The Warehouse and the Inconvenient Truth

I used to love the Warehouse.  I remember the good old days when it was exciting to hang out there.  you never knew what sort of bargain was going to get announced over the PA. They were the place for everyone to get a bargain, and get something we could afford. They were cheap, and they did good customer service – they had to because a proportion had to go back because it didn’t work.

But that has changed, certainly down our way. I went into the Dunedin store yesterday and I don’t remember what it was for. The reason I don’t remember was that when I got there after work, I decided I’d start with a quick trip to their toilets.  But when I got there, I was greeted with a sign that said they were locked and I had to go to Customer Service to get a key and I should be grateful because this meant they’d be nicer toilets.  Yeah right….!

So I trooped off to Customer Service, slightly briskly in fact. It’s kind of embarrassing asking for a toilet key, maybe it’s a throwback from my school days or something. Or maybe it’s just embarrassing. Anyway, ask I did. The young lad was slightly embarrassed as well.  He explained that someone already had the key in use, so I’d have to wait. Or I was welcome to skulk around near the locked door and acost the person coming out and persuade her to entrust me with the key she’d promised to return.  This seemed like the quickest option, so I brisked back again, to prepare to loiter. However, before loitering could occur, another woman with a desperate child in tow turned up with someone else with another key. She was let in, and fortunately intuited my intent and let me in as well – there’s a whole Mens and Womens toilets thing. So everyone was relieved, and maybe someone returned the key.

But I was left amazed that any business could seriously adopt such an appalling approach to customer service. Sure, someone sometime messed up their good clean toilets, and it might even have happened more than once.  But why do you punish and humiliate all your customers?  Or why do you ration your toilets to one person every five minutes – that’d be the likely round-trip time from Customer Service. I guess it is a way of reducing cleaning requirements, but it is also a way of pissing off customers – pun intended 🙂

I see that an estimated 10-30% of adults have “bladder control” problems. And then there’s parents of kids.  Kids don’t have the same problems in the same proportions, but as any parent knows, when they finally gotta go they gotta go! And who makes up the customers of the Warehouse?  Adults and parents.  So maybe 20% of their customers will be inconvenienced by this? Wow! It’s getting harder to sell stuff in these economic times. It’s impressive that the Warehouse can afford to alienate 20% of their customers. Impressive, or just dumb, dumb … dumb.

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