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  • Writer's pictureHoward Hulin

How you noticed that Customer Service Sucks more and more these days?

It used to be that when a customer walked into a retail establishment, an employee would stop what they were doing and ask if they needed help ...

In the last year, I've run across multiple retail establishments where customer service existed only behind a counter; if they had one at all.

Take J**'s Bicycle:

It was a simple jaunt to the local store here in Irvine to pick up a new inner tube for my bike. When I entered the store, I was met with a young man walking by with his head buried in his phone who did say, "hello" but kept right on walking. Maybe he was looking for something at another store for another customer, I thought to myself. Looking around, not another customer was in sight. Just a few young men that appeared to be employees wondering about.

As I walked around looking for the rack with inner tubes on it, I noticed an older gentleman toward the back of the store in the repair area on the phone. As I got closer, I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was deep in conversation with a customer about a problem. I stood in front of him for several minutes in hopes I'd catch his attention. Nope. This person was way too deep in the situation to notice if a fire had broken out let alone me standing there.

I walked around a bit longer and stopped to gaze at a high-tech mountain bike complete with carbon fibre frame, dual shocks, more gears than I knew what to do with an a hefty $8K price tag. All of a sudden I could smell the stench of burning leather and fabric as the zero balance credit card in my wallet ignited and began burning a hole in my pocket. Now I needed this! A sweet ride it was for sure!

As I stood there now thirsty to learn more about this beast of a bike, I looked around for someone, anyone to come over and ask if I needed help. The young man I saw when I first entered the store was now chatting it up about 25 feet away from me with the two others that appeared to be salespersons. I thought about saying something to get their attention but this time, no. I'll just wait to see what happens. I must have stood there for another 10 minutes looking over the bike in awe of its craftsmanship and still nothing. The young men kept right on chatting.

The silent front door, the man on the phone still deep in conversation, the three (3) young men and me. Oh, and the smell of burning fabric and leather were all that were in the store. It was as if I was either invisible or that I didn't fit the profile of someone that could afford that $8K bike. I just stood there shaking my head as the three young men continued to banter among themselves.

Several minutes more passed by when I felt a tap on my shoulder, " Sir, may I help you." I turned around and it was the man I saw on the phone earlier. I don't remember his name but I do remember the word, "Manager" on his name tag. "Well, I was thinking about purchasing this bike but ...," I said sarcastically looking toward the other workers still carrying on like school boys. "Not anymore though," I continued. "Instead, do you have this tire size?" I showed him a note that I had written earlier. The manager apologized greatly saying that he was dealing with a difficult customer. I replied that I understood and then asked him, "Do any of those guys work here?" He answered that all three did. My only reply was, "Hmmm."

The manager found the tire size that I needed, I paid for it and walked out still shaking my head after being in the store for over 30 minutes. With customer service like that, it's no wonder Brink and Mortar stores are closing and the Amazon's of the world are thriving. I went onto the company's website that afternoon and wrote a nice, well thought out letter; fully expecting a response. Nope.

Needless to say, I won't be visiting that store ever again.

Which of the 6 Pillars of Customer Service above was not met? If you were the manager, what action would you have taken?

Have you had an experience like the one above? An employee being rude or unhelpful? Or maybe a store that exemplifies the words, "Customer Service?"

I'd like to hear about it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be publishing my own experiences (and maybe yours) in hopes that establishments will get the word out that as customers, we still need to know we are important to you and that "Brick and Mortar" stores can survive.

Email me at

Until next time, use your voice! The moon is the moon and the sun is the sun. If anyone tries to tell you anything different, use your voice and speak up!

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