Thursday, June 17, 2010

A trip to Dick's Sporting Goods

I sent this to the customer service department of Dick's Sporting goods, after a visit last night. We were there just under an hour, but it seemed much longer. Any similar visits for you?

Not too many years ago we had a good sporting goods in the Rochester, NY area named Galyan's. They had personable and knowledgeable employees, who were there to help. It was rare to be in a department and not have someone speak to you and offer help with five minutes of your arrival. I went to this store quite often, to get camping equipment or other similar items. The employees were able to help compare items and give advice based on their own experiences. Each department knew their stuff, if they were new, they would get help. I bought many items from this store, including a couple of Yakima car rack systems. The sales person was able to discuss how to install the rack, and offered help in doing so. Then Galyan's was bought out by Dick's. I jokingly asked the employees if they were learning how to disappear as part of their transition to Dick's. That turned out to be somewhat prophetic.

Last night, June 17, 2010, I decided to go to what used to be the Galyan's store to see if they had any Q-clips for the Yakima racks, as I recently changed cars, and needed new clips. I first called, and asked if these were in stock or carried by the store, and received a vague answer, that they may but really I had to go in to see. I was nearby so I went in. Upon entering the store, my wife asked what we took to be the greeter, where the Yakima accessories could be found. She was met by a blank stare and a confused answer, obviously he had no idea what she was talking about. We went upstairs to where we thought we could find what we wanted, and found several pieces of Yakima and Thule racks scattered about the camping, bicycling and water sports areas. We poked around a bit, keeping an eye out for an employee to ask about the Q-clips. We found an item that we were not looking for, which was on clearance as it was a returned item, opened the box and inspected it for a good amount of time, and still no employee to be found to ask about it. After deciding to purchase the item, we went back to were we suspected the Q-clips might be found, still looking for an employee. I noticed during this time, people looking at tents looking as if they had questions to ask someone, others testing bicycles with questions, and yet others in the fitness area wanting to buy items. There were no employees to be found on that side of the floor. Suddenly wandering out of the break room came 3 uniformed employees and another guy, we were within a few feet and called out for help. The 3 uniformed employees continued to wander away sipping on their drinks. The other gentleman stopped, and explained he worked in another store, but could help us. Let's call him Dave. My wife was able to ask some questions, and get some generic answers, but this not being his store he was unable to give full answers. He helped my wife, while I was dodging bicycles ridden by customers, awaiting someone else to show up. Dave thought the one guy assigned to the area was helping someone load a weight set into their car.

After awhile a free-range employee wandered by. I asked her about the Q-clips, she made vague gestures toward where I was, and called someone on her radio then disappeared, saying that the person in fitness would be right back. Not sure if I scared her, as you know clerks in the wild can be rare animals and spook easily. Being on the verge of shouting at the top of my lungs "Does anyone work here?", the guy working the area appeared. Lets call him Mark. Mark was very helpful, he answered my question about Q-clips in a few seconds, with a simple, no, not at the store, maybe on-line. My wife and Dave re-appeared, and Mark took over with her. As I said Dave was the most helpful person there, and not an employee of the store! I am not saying Mark was unhelpful, he was very nice, and spent some time with us, as other customers looked longingly at him.

With our business done, we went to the checkout with our purchase. As we descended the escalator to the main floor we saw several employees in the shoe department and golf department, generally standing around talking to each other. We noticed three registers open, one customer at one of the registers, the other two cashiers were standing talking and two other employees were sitting on the counter talking to the cashiers. The cashier asked the usual "did you find everything you were looking for?" She seemed shocked that we said, no, and that it was even harder to find help where we were. She mused that perhaps everyone else was helping other customers. She did not seem to like the response that there were no employees up there to help the many customers, so no, they were not helping others. Meanwhile the guys who were sitting around started to move around doing some busy work, such as checking empty trash cans, and rearranging bags. Maybe they felt that they needed to at least appear to do something.

Just a typical evening at Dick's. Similar events are not uncommon in the Henretta, NY store, and were not uncommon when they were in competition with Galyan's. But with the competition bought up, why bother with doing any service? I know you are aware that there many alternatives to traditional stores, as your company runs an on-line store also. If not for face to face contact with a knowledgeable person, why go into stores? I have not bought any camping equipment at Dick's as CampMor has a good on-line store and a phone number to reach people that know what they are talking about. When I returned home, I got online and managed to order the Q-clips I needed in a few moments, no waiting. By the way, the Dick's site does not carry the clips either.

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