consumer alienation

by sam on 08/25/2007

For some months now, I’ve been researching buying a digital SLR camera – tomorrow I’m going to go down to B&H and get a Nikon D80 and a couple of lenses.  But I was down near Union Square today, so I decided to go into Circuit City just to see if they had what I wanted and if so, at what price. 

I make my way over to the cameras, where there are about 6 sales associates just standing around talking to one another.  I actually had to ask one of them to move so that I could actually look at the D80.  Not once, while I was testing out a camera with a price tag of over $1,000, did any of these people ask whether they could help me with anything (nevermind that B&H has the thing for over $200 less).  I must have played around with the thing for a good 10 minutes as well, while they all stood around and gossiped about their co-workers. 

Nice, right? 

So, after clearly deciding that waiting until Sunday for B&H to be open was clearly the better idea, I figure that, as long as I’m at Circuit City, I might as well pick up some print cartridges for my printer, since I didn’t have any spare ones.  I find the ones that I need and get on line.  Where there are at least 20 people in front of me.

And one person at the register.  Who is inspecting every single piece of merchandise as if she’s got to take a quiz before she scans the UPC code.  The guy behind me in line and I actually had a good, 15 minute, conversation about the inadequacy of the service there before I got to the register.

Needless to say, I made a point of refusing to show my receipt at the door when I left.  Just because I felt like making someone else’s day a little more miserable at that point.

I mean, none of these things was the worst thing to happen to me on a shopping trip (by far), but I had wandered into the store in a perfectly good mood, and by the time I left I was practically seething.

I’m not saying that I would have necessarily bought the camera there, but given the price match guarantees that they make, and the fact that I had all of the info about the camera printed out from B&H’s website in my bag, I could have easily gotten it at CC at the same price I’m going to pay tomorrow.  But instead, I’m going to make a brand new trip, to a really inconvenient part of town, to a store that isn’t open on Saturdays (and that gives me a bit of claustrophobia because it’s so overwhelming with stuff) because no one could be bothered to even say hello to the girl checking out the most expensive camera in the store.  Even though they were standing right next to her

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