Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Joys of Retail Shopping

Teresa and I decided to purchase a new digital voice recorder with a USB plug that can be inserted directly into our computer to easily download audio files. We had heard about them, so there should be no problem.  They are the up and coming thing.  Our quest began.

First Stop: Best Buy
When we are just wandering aimlessly and looking for nothing in particular the salesmen are all over us like ugly on an ape.  If we know what we want and need their assistance there in nobody to be found.  I finally cornered one in the camera department and asked where we might find the new cool recorders; or any recorders at all since they seem to have hidden them successfully.  His first response was, "I don't think we stock such a thing."

"There are dozens on your website," I pointed out politely.

He shrugged his shoulders and began walking off.  I followed, figuring he was about to break into a run and try to elude me.  To my surprise he stopped by a rack of empty hooks and said, "Here is what we have."

There was one old Sony digital recorder I've seen on the shelf at Wal Mart for several years.  The other one was a Sony which the size of a plastic sandwich holder and used a cassette tape.  I didn't know those were available anywhere outside of the local Goodwill store, which would be available with no battery cover and several dried boogers inside.  We left.

Second Stop: Ultimate Electronics
There were three salespersons behind the big central counter laughing, playing grabass and generally ignoring everyone.  I asked the assembly if they carried digital voice recorders?  No response.  A lady from the appliance observed the quality of the service I was getting and got their attention.  When I asked again I was told sharply,
"No, we don't carry those."    I can't imagine why the store is closing.

Third Stop: Wal Mart
Although it is a Super Center, since it is located closest to where we live it rarely stocks what we are looking for; and when they do it is a very limited selection.  Surprisingly they had two digital recorders in stock.  One of them was an RCA with the USB plug built in.  Now we were getting somewhere.  There were two on the hook, and both packages were obvious returns, wrapped several times around with packing tape and stapled along the edges.  A bad sign.  We bought one and Teresa tried it out as we exited the parking lot.  It didn't work.  I circled the block and took it inside.

In the old days there was an elderly greeter who would put an orange sticker on the item you were bringing back before you took it to customer service.  Now they have to scan it, print a sticker with the price and SKU number and put it on the merchandise before you can proceed.  The lady in front of me had an item the new fangled scanner didn't recognize.  I waited patiently for 10 minutes while various associates tried to figure it out.  Finally they stuck an orange sticker on it and sent her on to customer service.  Luckily mine scanned.

The lady with the orange sticker was being helped when I got in line, and there was one lady behind her.  The lady in front of me was returning several items and buying several money orders.  She and the only person working in Customer Service were having a great time telling each other their problems. Fifteen minutes later I returned my item, got a refund and left.  My transaction took about 2 minutes.

Final Stop: Another Wal Mart in a wealthier part of town.
Went to electronics, picked up recorder, checked out.  Took about 4 minutes due to the travel time to and from electronics.

Moral:  Be sure and begin you search for anything with the lowest possible expectations and you will rarely be disappointed.  If you happen to catch a break and get good service you will have a great day.  If and when that ever happens early on in one of my journeys I will post it on my blog immediately and give credit where credit is due.

Thank you Wal Mart at Powers and Woodmen Road.  Sorry we visited you last.


  1. This is a test of my comments section to see how it works. One of my friends was unable to post one.

  2. I read your retail story aloud to my wife over our morning coffee. She has already heard some of your twisted and insane material on similar mornings when I feel compelled to share FB postings from my fifth grade friend from Crockett. We were not disappointed and wholeheartedly agree with your daughter. You belong in blogsphere. Please press on and we will follow along for the ride! I will be able to say I knew James when... Good luck, Mel McPhail

  3. Thanks Melvin! My daughter might just be building a case for the commital papers somewhere down the road. Of course if they have internet access, a weekly short bus to Wal Mart and don't schedule me for shock therapy too often, it might be less stressful than trying to support myself with no marketable skills.