Consumer Dissatisfaction/Frustration

My Mother-in-Law gave us a plate for Christmas. This plate belongs with our china pattern, Vintage Jewel. When we received it, I commented to Jenn that we should take the plate and upgrade it by getting the rest of the setting, plus one more full setting as that would get us to six total. For our dining room size and how we tend to entertain, six is a good number.

Therefore, off I went to Macy’s! Macy’s was the store of choice because it’s local and I can walk in and actually look at the china patterns to be sure I’m getting the right thing.

Before you say to me, “Well, Bill. Why didn’t you just order a standard place setting,” I will say to you that when we first set up the china pattern for our wedding registry, we discovered that we liked the standard place setting except for the salad/dessert plate that came with it. That particular plate was (and still is) kind of fugly and we did not want it in the house. So we substituted a different salad plate that was an option. This worked very well for the two or three settings we received as a part of our wedding presents (Thanks, everybody!).

Fast forward to 2010. This easy-order system is apparently no longer in place. As a savvy internet consumer, the first thing I did before trooping off to a brick and mortar Macy’s was to check online for the setting. I discovered that while you can, yes very easily, order a standard place setting of Vintage Jewel for home delivery, they didn’t tell you what actually came inside said setting! We do not want fugly plates, so I figured I’d go to Macy’s when it was convenient and, you know, ask a flesh and blood person.

What I found is that (in defense of the personnel I’m about to rail against) china patterns are complicated, shifty things which change almost daily (the bastards). I also found that the Macy’s staff at my local store didn’t have the first clue about how to help me, a guy who knows what he needs, but not the language in which to communicate it. “No, I don’t know if it’s the bread and butter plate. No, I’m not sure what precise items are in the place setting. I want the non-fugly plate. You know, this one [points]. Is that in the place setting or is it this one [points]?” This was a small sample of my enventually unhelpful conversation. The first time this happened to me was last month when I happened to be at our local mall. The second time was yesterday when I had some time to kill and figured I could check this particular errand off my list at a different store. Both times were unsuccessful in the goal of actually ordering the damn place settings.

The woman who I dealt with yesterday (we’ll get back to her and her cohort in a second) told me that while the place setting wasn’t on sale ($186 current price) it might be on Wednesday. I asked her if it was actually going to be on sale on Wednesday and she told me that she did not know, that it was the price-fixer people who would know. “Ok, can you ask them?”

Apparently not.

At this point, I politely (really!1) expressed my frustration with two unfruitful trips to Macy’s and the women, to their credit, did jump into some sort of sales-force hyperspace to attempt to appease me. They chased around and determined that the place setting with non-fugly plate was indeed the new “standard” setting. They also determined that no, the settings would not be on sale on wednesday (using some sort of sales-force zen that I wasn’t party to).

I also found that Macy’s stores and Macys.com are two different entities that compete with each other. Or at least, that’s the way it came across to me. Woman #1 told me that if the online Macys.com had a price different from theirs they would match it if I could screenprint the price and bring it in.

Why in the world would I not order it online in that case? I didn’t ask that question.

At this point, I just wanted to leave. These ladies had helped me out and I was not going to buy anything. However, they started pulling sales tactics on me to not let me go. Usually I can excuse myself out of these scenarios with tact but I’ll have to hand it to Woman #1 and Woman #2, they were good at clinging to a potential sale. At last, I had to say (basically), “I’m leaving. Good bye,” and just walk away.

So now I’m the proud owner of two more place settings, ordered online because it was way cheaper (even with shipping, and I’d have “spent” that amount of shipping just to go pick them up at a store) and because I was done dealing with Macy’s2 sales staff.

I’m not entirely sure what I learned from this event. A lot of my frustration can be summed up as “shit happens” and/or it was situational depending on my mood and the sales staff’s mood. I found it to be a pain that I couldn’t get a straight answer online as to what came in the standard place setting. If nothing else, I got practice dealing with people in a calm and rational manner1 which can only help me in the long run.


1: Despite what this twitter post might imply, I really was polite until the very end.

2: How to make “Macy’s” Possesive. You don’t.

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