Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Pearl Arts and Crafts sucks. I don't even know why I go. Okay, it's five minutes from my house and has a good selection. But they have the most cretinous, fucked-up sales force in the world.

I was working on the Ugliest Scarf Ever, and I convinced myself that if I had some plainer browns and olive greens to throw in the mix, the scarf wouldn't be so ugly. But I was in the middle of watching Howard Lederer, TJ Cloutier and Dutch Boyd in the Razz tournament. And if I left, I'd miss Phil Gordon saying that Blind Man's Bluff is the greatest event in the history of mankind. For some reason, I find it almost as amusing as Dave Foley saying, "I haven't been sitting here with my head up my ass, Phil" during Celebrity Poker Showdown. So I debate: drive half an hour on America's busiest freeway--I'm not making that up--to go to Joann's (where I am temporarily out of 40% off coupons) or Michael's (larger stock) or go to the Pearl A&C that's five minutes from my house. I choose "convenience."

Fortunately, the local Pearl is in a boom--sometimes I go there and they look like they're going out of business because they have no stock. Other times, they've got everything--more than Joann's or Michael's. So I find some olive wool-ease and some light olive something else that has a cool texture; it's not on their unbelievably bad
website. But because they actually have stock, I start thinking I could pick up some more yarn to make other things. I pick up a variety of pink yarns. It takes me a while (so much for the tournament), and while I am haunting the aisles, I overhear some employees plotting to steal from the store and return the merchandise. Can you say, "dumb motherfuckers?" I go to check out and there is a short line (2 customers) at the register, with no attendant. The manager is at the "customer service" desk taking a return of about a million small bottles of paint. This is going to take a while. The guy at the front of the line--who has been there long enough that his cash and discount card are lying next to the Drummel set (bar code up) he's buying--rather too nicely asks if the manager can get someone to wait on him. The other woman in line leaves. Apparently the manager is a mental defective and can't figure out that if you have cutomers waiting and a sales force "working," you should put someone on the registers. So he pages "Douglas" to "customer service." And because Douglas is so keen on customer service, we wait for about 10 minutes. I shout, "Perhaps you should page Douglas again." The manager looks up from his complicated return and decides I might be right. Douglas saunters--and I think Douglas's walk defines "saunters"--over and tries to log in to his cash register. Since Douglas has too much hair and because his eyes don't open all the way because he is stoned, he has a little difficulty with this simple task. Finally, he rings up Drummel-head-discount-guy. He gets to me. "Are you mad because you had to wait in line?" he asks. "Yes," I reply while I am digging in my purse. "Are you mad because you had to wait in line?" he asks again, louder because he didn't hear my reply. I lean forward, so that my nose is almost touching his and shout, "I said, 'yes, I am'." This doesn't seem to help him work faster, but the security guard doesn't check my receipt on the way out.

I get home and realize I have bought Lion Brand Chenille for $9 when it is on sale at Joann's for $5.99. On the TV, Howard is snipping at TJ because Razz is a cruel taskmaster. I have news for him; buying something at Pearl, that's frustrating. I'm bringing the $40 worth of pink yarn back. Then I'll get to deal with the manager.

I'm writing a letter. I'm good at it, and I get results. So I thought I'd share a few tips, since that eight years of teaching college writing should be used for good.
  • Keep it short I've written the whole long story above. You read it because it's funny when people share your pain. The head of Pearl "customer service" won't.
  • Keep it clean Vulgar language makes you feel better, but people don't like to listen to it. It can also make you sound crazy, and crazy is bad.
  • Keep it simple In addition to my problems with Douglas and the manager, I do have information about their employees' lack of ethics. If I were to write about it, it's really for a separate letter. Let's not overwhelm the brain trust that hired these people in the first place.
  • State the facts. Where did it happen? When? Who was involved?
  • Tell them what you want. With a complaint like mine, it's difficult. What I want is a whole new sales force. What I'll settle on is "improved customer service."
  • Give them a reason to follow up. This is where you tell them you're not coming back.
  • Spell Check and run it through the grammar checker if you often misuse homophones.
If you can't follow these rules, write two letters. The one that makes you feel good (that's for your files, or blog) and the one that you send.

At least I was right about the plain olive yarns helping improve the looks of the scarf.

No comments: