line, you would have gotten the directions fairly quickly, albeit not instantaneously, the sales clerk would have learned a bit more about the store and would not have been subjected to your sharp ‘Bye’, your shopping trip would have been a bit shorter, and an apparently good 30-year relationship would have been preserved. Minor failings can often be dealt with in a pleasant manner without insult to the duty to confront. I’ve seen that here on this site when a post is mis-handled by Word Press or the spam filter, an explanation is not forthcoming, and the poster is both tolerant and pleasant. The suggestion there is that in a situation like that, simply wait your turn, get the question answered, and pleasantly tell the clerk that better knowledge of the store would make him/her a much more valuable employee.

    • See my reply to Jut, below, but also…
      1. There was no body language involved. I mention the slow customer because it was the reason I waited before finally asking my question.
      2. I did not “jump in line.” I wasn’t even close to the checkout line. I was the only one at what was designated as the customer service area, and the staffer was the only person across the desk from me. I was #1 at Customer service, and I still waited for her to help the old man. She was torn doing double duty that she couldn’t handle. Not my problem, or it shouldn’t have been.
      3. N, in fact Staples has always had lousy service. Before the latest change in ownership, it was dominated by rude, curt, Koreans, who mad eup the entire staff for years. They were always unpleasant. I have had many obnoxious encounters with the staffs over the years. I have an account there because it predated the BestBuy store. I have an account there, too. I hadn’t been to Staples in several years.
      4.”In a time when retail establishments are having difficulty finding employees, you could not accept that a (possibly) new employee could not give you directions immediately while in the middle of a transaction with another customer.” Sorry, not my problem. They don’t pay enough; they don’t hire enough. If you can’t run a business properly, don’t run it. Consumers should not have to accept lousy service because a store can’t figure out how to operate efficiently.I have never accepted that kind of excuse, and I never will.

      Once Fridays sat my family, with an infant son, at a table with no wait staff assigned to it. After futilely waiting to get a damn menu and some water for 20 minutes, we left, but on the way out, I told off the manager whose excuse was, “We’re short staffed today.” Oh. So I’m supposed to accept being denied service with a hungry toddler? I told him that was my last visit to Fridays, and 26 years later, it still was.

      5. As I explain to Jut, there is no doubt in my mind that the clerk couldn’t answer my question, Sorry, that’s inexcusable. I grocery shop at Harris Teeter: I have never had any employee fail to direct me to the right aisle for any item. And that’s how a store should operate.

      6. I did not say “Bye!” I don’t know why I wrote that. I sure thought “Bye!” and I walked away briskly. Upon reflection, however, I didn’t say anything in leaving. I wish I had said, “Bye!”

      7. “My conclusion: had you waited your turn in line, you would have gotten the directions fairly quickly, albeit not instantaneously, the sales clerk would have learned a bit more about the store and would not have been subjected to your sharp ‘Bye’, your shopping trip would have been a bit shorter, and an apparently good 30-year relationship would have been preserved.”

      Other than the fact that I was first in the Customer Service line that I had every reason to think existed because of the huge sign, the fact that it was too late for “fairly quickly,” the fact that it is not my job to provide training exercises for new staff put on duty before they are ready, the fact that there was no “sharp Bye!” (but you had no reason to know that) and the fact that my intermittent relationship with that Staples has been spotty at best, good analysis!

      Oh—one last point: I don’t care that I might have completed my shopping errand in less time if I had hung around waiting for Staples to get its act together rather than walking over to BestBuy, where my needs were addressed quickly and professionally. It was worth the time to make the statement, to stop tolerating bad service, to reward a better run store, and at the end, to take the extra time to tell the manager at Staples that the episode was not going to be shrugged off—which is what such establishments count on.

      • 1. There was no body language that you were aware of.
        2. It sounds as if the Customer Service area was a dual duty place which I have seen at a number of stores. The CS rep responds to questions, etc., but also conducts transactions such as returns, problems with orders, etc. If that was the case, then in effect one clerk was operating a dual purpose station, and for that clerk someone was ahead of you. [I dislike making ethical judgments based on incomplete information, but I have been told on this site that sometimes that is necessary.]
        3. I’m surprised that the nationality is considered important; some might see that inclusion as racist, others as just an added piece of information not really relevant to the problem.
        Additionally, many obnoxious encounters over the years certainly indicates a problem, but it does not necessarily pinpoint the source of the problem. There are, for example, a lot of people who tend to have far more obnoxious encounters than others. Don’t know if that is the case here.
        4. Agreed. Not your problem, and you are free to take your business elsewhere. But I’m confident in the belief that no establishment will live up to your standards all of the time.
        5. Cf # 4 above, but, well, maybe Harris Teeter will.
        6. Okay. Update noted.
        7. If there was only one clerk at that location, one doing dual duty, then there in effect was only one line, not one for customer service and one for transactions. I have experienced cultures where in a similar situation, no one forms a line, but instead the group clusters around the counter each trying to be first. I prefer the usual situation in America where the formation of a line mostly goes pretty well.
        Re: one last point: your objectives and mine would have been different in that situation, and therefore our ethical judgment about the situation also would have been different.

        • All fair points.

          I mention the Korean staff because it was 1) monolithic and 2) exhibited exactly the behavior that drove Michael Douglas to murder and mayhem in “Falling Down.” Various ethnic groups have cultures that vary from the US norm, and that’s fine, though nations need and operate smoothly by enforcing majority culture. Some Asian cultures are studiedly reserved and unexpressive by US standards. Ok—but a large retail outlet with mostly non-Asian customers still has an obligation to make those customers feel welcome and comfortable, and the Korean staff did not. At the local 7-11, run beautifully and staffed well by a Hispanic owner, the staff is routinely helpful and friendly. The one Asian woman on the staff is curt, never smiles, and barely speaks. I have gotten to know her a little and the remoteness no longer bothers me, but if every clerk acted like her, I would frequent a different store. That kind of behavior is still not professional service in the US, and should not be allowed to become the norm.

  4. I don’t know, Jack. It seems you are, at least partly, in the wrong.

    I think I know exactly what you were doing, as I think I have even done it myself. It is kind of a version of jumping the line. Someone is going up to the cashier with 20 items and I just want to ask a quick question that should be able to be answered without distracting the cashier from the person who was there first. I usually worry that I am being rude and that I need to simply wait my turn.

    If they have the answer, and it really is as simple as saying “Aisle 20,” no one has been harmed and things run more efficiently. However, if the person says, “I will get to you in a moment,” I can’t really claim I have been treated unfairly.

    Yes, the person in front of you was slow, but didn’t he deserve her fullest attention. The Golden Rule would suggest that he did.

    Now, as for her knowledge of the store, my reactions are mixed. Yesterday, I was shopping and needed to find some Irish Soda Bread. Like Moses, I wandered and wandered aimlessly for what seemed like a really long time, until I finally asked someone who was unpacking pastries (she was not waiting on anyone). She walked me a third of the way across the store to point it out to me; I finally told her that I think I could find it so she could get back to what she was doing.

    I am also often surprised by places like Home Depot. Many times, I ask where something is. They may give me an aisle number, they may walk me over to the spot, or they may radio someone to ask where something is before walking me over there.

    These options were not easy options in your case. She could not have walked you over, and calling on someone else (if there was someone else) would have taken her away from the person in line who was entitled to, at least, her primary attention.

    You wanted one piece of information, an aisle number, and, if she could not give you that, you were going to leave. And, you wanted that information when she was working with someone else.

    Your behavior seems unfair and, perhaps, and, had the manager known the circumstances of your visit, might have been obliged to confront you.

    Except that may have been against corporate policy.


    • Well,

      1. You weren’t there. I was.
      2. The staff member wasn’t serving someone ahead of me in line. She was behind a customer service desk. Nobody but me was at customer service. Staples for some reason has a clerk doing double duty as a cashier and the one under the giant Customer Service sign. That’s a bad set-up to begin with. At BestBuy, one staffer is there to answer questions and nothing else. Most places are like that, so I did not immediately discern the cheap and inefficient Staples system, which was not what I experienced last time I was there. That’s Staples’ fault, not mine.
      3.As I think I made clear, when I asked the clerk it was after waiting for her part of the transaction with the old man to be finished or paused, which it was. I did not interrupt the transaction—as I said, the customer was fiddling with his things and trying to use a credit card. She was watching. It was a fair time to ask a question.
      4. She made it very clear that she did not know where the calculators were. She should have known. Simple as that. It was not, “Just a minute sir, I’ll help you as soon as I’m finished.” She made it clear that she needed to finish, and then had to ask someone else where the item was.
      5. Fuck that. Who knows how long that would take? I did not want the information “while she was working for someone else.”
      6. The problem, as with most of these situations, was understaffing, with one person doing double duty that she was not trained to do.
      7. Explain the giant Customer Service sign behind the counter and the manager’s excuse that there was no customer service desk.

      The Defense rests.

      • Jack:
        1. Of course that’s true, but my observations are based on what you wrote. I think I have treated your account fairly. So, if something was missing, it was in your description. Speaking of which:

        2. You lost me here: “ The staff member wasn’t serving someone ahead of me in line.” Your original post stated, “ with one female clerk beneath it, processing the purchase of an ancient man who was moving in slow motion.” If she was processing someone else’s purchase, how was she not serving someone ahead of you? I thought you were jumping the line; Here’s Johnny thought you were jumping the line. That both of us reacher such similar conclusions from your description lends credence to our interpretation of what you have conveyed. You were there, not us. How do you reconcile your two statements, because they seem to contradict each other.

        3. I still have the same question as in 2; if the transaction was not complete, but was paused, how were you not jumping the line? However, even with that question, both Here’s Johnny and I don’t take too much issue with that “line-jumping,” as it is not uncommon and tolerated if it is not obstructive.

        4. You originally wrote, “The employee obviously had no idea. She said, “I think it’s down there somewhere,” pointing to the other side of the store. “Is there an aisle sign that I should look for?” I asked. “You know, let me check with somebody; just wait a minute,” she replied, and went back to Methuselah.” You them wrote, “ It was not, “Just a minute sir, I’ll help you as soon as I’m finished.” She made it clear that she needed to finish, and then had to ask someone else where the item was.” Our statements are not too far off. But this is where you should have waited your turn (even though you say that there was not a turn (which I still don’t understand because she was helping someone else at the time).

        5. Too bad. If it takes her five minutes, it takes her five minutes. But, again, five minutes to do what? You say you were not jumping the line, that you were first in line, but that she was helping someone else with a transaction. I don’t understand the scenario you are describing. You were there; I was not; describe what happened in a way that makes sense.

        6. Perhaps you are right. I don’t know why she was there alone, especially as we know that someone else was also there a short time later. Where was he? On the phone in the office? On a 15-minute break? Having a smoke out back? Unpacking a brand new supply of calculators on Aisle 20? Helping another customer? We don’t know and, presumably, you don’t know either—and you were there. Presumably, if you saw him there, you would have then gone to him for help. Without knowing more, I am not convinced that they were understaffed. For all we know, he was the person who was supposed to be there to help you when you came in and he was off helping someone else. We just don’t know.

        7. No, I am not going to address the Customer Service sign. I was not there. It is completely irrelevant to any of my critique, so I don’t feel compelled to address it. Having said that, I have no reason to disagree with your characterization of what was said. His response makes no sense.


        • I completely agree that you and Johnny are limited by the details I provided or left out. I foolishly didn’t think I needed to explain my actions, impressions and reasoning more thoroughly because I personally considered this an open and shut case of rotten management and customer service. Obviously, I was wrong.

          To clarify: There was a long counter under a Customer service sign. Nobody was at the counter on the consumer side but me. I walked up having every reason to believe that I was at the front of the “line”(which didn’t exist yet, requiring two points, and I was just one). There was a Staples staffer behind that counter, to the left of that counter, perpendicular to it, was a checkout counter. The sole staffer in that arrangement was dealing with the equivalent of the little old lady in the Warner Brother cartoons who would go up yo a bank teller and start counting out pennies. THAT customer was in a line that one entered about 25 feet from where I was, through a pathway marked with dividers. It was clearly marked—“checkout.” I couldn’t even see that sign from where I was. “Jumping in line” would have required me to push past four other shippers in the lane and step up to the checkout counter. I didn’t do that, nor would I. I walked up to a long counter in front of and under a huge “customer service” banner or sign.

          The sign, therefore, is completely relevant and indeed central to the fiasco. It was, according to the manager, not what it purported to be, and the single staffer at the counter was committed to a conflicting duty, which I had no way of knowing when I became the front of the “customer service” line that supposedly didn’t exist. I have to assume that the weird arrangement is intentional. None of the other checkout clerks were behind a second counter with a different designated function. At BestBuy, there is no ambiguity: a single staff member stands behind a small stand at the front of the store under a customer service sign, and the checkout area is completely separate. In that set-up, if someone was already questioning that staff member, I would have quietly waited behind him. If the counter were unmanned (i have never seen it so), I would seek out another staff member to ask. (Staples had none, and never has floor-walking staffers unless they are stocking shelves. Stores like Home Depot used to make a point of having these: they have disappeared. Target, to its credit, still has enough staffers to answer questions like “where are the calculators?” wandering around, helping shoppers. As it should.) In the case of an empty Customer Service section, I would indeed chosen between standing in the checkout line until I reached a clerk, OR I would have left because the management of the store was inept and its incompetence was wasting my time.

          • To repeat something I said farther up this page: “[I dislike making ethical judgments based on incomplete information, but I have been told on this site that sometimes that is necessary.]”
            I’m now reinforced in my belief that, especially on a discussion site, accuracy and completeness are much more important than quick replies. The dilemma, of course, is that while gathering information and analyzing, several more posts will have gone up and the one I’m on will have become old news.
            Now, it appears you did not jump the line because there was no line. But, you did not wait for a customer service rep to come to you; instead, you called out to a cashier in a different line who was in the midst of a transaction with a customer, at an apparent pause in that transaction, but a transaction with a customer who seemed to need extra help.
            As with line jumping, the implication is the same: ‘My business and I are more important than what you are doing’.

            • Thinking more about this…and thanks for keeping me thinking:

              The problem is a single staffer given two jobs that she has been inadequately trained to handle simultaneously. That’s bad management, and her performance was bad customer service. It’s like a business switchboard: if you are going to tell a caller to hold, you tell them how long and make it clear why. Does a purchase transaction get higher priority than “customer service” when the latter is proclaimed by the largest sign in the store (by far)? That’s not intrinsically obvious. I was at the head of one of two lines a single employee was responsible for handling at that moment. I assumed they were of co-equal priority, though the employee showed no sign of acknowledging my presence until I spoke to her.

              When I spoke, it was after waiting for a point in the transaction where she had no immediate tasks, since the customer was engaged in completing his side of the transaction. This is where a well-trained (or competent) employee would turn to the one at the front of the OTHER “line” and say either, “Cam I help you?” or “I’ll be with you in a minute,” or, best of all, answer a quick question that any staff member in a retail store should be equipped to answer before they end up under a giant “Customer service sign.” It’s not as if I was looking for a particle accelerator: I needed a cheap calculator, you know, Texas Instruments, at an Office Supply store. She didn’t do any of these things.

              Furthermore, there were customers behind the one she was dealing with. Was she going to give me priority after the next in line stepped up? She said she was going to “check” on the answer to my query. Nobody was nearby. Was she going to abandon the head of both lines and go searching for information she should have known herself? I had no idea, because, again, she obviously was inadequately prepared and trained.

              My ethics mission was and is to make the point that customer service will only deteriorate until consumers draw a line in the sand, and insist that it be better, no matter how trivial the episode or how much time the symbolic statement takes.

          • I think I am getting a sense of what you were facing. Still not quite sure, but I am not going to ask you to draw a picture.

            My experience at Staples has been that they have a couple checkout lines and a separate service desk. They are not linked (like yours “appears” to be).

            Even giving you the benefit of the doubt on that (and it sounds justified based on your description of the way things were set up without your ability to see the checkout signs), my only question is: where was the guy who later appeared? I am still not sure it was understaffed or that she was doing double-duty if he was supposed to be on that counter.

            Regardless, the broader lesson to take from this is that there are no open-shut cases here (especially consider the number of lawyers here, where everything “depends”). Even among your loyal commenters, you don’t get a King’s Pass; if you post about your personal experiences, you can’t expect to be above opposition.

            For my part, I try to be literal to a fault and scrupulously skeptical. That is the best way I know to keep biases in check. That way, when I am dealing with incomplete information (as Here’s Johnny mentioned), at least I know (hopefully) what I don’t know. It is easy to adjust your views if you can acknowledge the way new evidence affects the information available to you.

            That you have a vigilant group of commenters is as much to your credit as it is to your detriment.


            • Nothing here I disagree with in the least. The critiques from you and Johnny have been enlightening on many levels. I really wrote the post as an open and shut case; obviously, I was wrong, and obviously, I was not careful enough in explaining either what happened and my reasoning. I’d do a second post on it, except that that seems like overkill.

              The reaction I expected from critics was the one I got off-site from “A Friend,” since he is banned from commenting: “Oh, what’s the big deal? It’s just a cheap calculator!” I used to get that reaction to lots of posts; I addressed it directly in the Comments Guide. I ascribe to the broken window theory in ethics generally, and it applies to this topic. The more we shrug off lousy customer service, rudeness in the workplace, openly bad management and shoddy products, the worse the quality of life gets.

              The US is rapidly stratifying into a Nation of Assholes and a Nation of Weenies, and the Weenies allow the Assholes to thrive. That’s unethical.

              Its a good question where the manager was when I came to what looked like the Customer Service desk. When I found him there upon my return, it was never clear what he was doing, since he said there WAS no “customer service” area. I had gone in back of the store to the offices looking for someone in charge, and found no one. I looked for staff to ask: I couldn’t find one of them, either. The only staff in evidence were the checkout clerks, who had lines, and the copy section, which had customers waiting and only two staffers. Then I saw an older man under the huge sign, where somebody should have been in the first place. As I said, he was surly, defensive, disingenuous and unhelpful.

              In the post, I explained that after finding and buying what I needed at BestBuy, I “went back to the young man at the service desk and thanked him for his competence. I also told him how his counterpart at Staples had blown it, and that BestBuy had my business from now on.” Perhaps I should elaborate: I spend more time giving that young man positive reinforcement than I spent telling the manager at Staples that his service and training stunk on ice. The young man modestly pooh-poohed my praise, saying that he wasn’t usually on Customer Service duty, and that he knew where the calculators were because he had stocked them, indeed had stocked the whole store. “Then you are perfectly qualified for customer service!” I replied. “I’m grateful that you know how to do your job, and that BestBuy has the wisdom to put someone here that knows how to help customers like me. Thank-you!” And I shook his hand.

      • I’m not even a shithouse lawyer, but I find it interesting that you have flipped to Defendant from Plaintiff or Claimant, based on some observations and questions for clarification.

  5. Well said, Jut. I made some of the same points more than an hour ago, but my post seems to be lost somewhere in Word Press or a spam filter. Think I’ll jut go to another site to make some points and then come back here and complain to the management.

  6. “You have a nice day,” he said, turning his back on me. The guy never apologized or made any effort to be cordial. He averted a “Bite me!” by inches.

    I have a question. Exactly how did this flaming asshole of an excuse for a manager avoid a loud, un-nuanced BITE ME, dickweed! at all? I can think of no more provocative situation than one you described, other than perhaps an accusation of racism or some other irrelevant absurdity. “Have a nice day” and then turning your back on someone is a rude dismissal, especially in a customer service context (despite his obviously true assertion that that store has no such thing).

    Your threshold for a “bite me” seems a bit higher than it should be.

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