Saturday, November 28, 2009

The sales assistant story

With time to kill on Wednesday evening between leaving work and attending my very first Bad Film Club event at the Barbican, I found myself headed in the general direction of Westfield. Actually, with quite a bit of time to kill between leaving work and heading up to the Barbican I actually found myself heading to Westfield, then to KFC in Shepherds Bush, then back to Westfield before finally deciding it was about time to jump on the tube and head up town - and even then I was half an hour early and milled about for so long outside the Barbican that two security guys came out and started glaring at me.

But that's not the point of this story.

The point of this story is that I went to Westfield with a bit of an agenda. I'd seen a top online, you see, and I thought I'd go into the shop whose website I'd seen it on, try it on, and if I liked it, buy it. A pretty simple plan, I think you'll agree - and then I'll remind you that this is me we're talking about, and nothing *ever* goes according to plan.

Within about a minute of walking into the store I'd found the top I liked, picked out a small, and was heading for the changing rooms. Once in the changing room it was a simple matter of jacket off, headphones out of ears, untangling myself from said headphones, top off, t-shirt off, new top on, and admiring myself in the mirror. Once I'd admired myself for so long, I decided to pay some attention to how the new top fit, and I'm chuffed to say it fit stunningly; I immediately decided that I was going to buy it - good times.

Unfortunately, as I was hanging it back on the hanger I noticed that there was a hole in the arm. Not a hole on a seam, but a hole slap bang in the middle of the fabric. I may have harumphed audibly, but then I figured I'd just go and get another one of the same size and buy that instead. So off I toddled back to where I'd first picked it up. There were another six or so identical tops, so I started looking along the rack: medium, large, large, medium, extra large, and … extra large.


I wasn't having this, though, and decided to track down an assistant who might be able to tell me if they had any others in, say, the stockroom or something. I found one who bore a remarkable resemblance to the unfortunate girl from All Saints who looks like a cocker spaniel (y'know, the one you were torn between wanting to make out with or stroke and call a "good girl" back in the late 90s).

"Do you have this in a small? I want to buy it but it's got a hole in the arm - look." I showed her the hole for effect. "I just looked on the rack and there aren't any more in this size."

"Ooo … I don't know. Let me check!" she replied. And then she walked over to where I'd picked it up from and looked through the rack that I'd looked through just seconds earlier. "No, sorry, it doesn't look like we do."

I may have rolled my eyes right in front of her.

"Would you have it in the stockroom, perhaps?"

This, I thought, was a reasonably straightforward request, but apparently I was mistaken. Instead, a remarkably complex chain of events were set in motion, because cocker spaniel girl could not just go to the stockroom on her own. She had to ask the manageress, an angry looking woman who wielded a walkie talkie like it was a loaded revolver. I don't know whether the stockroom is some sort of mythical place where only the most senior members of staff can tread, but once cocker spaniel girl had asked the angry manageress, who glared at me like she might leap the counter and throttle me at any moment, the angry manageress strutted off through a door that led, I assume, to where they keep their stock. Or, perhaps, the mythical land of Narnia.

Anyway, I was left standing there holding the holey top while the cocker spaniel went back to her previous duties of folding t-shirts badly.

After a couple of minutes I realised I'd been standing there for, well, a couple of minutes. And then I noticed that the angry manageress was behind the till again, and the cocker spaniel had moved to the changing rooms where she was collecting more clothes to fold badly and return to the shop floor. After a few more seconds I walked over to her and waved the holey top in her direction.

"Um, any luck?"

"Oh," she said, taking a few seconds to register who I was despite the fact that only a couple of minutes had elapsed since I'd first spoken to her. "Let me check."

She took the holey top off me and walked up to the angry manageress. They spoke briefly, the holey top was shown, and the angry manageress said something. Then the cocker spaniel came back over to me.

"No we don't, I'm afraid."

I was *this* close to grabbing her by the shoulders and shouting "DID NEITHER OF YOU HAVE THE SENSE TO COME OVER AND TELL ME?!" Instead I just said "Ah."

She then admired the top and said "so you don't want it then?"

I thought this was where she might say they'd knock a couple of quid off it because of the hole, but even then I wouldn't have bought it because I'm a sophisticated and well-dressed gent who does not wander around wearing clothes with more than the prerequisite number of holes in them.

"Um, no, not really."

"OK!" She smiled at me like that Muppet that was all lips and hair, popped the holey top BACK ON THE RACK and then skipped off to do god knows what somewhere else; I'm guessing it wouldn't be serving a customer in a diligent fashion. I stood there for a couple of seconds slightly shell-shocked and thinking that perhaps I should go after her and suggest that maybe they, like, take the damaged goods OFF THE SHOP FLOOR, but then I decided that the whole debacle had wasted a good five minutes of my life as it was, so I headed out of the shop and round to Starbucks.

Where I used my iPhone to buy the top from Amazon.

And people wonder why the high-street shops are having a hard time these days?


CyberPete said...

I love that Muppet!

Although my absolute favorites were The Fraggles from Fraggle Rock.

That's customer service for you. It's like that all over the world.

Dinah said...

Aw, that sucks. I actually had a really good experience buying a shirt yesterday. I'm wearing my new top to my company party tonight!

Tim said...

Cyberpete - I actually don't remember her having eyes … am I thinking of a different Muppet?

Dinah - On the plus side, getting it from Amazon was awesome - it turned up a day later!! I heart my iPhone so much.

Tara said...

What idiots! I'll bet they don't get many customers. Someone else will go looking for that particular top and get put through a 5 minute time-waster.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I hope you'll never patronise that particular shop again?

Hang on...

"Once in the changing room it was a simple matter of jacket off, headphones out of ears, untangling myself from said headphones, top off, t-shirt off, new top on, and admiring myself in the mirror."

"t-shirt off"?? Where are the photos?!?

Tim said...

Tara - Outrageous, isn't it? I should've thrown a proper strop, shouldn't I?

Inexplicable Device - Well, I do like that particular shop … so I might be a bit angry with it for a while, but hopefully we can patch up our differences.

Why the hell would I take half-nekkid pictures of myself in changing room?!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

For your adoring fan? Uh... I mean, fans.

Tim said...