Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good Will?

Warning: I'm ranting in this post.

I support a couple of  Goodwill stores by shopping there when I'm looking for certain articles of clothing, household goods, and books. In fact, I often blog about my finds on Becky's Frugal Living. One of the Goodwills I like is the Westlake Goodwill, which recently expanded. I decided to check it out yesterday.

I was impressed that there were now lots of doors. That meant easy access. I parked close to one of them. Unfortunately, that door didn't open. Neither did the next one. I had to walk all the way to the third one. No problem; yesterday was one of the days I was feeling pretty good, so I was able to walk that far without getting leg cramps.

The store was bright and spacious, but I didn't find much that I needed. I did notice the books, though. I browsed the shelves but only found one I wanted. 

Since the books were all pushed way back, it was hard to see what was on the two bottom shelves—especially if you wear tri-focals. It's even harder if your 66-year-old knees don't allow you to kneel very well. Here's a view looking down from about three feet back.

Consequently, I didn't bother trying to look at books on the lower shelves. But after I'd browsed elsewhere in the store, I noticed a twenty-something guy wheeling out a loaded cart of books. A closer look told me that there were some Civil War books I'd like to add to my collection. I reached for one. The guy told me I wasn't allowed take books out of the cart. I thought that was odd. If I wanted to buy something, shouldn't a store make it easy for me? 

Well, I could wait for a moment. I stood while he shelved some of the books. When he took one I wanted from the cart and was stooping to put it on the bottom shelf, I asked him if he would please hand it to me.

Nope, he couldn't do that, he said. Huh? Why not? Then he put that book and two others I wanted out of my reach on the very bottom shelf. He pushed them way to the back of the bottom shelf and moved to the next section. I tried to stoop to get the books. I couldn't even see them. I tried to kneel. The knees didn't cooperate. Finally I sat on the floor.

I reached for the books, but my arm wasn't long enough to get them. The guy, who was a few feet from me, never offered to help. To actually get the books, I had to lie down. At least one customer (who looked older than I) and three sales people watched me. 

Getting up with three books clutched in my hand was a challenge, but I managed to hold onto the shelves with my other hand and pull myself up. Fortunately the shelves were sturdy enough to hold my weight.

At the checkout counter, I complained about the difficulty in getting the books I wanted. I was actually even polite about it, even though I was majorly ticked off. The assistant manager was nearby and came over to explain that it was company policy that customers couldn't take an item from the cart (which I've done before there in the past), that the guy could have lost his job if he'd handed me the books (What? He can't be helpful to customers?), and that his handing it to me would be unfair to other customers because they might think the store was giving me preference over certain goods. 

At the Rocky Mount Kroger, I often take items I want from the cart when an employee is about to shelve  them. The employee usually smiles. One less item for him or her to lift. At Kroger, I've asked stock clerks to help me get items that are too high for me to reach. They do so cheerfully. Why can't Goodwill employees show the same good will to customers that Kroger employees do.

When I asked the assistant manager why the books had to be pushed all the way back, she said they fell over if they weren't pushed to the back of the shelves. (I wonder why library books are shelved toward the front?) Then she said that the books were only in the new area temporarily. When they finished renovating, the books would be moved back to where they'd been in the past.

I expressed surprise and dismay that Goodwill didn't want to help the elderly. The assistant manager said she'd get the manager for me to talk to if I wanted. I figured there was no point, so I paid for my purchases. She said the store would be arranged differently when I returned.

"If I return," I said.

The Three Civil War books I bought.

Later, I checked the Goodwill website to see if the company policies were listed. I couldn't find them. The site was geared to the people they will help and hire, not to potential customers. Here's what I found: 

Our Mission

Goodwill Industries International enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work.
Eliminating barriers, helping people. . . . Hmmmm. Further down the same page, there's this:

Our Values

We treat all people with dignity and respect.
We honor our heritage by being socially, financially and environmentally responsible.
We strive to meet the highest ethical standards
We challenge each other to strive for excellence and to continually learn.
We embrace continuous improvement, bold creativity and change.
Treat people with dignity and respect, socially responsible, continuous improvement. . . . Hmmm. And change

I think I know a way they can change. If they're not going to promote good will toward customers, they ought to at least post their "policies" where customers can see them.

Or, they could maybe embrace the idea of helping their customers—especially the elderly and physically challenged. It would be a welcome  improvement.

Note: These pictures were not taken while I actually shopped. After my conversation with the assistant manager, I took the interior shots.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their rules are weird. Sorry you had a negative experience. :-(

3:51 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

What a pity that they have such poor customer service. Shame on them.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

A perfect example of people following "rules" instead of using common sense. Unfortunately I see this more and more these days. Customer service is becoming a thing of the past.

9:06 PM  

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