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Friday, January 11, 2008

Mind The Gap

"Mind the Gap! -- Mind the Gap!" If you've been to London, you know exactly what adage I'm referring to. In London's Underground tube system, there are spaces (gaps) in between the platforms that you stand on while waiting and the cars of the trains that you step into. Some gaps are far wider than others due to different train widths. And so, the proverbial message from the overhead loudspeaker system, "Mind the Gap!" There are t-shirts, ball caps, and coffee mugs sporting the message.

Just a smattering of a few days ago in Orlando, I was at The Gay Mecca with Sorted. Cute boys everywhere sporting the latest trendy jeans showing their tummys and tight t-shirts prompting their hairless pecs to pop out. We had bantered back and forth about my shopping mantra: That I never buy anything at full price...it's always on sale and, most of the time, on clearance. Plus, I don't actually need anything...at this point in my life, it's definitely wants. Beyond that, I don't shop at expensive name-brand stores like Bloomingdales, Macy's, and Saks. I'm much more of a Target sort of guy with an Outlet Mall Mentality. So, we had just been in and out of a Lacoste shop where Sorted's friend works. I'd looked at a Tuque that was on sale for $41. You know me and my collection of tuques. But there was absolutely no way I was going to pay $41 for this hot one...my entire collection didn't cost that much. So, we move on. To the Gap and that's where things got a little more interesting.

We entered Gap Store #07036 at The Mall at Millenia in Orlando on Conroy Road. And the first thing you know I've tossed a hot little gray and black stripe pullover on my arm and have found a pair of black jeans that hugged my baby ass nice and proper (in spite of the extra five pounds,that's gotta go bye-bye, around my mid-section). Total = $36 and I'm feeling happy. My cashier's name tag says "Ryan." Here's how things played out:

Ryan: Would you like to apply for a Gap credit card today?

Me: No, thank you.
Ryan: Are you familiar with Old Navy Stores and blah blah blah stores?

Me: Yes.

Ryan: Do you shop there?

Me: Sometimes.
Ryan: Do you know that you can use this credit card at those stores too?

Me: No, thank you.

Ryan: Are you sure? It would save you 15% today.

Me: Would you mind just finishing up my transaction, please.

Ryan: I'm just required to ask.

Me: And if you ask one more time, I'm going to ask you to refund this entire purchase. When a customer says "no, thanks," it should mean exactly that.

Ryan: Not in this store. We're required to ask through the entire transaction.

So, he finished up the transaction, places the clothes in the bag and hands me my receipt. Oh, and just one more thing......
Ryan: Are you sure that I can't just place an application for the card in your bag to take home and look at?

Me: I'd like you to refund the entire transaction, please. You've now turned a pleasant experience into an unpleasant one. And you're now losing my sale.

I spoke to the store manager who, while concurring with me completely, agreed that their training does ask for what Ryan was doing. She apparently has mentioned this to their uppity-ups and they don't care. She encouraged me to write in -- which I am doing by way of an email with a link to this particular post in it. I'm not sure I'll go back into a Gap store to repeat a bad experience. No should mean no. Don't forget to Mind The Gap. I will be.


Stacey said...

I agree with you on the credit card pressure and have done the exact same thing at the GAP. My husband won't go in there since (as he says) "they're going to follow me around with that little credit card application and I don't like it." When I say "no" that's it, end of discussion.

Lemuel said...

You Go!! You are now my hero!! When a customer says "no", he/she means "no". That should end the conversation.

Recently I canceled a credit card "protection" plan that had been sold me. I found it to be expensive and unnecessary. When I called to cancel, the agent kept trying to get me to "reconsider". I finally just kept saying at 5 second interval, "cancel it". He finally got the message. That card and anything connected with that company will be history.

(BTW, I like the cute guy in the picture/header. He's a little young for a geezer like me, but still very cute! ;) )

andyray said...

All I can say is always take it to the 'uppity-ups'. The poor retail guy has to face the wrath everyday for a paycheck.

D-Man said...

It's almost as annoying as hearing the awful onboard credit card announcements they foist on weary airplane travelers nowadays.

And as we know all too well, the "uppity-ups" really DON'T care. They pat themselves on their backs and get bonuses for "brilliant" marketing ideas, culled from hours upon hours of steering committees and strategy sessions, all the while completely disconnected from the front-line workers and customers. Then suddenly the stock price falls, their stock options are worth less, and they lock themselves in their offices for a 'new' plan...

Gee, how do I feel about corporate America...

Sorted Lives said...

I am still in awe over the fact he was THAT persistent. I have never in any of their stores been asked THAT many times for a credit card application. I love the fact you stand up for what you believe in, even if something fits that baby ass so well.

So I am guessing on the next trip, we won't be stopping by The Gap? Hope all is well!

Laurie said...

OH MY GOSH! Yeah! I hate it when
they are constantly asking if you
want to save 'such-n-such' percent
and apply for today. I think that
if I wanted one I would go and get
an application myself. I don't know
why big companies want people to go
into more debt then they already
are. I have stopped using my
Capital One card because it went
from 9% to 17% APR. I don't have
any debt to any credit card
company and I think it pisses them

I feel sorry for the guy you delt
with. He probably quit right after

I have to go back to HOT TOPIC and
see if that REALLY HOT!!!! guy
Brian is still working there. He
was so freaken HOT I'd probably
apply for anything he asked me to.
I know he had more than a couple of
mouths full in his pants (ya know
what I mean too.) I know, I'm bad.

Doug said...

I'm a clearance rack boy myself. Any store that has a clearance rack can get me to walk through their door.

It's amusing that you told them you'd cancel your purchase if they asked again, and they asked again. How stupid can they be? And the manager then says, "Yes, we lost your business, but that's what our managers tell us to do: piss off the customers." Corporate bullshit at its best!

I guess I don't need to shop at Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy, either. I hate that shit.

What we need to do is to get a group of people to go to one store and all request credit apps at the same time and fill them out with false info and take up the time of all their staff. And we should each have a huge armful of clothes to buy, and then walk out at the last minute. That's probably a felony, though, as opposed to a company wasting all of our time with stupid sales pressure.

Will said...

Good for you!! Even better that you were willing to sacrifice clothing you had wanted to remain true to your word and your values.

Mike said...

As I told you that day, it isn't the boys fault. Just doing his job, he was.

Still though, I applaud you for your stance, but that is the way of retail. Store Credit Cards and Maintenance Contracts. That's all that the Corporate Office cares about. Certainly NOT about the customer.

Dave2 said...

I never thought of returning my purchase because of annoying credit card banter... but I did once immediately return some stuff I bought when the store's anti-theft alarm was triggered on me. Usually I wouldn't care if the clerk made a mistake and accidentally left a tag on my clothes... but this place humiliated me in a store full of people for something that was not my doing, and there was no way I was going to spend money there after that. No wonder I'm buying most everything on the internet now-a-days.

Java said...

I don't recall ever being in a GAP store, at least not in the past 15 years. And yet my life is nonetheless fulfilling. I think I can stay away even longer.

There is no way in this century I would consider paying $41 for a tuque. Glad you didn't succumb.

I've been doing a bit of clothes shopping recently. I bought a skirt and top the other day for only $16. The skirt was marked down (clearance, of course) from an original $24.99 to $4.99. I was all over that bargain! I am so much like my dear departed grandmother. I miss the old girl. I figure if I get a bargain like that I am honoring her memory.

Wayne said...

I feel sorry for the poor employees who have to ask all that stupid stuff. I bet if the higher ups did that for a day, things would change.

tornwordo said...

That's too much. You warned him!

somewhere joe said...

I'm rarely asked more than once. But my approach to this sort of engagement is to expend as little energy as possible. I'll say "no." Beyond that I won't give any response at all.

The new bugaboo is being asked "Did you find everything you wanted?", a completely insincere question designed, apparently, to make the store feel good about itself. Just try saying - "no, I don't think you have any Philly whipped cream cheese with smoked salmon." Wrong answer! A look of utter surprise and confusion on the cashier's face is the result. Whereupon you're usually refered to the customer service desk to teach you to use the correct response next time: "Yes, I found everything just fine, thank you."

turnipHed said...

That would drive me right round the flipping bend.....and I would have done the same thing....

What part of NO was unclear?

I had to follow your link on "tuque" to see if you were talking about what I thought you were! ;-)

G Cracker said...

As an inside in the clothing retail business, I'm gonna mention a little-something-something I'm probably not supposed to know:
The Gap is going under some time in the next couple years. (Sears is already looking into purchasing the company)
Now you know one reason why.

In case you're wondering, I know this, because American Eagle doesn't allow employees to work for the competition, but we're allowed to work for the Gap because they're doing so poorly.

PS Ryan was probably a new hire, doing what he'd been told to do because his training was probably too inadequate for him to know that he's allowed to quit asking. He went in the stockroom later that day and complained bitterly to his coworkers about the asshole who was so offended by being offered a credit card that he returned his entire purchase. :P

I know, because I've been on both sides of this conversation.

RAD Homo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RAD Homo said...

Ryan sounds like an idiot..I hate when you encouter a robot in the any service related job....You either have it or dont and it was so not nesesary for him to ask you THAT many times...silly!.....Sorry this happened..this kind of stuff so irks me!!! I would of blew up at the stupid ass manager too! I would send a letter to the main office! They need to know this stupidness!


eric p. said...

I think I've encountered Ryan ... and that's why I don't shop at that Gap anymore. The line about "uppity-ups" is a lie. If that were true you'd have the same experience at Banana, Old Navy, and their various and sundry Outlet stores. Not to mention other stores around town, where I've never been treated as poorly as at the store in Orlando's most "upscale" mall.
In fact, having talked to a friend who works at that store, there's one employee who is overly pushy about the credit cards, and he's constantly congratulated for his results.
I get why corporate types are gung-ho about store cards: they can track your purchase history, AND they don't have to pay as high a percentage back to the bank as they do with Visa et. al. No excuse.

Nathan said...

Sounds like things have become pretty extreme in the retail market these days.

I had a seasonal job in retail in 2002, and we were required to ask people to sign up for our rewards program. (We asked one time, that was all.) If one transaction went by without us asking, it was noted on our employee record and it could potentially prevent us from moving up in the future.

I'll never forget the day I had to ask a 10 year old if he'd like to sign up for our rewards program when he bought a 50 cent pack of gum.

So it's frustrating to both the employees and the shoppers. Believe me, they don't like harassing you.

I have learned to be compassionate, even though it's irritating, I know what it's like to be on the other side of the register. So I don't get too frazzled.

It sounds like things are much more aggressive now.

Frontier Psychiatrist said...

At Banana Republic, where I used to work, we were rewarded for every new "BR Card" we opened. There were even little in-store competitions.

Since Gap is pretty much the same thing (only with a less strict dress code, which always made me jealous), each shift starts with a meeting that includes that day's "card goal."

While this does come from the top, the manager was just covering her ass in blaming them. You don't get to be a manager if you don't really believe in that crap.

Wow, sorry to vent. I just always feel bad for the cashiers who really are forced to go through all that.

CTOcity said...

Hence the reason I don't shop in ANY of these types of stores. Besides... I can't afford them anyway! Good for you Lewis. I would and have done the same thing in other stores when sales people piss me off.

When I worked for Saks in New York, the sales people were always told to push charge cards but our rule was ask once... and then don't push. If they don't want it, don't push it. The funny thing was that each month the winner of the most account opened was someone who worked in the shipping room. Why? Because he put an application into each and every package he sent out with his employee information on the bottom so they could track who gave it out. He got hundreds of apps each month! Smart guy... Oh well...

Keep up the good work!

JoeBlogs said...

Well done on complaining. I would still probably have made the purchase, because It doesnt make any difference if I don't. I would side with Ryan, Ive worked for many corporations and they often reproach you for using your own intuition if its not the comapny line. They force you to be a robot or u lose your job.