{ Saturday, November 26, 2005 }

Black Friday.

So, there's this place. It's called Fry's Electronics. I don't know if it's in any way related to the Fry's grocery stores, which are really just Kroger's with a different name, you can use your Plus Card in there and everything.

Anyway, Fry's Electronics. It's a giant store for all your Things Involving Wires needs. I have been in there twice before, and the staff was just horrible. Like, rage-inducingly horrible. Two other times, Steady has gone alone and has come home insisting that he is never going back.

When I go shopping, I expect to state my needs to someone who is being paid to help me, and then have them make the decisions for me. "I need shoes to match this dress. It's for an evening church wedding in Kentucky, so there are going to be pantyhose involved -- no open toes. Nothing higher than a three inch heel. I wear a five and a half or a six." And then I expect the people who get paid to help to, you know, walk me around and show me the shoes that fit this bill.

That is how I shop. Find sales associate, describe goal, have sales associate tell me what I want, whether I am looking for a blouse, a futon, or a computer part.

So, last night, we head off to Fry's Electronics to help a friend find a printer. We find the printers. We wander through them. No one helps us. We settle on a printer to buy. There are no boxes for that printer on the shelf.

The friend stops a guy walking by and asks for help. Sales Idiot #1 tells us that he can't help because he's busy pushing a cart right now and to just stand there and wait for someone else to help us.

Well, I am not taking this. We have now been in this store for more than fifteen minutes without anyone just asking if we're finding everything okay. I walk to this desk this with a "Help and Information" (something like that) sign over it. There are like five idiots in white shirts and ties wandering around the area along with a lot of very frustrated looking customers...

There's no clear order, so I walk up to the man behind the desk, examine his name tag, he's the management around here, and explain to him, calling him by name, that I am over by the printers and I want help and I want it now and I have always gotten bad service here before and I AM NOW DEMANDING BETTER. (I used the word "demand".)

He tells me to wait a second. I tell him I'll be waiting back over there by where I want the help. He tells me it would be better for me to wait right there in front of him. I wait. "What about him. Can he help me?" "No, you don't want him." "Why can't you send that guy over to help me." "You don't want him."

Finally, after rejecting two other people as not up for the challenge (of finding a box and handing it to us), he gives me Sales Idiot #2. Sales Idiot #2 is pushing around an empty cart and wearing brown-tinted sunglasses indoors at work. I walk him over to Steady and the friend, introduce him by name and say that he is going to help us.

We tell him what we want ("that one"). He leaves. He spends half my lifetime around the corner at a computer. Then he disappears. He reappears, apparently haing decided that he needs back up, with Sales Idiot #3 and a box that is not the box for the printer requested. We are told that the requested printer is all sold out, but that we would like this one. Mind you, they've not asked what the intended use of this printer is, so they don't even know what the goal is. It's the same price and brand. When asked what the difference then was, they gave a non comittal answer.

While the friend and Sales Idiot #3 are trying to determine if this printer is the winner, Sales Idiot #2 scampers off. The printer is rejected because it is not a network printer. The friend points out the second choice printer. Sales Idiot #3 walks over to it and they talk...

Sales Idiot #3 has apparently either been shot by an engry customer with an elephant tranquilizer or he's been snorting Quaa1udes all evening.

"This says it's refurbished. Does that mean just the display model or...?"
"They're all refurbished.
"All of the HPs?"
(with a little flourish of his hand) "Everything."
(trying to be polite and not laugh) "Oh."
(getting incoherent) "Everything. It's for... They just... They rip all the insides out and put the new ones in."
"That's a great manufacturing process they've got."

Sales Idiot #3 disappears. Sales Idiot #4 appears. He is wearing a sweater over his white shirt, perhaps a display of how much better he is than the rest of them? I have a soft spot for men in sweaters. We recruit him to help us. Sales Idiot #3 begins following us around. Sales Idiot #4 makes it almost plain that they do not have what we want.

We decide to go smoke a cigarette and then reevaluate the situation. While outside of the store, we opt to leave.

So we went to Best Buy where we stood near the printers for two minutes before a nice man caught our eye from across the room, walked over, offered to help, listened to the needs, and suggested a less expensive printer. Then, while we were standing around looking for toner and cables, he CAME BACK to make sure we got absolutely everything that we needed.

posted by mary ann 1:10 PM