Thursday, November 19, 2009

Customer Service

Ben and I and Miss took a day trip to Madison to go furniture shopping yesterday. Working around Miss's naps limited our trip to two furniture stores and a restaurant supply store that is open to the public. We went in one large chain furniture store and one smaller store with "Fine Furninure" in the title. I'll just call this store "Pinkies Out." I'm going to tell you a story of the "customer service" we received at the Pinkies Out establishment. I will preface the story by saying that I am the kind of person whom, when I walk into a store and am asked, "Is there anything I can help you with?" will say almost every time, "No thanks, I'm just looking." And the response I like to hear to this statement is, "Okay, well my name is blah-di-blah, just let me know if you need help with anything." That is very nice. Very professional. I do not ever want someone hovering over me when I'm trying to shop for something. Ever. So, keep that in mind as I tell you the following story.

We walked into Pinkies Out and were immediately approached by an older Man, who may have been the owner. He proceeded to tell Ben that he could not bring his coffee into the "showroom", that there was a sign on the door (tiny, transparent, and placed in the corner of the window in the door), and all the reasons that beverages were not allowed. Really? No explanation needed. So, Ben went outside to finish his coffee and I began to look at the table that was right inside the entry, which I love. It is a table that we found in Florida in May, but didn't purchase because of not wanting to pay for the shipping from there to here. So, I was quite excited to see the same table, at a discounted price, in this near-to-home store. However, as I was checking out the price of the table, the Man continued to hover over me and explain again why Ben couldn't bring the coffee into the store, and then to gush over Miss (which of course I never mind really). I attempted to walk away from him and continue browsing in the store. I tried the "I'm just looking" line. He persisted in asking if there was anything in particular I was looking for. I made the mistake of admitting that we were interested in finding a leather recliner. So, the Man "offered" to show me where the recliners were, or said I could browse, and he would just be "in the shadows." Trying to make things easier on my self, I said, "Sure, you can point them out to me." Big mistake.

The Man took me over to one recliner, which I immediately didn't like. It was what I call a "butt" chair. I have a weird aversion to any chair that has the layered pillow look on the back of it and once when explaining to Ben why he couldn't have a recliner with that type of back, I said that it looked like a butt. Of course, it doesn't really look like a butt. Well, it does a little, but either way, I just don't like it. Anyway, by this time, Ben had come back in sans coffee, and as soon as he saw the chair the Man had pointed out to me, he said, "Nope, that breaks the rules." I explained to the Man that I do not like the look of that type of chair back (I did not call it a "butt chair" though, maybe I should have??) and he proceeded to explain to me, in a very condescending way why the chair is constructed that way!!! As if I were obviously misguided and his explanation would change my mind? I stated to him again that I just don't like it, and then moved on.

But again, he followed me. I walked over to a loveseat that I liked and sat on it. It was very comfortable and I was thinking it might be a good size for our family room. I asked the Man if he could show me some of the available fabrics for the loveseat. He began to gush about how everything in the store is custom and they have over 3000 fabrics and he couldn't possibly show me that many (gag). He then instructed me that the clients of the store typically bring in fabric, rug, wood samples etc. and "trust" the designers in the store to select fabrics for them. WHAT? Okay, I am not someone who wants to have another person decorate my house for me. The Man was so condescending and snooty! If the store didn't have such gorgeous furniture I would have left, he was so obnoxious. But as it was, I really wanted to see some other items. I explicitly told the Man that I just wanted to look and "sit" a bit more (of course I always sit in things to see how comfy they are). Well then he said, "You're what, 5'3", 5'4"?" I responded, "Something like that," and he proceeded to say that not all of the pieces would be comfortable for someone of my height because they're too deep. He then suggested that he show me which pieces would be comfortable for me! At this point I began to wonder if he really thought he was being helpful or if I just had some crazed look about me that made him afraid to allow me to wander the showroom on my own.

I managed to look at the few items I still wanted to see and then went to find my husband (who had already reached his limit of interaction with the Man and had taken Miss over to sit quietly in another leather recliner). I found him and asked him to let me see the recliner, which unfortunately was revealed to also be a butt chair when he stood up. I again commented "nope," and turned to walk away, ready to leave the store. But of course, the Man was there hovering again and decided to try one last time to convince me that the butt chair was great! After I stated again and firmly that I absolutely do not like and will never buy that style of chair he finally said, "So you just have some aesthetic aversion to that look?" Duh. Then the following exchange took place:

Him: "Are you a designer?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Have you ever worked in design?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Were you trained in design?"
Me: "No. I'm a psychologist."

As usual, that statement shut him up and we made our escape from the store. But really, why on earth did I need to be a designer or have some background in interior design to have an "aesthetic aversion" to the butt chair?? Can't I just be a homeowner who loves to pore over fabrics, paint swatches, and furniture catalogs? Is it so strange to want to be involved in the decoration of my own home and to make the choices about such decoration myself? Perhaps the Man at Pinkies Out is used to working with people who just want to pay someone to make their house look like a showroom instead of a home. In that case, maybe I can't blame him for his snooty attitude, stuffy posture, and smothering behavior. But I had to tell the story because it was truly one of the most bizarrely unpleasant shopping experiences I've ever had. But I'm still considering buying that table...


  1. LOL! I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that one!!

  2. Ugh! We just started furniture shopping for our new house and I hate it. The sales people are like vultures and it makes me so uncomfortable. On Saturday, we went to 2 stores - the first one we had a guy similar to the guy in your story and the second one we had a woman who would not leave Spencer alone and mentioned she worked on commission, which I find tacky. I hope you find what you are looking for and aren't badgered too much in the process!!