Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Employing children in the wrong industries

Be warned, this is a rant. It is my opinion and will possibly cause offence to someone, somewhere.

This problem has been irritating me for some time now. As I have just gotten home from a particularly annoying day dealing with people who just don't care I thought I'd air my views while the experience was still fresh.

As a qualifier I will say that my point of view is from a thirty-something white male. My perception of how I classify a child, (14-18 years old), obviously has changed as I get older. My complaint is not limited to what used to be two of my favourite places to shop. Stupidlycheap (a car accessory franchise) and a certain discount hardware and gardening warehouse.

I am picking on these two companies specifically as they have let me down the most. EMPLOYING CHEAP, TEENAGE LABOUR, IN AN INDUSTRY THAT NEEDS INFORMED, MOTIVATED STAFF, IS WRECKING YOUR BUSINESSES.

Stupidlycheap. I go there to buy car stuff. If I go there to buy a seat cover or filter I'm probably going to leave happy and get the lowest price of anyone else in town. If I arrive not quite sure exactly what I want in terms of, is this product better that that product, or, have you got some item that will fix this thing, I’m in trouble. I will invariably get a blank bored look from a child who has absolutely no knowledge of the products they sell and severely lack any motivation to help me with my request. You'd swear these kids are forced to be there. Sure, they are on minimum wage, and sure, this isn't the job they want to be doing in 5 years time, but if they had a bit of a go, actually learned their job and helped a few customers, wouldn’t that alleviate their boredom. Why can’t they take an interest in the products their employer sells? Why are they never around when you need something?

At this point of my rant I can just hear some parent saying "well my kids not like that" and I suppose, on the rarest occasion, I have met your kid and received a suitable level of service. But on the whole I'm afraid his retard friends who have the run of the store and are busily avoiding customers who can clearly hear them giggling in the back room as they talk freely about their non-existent sex lives.

Home Hardware Warehouse. The board that is running this show have screwed up royally. I can even pin point WHEN they screwed up. It was about 5 years ago when customer service was exceptional. Let me explain. When I went into ‘HHW’ I'd get this great feeling that I was in the world’s greatest store. I loved it. For me it’s a bloody huge toyshop. I was happy and I spent a lot of money. If I couldn't find an item, someone would invariably point me in the right direction to find it. If I looked overwhelmed by the range of choices, someone would stop and have a chat about what project I had in mind and would even give me a bit of insight or handy advice. These people sold me stuff I never would have bothered looking at or ever known about if they hadn't taken an interest in my needs. I bought big-ticket items on their say so and was usually well satisfied. Are you listening to me ‘HHW’? These people made you money.

These days I go to ‘HHW’ less often and the old feelings are much diluted. I can wander around forever trying to catch the down cast eye of a fleeting gang of kids who are either rushing away from you or huddling in obscure corners. If I do manage to pin one of them down I get, 'Oh, I think it’s down that aisle', to get rid of me, (they never offer to show you), or the dreaded blank look crosses their face and you know you've wasted your time straight away.

I still like ‘HHW’, they stock the items that I’m after but now I have to find them myself. Then I have to work out if it’s the best thing for my application without an objective opinion. Sometimes I have to return a product when it doesn't do what I expected it to. You think you got a cheaper workforce ‘HHW’, but you got rid of an irreplaceable asset, the middle aged and senior floor staff who actually knew what they were talking about and had an interest in doing the job to the best of their abilities. I think, in the long run it will cost you customers and money.

(Like it? See my eBay post).

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