Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Temper, Temper

March 8, 2006

101 N Atherton St
State College, PA 16801

To Whom It May Concern:

Today I went to your store with a disc of small files I needed to print. There was no one else in the store when I entered and during the half hour that I was there, only two other customers came in. One picked up a job. The other used your Fedex services.

There were two employees on duty. There was little air of urgency in their work. They asked me to wait when I first came in and after a minute of looking at a screen and discussing something together, one of them asked me what I needed. I gave him a disk that had about a dozen files on it and said that they needed to be printed. I clarified that most of the files were only two pages long.

He let me know that he didn't have time for that unless I wanted to come back later to pick them up. He indicated I could print them out myself. His tone was, frankly, condescending. It was clear he found my request irritating. This seemed odd to me, as up to this point my manner was at the very least professional. I accepted that it wasn't something he could do while I was there. It still met my needs to print them out myself while I was using a copy machine.

I took the disc to one of the computers and after I had put the disc in the drive the same employee then said that if I went to one of the other machines it would cost less. He said something about how he "didn't know the machine had been fixed." So I removed the disc from the computer and went to find the other machine he was talking about. From his position behind the counter, he pointed to an area between two copy machines and said it was there. What I saw was a flat-screen monitor that said KINKO's on it. It was attached to a ten-key pad and a credit-card scanner and was on a tiny table. I glanced past it as I was looking for a station like the others I'd just left. I indicated the copy machines and said, "These?" and the employee grew more agitated and said, "I don't know how I could make it more clear! It's right there!" and indicated again the single monitor. I looked more closely and saw the tower under the table--I was still puzzled since there was no keyboard, but it occurred to me that if all I was going to do was print and if I didn't have to sign-in in any way, that perhaps one could do the transaction with only a mouse.

The screen on the card reader had a string of characters that didn't look like the ones on the other card readers, but I put my card in anyway. It made a series of error beeps and ejected the card. I tried again, it did the same.

By this time a few things are clear to me. Your employee is very, very, very busy, doesn't have time to offer any actual customer service, and thinks I'm an idiot.

I was ready to leave the poor man in peace, but I needed copies of a few books which I had intended to do on the self-serve machine while the files were printing, so I began to address that task instead--on my own. After a minute or two the irritated employee's co-worker noticed that nothing was printing and asked if I'd been able to use the machine. I said, "No, it's not working." He insisted that it was and that "we can try again when you're done copying."

I work full time in educational publishing. I have my own fax machine, my own printer, and my own computer. What I don't have is a fast copy machine and the ability to print 11" x 17" files. I'm in the habit of using your services for that. In this case because I have a series of tight deadlines this week, it was my hope that I could have you print the files for me while I was doing the copying so that a) I could save on ink and b) the printing would be done faster. I was willing to pay more for help. In other words, I was willing to pay for the customer service.

Helping your employee verify that the card scanner on the other machine wasn't working was not why I was there. Printing the materials myself after I made the copies was not why I was there. Having made the copies, the files are now printing at home. So, I can do that all by myself.

When I was done making the copies, the co-worker came over again and asked if I wanted help using the other machine. I told him that it wasn't worth it. I left without further conversation.

I'm aware that there can be a long list of jobs to do there. I worked for Kinko's for a year when I was in graduate school and your employees were in preschool. When I worked for Kinko's most people couldn't do their own resumes on computers. I walked hundreds of people through the steps of using Word and WordPerfect. It was probably WordPerfect 3.0! I taught them how to turn on the computer, which end of the floppy disk to put in the computer first, and how to save their work. It didn't pay very well, but the job was fun and the hours were flexible.

Please share with your employees my conviction that they can do better in the future. Please remind them that copy machines, computers, and printers are plentiful here in 2006. When I walk into the store, as much as I may need your 11" x 17" paper, what I'm really paying for at your store is the customer service.

Today, you did not have that product in stock.



Yes, I know it's too long, but jeez my toast is fried over this. Does this officially make me an old lady? "I was using computers when you people were peein' your diapers! Why, when I was young, we couldn't undo more than one step! And if we deleted the text? Sorry, baby! It was gone! You had to retype it!"

Sigh . . . I did cut the final draft back a bit (and run spell check). I haven't mailed it yet.


Anonymous said...

Yep, rude service personnel fry my toast, my bacon, AND my eggs. Sorry you had to deal with that while on deadline.


Eliza said...

Oi, send it. Yes, you're an old lady simply because you can remember a time when customer service was alive and well, not the extinct species it is today.

Hornblower said...

send it, send it! I have had amazing success with griping about substandard products or services. In almost all the cases, I've received apologies, coupons, vouchers etc to lure me back to their establishment.... which isn't the point of complaining but is a nice sequela anyway.

Slawebb said...

put it in the mail!!!! Don't rethink, actually don't think at all. Just mail it! Those children need to learn a lesson about customer service. even if you become "that woman" you will get the customer service every time you go in.

Aunt Charlotte said...

I agree, send it. Otherwise, poor service wins again!

educat said...

You know, I feel cleansed just from reading that letter. Is it a question that you would send it?

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