Service With A Smile.

Earl and I took the opportunity this weekend to go on a little bit of a shopping spree. It wasn’t anything exceedingly wild (at least for us), but we did make a couple of purchases our home, including a new DirecTV system.

We had DirecTV in our old house because there was nothing else available. Cable hadn’t been strung to our rural location, in fact, we were just four poles away from the end of the line and the cable company wasn’t about to extend it any further. So we went with the DirecTV route. Earl, being the rabid football fan that he was, loved the NFL Sunday ticket that gave him every game possible from every angle.

He asked me a couple of weeks ago to go ahead and get the cable company’s version of the Sunday ticket for this NFL season.

“There’s isn’t one.”

“What do you mean there isn’t one”, he asked as he began to pale slightly.

“The cable company doesn’t offer an NFL Sunday Ticket. They show the Bills and the Giants and that’s it.”


Actually, I don’t know if he said “bastards” or not, but you get the idea. So I offered the thought of getting DirecTV here at the new house. They’ve made a number of strides since we were last served by then, including Hi-Definition television. The only problem is that in 1999 the Federal Government (the wise sages that they are), decided that the satellite companies can’t provide the network channels if you can get them off an antenna. You had to apply for a waiver. Since we already had satellite service when this law was put into play, we were grandfathered, and enjoyed the networks from both the east and west coasts. Since we’re a new install now, the chances of getting the network crap is a little dicey.

This weekend we decided to go for it and play in the red tape. So we went ahead and ordered DirecTV. The kind gentleman on the phone told us that to get TiVo again, we’d need to go to Best Buy or Circuit City and purchase the newest unit so that we could record in Hi-Def.

Off to Best Buy. An attractive, if yet clueless, sales associate greeted us and looked at us like we had asked her to take a dump on the floor when we asked her about this latest incarnation of TiVo.

“It’s not available to the general public yet.”

“But the guy at DirecTV told us to come get it, you’d have it.”

“Nope. Not available. And it’s not going to be for at least six weeks.” Apparently, she doesn’t need a computer or anything, because she rattled off this little nugget of information right off the top of her pointed little head.

Well Earl went a little crazy. You see, we tried to buy satellite radio at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago, and after selling us on a particular unit they informed us that they were sold out and would not have it in stock again for at least six weeks. I don’t know why six weeks is a magic number. It just is. Before the satellite radio incident, I tried to buy some Linux gear, in which the sales associate told me that they didn’t carry anything like that, while he was standing next to the latest distribution of SuSE Linux.

So like last week, we jumped in the car and drove across the street to Circuit City. They didn’t carry the particular TiVo we wanted, however, they did have them in the warehouse and would have it delivered to our home this week.


I also took the opportunity to apply for a Circuit City credit card, which they promptly approved with TWICE the credit limit of Best Buy and offered me 18 months of no interest.

Today I went back to Circuit City to get a couple of upgrades for my computer and I was greeted with a smile and a knowledgeable salesperson. In addition, I wasn’t distracted by Best Buy’s flashing lights, out of control music, lack of intelligent salespeople and refrigerators that have a built in television.

I don’t expect a lot when it comes to customer service. A pleasant greeting. Some knowledge about what you’re dealing with, or the resources to answer a question if you can’t do it on your own, a pleasant pass through the checkouts and a hearty thank you after giving you our hard earned money. By the way, I always say “Thank you” when handed my package that the cashier just bagged up. It’s my way of being pleasant. It irks me beyond belief when they say “You’re welcome”. No, asshat, you should say “Thank you” as well as I, at the very least, just contributed to your paycheck.

Customer service has gone by the way of the full service gas station. No one cares anymore. Everyone is so surly and uninterested. When I go to McDonald’s I’m happy when the cashier gives me my food without blowing her nose in my hamburger wrapper or snapping her gum in my ear. I’m grateful when the witch behind the counter at the department store doesn’t shred my credit card. I consider myself lucky when the grocery store clerk doesn’t mash my bread. Remember when the bag boy used to take your groceries out to the car for you? Well, he didn’t do it for me, but he did for my mother and grandmother, and then he got a little tip! I could use the pick me up of seeing the bag boy’s cute ass near my trunk. Why don’t they do that anymore? No. Instead we have to scan the groceries ourselves and listen to a computer speak in elementary terms on how to pass the barcode by the laser.

And why don’t people smile? Say hello. Be friendly. Don’t warble “can I help ya?” in an annoyed voice. Say “What Can We Do For You?” Be interested! Care! Is it too much to ask?