I have to admit that while it troubles me to admit to less than altruistic emotions at times I have to desire that some businesses crash and burn under these hard economic times leaving the remainder to embrace some old-fashioned ideals: customer service and quality goods.
I am reminded of these things today because of my interesting and fruitless visit to first Staples and then Radio Shack. Several years ago I had occasion to buy my first digital camera on sale at Staples. Less than a year after I purchased the little point and shoot I went back to Staples to buy a bigger memory card for it because I was going on vacation to Arizona. I was informed my camera, less than a year old and used about six times, was obsolete and they didn’t carry that memory card any more (though I could special order it). I ended up buying film for my old camera and shooting about six rolls, which if course cost a fortune to develop as it was already becoming an obsolete technology.
About eight months ago I succumbed to my second digital camera, again on sale. Like the time before I didn’t even buy the cheapest or most basic model. This time I even upgraded to something a little more sophisticated. The battery, however, ran down on it fairly quickly. As I’m headed on another trip across country I headed over to Staples today to get a new battery.
“Oh no, we don’t carry this battery.”
I was close to baring my teeth when the guy said: “but Radio Shack will have it.”
Ah, right, now I remember: I bought it at Radio Shack in the first place. I headed out, mentally apologizing to Staples. At Radio Shack I walked in and the guy at the counter walked out back leaving me to wander the aisles helplessly for about five minutes. Finally a bemused and befuddled assistant came to help me. He didn’t know where the batteries were but we wandered around until we didn’t find the one I wanted.
“Try online if you want it fast.”
Online. Duh. Should have just googled the damn thing in the first place instead of expecting big chains to actually stock the parts required for their products.
My point is not that today was outrageous or even that big of a deal but rather that it was purely TYPICAL. If I behaved in a similar fashion in my own business, my online community, I would be a ghost town today, and yet these big businesses keep on trucking. Not only that but we, as consumers, just accept half-assed service, shoddy goods, and a throw away society where things aren’t made to last but to be upgraded every few minutes, fueling the economy artificially, and filling up our landfills and toxic dumps.
Ok, back to packing.