By heather | November 30, 2007
Yesterday I renewed my vow to not shop at any major stores until after the holidays. I ordered an external hard drive to back up our old computer online and for some stupid reason decided to use the in-store pickup option.
If you aren’t ordering something that you’re pretty damn excited about and don’t intend to challenge the “ready in 24-minutes” guarantee, it is really dumb to pickup in store.
In fact, what a brilliant scheme by the corporate marketing department to cut back on the amount of free shipping they have to do, because this way they can advertise free shipping but count on the optimistic thinking of people like me, who have really good intentions of picking it up the same day they order but somehow never get around to it, and then the next thing you know it’s going on a week and did you really need another piece of electronic crap if you can’t even be bothered to go pick it up? Whew. Where was I?
So I get to the store, with Alex in tow figuring I’ll breeze in and out just like in the commercials so I don’t bother with the stroller or toys or any other baby necessities. I walk right up to the empty pickup window and stand there between the registers where three cashiers stand idle and another employee wanders in my general vicinity swinging a whistle around on a lanyard. Or maybe it was keys, but for some reason I have the most-likely-mistaken impression that it was a whistle. Why? I have no idea. It was probably keys.
After a few minutes of this, I tag whistle-boy and politely tell him I have an item for pickup. “Oh. You have to go to customer service,” he says. Ooookaaay.
You must have been enjoying watching me stand here trying to corrall a squirmy toddler who appears to have grown additional sets of arms and legs. I turn around towards the customer service desk, as if in slow motion only to find…ah yes…the line. No employee in that entire store appeared to be working, except for the two behind the customer service desk. We wait. And wait.
Finally, the person just ahead of me steps up to the desk. Ready for this?
“Um, I like, um bought this computer two years ago, and um the cable company said if I sign up for service for two years I, um, get like a $200 dollar rebate, and I went to their store and they told me to come here. Here’s my receipt.” All movement behind the counter stops as we all stare at this guy.
Now there are two issues here – one, I am balancing a 24 pound squirmer on my hip while wearing 3 inch high heeled boots which is totally messing up all the good chiropractic work I had done the day before and this is sure to take up a huge chunk of time.
Two, this poor guy who probably has no idea of the wily ways of corporations because he doesn’t waste hours of his day reading finance blogs that explain how rebates usually screw the consumer and benefit the company because they make you feel like something is on sale so you buy it at full price, all the while the company knows you probably won’t bother to send in the rebate, or if you do send it you won’t do it correctly and they can reject it, and by the time you figure it out the offer will have expired so that in the end they probably only pay out 15% of the outstanding rebates. (Did I mention I make up statistics? Yah? Ok good.)
The girl behind the desk looks at him unbelievingly, as I have to admit we all were, and wisely decides she needs a manager. While she’s waiting for the manager to come take this guy off her hands, her co-worker finishes with his customer. Whoopee! My turn! Right?
Aha – not so fast there lady, it appears that his cell phone is ringing with a very important call, which requires him to leave his post and the 5 people waiting in line. Did I mention this is customer service, and the cashiers at the registers are still doing nothing?
So let’s get to the point of this story, which I’ve forgotten but I’ll tie it up neatly somehow. It finally is my turn, I step up to the rep who just finished dealing with 2-Year-Computer-Rebate-Guy, and I am informed that they need my license, credit card, and order number. I present the first two, but really not seeing the point of wasting paper and time to print off the order number when this is a COMPUTER store with a big database that spams me regularly, I don’t know the order number. She snatches my license and ROLLS HER EYES.
As I stood there, in the midst of all this holiday
crap good cheer, with all the employees and their cheery red shirts and my toddler who was now inserting my car keys into his mouth and setting off the panic button with his teeth, I had an out of body experience. Just like on TV. One part of me felt small, and embarrased that this girl thought I deserved an eye roll, like I was wasting her time bothering her by being stupid.
Luckily, the Mom/Bionic Woman/Corporate Consultant took over before the meek part of my brain had a chance to curl up and die.
Without even knowing the words were coming out of my mouth, I stared at her hard and inquired in that deadly tone your parents use right before you get a spanking, “Did. you. just. roll. your. eyes. at me?” I might as well have added “young lady” to the end, so stern was my tone.
Her head whipped around and she looked at me.
“Nooooo,” she said, then just as quickly looked away.
I couldn’t let it go.
“Are you sure?”
Without looking at me, she mumbled something, printed my receipt and handed it to me. I gave her one last hard look, and turned on my heel with a sweep of my coat.
Maybe there is hope for me as a mean mom after all.
The rebate guy got nothing and was seen later trying to boost $200 worth of boom boxes and vacuum cleaners to sell out of the trunk of his car and get back the Benjamins that are owed him, yo.
The whistle guy whacked himself in the face, which woke him up enough to realize that it was quittin’ time and also time to go smoke the pot.
The idle cashiers continued to stand idle.
The customer service girl made a face at the next person in line and it froze that way for all eternity.
Alex and I got our hard drive and got the hell out of there, planning not to leave the house again until the holidays are over.