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Battles and non-battles - Qualified Perceptions
Battles and non-battles
So, I stopped by Pearl on the way home to pick up a set of carvy tools for twe. Armed with my printout of the picture she specified, mjperson and I eventually found them on the second floor (Pearl has a second floor? Who knew?), hanging in a slot marked "List price: $7.00 Pearl price: $5.60". We trundled back down to the register, where it rang up for $7.83. Wasn't that $5.60, I ask? No, no, $7.83, he assures me.

So I leave mjperson to guard the carvy tools and go back up to check the price. Yup, it still says $5.60. I head back down to complain to the customer service desk. The woman there scans the carvy tools and says why, yes, they're $7.83, not $5.60. I say yes, I understand that, but it did say $5.60. She allows as how perhaps the $5.60 is incorrect. I try to clarify that I don't actually care about the two dollars (especially since it's not even my $2, and I have not been given a budget), but that I think it is perhaps misleading to have all these items under a sign saying $5.60. She still doesn't seem to see why I am causing such a fuss, and says she'll ask someone to take a look.

I give up and head back out into the rain. ("I was just settling in for the long haul" says mjperson, who thinks this is all a sneaky trick to get him rained on more).

I think I cared the wrong amount. I could have cared less, and not bothered fussing over it at all, or I could have cared more, and fussed until someone agreed to actually fix it (or gave me $2). Caring enough to fuss a little but not play to win seems... unsatisfying.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

8 comments or Leave a comment
countertorque From: countertorque Date: April 13th, 2004 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

When to Fight

This happens to me a lot. I think winning the fight would only make me (you) angrier. You can only get satisfaction if the enemy accepts defeat. And in this case, they never will. They'll be happy to accept whatever terms you insist on, as long as you go away. You will become the unreasonable customer and therefore your concerns will be meaningless. I think you chose wisely.

You can hope that 5 more people will raise a similar complaint in the next week and that sooner or later it will dawn on their tiny brains to change the sign. Sometimes, thinking about that makes me feel better.
mijven From: mijven Date: April 14th, 2004 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)

I don't understand, they wouldn't go remove the sign? Sure, they're a cool enough store that I'd shop there even if they mismarked everything - but that's really disrespectful to not correct their own customer-confusing signs.

BTW, not sure if I knew they had a second floor.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 14th, 2004 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it was more that the person at the customer service desk - not so much wouldn't, as didn't seem to think she *could* go fix the sign. Maybe she doesn't know how to use the price-sign printing device. Maybe she wasn't allowed to leave her post. Maybe only managers and higher are allowed to do anything regarding money.

In any event, she had the same manner that I have when I tell a client "I'm sorry that this piece of software isn't working, and I'll bring it to the attention of the people who maintain that machine." I can't fix it, no matter how sympathetic I am. Well, I think I'm usually more sympathetic than she was, and more clear on the fact that I don't have the power to fix it myself, but it did seem like that.
twe From: twe Date: April 15th, 2004 11:40 am (UTC) (Link)
They didn't always have a second floor; that's since you left the area. They're sort of cool, but they've gone down hill a bit - stuff often out of stock, help hard to find (I suppose the staff has always been a bit cavalier). Another art store opened up right across the street, on a basement level, and while their selection is not quite so vast, their prices are quite good in general, and the staff is a bit friendlier. I often hit them both when I make it over there before closing. :)
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: April 14th, 2004 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Rambling Response

I was reading somewhere (I think in The Tipping Point) that the way consumer laws are written depends on troublesome people. The state doesn't go around and check that all of the stores are following the pricing laws. Instead they rely on people like me (pain-in-the-ass-consumers). Every once in a while a particular pitac is in the Globe because it's his full time hobby to harangue stores until they follow the appropriate pricing policies, and when they blow him off he reports them to the state and they eventually get fined. Osco got bit by that a few times for not having things ring up according to sale, and Home Depot got a big fine for not labeling items individually.

As a pitac I would have demanded that the store sell me the item for the marked price, since that's what state law requires. At the very least that gets it bumped up to manager. On the other hand, you were buying it for someone else, so my standard tactic "I don't want it if you're not going to honor your advertised/posted/listed price wouldn't work in this case".

Pitacs. Keeping the world safe for consumers everywhere. Not that this has much to do with your point, except that maybe your problem was you weren't giving the customer service rep something she could do? Perhaps she can't actually change the sign, but could have given you a partial refund or something. No idea. (Never been particularly impressed by the service at Pearl, although the store is mighty fun.)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 14th, 2004 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I think she thought I wanted a refund, at the start, and didn't seem willing to do that.

I know that state law says that if the item is *marked* with a price, they have to honor that price. I thought that wasn't the case for items that are unmarked, but are in a labelled area, so that you can't just move stuff to a cheaper section and then pick it up. (In fact, I seem to recall that part of the negotation for grocery stores going price-sticker-less was that they had to have some sort of barcode-scanning stations that people could check prices at).

I'm also not clear that the sign was for that particular item - I think it was less informative about what it was for than what the price was.

But now I'm considering going back today and checking. :)
twe From: twe Date: April 15th, 2004 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm very glad you didn't refuse to buy it if they wouldn't sell it to you at the posted price! (Since I'm on a deadline...)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: April 16th, 2004 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)


I find the mechanism of PITACs very appealing -- you've got this army of zealots running around helping you enforce your laws for free. The big problem is that they're an army of zealots, and zealots are often totally crazy people. Relying on psychological outliers often backfires. In democracies it gets even worse. The squeaky wheels get undue influence on legislation, and poor little mom-and-pop stores get saddled with unnecessary regulatory burdens that only big corporations really have the resources to adequately deal with.

That said, PITACs are still probably the best mechanism we could have. Way better than armies of government bureaucrats who spend all day at a desk filing mounds of paperwork and never actually get out to the store to look at the pricetags.

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