Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Boycotts

Every now and then, it comes to my attention that I need to be boycotting this or that major corporation for their support and/or espousal of repugnant causes. Okay, I try to follow through with that, 'cause you gotta put your money where your mouth is, right? But I will here confess that the boycotts that I never waver on, that get all my unslacking boycott energy, and that I will evangelically share with people are two places closer to home.  My own private boycotts. I am boycotting these places because they ticked me off.

I would love to tell you how.

The first place is the Hallmark store near my house. It is next to the Publix I go to all the time. Hey Carol's Hallmark, if you're reading this, good.  This boycott is tough for me, because this store is my most local purveyor of Vera Bradley and Crocs.  Those two brands are like the oxygen and nitrogen of my suburban lifestyle, I need them and they must be replenished regularly for smooth biological functioning.  And yet.

Back in the Christmas season of 2009, I had a $5 off coupon for Hallmark. These coupons were in all the lady magazines at that time of year. I was over there with Hank and I thought I'd take him in and let him pick out a Christmas ornament.  I thought the ornaments might be 7 or 8 bucks, and the coupon would make them a nice deal. So in we went. Well, Hallmark ornaments are more like 10 to 16 bucks and up.  Even with the coupon, it didn't seem worth it, so we looked around the store.  Hank, who was just 3 then, fixated on this display of little light-up cottages that played music. They were supposed to be strung together with other little houses to make a village, and they all harmonized together. Okay, this was something plastic and noisemaking, and I wouldn't have been eager to spend money on it, except that they were clearanced down to $7.50.  "Cool," I thought. This is a great use of my coupon. It will be dirt cheap and Hank will enjoy it."  So Hank carefully picked one out, with the music he liked best, and I carried it up to the counter.

The nice old man at the counter--I think he must be the proprietor--chatted with Hank and started to ring up my purchase.  Then I produced the coupon and he drew back, his good cheer shriveling before my very eyes.  "That coupon can't be used on clearance things."  I turned the coupon over and looked at the back, all innocence. I read aloud, "Valid for all merchandise including sale items, at participating locations." I looked up, "Are you a participating location?" I said this in the most pleasant voice in the world. I chirped and glimmered. I am really freaking charming.

Reader, he snatched the coupon from my hand. Snatched.  From my hand. "I guess we are now," he mumbled.  He continued ringing up the sale in the most snatchy and grumpy way possible. I continued to radiate holiday cheer.  "It just makes it that much a better deal," I said happily. I thought I would give him a chance to recover is politeness. "Not for us," he said.

Okay! Okay, asshole!  You need to ball up your issues and keep them away from my holiday shopping experience. Clearly this guy had not read How To Win Friends and Influence People. He was too busy poring over How Coupons Do Not Work and How To Lose Customers Effortlessly.  He made me feel that by bringing in this coupon (which Hallmark would reimburse their agents for) I was imposing on him and basically robbing them. Here I had come in to spend money in his store, having spent untold amounts on Webkinz and other Hallmarky gewgaws in the past, and he totally utterly screws up what could have been a chance to make a friend.  Efficient.

When he handed me my package, I wished him a "Merry Christmas!" in the most dulcet and sincere way I could muster, and I enjoyed how he could barely bring himself to grunt in response.  Then I left and I have never been back there in a year and a half.

What is so funny is how mad I was. I was fuming at being treated that way.  I came home and told Matt all about it, and you would have thought somebody shot my dog. And since that day I have told anyone who would listen. I don't know if they're feeling the pinch of my boycott, but I have taken my custom elsewhere.

So annoyed!  I'm annoyed just writing this. Have you had a customer service experience that got you in this state?

The other place is the Burger King near Laura's swim practice. I pulled into their drive-through to see if they had unsweet tea one day.  No one spoke to me from the speaker, so I said, "Yoohoo?"  Then a guy said, "Yeah, we hear you."  And he was sullen about it.  I said, "No need to be rude." Then I pulled out of line, drove away, and have never been back. This is difficult because it was a very convenient place to get beverages during Laura's frequent swim practices. I wouldn't feed their food to a dog, but I do like a large tea now and again. But oh well.  When one is on a crusade against sullen behavior, one must be willing to suffer some discomfort.


Shannon said...

I'm so glad others have their personal boycotts! I had a similar experience of your coupon attitude but with a certificate. You know, the kind restaurants sign up for to get patrons who might not otherwise set foot in the establishment hooked on their food/ambiance, etc. The waiter visibly recoiled when we produced the coupon prior to ordering (as instructed), our drinks came at the same time as our meals - the waitress who served the drinks (following the waiter) was clearly horrified by the plates having been LAUNCHED onto the table from so high that the food bounced... The clincher was when we were walking out, the waiter called across the dining room "what, no extra tip??". I had to control myself from offering him a few specific tips.... Rock the boycott!

Side note: we have also had unbelievably good service and unbeatable food with other is very clearly the restaurant in question only, not the service.

Amy said...

Shannon--I am speechless! That's horrible service.

Preach it, Beck! I am the same...stuff like that makes me angrier than it probably should. But, grrrr! It's like, "I am trying to spend money here at your establishment. You seem to have a problem with that."

I remember that Hallmark story. You should print this post out and lob it through their window. (Ok, excessive.)

Michele R said...

I love this post. I may write one as well and link back to you.
I've never been inside that Hallmark and now I never will. How nasty.
I have been brewing for two weeks about the Target--not the one north of you. For years the cust. service counter has had a couple of surly workers. Every week I spend $100 bucks there and I had an incident a couple weeks ago and now I have stopped shopping there. It has seriously been 3 weeks since I stepped into a Target.
My boys know to not shop with Hubs anymore. He has zero tolerance for rudeness and has been known on several occasions to say what is in his head, and walk away and leave his chosen items behind.

Jenni said...

I have serious issues with poor customer service, particularly because I actually worked in customer services for a few years while I was in college (at the Wal-Marts no less!!) and I just think it's not that hard to be polite, you know?

And, you are pretty charming, it't true.

Sparkles said...

You mean like the Ikea lights and bulbs employee who felt he needed to approach me and berate me with his extra superior knowledge about flourescent bulbs and their wattage and incandescent equivalence and his inaccurate perception of my lack of same knowledge. Shouting match in Ikea with strange man out of the blue! My son was horrified and equally horrified when I insisted on complaining to manager. Or the Toyota salesman who after two pleasant enough test drives who we told we needed to get home to our hungry children awaiting their supper insisted on getting personal information for his records before he would get his sales manager to give us brochures. When asked for cell phone number, we declined and he reponded, head shaking, "Amazing". After being made to wait for brochures I got up and found sales manager and told him how rude they were. He wordlessly handed over the brochures and I said no thanks, I can get everything I need on the internet, including buying the car. Toyota is notoriously rude in my area. Sadly my list is long.

Monica said...

Rick Case. You know, the car dealer guy over in Gwinnett. Some years ago my husband and I were suv shopping and stopped at his Mitsubishi dealer to look at one, test drive, etc. When it got down to negotiating a price, the sales lackey called in some manager, could've been Case himself, no idea as he never identified himself. Anyhow, he proceeds to slam his fist on the table and shout "So, what is it you want to accomplish here today people!" in the rudest way humanly possible. We politely informed him that we were leaving and thank-you-very-much for your time. In the years since, we've bought & sold many a vehicle, none if which bore any connection to Rick Case or any of his establishments.

Anonymous said...

LensCrafters. I got a pair of glasses there a few years ago and they told me all about their liberal return policy. When I went back just a few days later to report a problem with one of the lenses, the manager told me "we don't know what happened to those after you walked out of here." I was so insulted that she was implying that I damaged them. I stood my ground and they replaced the lens, but I will never go back.

On a happier note, I recently bought a pair of glasses from I bought glasses online! They rock and they were cheap, and it was a great buying experience.

Kate said...

Ha! I despise the owners of our neighborhood Hallmark. They are mean and suspect everyone of shoplifting. And I have driven away from Sonic after placing an order and sensing I was being treated rudely and waiting too long for service. I guess someone enjoyed our popcorn chicken, tots, and cherry slush.

Cassie said...

I had a bad Christmas shopping experience at the Toys R Us here. I do all my toy shopping online now so hadn't been in a TRU since I was like 8 years old. Long story short, it smelled like poop and the cashiers were rude. My cashier was all flustered by my "spend $75, get a $10 gift card" coupon and after two failed attempts actually shut down my transaction right in the middle to "go to lunch". Holidays!

Becky said...

Oh, sure, lunch! The meal that happens whenever things get hectic at work.

I think buying cars needs to be its own category of terribleness. I never go with Matt to look at cars. I think he enjoys it, the whole theatrics of it, but it makes me want to die.

Michele R, I need to hear more about this Target incident. Blog it!

I think Shannon wins for absolute most frustrating experience. The shouting across the room is the cherry on top.

Keely said...

There is a clothing store in town that has jeans I like. Pre-child, when I had a lot more disposable income, a friend and I stopped in there. We shopped there fairly often. They had a sale table of jeans, which we were looking through, and the salesperson informed us in the snottiest tones possible, "Oh, you won't find anything YOUR size in there".

She was a size 10. I was an 8. Have not returned.

Anonymous said...

OMG. A grocery store by our old place in Atlanta. Super convenient, but evidently only employed a-holes. @Keely, I hope karma got her.

Elizabeth said...

You crack me up. I can't think of any personal boycotts although I imagine mine would run to boycotting certain private insurance companies, if I had that power!

nova said...

I can't understand what that first guy's deal was FIVE DOLLARS! It's not like you got half the store for free. Did it affect his paygrade? No. People are weirdly loyal to their jobs sometimes. I have tons of personal boycotts like this too. I should write about them someday, this is hilarious.

Noan said...

O.K., I must delurk myself for this post; it was frickin' hilarious.

And if it makes you feel any better, once I stopped laughing I was filled with righteous indignation on your behalf.

Marsha said...

Ooooh! I boycott a Hallmark store, too. Hallmark and party stores ought to be happy places but somehow never are. Our Hallmark people (known to me as Mr. and Mrs. Misery) will randomly decide to insist on cash only if they think you have too many sale items in your pile. As for the party places around my area, after I heard "I don't know if we have plastic skulls/football trays/coconut bras. Have you looked? Or are you just being lazy?" at MORE THAN ONE PLACE I decided to henceforth shop online.

The best part of declaring that one is FINISHED with the whole mess and leaving with one's money is the look of incredulity.

Becky said...

Noan and Nova, thank you for your righteous indignation. See! It's not just me!

And Marsha, I think you are right! There IS some kind of widespread structural problem with Hallmark stores. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they're all independently operated, and not everybody is cut out to run a store, and somehow more of those people are attracted to the Hallmark biz. And then the slight suckiness of the management combines with our sense that we're already being overcharged for the stuff in there anyway, so the shopping experience had damn well better be a nice one, and there's the problem.

Mr. and Mrs. Misery is perfect. I feel like I know them.

Party stores, exactly the same. Joyless. You get better service in Walmart and that place sucks the life right out of me.

Christian said...

A husband and wife were test-driving a Honda with the salesman. The salesman asked what other cars they were considering. My friend replied that he liked the new Subaru. The salesman replied, "Subarus are for FAGS." In silence and with great haste, my friend made an immediate u-turn, returned to the parking lot of the Honda dealership, got out of the Honda with his wife, and drove across the street to the Subaru dealership. He loves his Outback.

Christian said...

That's not really a boycott story. I just love hearing about appalling presumption coupled with horrific customer service rolled into the loathsome hell of car shopping.

Becky said...

Oh my jeebus, that is totally, awesomely appalling. Thank you for sharing.

Juliet Grossman said...

I can so relate to this! My husband thinks I’m a crazy grudge-holder but I can’t let it go. My boycotts are 3 Day Blinds (the one by me is out of business; maybe I wasn’t the only one) and AAA. Yup, Auto Club. Pretty benign group, you’d think? Not!

It was one of my first outings after Jane was born. I went to the grocery store a couple of miles from home and when I got there found I had a flat tire. By the way, she was premie and it was raining.

I called Auto Club and was on hold for over 45 minutes during which time my cell battery ran almost down, so when the agent came on the line, the first thing I said was, “I’m about to lose cell power, but I’m at the Stater Bros parking lot on the corner of X x Y and have a flat tire!”

We never got past my membership number because she got in a big to-do with me insisting it was expired, which it wasn’t (I was holding a card in my hand that said, “Expires on X date months in the future.” We were going in circles until I asked if we could just sort this out after they sent someone to help me, when my phone died.

I was figuring out what to do when the tow truck drove up, but he’d been carefully instructed by them to NOT HELP ME. He was there just to “check my welfare” but not give any form of help, so he saw that I was alive, then left. He wouldn’t even look at my (clearly non-expired) card.

So I drove home in the rain with my premie baby on my flat tire. They said they had no explanation for why she thought my card was expired and they sent me $20 Target gift card for my trouble.

The kicker is, we didn’t just have “regular” Auto Club service, but a special premium-level service (which we’d been paying $75 more per year for for years)! I told them I considered that I had a $125/year Westways Magazine subscription.

I want to cancel Auto Club coverage but my husband won’t let me “in case we need help in an emergency.” I feel that I am never in the boonies and would save thousands of dollars just calling my own tow truck on the rare occasions when I need help. Plus it’d be a major moral victory. But he has long forgotten this episode whereas I am getting mad again just typing it. Men and women ARE different.

Elizabeth - Flourish in Progress said...

I used to really enjoy going to a boutique near my husband's work that sold purses and other leather goods.

I walked in one day and hear a "hello, can i help you with anything," so I turned around and told the sales associate that I was just looking.

She glared at me and said, "I wasn't talking to you!" and literally turned her back to me.

I let her help the customer she thought was "worthy" of her time and I haven't been back since. Ugh.

Camp Papa said...

Juliet, AAA owes you a new tire, maybe a wheel rim, and an apology. Further, why is a tow truck driver the most appropriate choice to check on your welfare? Non-sensical! You may tell them that now I too, AAA member of 30 years standing, am mad at them.

Monica said...

I just had to come back & post under this after the hellacious day I've had dealing with my child's pediatrician's office. They're THIS CLOSE to getting on my boycott list. I'm posting here in hopes that one (or many!) of you Mommas & Daddies might recommend a SANE pediatric office in the area of Pop's (sorry - that's the closest landmark to where we live!) Thanks :)

Dighti said...

I haven't been to a Hallmark since a local store accused my sister and I of shoplifting. I was 15 and my sister was 12 and we were browsing and waiting for our mom while she finished up a transaction in the next store. The woman rudely ordered us to empty our pockets. (Neither of us were carrying a purse.) I politely told her that we would wait for the police to arrive but without the police to protect us, we were not doing any such thing. Mom walked in then and I announced loudly that they were not interested in our business and we may need to wait for the police to prove we were not thieves. The woman tried to save face at that point but we've never been back since.