Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 at 1:23am CST by fe95af30

Company: SEARS

Location: Heritage Mall
ALBANY, OR, 97322, US

Category: Appliances, Equipment, Tools

Would it make any sense at all for a store to literally chase customers out of the store, yelling at and threatening to sue them?

Believe it or not, that's what happened to me on September 28, 2012 when I went to the Sears store in Albany Oregon intent on purchasing a replacement washing machine for the business I managed. I specifically told the sales associate: "I need a machine today." With his help, I made a selection and told him that I just needed to call my regional manager to get a credit card number. But when I turned around after only about one minute talking to my manager, the sales associate had disappeared. I looked around and saw no one at all in the appliance department, but there were three Sears employees nearby in the tool department--leaning on boxes, talking and laughing while ignoring me and several other customers in the area. Frustrated, I used my cell phone to snap a photo of them to perhaps show to their manager at a later time in order to document their poor work habits.

When they saw me take their photo, one of them asked in a sarcastic tone of voice if they could help me, I responded that it didn't look like they could. When I asked for a manager, they told me there wasn't one--to which I said that explained why they were goofing off--to which they replied that they weren't goofing off, they were waiting for customers. As we exchanged comments and their attitude worsened, I decided I wasn't willing to argue with them or support such poor service, and would instead buy the washer from a retailer who valued me as a customer. As I turned and began to walk away, a woman from the group yelled that she had better not see the photo on the Internet. I ignored her and kept walking but she followed me, repeatedly commanding me to stop and tell her my name. I kept walking but felt as if I would be violently seized at any moment--as if I were a shoplifter! Just before I reached the exit, she yelled after me that if she saw the photo on the Internet she would sue me!

I was quite humiliated and upset by the encounter and couldn't believe that I had been literally chased out of the store and threatened with a lawsuit when I had gone there intent on purchasing a major appliance.

After I gained my composure, I decided to find a manager to report the incident. The manager was cordial but defended the actions of her employees. When she scolded me for taking the photo, I responded that there was no signage stating that photos were not allowed and that other shoppers often take photos in order to comparison shop, or to show a product that they're considering to a family member or friend--so that the only problem with me taking the photo was what it revealed. She later apologized (for the incident--but not for the actions of her employees), and offered a 5% discount on the washing machine. I responded that I had reported the incident to my manager, and he instructed me to go to Home Depot instead.

When I told the manager that this had not been the first time I've been ignored when attempting to shop in her store, she responded that I should have reported those prior incidents to her. But why should the customer need to tell the store manager what the employees are doing? (Or NOT doing.) A good manager would know what her employees are doing. Moreover, the fact that the employees felt free to openly stand around and ignore customers indicates that the manager either didn't stress the importance of customer service or actually condoned the bad behavior of her employees.

Before leaving her office, I asked the manager for the phone number of her regional manager, and she wrote a toll free number on the back of her business card. I later called the number, which turned out to be a call center. I spoke to a very cordial and sympathetic man who listened intently and promised to have the district manager contact me--but not surprisingly, no one ever called.

Incidentally, when I first met with the Sear's manager, I introduced myself as the Account Manager for the mall's housekeeping contractor. As a result, she later reported me to the mall's general manager--as if I did something wrong--and apparently to cause trouble for me.

Therefore, I not only bought the washing machine at Home Depot, but I will never again enter a Sear's store! So that's why I believe (and hope) Sears will soon be out of business--not because of economic conditions, and not because they can't attract customers to their stores, but because their arrogant, lazy associates ignore, insult, threaten, and literally chase customers out with the full support and encouragement of store management!

1 Comment

547dd897, 2013-01-28, 12:05PM CST

I live in NY and have access to stores in Poughkeepsie, Middletown and Newburgh. I rarely shop at Sears anymore. I got tired of being ignored. Customer service is no longer exists and forget going to management for help. They would rather stand by their worthless employees than to keep a customer.

I'm glad you took a picture even if you never post it to the internet. Maybe it will teach them to do their jobs instead of goofing off.

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