Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Shoes, Terrible Customer Service

Nobody would accuse Crocs shoes of being stylish. In fact, they're often lauded and criticized. Sure, kids look cute in them, but adults? Except, there are people in this world who wear shoes for comfort and not style, at least, maybe not at the same time. I bought my first pair of Crocs at the urging of a friend. It was maybe three years ago and said friend described them as like a constant massage for your feet. I tried them on. I fell in love. My first pair was the classic "Beach" in white.


The company says that you cannot wear these shoes out, but they're wrong. I definitely wore that pair out, as I wore them probably for about a year straight. Right now they're sitting out in the patio, covered in dirt. The second pair I got I did not actually buy myself. It was the night of college graduation, all was said and done and I was having one last night with Jeff before we parted for the summer. We had bought tickets to see Star Trek in IMAX at the Edwards in Camarillo. While we were waiting, we decided to check out the latest section of the Camarillo Premium Outlets that had just opened, called The Promenade. There was a Crocs outlet store and we went in just to browse. In the bins (where they keep the shoes separately, and you can find the pairs yourself) Jeff and I found these, the "Mary Jane" in Sea Foam.


I don't wear them every day. I did for a while, especially during the summer, but now they're mostly used for running around the apartment or doing laundry or just for a quick run out for errands. They were $10 and Jeff bought them for me. I took off whatever shoes I was wearing (I think brown flip flops?) and put these on. They were on my feet when we saw Star Trek, and I drove home with them on at midnight after saying a very tearful goodbye to Jeff.

Did I mention I wear a size 13?

Finding shoes in my size is very difficult and I've been pretty much limited to Payless Shoes because they carry 12 wide and 13 (on the website). However, these shoes aren't known for quality or comfort. Now that I'm working at Macys, I need shoes that I can walk in and stand in for hours at a time, that will offer support and be comfortable. I thought to myself, I'll get a pair of Crocs! They make them in all styles now, I'm sure I can find something in a ballet flat or something similar.

Last night Jeff and I went back to that same Crocs store and found a pair of black flats that were on sale for $19.99. I couldn't pay for them last night, but they put them on hold for me and told me they opened at 9am the next morning. That's when the trouble began.


I was excited about the shoes because they weren't terribly unattractive, they fit and felt comfortable (size 12 womens, thank goodness they fit because that's very hit and miss) and they're black, which means I can wear them with most of my wardrobe. Unfortunately, due to consumption of way too much garlic last night, I woke up this morning sick and not feeling well at all. But, I wanted to be at the store in the morning so I could pay for my shoes and be on my way. I get there just before 9:30. The lights are off, the doors are shut and locked. A man wearing an orange Crocs shirt walks up and I explain that I was told the store opens at 9 and asked him what time it actually opens. He replied with something to the extent of "some stores open at 9 but no, we open at 9:30." Okay, fine. It was nearly 9:30 anyway and all I had to do was wait a few minutes.

At 9:32 the employees were in the store, the lights were on and they were walking around, adjusting the merchandise. I attempted to open the doors and they were locked. I sat back down at the table and waited, thinking they were just running late, but also starting to get annoyed. One employee already knew I was there and the others would look at me as they walked around the store. I tried the doors again and they were still locked. Finally, around 9:48 I call the store. Here is the conversation that transpired:

Crocs: Thank you for calling Crocs...
Me: Yes, hi. What time do you open?
Crocs: 10:00
Me: Well last night I was told you open at 9:00 and one of your employees this morning told me you open at 9:30.
Crocs: We open at 10:00.

I hung up. I was very upset and I didn't want to just sit around for another 10 to 15 minutes. So I went to Starbucks. When I came back just after 10 the double doors were wide open and there were customers inside. I walk in and, surprise, nobody greets me (what kind of retail store doesn't greet customers?) I walk up to the register and the same man who last night told me the store opened at 9, was standing right there. I calmly informed him that I was picking up a pair of shoes I had on hold and gave him my name. He asked me what kind of shoes they were. "Black Crocs." At that point I couldn't care less if I sounded even slightly snotty; I was fighting back my temper and trying with much effort to not cause a scene. In my mind I was thinking I want your name, the name of ever person working this morning, the names of people who worked last night, the name of your manager, your store number and the number I contact to make a complaint. Instead I gave him my name and he went to fetch them. He came back out a moment later and asked me, "Was it Crystal or Crista?" Crystal. Finally he got them, rang them up and I paid without incident. The entire time the store was very quiet and nobody would make eye contact with me.

I haven't worked in retail for very long, but I've always worked in customer service and never would I ever have treated a customer or client like that. It may not seem like a big deal to them, that they told me the wrong time, twice, but it was an enormous deal for me. I was sick, tired and thought the entire trip would take me 15 minutes and instead it took an hour. At any point that young man who told me they opened at 9:30 could have popped his head out of the door to say, "I'm sorry, ma'am, we don't open until 10." The one thing I hate more than anything about retail stores is when I'm ignored by an employee. At Macys, and even when I worked seasonal last year at Lane Bryant, great customer service was always enforced. You greet the customer, you take care of them, you help them. Nobody appreciates being ignored and especially not me.

I know myself; I have a temper. I seldom lose it but when I do, it's not a pretty picture. I'm actually quite proud of myself for maintaining as calm a composure as possible, but I'm angry that I couldn't let them know how terrible they were. I'm seriously contemplating the idea of writing a letter of complaint about the situation. We'll see. At this moment I feel better now that it's off my chest, but the lingering feeling of not being treated with any customer service at all has left a lump of coal in my heart. Will I stop wearing Crocs? Of course not. I might think twice before I visit that store again. At the end of the day, I have my shoes and I didn't lose my cool. Any victory, no matter how small, is still a victory.

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