Customer No Service and "Loyalty" Cards...

I'll take 50% efficiency to get 100% loyalty.
--Samuel Goldwyn
Okay, so, last Sunday, I was in the process of buying a pair of slacks (on sale, of course, a very tony brand at a rock-bottom price) at a well-known department store chain, when the sales associate asked if I wanted to sign up for a loyalty card. She noted that it was free and that I would earn points toward this purchase and my future ones.

"Sure," I said, not all that excited about it, but, still, if I could earn points, why not?

So she took my info and rang me up.

But, then, she realized she had made a mistake, and my info hadn't registered properly, thus voiding the card she had just issued.

So you would think that she would simply re-ring my purchase, re-enter my info, and reissue me a new card, right?

Wrong.

Instead, she said, "Oh, it would be such a hassle to do this again."

Too close to quittin' time, I guess.

"So, I'll give you the company's 800 number and you can sort it out yourself."

Seriously?

I was stunned, to say the least. But I held my tongue, and allowed her to go through the motions of giving me the 800 number. In the time that she fumbled around looking for the phone number and trying to explain why re-doing the transaction would be such a hassle, blah, blah, blah, she could have just redone the transaction.

As she blathered on, I could tell that she realized that she was in the wrong, so I figured that my silence was her just punishment. Besides, from my end, it just wasn't worth getting into a snarkfest with a sales clerk over a loyalty card that I didn't really want in the first place.

In the old days, I would have jumped all over her and insisted that she redo the transaction; however, I'm trying to be an overall nicer person. This doesn't mean that I'm going to roll over and allow people to walk all over me, but I'm going to choose the battles that I wish to fight, and this simply wasn't one of them.

I simply nodded and accepted the phone number along with the sales receipt.

I'm not going to "report" her actions to her boss, nor will I hold her actions against the store. After all, I still got my guaranteed-for-life item at a dirt cheap price, which was my only goal, anyway. I figure that she will eventually trip herself up and get fired when someone less kind than me rips her a new one.

But here's my message to all sales associates who view customer service as low priority:
You are not representing your company well, the company paying your salary. Every time you blow off a customer, you are potentially driving customers to your company's competition, resulting in fewer sales. Fewer sales equal fewer jobs, and fewer jobs could result in store closures and your being unemployed.

Got it?

Google Montgomery Ward, your past competitor, and see what happened to them.

My Dear Sales Associate, you're fortunate that your chain has remained nimble and responsive to their customer base. It is your job to help keep it that way.
Maybe my sales clerk was having a bad day--illness, family problems, long work hours--and I wouldn't want her to lose her job over a stupid loyalty card.

Still, here's my bottom line: I will NOT be calling that 800-number she gave me.

Why?

Because I refuse to make her screw up my problem.

Instead, the next time I buy something from this chain and am asked if I want a loyalty card, I'll say "no" and explain why. If he or she really wants my loyalty business, he or she will have to assure me that this store cares about me as a customer and then take steps to issue that loyalty card without hassle and drama.

After all, shouldn't loyalty be earned?

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