Monday, December 14, 2009

The good and bad of The W

I figure if the University of Miami can be “The U,” I have free license to label Walmart “The W” --– at least for the sake of this blog.

And I visited The W last Saturday for a prearranged appointment with the southeast Lincoln, Neb. store’s tire center.

That was an experience, a mix of highs and lows that later had me shaking my head.

My car and I arrived at the tire center at 10:00, on a snowy morning for my appointment to have the front driver’s side tire replaced. After locating the hard-to-find customer entrance (which, I might add, led me into the garage area where I had to walk past a group of staring mechanics, which made me immensely uncomfortable), I made my way to the service counter manned by a very harried female employee.

I waited my turn, then announced my arrival -- only to be told my appointment had been cancelled. Cancelled? I glanced at my watch. It was now 10:10 a.m. Was I cancelled because it was slightly after my scheduled time?

The employee assured me that the cancellation wasn’t due to tardiness; in fact, she said, she had no idea why my appointment was cancelled. She read aloud a note written beside my name on a manual ledger that said, simply, “Cancelled. Moved to Thursday.”

To make matters worse, when she flipped the page to Thursday, my appointment was nowhere to be found.

At this point, the employee began to rage. She called a supervisor and together they proceeded to berate some hapless, and absent, associate named Brandon. They commiserated -- in front of me and about five other customers waiting to be served -- about the troubles that Brandon was causing in The W’s local organization.

If Brandon were indeed responsible for my cancellation, then I wasn’t too happy with him either. But I still didn’t think he deserved to be publicly criticized with no opportunity to defend himself.

His trial continued for a solid five minutes, until I interrupted with one question, “Can you still work me in today?”

The female employee immediately ceased her tirade, and leaned across the counter to pat my hand. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said. “We’ll get you in right away.”

This is where bad turns to good -- in a hurry. She worked some kind of magic on a very full-looking ledger and moved my car to the top of the list (I don’t know who got bumped, but decided not to ask.). She gave me a numbered ticket and invited me to shop the store for about an hour, then return for my car.

I wandered The W’s aisles for 70 minutes, purchased a few odds and ends, then headed back to the tire center, where I found my car ready and waiting as promised.

After I paid and departed, I shook my head. Only The W could send me on a customer-service journey of such highs and lows.

That it started low, and ended high, was fortunate. Most customers, myself included, will likely only remember the ending note.

-- Katherine Field

No comments:

Post a Comment