Friday, November 23, 2007

NPR's anti-worker bias.

Dear Day to Day:

Regarding your piece on customer service and the mystery shopper:

I'm wondering if you all are going to ever get around to talking to anyone who actually WORKS in retail.

We've heard from the business guy and the mystery shopper, we've got a pretty good handle on where corporate America is coming from.

What about the worker, though?

Has it ever occurred to anyone that the folks behind the counter or on the sales floor probably would rather be doing anything else but what they're doing?

Most likely they have no choice but to work for $6 an hour. Or they could be working to make a little extra $ while they go through school or only working there for the medical insurance.
In any case, their #1 motivation probably isn't to go out of their way to help you or make money for their boss who is most likely a jerk.

What ever the reason -- based on my 18 years in retail -- the employee you encounter at IKEA or Linens N Things or where ever doesn't really give a rat's ass about what you want or what the thread-count is on a particular sheet. It has been my experience that the reason you'll find most employees don't know anything about the product they're selling is because they aren't told anything about the product they're selling.

Training people costs money.

When you begin working at a Linens & Things or an IKEA or Pier 1, you're on your own when it comes to figuring out what you're selling. (At Pier 1, they gave me a book on how to work the register and left me alone.)

At IKEA they gave us three days of orientation about the wonders of IKEA and the glory of our "Dear Leader" Ingvar Kamprad and then set us out on the sales floor to fend for ourselves.

In Invar's perfect world of the extremely low price profile, you either sink or swim with little or no imput from your managers. If you could find one you might be able to ask another employee about a product, but better to just read the helpful product knowledge signs (which are mostly in Swedish.) If you don't want to apply yourself for $9.80 an hour for 20 hours a week -- spread over six days (6 PM to 10:30 PM) then your are not IKEA material.

If you can manage to get 30 hours a week for 12 weeks we'll give you benefits, but since our managers make very sure never to allow that to happen, you can enjoy the $2 Chicken Marsala at our employee cafateria. Yum!

As our Dear Leader says:

"A job must never be just a meal ticket."

And unions are Verboten! As Ingvar tells us, the individual should never subcome to "the gray gloominess of collective agreements."

My apologies for this rant, but except for one time a year on Labor Day, NPR never covers the worker.

Along with the travails of corporate America and the frustrated house wife trying to find someone to tell her about all the sales and the thread-count on a particular sheet (which really makes no difference unless you're willing to spend some real money "Marie Antoinette") how about covering the people you interact with everyday at the local supermarket or at the mall?

Are they not worthy of your time because they make minimum wage?


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