Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's 12:01 Somewhere

It's half past midnight here in The Zone, and I've just returned home with my very own copy of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. There are no spoilers here. This is a tale of acquisition.

I decided not to pre-order HP7. Why? Because I've done so for the past two installments and have waited endlessly in line at the bookstore. And, because Are We There Yet shrewdly instructed me to go to my local WalMart at midnight to acquire the book as effortlessly as she did for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Brilliant strategy: simple, efficient. I should have been home by 12:10 a.m.

I left the house here at 11:40 p.m. and drove 5 minutes up the road to the closest WalMart. I parked right in front and walked right to the book section. There were a few friendly people waiting there, some of whom who'd been sitting there for hours.

The clock struck midnight, then 12:01, but no books appeared in the book section. We all looked at each other like, "WTF? Where are the books?" Then one smug bastard in a backwards baseball cap sauntered by and said, "Dudes, the books are all in the electronics section in the back of the store." Four people stampeded and the rest of us race-walked to the electronics department to find 15 people already in line. There were 5 people behind the counter, and one cash register open. ONE CASH REGISTER! There are 15 cash registers in the front of the store, but the only one at which you could acquire and purchase HP7 was in the absolute rear of the store. To add insult to injury, two of the people standing behind the counter weren't even WalMart employees; they worked for the book distributor, which I suspect is Source Interlink because they're based in the area. So, there we were in line. The girls in front of me were pissed because they had been in the store for several hours, waiting by the book section because the functional illiterates in Customer No-Service told them that's where the books would be. I was pissed because I expected the store to make an announcement directing customers to the right place. Really, I was more angry with myself because I should have realized that the INS rejects employees were too lazy to cart the books to the front of the store. I had contemplated wandering to the stockroom door but decided against it to stay near the books. [Note to self: always trust your first instincts.] As the line in front of me grew shorter, I became more vocal, insulting José (his real name) for not announcing where the books were and for being unintelligible over the intercom when he finally did. I finally bought my book and received some free bookmarks and four free "house bracelets" as a bonus. (The book rep. was clearly trying to appease me.)

I close with an open letter to the management of the WalMart SuperCenter (store 5391) in North Naples.
  • To José: you can't help going through life being short, round, and bald. Being arrogant on top of it all just doesn't work. You're a WalMart manager, forchrissakes. Remember that your customer always comes first.
  • To Robert Talbot, manager of the store: you need to hire people who speak English fluently. It is unacceptable for your telephone operators, cashiers, and stock people not to be able to understand and communicate with your customers. Even if your employees have difficulty communicating in English, they should at least be courteous enough to smile when they do their jobs instead of lazily shrugging their shoulders or mouthing off when asked for help.
  • To the Book Manager of this store: you should have put signs up directing customers to the right area. You, yourself, should have been in the store at midnight making a clear announcement, in English and Spanish, welcoming the book buyers and inviting them to the electronics department.
[stepping off the soapbox] I'm headed for the couch and my new book. Good night!


MLL said...

I just checked with DH (I was asleep at midnight) and he said his experience was very similar to yours this year. Last time, they just piled the books out and you picked one up and went through the regular check-outs. This time, they hid the books in the Garden Center, didn't tell anyone where they were....and when the word spread there was a frantic stampede to get there, then had only ONE cashier in Garden where you had to buy the book, even though the front check-outs had several open and were not busy. Totally stupid. Still, I know he was home by about 12:45 and Wal-mart is 15 min away, and the kids didn't get home from B&N until later so I guess it was faster. Walgreens was actually hoping to get a shipping earlier in the day and he was going to go there (how many people think, "gee, I guess I'll run out to Walgreens at Midnight and get HP?"), but he called earlier in the day and their shipment hadn't arrived.

Robin said...

Sounds like a typical Wal-Mart day to me. And a typically poorly planned sales maneuver by the Idiots In Charge.

In defense of the typical Wal-Mart associate who gets paid less than $10/hour no matter what lies Home Office tries to spread, the management of Wally World are trained to be miserable and to figuratively beat (since it's it illegal to whip the servants these days) the lower-paid associates into submission. I've watched nice people go through the management program and become mean, arrogant SOB's. As for the lowly workers, they're not lazy so much as filled with PAP (Passive Aggressive Petulance) that unfortunately gets directed towards shoppers rather than those who truly deserve it.

I accumulated a lot of horror stories in my mere 6 years of working for the Evil Empire.

I'd like to see more people call 1-800-WALMART and complain about management and lousy marketing strategies (home office does ALL of the marketing strategies and your local store has nothing to do with it).

[stepping off my soapbox now]

Glad you got your book. :)