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Tonight I helped a customer choose a computer to buy. I was attentive and listened to his needs and met them. He was completely happy with the service I gave him and I have no doubt he would gladly return for repeat business. And the transaction was a total failure for the store and my boss will likely catch hell for it. The reason: I didn't manage to sell any services or add-ons to the computer. When I brought his computer to the front for the cashier to ring him out, I explained the restrictive return policy. Once opened the computer is non-returnable. It can only be exchanged if defective. I hoped that this hardline policy would turn him off so that he would not buy the computer. No such luck. Something's wrong if you make a sale with a completely happy customer with all his needs met, but it would have been better to not even make the sale.

The company has set it up so that if a computer is sold without any attachments, it loses money. Any such sale is a failure. If you don't make enough good sales, that is, ones with extra services, you're seen as a poor salesman and are punished with stressful duties like cashiering. I will likely get several cashiering shifts due to this "failure." He was the only customer looking for a computer that I helped all night and hence all my stats will be based on that one sale. This customer was a power user. He didn't need any of the extra services offered such as the creation of recovery disks, the installation of antivirus or Microsoft Office. He already knew how to do all that and was able to take care of all of it himself. When I first started with this company some years back, the emphasis was simply on meeting the customer's needs and hence building repeat business. That has all changed. Now it's all about who sells the most add-ons. People who don't know diddly squat about computers or on how to make sure a customer gets the info they need, but are good at selling add-ons get treated well. They get the raises, the good hours, etc. Anyone who doesn't get good stats, no matter how knowledgeable or how happy he makes a customer, is devalued. It's created a shark-like atmosphere. I've had other employees steal my commissions. I sold a bunch of services to someone who actually needed them, but she wasn't ready to pay right then, so I gave her my card with all the info and had the PC held for her with all the info and my card and my employee number. When she came back, I wasn't on duty and the guy working took credit for the sale. And then I was punished with cashiering shifts while he got computer shifts and hence even more sales.

In other stores people have resorted to some desperate and unethical tactics. One is lying to a customer who you know won't buy add-ons that a computer is out of stock. Another is taking a clearance computer that's been marked way down and then adding the price of a warranty onto it and selling it that way as a sticker price without the customer even aware that they're buying an extra warranty. To its credit, the company has condemned those tactics. However, they've created the atmosphere where employees feel desperate enough to try them. Tonight I could have saved some serious trouble for myself and for my boss if I had crossed that line. I could have told the customer that the computer was out of stock, but our store on X street had them. Make the other store take the hit.

Something's terribly wrong when meeting the customer's needs is failure.

I realize there are people in worse places than I'm in. At least I have a job. However, when I left work tonight, I felt sick to my stomach because I know my boss is going to catch hell from an evil and disgusting district manager. The fact is I'm a very good salesman, but there was nothing I could have done that would have resulted in any add-ons. This customer didn't need them. Even if I could have added something on, it would have been a disservice to that man to sell him something he didn't want or need.

Part of this is I just needed to vent. I appreciate any moral support. The other part is the need to take action. To be honest, I've never been all that good at job searching. But I need to be! If anyone has any favorite web pages or other material for me to check out, I'm all ears. I've gotta get better at job hunting. Fast! Tomorrow (Friday) I have the day off and will be looking.

So wish me luck!

And, btw, I might as well name names. The company I work for is Office Depot. I want to no longer be their employee. I don't even want to be their customer. Once I have a new job, I will never walk into an Office Depot store again. And Staples isn't any better. I used to work for them. In fact, they're even worse. There my boss instructed me to deliberately overcharge customers and I was fired when I refused.

When I need computer gear, I'll just buy it online from Newegg or Amazon.
 

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Wow, that's frustrating. I feel for you. In my new job, I feel guilty because the guy training me is impolite to customers. I feel like I'm the only one there who genuinely cares about the customers, not just getting their paycheck. (And guess what? Our establishment has terrible reviews on Internet rating sites).

I'm not sure what to tell you, except for good luck!
 

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I'm so sorry. It can't be easy having a soul and working in that environment. I never feel comfortable in those stores. Now I know why. I did have one nice employee at Staples sell me the right clean up when I got a virus on my computer. He told me it's what they use and it really worked. I wonder if he should not have done that, according to management.

It's scary to hear this too. I'm considering at some time replacing my clunker of a lap top. But really I should wait until it's on it's last key before I chuck the poor thing.

I hope you find another job better suited to you soon!
 

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Hiya I used to work at PC world a few months ago as a sales colleague- exact same thing, sales targets, KPIs, Hell from your boss if you don't meet them. I absolutely hated it. The worst thing was that when I first started they were all like 'the customer's experience at our store is about being greeted warmly, having a friendly rapport established and having solutions tailored to their needs'... What a load of tripe, it was about forcing old ladies to buy expensive computer insurance, overpriced services and software they didn't need. It was really disgusting watching a large male manager yelling at a 17 year old girl doing her first ever job, saying it wasn't good enough that she wasn't meeting targets.

I was lucky enough that for me it wasn't my first job and I was only doing it part time to get some money during my post graduate degree.

If they tried to 'punish' me by making me be a greeter (stand at the door and say hello to everyone) or making me sell something less interesting than computers, like printers, I didn't care. I would actually have liked to have been a cashier... I've done that before and it was fairly mindless and repetitive but quite stress free. The full time sales guys all seemed really demoralised and stressed out, so I'm really sorry you have to work in that environment. It's a shame because being a friendly, informative, encouraging and knowledgable salesperson is a skill, and these kind of stores drive away people who could be their most skilled employees by being Hell to work for.

I'm sorry I don't have any ideas for job hunting in the USA though it's something I've done a lot of here in the UK and as you're probably aware it's an awful economic climate and jobs really are very thin on the ground. I think any 'sales' job is going to involve deception and targets and unnecessary pressure. When I'm looking for a job I check all the employment websites for my area, and the job centre is a good resource too if you have such a thing... If I'm looking for a shop job I check all the store windows as job ads often appear in there, and worst comes to worst I send my CV speculatively with a covering letter to places I want to work for.
 

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I just had this experience from the other side - as the customer. I wanted a laptop and the sales staff spent around 35 minutes trying to convince my to buy Microsoft Office (one sales advisor actually told me it was Windows I had to buy because it didn't come with the computer, when she meant MS Office), their extended guarantee, their protection programme, anti-virus software and god knows what else. They anxiously pressed me for reasons that I didn't want these things, saying they would have to personally explain to the manager why I hadn't bought them. The manager then started pretty much bribing me, sending the sales staff to offer me free stuff if I signed up for the software.

This was PC World, so I guess this is pretty standard in computer chains.
 

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Well, maybe the rapture really will happen this weekend and then you'll have bigger things to worry about.

(sorry, I have nothing uberconstructive to say.)

What did you do before Staples and Office Depot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthling View Post

I just had this experience from the other side - as the customer. I wanted a laptop and the sales staff spent around 35 minutes trying to convince my to buy Microsoft Office (one sales advisor actually told me it was Windows I had to buy because it didn't come with the computer, when she meant MS Office), their extended guarantee, their protection programme, anti-virus software and god knows what else. They anxiously pressed me for reasons that I didn't want these things, saying they would have to personally explain to the manager why I hadn't bought them. The manager then started pretty much bribing me, sending the sales staff to offer me free stuff if I signed up for the software.

This was PC World, so I guess this is pretty standard in computer chains.
Uhg. They create frustrated and desperate salespeople, and it ends up being unfair to the customer. We're required to offer MS Office and even make them sign a thing on the receipt that we did. I'm fine with offering stuff that they might need or want. Antivirus is extremely important to have these days, and a lot of people actually want MS Office. However, a lot of people already have antivirus provided through their work or school and many people are downloading and using the free and very capable OpenOffice.

Here's another effect this atmosphere has created. A lot of people here are from India. For whatever reason, most people I encounter who are from there prefer to choose what laptop they want, often in advance, and just buy it without adding anything on to it. It's extremely rare for an Indian customer to ever want to add anything on. If you see someone from India wanting help, your heart sinks because you know it's very unlikely they'll want to add anything to the sale. Great. Now sales people can't help but have ethnic preferences. I still strive to serve people equally, and of course I'm punished for it. The sales people who manage to avoid Indian customers do better than those who don't.
 

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Do you know enough about PC maintenance to get out of sales and into a more technical job? PC maintenance and repair is pretty much the standard entry level IT job for many business environments. If you've got years of PC sales experience, and you can talk a good game in the interview, they'll be more likely to hire you than someone with a computer science degree fresh out of college, with no real world experience.

--Fromper
 

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I agree with Digger, but I totally sympathize with you. I'm stuck in food service, and I can't seem to get out. At 44 years old, I don't have the stamina or the patience for the job I used to. And it's simply NOT paying my bills, and the schedule is making it impossible for me to manage the other priorities in my life. I'm pursuing work in the entertainment industry (that's why I moved to LA, afterall) but it's really difficult to work it in around my job schedule.
 

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That sucks. Like others in the thread, I often feel uncomfortable shopping in electronics stores. I just know these places are full of scrupulous sharks and inexperienced teenagers, and none of them know **** about electronics anyway. I'd much rather buy what I need online where I can research the gadgets I'm after in a relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately, there are still times when I have to visit the actual stores.

To the OP, have you thought about writing to the company management to explain the situation "on the ground" and how it's affecting customers and the reputation of the business, and your ideas for how it could be improved? If you're about to switch jobs anyway, it might be something to consider. Maybe you'll be lucky and they will realise the errors of their ways. If you're really lucky, maybe they'll even reward you! Yeah, it could happen ...
 

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Wow that's awful. So sorry you have to deal with this. I'm so glad I never shop at these places. What a horrible way to treat their employees (and customers). I worked in the electronics dept of a large retail chain and although of course we were "encouraged" to sell the products and bring in good sales our jobs didn't depend on it. Hell, when managers weren't around I always informed people of better deals at other stores or which items we sold were pieces of crap.

I agree with Fromper about looking into IT jobs if you have the knowledge and experience.

Good luck with everything. I hope things get better.
 

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No wonder I never get any help when I go into those stores. I only buy the computer and no add-ons.
In California the unemployment office has a website with job listings, your state may have one also. And then there's always craigslist, just gotta watch out for the scams.
 

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Wow I can relate.... I had the unfortunate experience of working for RadioShack for about a year. The main focus of that place was SELL CELL PHONES and the biggest baddest plan you can con the customer into.... Needless to say, I did not do that well and was "punished" by my hours being cut down to so little I asked the manager to fire me so I could get unemployment. Any retail company that pays commission is going to be hell to work for.... unless you have that mentality to SELL SELL SELL no matter what. And I did see some of those people in action... actually made me feel horrible for the poor customers. I currently work at TJ Maxx which is much more relaxed but still have to push credit apps....Retail is retail... it is what it is... but what is a person suppose to do when jobs are so scarce?
Good luck to the OP finding something more satisfying. Your IT experience should count for something as Fromper said.
 

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I used to work in sales too, the unethical brown noses got all the promotions and incentive dollars, but took advantage of customers. I was a VERY polite salesman that gave the customer what they wanted and needed, but would get punished. Even when the customers I served came back time, and time again! Yet, I would eat socks 'cause I didn't force services, or upsell.

Sorry to hear about your situation, best of luck to you on your search.
 
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