Orphaned Coyote Pup

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thank you?

Whatever happened to the gentle art of the apology? You make a mistake, you say you're sorry. Right? Not any more it seems. It looks like apologizing for your error is now viewed as some sort of an admission of guilt rather than a statement that attempts to ameliorate a wrong. A Christmas or two ago my daugher gave me a gift card from REI. As always, I waited a while to try to use it and when I presented it to the cashier she solemly handed the piece of plastic back and told me that it had no value. Impossible, I said, laying out the facts that the card was a present, worth so many dollars I was told, adding that this was from my daughter, not just any old gift giver. Sarah is an REI member, I said, and so am I.

So what are we going to do about this situation, I asked? Basically nothing, the cashier responded. She was busy checking out other patrons (and they had either money or real gift and credit cards) and my problem was between me, my daughter, and maybe the higher-ups somewhere within the labyrinthe of REI. I do not recall any mention of an apology for the situation. I was the problem, trying to pull a fast one with a fake gift card. I felt embarrassed and confused.

So later at home, I asked Sarah about her present. Fortunately she had saved her receipt. Then I telephone my REI store and asked to talk to someone in management. I outlined the problem and asked them to help solve the situation. They asked for the information they needed from the receipt, warned me that it would be perhaps as long as two weeks before they would know if the card had value or not and that they would get in touch with me by such-and-such a date. That date came and went and REI still hadn't called, so I called them and asked for my management point person. Oh yeah, she said, my card was worth what Sarah had paid for it and all I had to do to make use of that value was to wait until the management person managed to write up a statement to that effect and send it off to me. Shouldn't be too long. A few days later the statement arrived, I took it to REI and bought something with it (but not the item I initially wanted because it had already sold out in the interim). Never during the whole, irritating scenario did anyone at REI apologize for the embarrassment or delay or cumbersome, time-consuming problems they and their gift card system had created.

Would I even think of purchasing a gift card from REI again? Never. Most of the time these days, I don't even consider going into the store, in which I own a membership.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pleasant assistance

Just the other morning, I was roaming the Lowe's near Corrales, north of my part of town, nothing in the basket that I use partially as a walking assist because as always I had forgotten an important measurement that I would have to return home to get before returning to make my purchase. (Ah, it's a complicated life these days.) A young staff person busy uncrating paint cans on their way to the shelves looked up from where she was working on the floor and asked if I needed any help. It wasn't one of those queries sparked by the store's anti-shoplifting handbooks (Let them know you are watching!) but seemed a genuine attempt to provide assistance. I didn't need any help and told her so along with a thank you for asking. There was none of my normal irritation at the other kind of query.

The exchange, simple, honest, appreciated, and quick, left me feeling good about the sales clerk, her interest in helping me if I needed it, even though she was obviously busy, and Lowe's. Much better, for example, than another somewhat similar exchange a few months earlier. Then I really needed some help to find what I needed. This time I was told by the Home Depot staffer that he didn't know (and the way it felt to me, didn't care) and to find someone else. He was busy. It is that feeling that I still feel all these months later that helps me choose where I go to shop.