What happened to customer service??

Posted: 3rd July 2012 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
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I needed new shoes.

Photo from Zappos.com

I say that in past tense, because I have a new pair on the way.

But it was a process.

The story begins Monday night. My friend, Jared Rademacher, and I took off to Sioux Falls. I needed a variety of items, so we took the trip West.

One of the items on the list was a new pair of tennis shoes.

I stopped in store after store with no luck.

I was about ready to give up. But we had one more store to try.

It was a busy store — I won’t name what store it was — and I started looking at the selection of shoes.

And there they were.

My shoes.

In the fourth store we stopped in, I found a pair of shoes I liked.

I picked them up and looked around for someone to help me.

Granted, it was busy. There were a few people shopping — somewhere around 7 or 8.

And there was one person working.

Or so it seemed.

So I picked up the display shoe and started walking around.

Finally, I caught the attention of one of the two workers who emerged from the backroom.

Actually, both of them.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, can I try these shoes in an 11?” I asked.

The second worker said, “We don’t have them. I looked already for another guy and ended up selling him the red and black pair.”

I didn’t want the red and black pair. If I wanted the red and black pair, I would have asked for them.

So I said, “No thanks.”

The first worker, trying to salvage the sale said, “We can ship them to you for three dollars. Right to your house.”

I said “No, that’s OK.” And walked out.

I probably walked out of that store for good.

My thought was this, I had to wait a good five minutes for you to help me. Then, when I did get someone to help me, you didn’t have what I wanted.

That’s fine, I don’t blame you for not having this shoe. Don’t try to talk me into a different shoe. And as I’m walking out the door, you offer me $3 shipping?



So when I got into the office on Tuesday, I pulled up zappos.com.

I haven’t actually bought anything from there before. I had looked around, but never actually made a purchase.

In all honesty, I’m not a fan of online shopping. I like the customer service. I like feeling like I’m important to you, even if I’m not.

Will the store in the Empire Mall close because it didn’t get my $50 shoe purchase? No.

But how much will I spend with Zappos? Who knows.

Here’s what I do know, I made a purchase (pictured above). I didn’t have to pay the same tax I would have in Sioux Falls and I certainly didn’t pay for shipping. (Yes, Zappos offers FREE shipping. Who would have thought?)

If the Empire Mall store would have offered me free shipping, the shoes would be coming from that store.

But they weren’t willing to work with me. They weren’t willing to make me feel special.

So next time I need to make a purchase, I’ll think twice before heading to a store when a worker has the opportunity to make me feel about as important as the sticker that fell from the shoes I didn’t buy.

Because in a week or so, a brand new pair of shoes will be waiting for me on my doorstep.

And that, my friends, will be a good day.

  1. Tom Nelson says:

    I find it hard to believe that a pair of athletic shoes were not available in Worthington. I grew up in Worthington and started my first job at Habichts where I learned to fit shoes. My family moved to California Where I worked selling shoes and eventually owned my own shoe store. Customer service is the only thing that kept us in business for thirty seven years. Unfortunately this kind of service will now only be found in local owned shops. Big box and most department stores seem to be more interested in the bottom line than customers. It is a sad state of affairs and I sympathize with you. To better days… Tom

    • Aaron Hagen says:

      Tom, you are right, the locally owned stores do offer the best service. There you are a customer — or friend — and not just a number. I usually try to do my shopping locally, when I can, but trying to find a good pair of every day tennis shoes is tough.

  2. Jerry says:

    As someone who used in the industry of selling athletic shoe I can only say that I am not surprised at your experience. When I was selling shoes we would help the customer put the shoe on their foot and lace it for them…the whole shoe buy ing experience that seem to be craving. However, “marketing” today tells the sellers that the customer does not want that done. Really?? I would like to know where these marketign”experts” are….

    • Aaron Hagen says:

      I kind of have to agree. I don’t necessarily want you lacing up my shoes for me. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t at least TRY to help me. If anything, be a salesman. Try to sell me something. And I don’t know that it’s isolated to just the shoes business, either.