Monday, January 4, 2010

When Miss IPP goes shopping!

My first job was as a salesgirl in a kids' clothing store. I was 16 years old. Then I started as a CSR ("Customer Service Representative") working for Budget Rent-A-Car at the Montreal Airport. That followed by working as a cashier for the Airport Improvement Fees (a.k.a. the worst job EVER), then as an esthetician in a beauty salon and, finally, doing what I have been doing now for almost 10 years with the same company.

I currently am "Director of Public and Consumer Relations". The public relations part is fairly recent and, although I love what I do, it is still new to me and my story today mostly concerns the second portion: consumer relations or, for lack of a better expression; customer service.

I have been doing customer service all of my professional life (read above for proof). My professional life is resumed with one expression: serving people. Honestly, I have done other tasks in my work life and, although I am not usually one to toot her own horn, I know this is what I shine at. I have basically been doing customer service for half my life. I therefore have high expectations. Or... not really. I am very appreciative of great service. On the other hand, when something goes out of whack, this Customer is unhappy!

It's New Year's Eve and I am going to my mom's cousin's for dinner and then to my best friend's house for the late party. I needed at least two bottles of wine and so to the liquor store I went (communément appelée la SAQ). I arrive at the first location and go through the outside doors. I find myself reading a posting on the inside doors which goes: CASH and CREDIT ONLY. The store manager, who obviously noticed the question mark on my gorgeous pasty-white face (hey, if I don't compliment myself, who will?), peeks in and repeats what I just read on the door. "So..., no debit?", I ask, trying to make sure I am getting this right (the Holidays have been kinda rough on me and emptying my grandma's appartment made me a tad emotional. I feel in a little bit of a haze so I wanna make sure I clearly get the message). "No, no debit cards", he answers. Well, darn. I'm a debit kinda girl and I don't do credit cards! Back to the car I go and I think to myself: "Should I go to the bank, get money and come back or should I just drive to the other nearest location?" Nearest location it is.

I park near the second liquor store. I look on all the doors; no signs. I figure I am good to go. I walk in and I am greeted by the store manager who offers me a tasting of some white wine. I politely decline and move over to the Italian section. Or should I grab one of my favorite Australians (wine - that is)? I grab my two bottles and take my turn waiting in line for the cashes.

I wait. The store manager offers more customers a small glass of wine. He asks who is paying cash and moves them to a specific cashier. I wait some more. More customers. More wine offerings. I move over one step. "Paying cash? Right this way please", I hear him say again. This is not something unusual at this time of year. Cash transactions are much faster to complete and cashiers are often reserved for "cash only" so I am not startled. Yet. Did I mention I have my debit card in my hand? Wait another minute. Move one step further ahead. "White wine?" I have been in the store a good 15 minutes and waiting for at least 10, but I have the bottles I need and I am not the impatient type. The store manager tells a customer: "Right here if you are paying cash, this line for credit". I move forward. He notices my debit card. Now I feel somewhat impatient. "No debit?", I inquire. "No, no debit. The entire SAQ system has shut down and none of our locations are able to do debit transactions". I can now see inside my head. Two wires come closer together and, in my head, a short-circuit happens. I DEMAND better customer service!!! I hear other customers sigh and grunt.

Keeping calm (I can be very blunt, but not impolite and making a scene at any time is out of the question), I move toward the so-called store manager who has spent the last 15 minutes offering his customers a free small glass of wine. I remember the episode which happened about 40 minutes earlier at another location. "And you were not able to post a sign or something to let us know in advance instead of making us wait in line?", I tell him. "It only happened 30 minutes ago", he lets out. Whoa buddy... Wrong answer to the wrong person; I will beat you at this game, I promise. "This means, sir, that you have had 30 minutes to put up a sign!" I figured the other store manager was brilliant enough to work that out and tell his customers before they even walked into the store.

I open my recycled shopping bag and grab a first bottle, which I originally had the intention of buying. I put it in his hand. I grab the second bottle and he puts the plastic glass of wine down to grab my second bottle. "You could have put the bottles back on the shelves", he verbalizes. (Oh no, you didn't!, is what I hear inside my head. He hasn't heard a thing because I am talking to myself, but I have already warned him that I will beat him flat at this game. Can't he take a hint? Doesn't he see my eyes are loaded and ready to fire?) "Well, yes, I could have. On the other hand, you also could have put up a sign and inform your customers properly" I tell him, before putting my recycled bag back in my purse and heading out the door. He didn't risk a smart reply. Good for him.

I ended up taking with me bottles I already had at home! Nobody likes to waste time, even for a fine bottle of wine!

Happy New Year, everybody!


  1. As-un épisode Bell de ce genre? Sont toujours tellement intéressant!

  2. @ Martin: Lol! Non, pas d'épisode de Bell. Mais j'ai quelques épisodes d'Air Canada à ajouter!