Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Retail Therapy

So, I was in the market for a microwave oven. I needed it kind of fast, my family heavily relies upon the quick and easy convenience that microwave ovens were made for. Normally, my first purchase choice would be from Amazon. I love the convenience and I hate to shop, but like I said, we needed the microwave fast, and Amazon Prime just wan't fast enough.

So, the down and dirty preliminary sweep of online choices quickly narrowed down to Sears. There is a store near me, and the website offers free store pickup with an online purchase. Sweet!

I ordered the unit from the website, using an online coupon that saved $10 bucks. (Sweet!) I received my acknowledgement email and readied myself to pick up the oven the next day.

Sweet turned sour as I walked into the local Sears to get the microwave. I'm never in the store, so I don't know the layout. Problem is, there is no easily located map or index showing where the appliance department is. The store was clean, but felt more like a mausoleum than a department store. No customers, no clerks. Just racks of women's clothing, jewelry, and perfumes. It kind of felt like a Twilight Zone episode, with the lifeless mannequins staring off into space, unheeding of my disoriented trek to appliance nirvana.

Finally, a clerk. I asked where the appliance section was. Second floor. Okay, now to find an escalator. There it was, hidden in plain sight, but no indication of what it brought you to. Up I went.

Still no customers to speak of, but a clerk here and there. I asked where I could pick up the microwave I ordered online. Oh, said the clerk, that's downstairs. Hmm. Why would I think I needed to go to the microwave department to pick up a microwave I bought?

Downstairs again, I finally found the merchandise pick up area, cleverly hidden in a corner behind children's clothing. Why there? Who knows? There was no one to ask, because this kiosk-y area is not manned by anyone. You need to scan your receipt and wait for someone to bring out your item. The scanner didn't work, of course, so I needed to input all my data on the touchscreen. Not very intuitive, and not very welcoming.

I finally was given my microwave oven, and I hauled it out to the car. With four sides of the building to enter, I had not parked on the side near this pick up area. It would have been nice to have some indication on the building where the pick up area was, so that parking near that entrance would mean a shorter distance to haul your items, but alas, that is not the case.

What should have been a simple five minute in and out pick up, wound up taking over a half hour. It's not a mystery to me why Sears is in deep trouble. No customers. No customer service. It won't be long before Sears becomes a brand that we all used to know.

Sears today is really not the Sears of old. After many a corporate restructuring, Sears is now just a brand with no connection to it's past, or to it's customers. It's owned by money men looking to squeeze that last drop from the entity before it is inevitably cast into the dust bin of history.

I won't mourn when it happens, I hated my experience there. It is too bad, but for Sears, and other pitiful retail outlets, the writing is on the wall.

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