Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Today's Complaint.

It’s nice when you get to know the assistants in your local supermarket, and they smile a greeting when you walk in. I know they’re just the human face pasted onto a soulless corporate machine, but at least it’s a real face.

I was in Homebase before that, the Ashbourne branch of a DIY chain. They have a member of staff standing just inside the door whose job it is to smile and say ‘hello.’ That isn’t a real face; the operative word is ‘job.’ He’s doing it because he’s told to do it, and that makes it forced, intrusive, manipulative and disingenuous. He makes you feel waylaid; he invades your personal space. And that’s why I ignore him. It can’t be rude if he’s only doing a job.

I went to the garden tools department to compare a range of equipment, and heard a voice behind me say ‘Are you all right, there?’ (That’s the downmarket version of the old ‘may I help you, sir?’ Or maybe it’s just an expression of the modern mania for streetspeak in all things.) Needless to say, I ignored him too

He said it again and I ignored him again. He said it a third time, so I turned to face him. ‘Are you all right, there?’ he asked a fourth time. ‘Yes I am. If I should get to the point where I’m not all right and need your help, I’ll come and ask for it. OK?’ I suppose I shouldn’t have been sharp with him since he was also doing his job, but I was mightily irritated by then.

I decided to complain to the manager. The manager wasn’t available so they gave me his e-mail address to put my complaint in writing, and that’s what I’ve done. My favourite bit is where I point out that this practice only serves to demonstrate that Homebase is a soulless money-making machine managed by a bunch of idiots who apparently don’t know what a gulf there is between genuine friendliness and harassment. I’ve told them that I dislike being harassed, and if it doesn’t stop I’ll shop elsewhere. Much effect it will have, no doubt.


Anonymous said...

That seems a bit harsh and unfair. You don't know what kind of situation of life that sales assistant finds himself. Maybe it took all the gumption he had just to get up out of bed and get to work a job in a store such as Homebase? I'm sure it doesn't pay a lavish salary.

Since you ignored his query, maybe he thought you were hard of hearing? He was 'just doing his job' and in some instances that is not an evil or soulless act. I'm sure he would rather be somewhere else than Homebase.

Since being forced out of the work force myself, I have a new appreciation and empathy for those who still are; especially those in the public service industry. Consider that you were able to go in, and go out at will, but so many working folks don't have such a luxury.


JJ Beazley said...

Thank you for your comment.

I appreciate what you're saying, but I think I made it clear that my complaint was against the system, not the assistant. (I admitted that I shouldn't have been sharp with him. I actually apologised to one the previous week for that very reason.)

The fact is that I'm not the biggest fan of the corporate mentality which sees customers as mere objects, there to be manipulated. And I have low regard for insensitive management which tells assistants to do things which they find uncomfortable, and which the customers find unpleasantly intrusive. I do believe I have every right to tell such management to stop harassing me.