Misadventures in Retail

I hear a lot of great stories from women about customer service at sporting goods stores. Some are funny, some make your blood boil, but they all tend to sound at least a little familiar to most of us.

Mine tend to be more amusing than frustrating. Two seasons ago, for example, I needed a small game license, and found myself at the sporting goods counter of a central Pennsylvania Wal-Mart. My boyfriend, who doesn’t hunt, was running his own errands elsewhere in the store. When I got to the counter, there were 2 employees behind it waiting on 2 customers, one was a shorter gentleman in a personalized Miss Saigon jacket; his friend was about 6’ 4”, with earrings, a goatee, a black fedora, and a black floor-length leather coat. I waited awhile before politely trying to get the attention of the employee who seemed less engaged in the sale. But both clerks were totally focused on this pair who looked to be buying a .22.

After what seemed like hours, my boyfriend Dan found me and asked how it was going. Once he showed up, I somehow finally materialized for the employees, one of whom came to our end of the counter to ask if he could help us—well, actually help my boyfriend. I explained what I needed and the employee courteously took out the necessary paper work and handed it to Dan, who smiled and reminded the clerk that the license was for me—and that, in fact, he didn’t hunt himself. As I was finally filling out the form, the employee asked my boyfriend where he’d be hunting, and what he thought conditions would be like.

That same season, I was buying shells for a goose hunt, and ended up at another Wal-Mart, where the young guy behind the counter insisted that what I really needed were two boxes of deer slugs. Then there was the owner of an independent sporting goods store in New York, who refused to take the Matthews bow that I was asking to see off the wall.

Of course, sprinkled in among these incidents have been a lot of positive customer service experiences as well, but of course it’s the misadventures that make for the better stories. So, what are your tales of retail woe? Good, bad or funny, they’re always interesting to hear. –K.H.