Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why I Didn't Buy Anything at Office Depot

Retail stinks. 

You go into a typically oversized building with typically loud "Mood" music that puts you into a sullen mood, rubbing shoulders with people who are always looking at what you're looking at, and you deal with people who are scraping by at the bottom of the Sales career ladder.

After all, why would someone choose to work in one of those places making a little over minimum wage and have to deal with the general public.  If they were truly GOOD at sales, they would be selling expensive items on commission and be driving a better car than you or I do.  Even in this lousy Republican Induced Great Depression, people NEED things. 

Monday Morning, Yesterday by my watch, I got into Kevin's car and we drove over to Office Depot on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.  New store, or at least newly redone, its one of those Big Box stores that we all love... or love to hate.  We were in there for about a half hour from start to finish and in a word I can easily describe the experience.


I admit, it is a truly hard job to do Retail.  I did it for a while way back when I was in college.  It was fun for a while but it grew tired and I moved on.  I had the good luck to be able to do a job I wanted to do while I didn't actually have to.   Working behind the counter of a Radio Shack in Delran NJ, I got to meet some wonderful people, the customers.  I enjoyed their quirks when they were pleasant, learned how to watch them when they weren't and up to some no-good, and then I got to meet the people from The Home Office.  It gave me an appreciation for just how nasty some people can be and completely blew away any preconceptions I ever had about people from Texas being Nice.  Don't believe it, in those days the Tandy Corporation had some of the meanest people you ever had the misfortune to know and I avoided those stores for years after I left as a result.

But this is today, and that was back in the day...

Office Depot wasn't rude at all.  The Assistant Manager who was working the register was an amazingly nice person and helped us out with courtesy, respect and was genuinely helpful.

I went about my business as Kevin walked around looking for the goodies he needed.  I may not have intended to buy anything that day but I am one of those people who Recommend Purchases.  People look here, ask me directly and on email my opinion of products and if I like something I certainly will tell them. 

I am also very hard to hide in a store.   I am 6'4" and 225 pounds - a wall of a man.  I walk into a building and almost always someone notices.  I guess it is the Big Guy Syndrome, but if you see someone fill a doorway you'll pay attention.  I'm used to looking over things like displays and noticing whether they cleaned back "there" and where the back stock is.  If it's there, I'll find it.

I'm also a technology junkie.  If you are reading this and want me to do an impartial review send me the item and I'll do so but be aware if it is junk I'll say so.   There's this one pair of Noise Canceling Headphones that I want and would really like a pair to review...

Ok, I didn't think so - so enough "hinting".  The Bose ones are mindbendingly effective but at $300, I'll get the Sony MDR-NC7 instead and they're only $29 new at that link.

But that was what I was looking at - AFTER I spent a solid 15 minutes poking and prodding laptop computers.  The majority of the day I sit with one and have people comment that I spend my day on Facebook.  The truth is that I don't, Facebook is logged on, but it sits behind everything in the dust behind the endcap of what ever I am working on in the big box store of my computer.

Fifteen minutes standing in one aisle looking at laptops is a long time.

Fifteen minutes of being walked past by Office Depot uniform shirted employees trying to do their job is an even longer time. 

That's the beef.  I usually strongly dislike being asked my opinion while IN a store or whether I need help but after about 5 minutes of someone standing in one place with a glazed over look of awe at the next newest shiny toy, you would think someone would say something...

They didn't.  In fact one of those Office Depot Uniform Shirted Employees passed so close to me that their elbow brushed my shirt a-little-too roughly and all I got was a grunt - not excuse me just "unh" and the sound of shuffling feet moving quickly away.

I wasn't dressed well, I looked more like a tourist with a t-shirt and cargo shorts on.   I wasn't dressed like the third person in there was, in corporate drag of chinos and a polo shirt.  Maybe the employee, and I am being decidedly vague, thought "He's not buying anything so I don't have to care". 

I don't know but now I'm sitting here writing out a review as to why I will go to another store next time instead of looking at laptops at Office Depot.  Besides, there's a CompUSA just up the block...

Kevin came back, went off to get more goodies so I wandered a little more... now at 15 minutes or more, I'm actively wandering through the store and had to do a dance to get out of the way of Yet-Another-Office-Depot-Uniform-Shirted-Employee with a grunt on their lips.  I DO tend to take up most of the aisle, after all, because I have a 48 inch chest so I try hard NOT to get into people's ways, but don't GRUNT!  That was twice. 

I was wondering whether I'd run into Charlotte and her Web after all that grunting!

I did find the headphones I was looking for.  Sony MDR-NC7.  They're not terribly expensive at $49 at Office Depot - don't get them there you can find them at Best Buy cheaper at $39, and they're online new as of today at $29 and Refurbished for as low as $16. 

I stood there looking at the box on the shelf for a couple minutes not being grunted at and decided that if I was going to pry open my wallet, I'd wait for the next sale on the Refurbished one and do the shopping from my bouncy Poang chair.

Sorry Office Depot, I won't recommend people shop at your stores.  Best Buy for Consumer goods since you can tire kick and actually talk to someone without having to be grunted at and hunt for them.  CompUSA for Computer goods for the same reason.  Both stores have some VERY helpful people and seem to know when to back off.  In Fort Lauderdale, Both stores seem fairly well balanced between Jack Russell Terrier Bouncy Helpful Sales People and Professional Detatchment - if you don't need help thank them and they'll leave you be. 

But Office Depot?  You need some help.

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