Friday, January 8, 2016

Consumer Reports

Dear Old Navy,

I remember the first time I heard of you. I think it was back in 1995 when I met my friend, Jess. She always dressed nice, casual yet not messy, and I asked her where she found her clothes. "Lot's of different places," she said. "But I do like Old Navy. They're relatively new and they might not have a store here yet."

Up until that time, I had no idea you existed (of course not, as you had only been established one year earlier). And since that time, I've found a few items of yours that I love: a pair of pants here, a sweater there, and that fleece of mine that some of my readers detest. Usually, I find your items at Goodwill or online because I'm not a big fan of shopping at all and anything I can do from the comfort of my own home, well, sign me up.

However, the other day I decided that I just needed to go shopping for pants. The act of shopping wasn't a time waster. It's winter and I'm teaching more this year. I could honestly use a few more pairs of work- and weather- appropriate pants. And since I had the time, I hopped in the car and drove to your nearest store.

Oh, Old Navy, I'm sorry I went--I could have used that time far more wisely. For you see, my experience wasn't bad, per se. It just wasn't memorable in a good way. (Not that shopping needs to be full of fanfare and bling, but you'll see what I mean in a moment.) For the sake of clarity (and I'm a big one for that concept) let's see how the trip went.

Having arrived early (just after opening), I anticipated a relatively quiet store. I also found a relatively quiet store. In fact, when I walked in, not a single employee greeted me. I actually looked around at the place, trying to pinpoint if an employee existed. Had the store actually opened? Did anyone know I was here? Usually when I arrive at a clothing store I'm assaulted by a plethora of staff, hoping to help me find the exact item I need. Not so that day. I meandered farther into the store, toward some women's pants, and realized that the only sound to be heard was the radio that gently flowed from the overhead speakers.

Well okay then. I wasn't there to meet people anyway, I was there for pants. As I edged over to the pants section, and looked at a pair of Pixie pants, I spied one employee sweeping up dust; she didn't even look up as I passed  her. And as I checked out another pair of pants--jeans this time--I managed to see the young woman who staffed the checkout station, too. She was busy doing something on her computer. Apparently I wasn't much of a threat to them, nor was I worthy of a little shout-out or salutation.

Well that's okay, I thought. I'm a somewhat quiet and independent girl. I can go shopping by myself, right? Yes, of course, but I wasn't finding what I wanted in the women's section, so I wandered into the girls part of the store. Sometimes, I can fit into the larger sizes over there. But in trying to access the shelf that held some khakis I was interested in, I almost fell over shoes that were thrown across the floor. Across the middle of the floor. Where clearly, customers could trip over them. I stared at the shoes, which sat along side a pile of leggings. I wanted to ask them what they were doing on the floor, but I knew they couldn't answer me. So I didn't.

It took some effort, but I reached the shelf of khakis, and then cringed. Pants were tossed every which way on the shelves, spilling onto the floor. Some pairs looked as though they'd taken flying leaps off the top shelf, making me wonder. What was wrong with these pants? And what was wrong with the people who worked in this store? Did they not care about chaotic displays such as this? Were they not worried about someone tripping over the items left in the middle of the floor and then suing them for medical damages? I left the girls' section with a pair of pants, but my level of confidence hung at an all-time low.

I won't go into any more details. Just know that I wandered the store for a few minutes more, selecting several pairs of pants that I thought might fit. And that's where I became even more frustrated with you, Old Navy. Your sizes cannot possibly be the same they were a few years ago. Your shirts and sweaters are huge and your pants...well...the sizing isn't consistent. That fact alone bothered me more than it should have until I let it go. (Cue the music!) Of course, none of the pants fit, so I put them all back where I found them--nicely folded, I might add--and decided to leave the store with nothing more than I came in with.

On the way out, I saw a person who looked like a manager speaking to an employee. They stood to the left of the door. They glanced up at me as I passed out the door. They said nothing.

There you have it. The whole sordid story. I had effectively been in the store for about 25 minutes and not a single person said a word to me. That's weird, based on how many people usually just feel the need to speak to me and share their life stories. But that's not the problem I have with my morning. I can always find someone to speak with. Here's my problem: You are a store. You sell clothes and accessories to people like me. I would think that welcoming shoppers into your arms and seeing if they need help would be top priority. Furthermore, even if you don't find it important to greet your guests, I would also think it would be very important to keep your shelves tidy and those floors clear. Make the customer want to come back even when they don't find what they want the first time.

I gotta tell you, Old Navy, I'm not coming back. You might not care, but if enough people start feeling the same way, the people at the top--and the shareholders--just might.




Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go back either. But I'm the laziest shopper ever... frequenting only the stores with actual service. When I'm looking for shoes I don't want to have to look through stacks of boxes hoping to find my size. I want to sit in a chair while an employee goes into the back to find it for me. If I've tried on a pair of pants and they don't fit, I want an employee to go looking for another pair.

Christina said...

I think you're right about the shopping experience. If I up my price point, I bet I could find what you describe. I think I'll go back to online/Goodwill shopping.

Anonymous said...

I have the benefit of living in a SMALL town, where friendliness and service are the expectation... as is my interest in the newest pictures of the sales clerk's children, her opinion of the new gal working in the shop next door, and a complete description of the new line of jewelry that's coming in. There is no such thing as a quick trip anywhere in my town. But I prefer service over expedience.

sandra doninger said...

I have the opposit reaction. I can't stand when employees hover over me as I shop. Going I and out unnoticed would be heaven. Firstly, no upsell. White House Black Market us infamous for that "what size shoe do you wear?" when all you want is pants. Secondly, no guilt. I hate leaving a store empty handed after someone took time to select clothes to bring back to the fitting room. But, I'm not a fan of ON. Inconsistent sizes. Next time. Call Andrea or me! We'll go and help you out!

sandra doninger said...

Ok, is there a way to edit?? Horrific typos! Opposite, in and out, etc....

Anonymous said...

You know, in my town there are only a couple of stores (all small businesses) and I know the employees (usually owners) who are helping me shop. If I went to a place I wasn't such a frequent customer of I'm sure I'd feel the same guilt if I had been given great service and then left empty-handed. I hadn't thought about it that way before.