Sometimes I just have to wonder whether anyone is awake at the wheel in corporate America. No better example of this happened to me tonight.
On Saturday, after some going back and forth, we finally decided to purchase a new dishwasher. After comparing prices and delivery charges and such, I decided to make my purchase at the local Sears store. I knew exactly what I wanted, so it was a quick and painless purchase. The salesperson was helpful and nice to me throughout.
I thought something was a little odd when the first delivery date he could offer me was nearly 2 weeks away. You usually don’t get that for popular models of dishwashers, which this one was. But I was thinking, no hurry, the old one still sort of works.
Tonight I was sitting at home, watching TV with the missus, and on comes this commercial from Sears, promoting their Ultimate Appliance Promise. It’s plastered over their website as well. Wow, nice promise, I thought to myself. Including next-day delivery guaranteed on over 1,600 different appliances! Wow, next-delivery? I ordered a popular model of an ordinary dishwasher, surely that’s one of those 1,600 appliances.
So I called the local Sears store. After waiting on hold for 10 minutes (customer service is truly dead in retail), someone from that section of the store answers. I ask my question about whether my dishwasher was covered by this “promise” or not. The salesperson doesn’t know, doesn’t know anything about the “promise,” and puts on the evening supervisor for that section. She was also very nice, asked me a few questions, then asked me to hold a moment.
While I was holding, she placed the phone away from her face, but I could clearly hear the conversation that occurred:
Sales woman, “Do you know if this product is covered by next-day delivery?”
Sales man, “I don’t know of anything we sell where we could guarantee next-day delivery!”
Sales woman, “I know, I know…” (Some more muted conversation occurred which I couldn’t quite make out.)
She comes back on, admits she doesn’t know, and takes down my further information to call me back tomorrow when she checks with her manager. I met this supervisor while picking out the dishwasher and she seemed to me to be very knowledgeable, polite, and down-to-earth. In other words, I wasn’t talking to a bunch of lowly-paid employees from a large discount retailer that ends in “Mart.”
It was clear to me listening to the other end of that conversation that these salespeople, well-meaning, hard-working individuals, were frustrated by Sears corporate and this marketing campaign which was making promises on their behalf that they knew would and could never be met.
So I have to ask, what good is a “promise” if it’s really just a lie, dressed-up to look like a promise in name only?
The psychology of such “promises” is simple — make people feel confident that Sears, the store, really cares about you. That they go that “extra mile” to offer you the largest selection and lowest price (two things they haven’t changed one iota, but just bringing to your attention). That they will talk to you during the first year’s warranty is in effect (not sure what this gets you, since the manufacturer is who you eventually need to chat with), and this one — next-day delivery on over 1,600 appliances. Keep in mind, too, that 1,600 appliances is more appliances than most Sears store actually display.
So Sears, here’s an idea — don’t make a promise that your salespeople don’t know much of anything about, and that will engender more ill-will than good when people start asking about it.
I will edit this entry when I get more information tomorrow.