Issue No. 65 - June/July 2012
Retailers’ problems and the solution
by Dr David Corkindale and Dr David Corkindale
I was in the department store that would probably see itself as the premier one in Adelaide, trying to decide which of four products to buy. They were in identical containers, each on a separate shelf, all the same price but of different colours and a slightly different name.
A well-dressed, mature sales lady came up to me and asked the usual “Can I help you?” I replied that I was trying to decide which of the four versions of the product to choose and said “They all seem the same to me.” In effect, I was asking for advice.
The response was: “You want to buy an X?” and I said “Yes” at which point she nodded and walked away! The item was about $30 and so, presumably, it was not worth her time to bother to advise me.
I soldiered on and picked one at random and walked to the till to pay. There were two young women there and they accomplished the transaction but when it came to giving me a receipt the till would not print it out. Saying nothing to me, all their attention was devoted to taking the top off the till and fiddling with the slot where the receipt gets printed, to no avail. One of them then literally ran off to get help and the other one continued to try to pull the paper out.
The well-dressed sales lady drifted up and was told there was a problem with the printing; that also was obviously below her concern and she drifted on. The other sales assistant returned but with no help. At least three minutes had passed.
At last one of them turned to me and rather sheepishly said: “Sorry about this.” I decided that as the item had no moving parts and was unlikely to be faulty I did not need a receipt and sped for the exit.
I relate this experience to add to the criticism that others have levelled at physical retailers: customer service can be poor and it seems that some assistants are not trained in the basics.
Even more importantly, are they trained in selling? If they are not, then is it a surpr...