Myer- Someone’s store, but not mine.

26 11 2010

Today a colleague found a cool key ring on the web, advertised by Myer.  Myer is a large department store which is overpriced and considered (mostly by themselves) to be a cut above Target, K-Mart and the like.

I went it to pick up the key ring from the toy department where I thought it would be sold.  I couldn’t find it, but sometimes shops don’t get catalogue items in right away, so I was ok with that.  As I was wandering around, I noticed a middle-aged guy buying some Hot Wheels and a few ladies buying some bits and pieces, no doubt for Christmas.  The trouble was that the service desk was unattended.

Hot Wheels got to the desk first, and placed his cars on the desk, looking around for a staff member.   Soon after, the women lined up behind him and began to wait. They were all noticeably annoyed at the lack of attendance.

I had nothing better to do since I had finished work for the day and was about to head home, so I told the line of people I’d go off and try to get someone to serve them.  They looked at me strangely as I went off.  I guess people aren’t used to offers of help without ulterior motive anymore.

I headed through the department store past the books, Christmas items and clothes and eventually got to the DVD/Music counter before I finally found a staff member.  I’m not sure of distance because it was the entire length of a large department store.

DVD Guy was polite and I told him that I’d just come from Toys, and there was no staff member on.  He said he’d put a call upstairs to see if someone would go there.  I told him there were several people waiting.   He called in a “Code One” at Toys. I thanked him and asked him about the key chain, since it is movie related and he might have it in his section.  He said he didn’t, but told me that “It’s probably out the back on a pallet somewhere.”

As I returned to Toys, I encountered my work colleague, who was also looking for the key chain.  I said Toys didn’t have it, but told her about the queue of people and that I had tried to find someone to serve them.   She’s often in Myer and often complains about the lack of staff and service.   While we were talking, a young blonde lady in a Myer uniform happened past, and overheard me.  This was only the second staff member I’d seen since I tracked down the DVD guy.  I’d been in the store now for about fifteen to twenty minutes.

She was actually great, and said that she was in perfumes but led us back to toys, where there was now a line of four people and another lady who was in the line earlier.  As I got there, the lady was about to walk out of the store.  I told her I’d found someone and she said thanks, but she was sick of waiting.  She walked away without her purchase.

The blonde Myer girl started serving people, who quickly took their purchases and left.  The final lady in the line dropped out, gave me a note with her name and address and asked me that if I talked to a manager to get them to call her as well.  She then left without making a purchase.

Once the line was clear the Myer girl asked what I was after, and I told her.  She began to look around but I said it wasn’t there, but if she could call a manager, that would be great.  She asked me not to get her in trouble and I assured her that I wouldn’t, but needed to speak to a manager.

She called upstairs and after some time, told me that one manager was ‘out walking or something’ and the other manager was at lunch.  I said I didn’t have a problem waiting, so she relayed that to the person on the phone.

Then she went out the back to try and find my key ring from the recent deliveries.  While she was gone, another guy had walked up to the counter, found no service and so dumped his items and walked out.

Minutes passed and the blonde girl served a couple more people. Then, from parts unknown came the lady who was meant to be working the toy counter.  She looked very angry and asked me what I wanted. I told her that I’d been there for over thirty minutes without the toy counter being monitored by her and about the people who had come and gone.  Remember, they had only been served by the perfume girl because I had gone to track someone down.  They’d probably still be waiting, otherwise.

The toy lady said that she was “In Pens”, which I assumed meant the stationary section, but offered no apology, nor did she seem to care about the people who left.   Mid conversation, she walked off, never to be seen again.

I asked the blonde girl if she thought that was a little weird and rude, and she was reluctant to comment.  She still was afraid she’d get in trouble, I think.

Another ten minutes or so later, the manager arrived with another woman draped in pearls in tow.  I didn’t have anything to write with so I never took any names, which I now regret.  She looked annoyed and asked me “What my problem” was.

I explained, and said I thought they had inadequate staffing and needed to point it out.

She told me that the staffing was fine, and that it was very unusual for Toys not to be staffed.  I told her that I’d been in three times in the previous few months, and at no time did I find anyone at the Toy counter, which is true.  She said I was mistaken.  She meant I was lying.

I also told her about a time I tried to find a book that was advertised, and could find no one to ask.  The manager told me that the book department didn’t need any staff, because they were considered to be ‘self-serve’.   I suggested that the whole store seemed to be ‘self-serve’.

Then I pointed out that the Toy department was very close to an exit.  From the desk, the exit to the underground car park is around four metres away, with those beeping detectors at the doors.  I also figure it was covered by cameras.   However, if the desk was unattended it would be no problem to lift a large item over your head and simply walk out without the beepers going off.  Honestly, today you could have taken whatever you’d wanted and walked out unless they checked the cameras, and they’d have no reason to since the beepers didn’t go off.

The manager didn’t seem bothered at all by this.  Her pearl wearing assistant looked even more annoyed, and spent the whole time walking around with a phone to her ear, walking forward and backward while we talked.  I gathered she was trying to track down the lady who was supposed to be at Toys.

Telling her how long I’d been waiting didn’t bother her either.  In fact, she didn’t believe a word of it.  Upon telling her the length of time I was told snidely that “We have ways of checking if that’s true.”

Perhaps I’m not supposed to know they have CCTV in the store.   Perhaps she wanted me to think they had a lie detector out the back somewhere, or perhaps they could tickle my feet until I confessed that it was only ten minutes instead of forty.  But they ‘have ways’.

I gave the manager the number I’d been given by the waiting customer, and she assured me she’d call her.  Given her attitude and instant dismissal of the existence of any problem, I can assume the piece of paper ended up in the nearest bin.

True to my word I made sure I told the manager and pearl that the blonde perfume girl had been fantastic, and if not for her they’d have lost many more customers than they did.  Again she pretty much dismissed anything I said and so I bid her farewell and headed over to the blonde.  She was helping yet another customer, and so I quickly thanked her again for her efforts and left the store.

All up I was there for close to an hour.  In that time, around a dozen people wanted to buy toys and other items.  The staffer from Toys served none of them, nor were they ever seen or helped in any way.

Is this the way that major department stores treat their clients these days?  It is no wonder shop lifting statistics are through the roof.  I actually feel very sorry for the people who are working on the shop floor, if that kind of management is what they put up with every day.

Over the next few weeks I am going to randomly drop by Toys and check to see if the desk is attended.  I’m curious if it was indeed an ‘unusual event’ or whether it is more the standard condition.  Call me cynical, but I’m betting the latter.

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