Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Brain dead or customer friendly?...

Posted 1/20/15 (Tue)

Have you ever encountered someone working in a retail business  who is completely rude and unappreciative of the dollars you are spending in their establishment?

Unfortunately for me, it seems to be happening more often, or maybe I’m just conscious of the fact that this kind of behavior has and will happen.

This all started for me in October 2013 in an Arkansas-based department store in Minot that will remain nameless.

Having been the 10th person in a line, I had plenty of time to think until I got up to the till to purchase my deodorant, toothpaste, soap and bananas.

When I was the next person to be checked out, the till closed with no explanation, no replacement, no sorry about that, nothing. I looked to the next line and yes, nine people were in that line.

I sat my basket down, walked out and haven’t been back since and won’t until this business proves to me their customer service has improved.

There have been a couple of other incidents in Minot like this and it’s just appalling that we, as consumers, have to put up with this kind of behavior.

In one of those episodes, I made a retail purchase and the young lady working at the till didn’t make eye contact, didn’t say anything to me except the amount of the product and didn’t say thanks or anything like that when she handed me the receipt. And when I began walking away, she went back to filing her nails.

And then the management teams at these businesses wonder why people shop on the Internet?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve interviewed people for my job who have told me in confidence that they will not spend money in certain establishments because of the lousy customer service.

And in the past couple of weeks, I’ve once again, run across this attitude in an area convenience store. I just stopped in for a carton of milk and a pastry since I missed breakfast at home.

Honestly, it reminded me of being in the Detroit bus depot when I was 17 years old. It was scary, the attendant didn’t make eye contact and said nothing but the amount of the sale.

What is causing this phenomenon? Is help that hard to find that if someone has a pulse, they get a job?

I’ll tell you what, folks, I don’t make a lot of money so I’m going to be careful where I spend it and when I come across people who could care less if it’s my money or someone on the street, I’ll be very careful about patronizing that establishment in the future.

I want to clarify something. This has not happened to me in Kenmare and I hope it never does. As much as I’ve grown to like this community, I’ve been treated very well in every establishment and it doesn’t matter if I’m spending 25 cents or $300, the person taking the money appreciates the sale.

That is so important when it comes to repeat business. There are now five establishments in Minot that I will go out of my way to avoid and if I have to pay more someplace else, so be it. Those people will be hard pressed to get another 25 cents from me.

I also noted something in December during a VA hospital visit in Fargo.

Before I left town, I had some time to mingle; gas up, get lunch, do a little Christmas shopping. People were cordial, thanked me for the business, those in line with me at the fast food joint made polite conversation and when I asked questions in the shopping mall, I got answers.

Why is Fargo so different? Truth is, it hasn’t changed. I lived in Fargo in the early ‘90s and that’s how I remember it. Unfortunately, Minot has changed too much.

My wife and I take a trip to Florida every year and we absolutely love it. We have the beach, professional hockey and baseball, the arts and great shopping.

We’ve been in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas more than a dozen times since 2006 and we’ve always had good experiences with and without money.

Tourism drives that economy, and in a big city like Tampa, we’re treated very well in retail. That’s because the employees are trained to treat customers right and Tampa Bay bustles with repeat business even in a difficult economy.

So keep it up Kenmare. Whether employees here are trained or whether they retain that small-town feeling, it doesn’t matter because I consider it critical in my spending.

So as my business continues to turn toward Kenmare, you can thank Minot retail for the wonderful references.