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What’s Your Time Worth as a Consumer?

October 26, 2011

Updated January 13, 2014

cranky-dude I’m becoming a pain-in-the ass as I head north of the mid-fifties – a consumer agitator who has become fed up with crappy customer service, over-priced goods and an over-reliance on technology.

Let me share one experience a while ago at a big box store, though there was one positive aspect to it.

I wanted to buy a mid-sized, hard-body cooler. That’s it. Nothing more.

So while doing some errands I stopped at my local Canadian Tire store, a Canadian chain with independently owned stores. I walked to the back aisles of this large box store and found just what I wanted. And only $28!

When I reached the checkout area, I decided to use one of the auto checkouts. (I don’t mind using these beasts when I have only a few items; using them in a grocery store is a recipe for major frustration).

The cooler wouldn’t scan. Crap. Call the auto checkout assistant (or whatever the heck they’re called).

Continue on with my purchase.

Then at the end of the transaction it jammed for a minute. That problem corrected itself, but then my receipt wouldn’t print.

Now I was getting a little steamed. A quick trip through Canadian Tire was becoming a major event.

Call the you-know-who. Over she trotted.

Oh, oh!

The printer thing-a-ma-jig had jammed. Now steam was starting to emerge from my ears.

Over to her work station she went, picking up the phone for a five minute conversation with some higher-being in the store.

I waited.

Then a young woman arrived, absence of any pleasantness. I had to credit my debit card to get two receipts.

I was back to where I started.

“Would you like to buy the cooler?” asked Miss No-smile.

“Only if you knock off 10% of the price to make up for my wait,” I replied.

Out came the phone to call one of the mysterious managers who must hide in the bowels of the store.

Five minutes passed.

“Okay,” Miss No-Smile said, “I can give you $5 off the price.”


I walked out the store with my cooler, for a total savings of $7.

I told the story to Sue, who just shook her head at me, probably in pity. Jim’s becoming a cranky old bastard.

Am I? Not yet. Just wait till I hit my sixties!

I share this story for the purpose of emphasizing the importance for consumers to stand up for themselves. The continued dumbing down of the retail universe when it comes to customer service and lack of respect for the consumer is leading us down a slippery slope.

I took a stand that day at Canadian Tire NOT because of the small saving off the retail price but because I wanted the store’s management to understand that MY TIME IS WORTH SOMETHING!

I commend Canadian Tire for responding to my demand. Had I been at Walmart I would probably have been promptly booted out of the store. Or if I had been at Loblaw (Canada’s biggest grocery chain), they would have looked at me in confusion and not known what to do. Or at Costco (of which I’m a member), I doubt they would have done the same as Canadian Tire.

But Canadian Tire responded appropriately. My only criticism is that Miss No-Smile should lighten up or find another job. Efficiency is only part of the game. Don’t make the customer feel like he or she is taking up your time.

And yes, I’ll continue to shop at Canadian Tire – maybe even more.

Take a moment to share a consumer story.

You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.

– (Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2011 2:11 pm

    Hey Lynne,

    Yes, self-serve (automated) check-outs are growing like wild fire across North America. They’ve been around since the nineties, but have taken off in the past five years. IKEA has them. Home Depot. Lowe. Grocery chains. and the list goes on. Walmart, however, doesn’t seem to use them, at least not in Canada. But I stand to be corrected.

    I detest the concept of them since it takes away jobs from students, lower skilled people, retirees, etc. And they typically jam up. They require employee supervision, usually one person monitors four or more auto check-outs. They look for theft and to help customers when the scanning for a product fails or the systems locks up.

  2. October 27, 2011 10:07 am

    What I found most interesting about this is that they have apparently done away with the checkers, and you check yourself out???? This is the first I have heard of this. Is this also the case in grocery stores? Has this trend spread to the U.S. yet? When did this trend start? Please fill me in on the details….I can’t wait to tell everyone I know….!!!!!

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