While I thought I had already ranted about Home Depot and Superama, a quick search on this collection of neurotic writings confirms that I have not.
I feel particularly inspired as yesterday was a shopping kind of day and I found the customer service on my forays into the two stores mentioned in the title to be far from deficient; it was downright awful and would provoke at least a meeting at the head office, if they cared enough to monitor these kinds of trivialities.
First, it was exchange time at Home Depot. The items I had purchased the day before were the wrong size (stupid of me I know) and I arrived at the inappropriately named customer service desk and patiently waited for the one individual manning the 5 computers there to acknowledge my existence.
While completing the enormous amount of paperwork required for a return and subsequent devolucion of money, I watched his gum chewing, unshaven face as he moved, turtle-like, from one computer to the other, hoping to perhaps catch his eye and therefore initiate what would be in most places a conversation something along the lines of “I’ll be with you in a minute”. Alas, this was not to be and when he finally finished with his Herculean task he looked around indifferently and asked “quien sigue?” Meeting his gaze, I motioned to the couple across the way and off he went, at his jackrabbit pace. During the entire time, many Home Depot employees came and went, joking with Mr. SallowFace and completely ignoring the growing crowd around the counter.
Finally, it was my turn and admittedly the operation was completed in a quick and painless, no-questions-asked fashion. But the complete lack of friendliness from each and everyone of the employees I had (sort of) contact with was amazing.
Later on that day, towards the evening to be exact, when the xkaues return to the trees on Prolongacion de Montejo creating a racket that any Meridano abroad could immediately identify and would miss wholeheartedly, I entered Superama.
For those who don’t know, Superama is an offshoot of Walmart (yes, another one) and is supposedly geared towards an upscale clientele, as evidenced by their displays and the selection of gourmet products available for purchase. The human resources department, however, did not get the memo and the service of the unfriendly cashiers and employees in general (with the exception of the bag boys who are smiley and eager to provide one with good service) is downright shameful. The announcements over the PA system are identical to those of any supermarket with that sing-song tone and the fact that there are advertisements all over indicating that the prices are better than the Comercial Mexicana make one doubt about who the supermarket is trying to attract. Price is not that an important factor for an upscale clientele who look for service and quality along with their imported Danish cheeses.
In any case, I approached the fresh meat counter and, after waiting for a woman covered in blood (her apron) to appear from the dark netherworld of the meat locker. When she saw me, she nodded upwards and said “Que va a llevar?” If you have lived here for any length of time you know this head-nod greeting; you walk into a store or office and the clerk who was up to that point engrossed in his work (rare), a TV program (more common) or a torta (more common than you would think) in a desk drawer, will look at you and, raising eyebrows and head at the same time in a questioning gesture, may or may not actually utter a word.
In any case, to the bloodied meat lady I said “Buenas noches” whereupon she repeated her question, a little more impatiently this time “Que va a llevar??”
Realizing that I was getting nowhere with social niceties, I pushed the envelope a little and asked her if she was in a bad mood or something. She said no, and again asked me what I wanted with a look of exasperation creeping into her expressionless face. A moment later, when a coworker stopped by to chat, I was surprised to see her cracking a smile at some probably excellent gossip. But, following the Superama Customer Service Code, when she turned back to me, the customer, aka the enemy, her smile evaporated and was replaced by her grim, stoney face
To answer her at last and feeling that it might be more appropriate, I decided to switch to a simpler, more Tarzan and Jane monosyllabic conversational style. I said “Pierna” (leg of pork) to which she replied, catching on quickly “Cuanto?” to which my answer was “3 kilos” and in a few more moments, with no more unnecessary pleasantries exchanged, I was on my way.
After buying this and that and checking some product labels which enlightened me to the fact that all the white asparagus, no matter what brand, comes from China, I proceed to the checkout and met my sneezing cashier, who was spreading her germs in the most carefree and alarming manner. I asked if she had a cold or an allergy to which she shrugged, expressionless. Again, the Superama Customer Service Code at work!
At this point I gave up trying to be sociable and was therefore pleasantly shocked when the bag boy, a lad of no more than 14 actually smiled, looked me in the eye and said “gracias!” when I tipped him in such an enthusiastic manner that it reaffirmed my faith in humanity and proved that not everyone is destined for a future in Superama.
Far from an upscale shopping experience, shopping at Superama is no different (except for the price) than shopping for your groceries at Super Willy’s in downtown Uman.
I would love to hear your comments and opinions on customer service at either of these not-so-fine establishments and also, what market segment Superama is trying to attract, as I can not figure it out.