Sunday, December 29, 2013

A guy walks into a fly shop

I've both bitched about and lauded fly shops on these pages in the past. I've probably bitched more than lauded but that's probably because it's a target rich environment.

On my way to fish the other day I knew I needed a new streamer leader. I toyed with just running with a straight piece of 4x but thought better of the idea. After chastising myself for not adding leaders and tippet to my latest online order, I stopped by a fly shop that I happen to think is one of the better ones.

At the counter was a new face; older guy but not the usual older guy. He seemed vaguely familiar but if I had run into him before it was some time ago.

I got the non-committal greeting that I've come to expect at other places and proceeded to select twenty-five dollars of leader and tippet.

Back at the counter the guy was helping an elderly woman purchase a gift certificate for her son. She was having trouble getting her PIN in the system and finally made it work after about ten tries. It seemed odd to me that something so simple could be so difficult but I'm not of her age and I'm not going to cast any stones. I'm sure there are younger folks who roll their eyes at me.

As I stepped up to the counter I noticed a guy waiting off to the side. He had waders and a box of wading boots in his hands. He was clearly there first so I waved him forward.

He explained to the clerk that he had bought the boots yesterday and they were a bit small and he wanted to try on a larger size. Without a word to the wader guy the clerk turned to me and motioned me forward. I think what he meant to say to the wader guy was "Would you mind if I ring this guy up real quick?", but he didn't.

I pulled out my debit card to pay. I'm not sure why I did, I normally charge everything so I can get the points. Perhaps, sublimally, I wanted to demonstrate that the machine worked just fine. Regardless, I swiped my card and the clerk immediately prompted me to enter my PIN. That didn't work. In fact, it didn't work for the next five tries either. On the seventh try, I entered the number super slow, like the previous customer, and noticed that the last two digits I entered worked, but not the first two. I also noticed those two keystrokes registered when the text "Enter PIN" appeared on the screen. So, on the eighth try, I waited for the words to appear, despite the contrary prompting of the clerk, and everything worked out just fine.

So, I said to the clerk "I think you have to wait for the words 'Enter PIN' to appear before you try to enter the PIN".

"No you don't", he replied.

"Two customers just had problems entering the PIN and both were successful when they waited for the words 'Enter PIN' to appear. You don't think that means something", I said.

"Two customers with problems, I've had a hundred thousand* enter it just fine." the clerk says.

Now what I heard was: "You sir are a dolt as was the wench before you. You can't even handle entering your PIN correctly and far be it for me to make you feel better about being such a dolt. That'll be twenty-five dollars, please." What I was looking for was something more along the lines of "There may be something wrong with the machine. I'll let the manager know." Such a response would have let himself off the hook and would have allowed him not to call me a dolt; everyone wins. Except for the guy holding the box of wading boots.

I laughed. I shook my head. I suspect that this new machine, it looked like someone had just taken it out of the box, worked differently that the machine used for the previous hundred thousand transactions. But I wasn't going to waste precious fishing time discussing the fine points of this matter with the clerk.

I feel like clerks at fly fishing stores need some help with their interactions with clients. So, here are a few greetings that you may use in place of the grunt/head nod. Feel free to use them in order or mix it up a bit. To be truly effective they should be delivered while standing, smiling and maintaining direct eye contact. I recommend fly shop owners post this helpful cue card (suitable for framing) by the register.


Note that all of the above contain a greeting coupled with an offer to sell the customer something. I am startled by my brilliance. I'm sure you are too.

Some of you are probably feeling dissatisfied now. The title of this post led you to believe there was a joke within. So, for those of you who have waited patiently, here's a joke.
A guy walks into a fly shop and sees a horse behind the counter spooling up a new reel for a customer. He stares at the horse for a minute without saying a word. The horse stops what he's doing and looks up. "Hey buddy, what's the matter?" the horse says, "You got a problem with a horse working behind the counter?" "No", the guy says, "It's just that I can't believe the weasel sold the place."
I didn't say it would be a good one.

Notes:
* I suspect hyperbole.

25 comments:

  1. I would have politely asked when the owner (hopefully he wasn't the owner) would be in the store. Then I would have thrown the leader and tippet on the counter and walked out. I would then have gone back when the owner was there and had a long talk with him about his Customer Service. I spent 40 years in Customer Service and there is no excuse for his rudeness. None.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did cross my mind, but then I did need that 3x leader. :)

      Delete
  2. "I'm sure there are younger folks who roll their eyes at me."

    Like me? That's the great thing about time: even when I'm much older than I am now, you'll still be older than I am!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's this "fly shop" you speak of? Oh, one of those places that are open from 10am-4pm while I'm at work, and closed whenever fishing is good, and who complain 24/7 on social media about the places where I buy my gear (that are - coincidence - open before or after I go to work)? Doesn't sound like a fun place to go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I never had trouble processing a credit card online...

      Delete
  4. Hear, hear, on the attitudes of too many fly-shop employees. Many are great, as are many shops, but an equal number offer the service you describe. My approach: Find a good shop and patronize it as much as possible. Every vote counts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. I'll pay extra for good service and good advice. Lucky to have one close to my hunting spot - patronized them 3x in one weekend recently.

      Delete
    2. Amen. I'm giving this one another chance. I'm not sure who this guy was but my hope is he was filling in for one of the regulars over the holiday. But if he's there again, I'll turn around.

      Delete
  5. Steve, applaud you for not becoming somewhat disturbed and leaving the shop in the rear view mirror. I doubt that I would have been that patient. It doesn't seem like enough attention is being paid to this type of ignorance when it is displayed. Then the "Dolts" behind the counter just don't learn a dam thinbg.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One more chance. The owner is a good guy.

      Delete
  6. Thanks. We've all been to "that" fly shop. My favorite fly shop is one where the owner knows me by name, knows where I like to fish, and has some really cool flies. However, this shop is 1100 miles from my home and I only get there once a year. Even so, I still get this treatment. Granted, my standard greeting to his is opening the door of his shop, hollering "INCOMING" and throwing my wallet in. Lately he just tells me he has the credit card numbers memorized. I have seen him take some of his young guns aside and give them remedial training on dealing with customers. He knows we have a choice. I would much rather buy from a "friend" than some nebulous person online.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, voting with our wallets is the best way. This shop I referred to in the post I've frequented for years and always found them to be good. In fact, I dropped about $120 on some Simms-wear that I didn't really need not two weeks before this visit. I hope I don't see this guy there again.

      Delete
  7. Your whole experience sums up my feelings every time I see some blogger chastising and condemning people for not supporting their "local" fly shop. These days, thanks to a lack-luster economy, we have fewer fly shops to choose from in my neck o' the woods, but the ones that made it still represent the worst in customer service, save one in Townsend, Tennessee which has always set the bar for all others imho. The very last fly shop I ventured into was near Biltmore Estate in NC, and though we poked around for nearly 20 minutes, the guy behind the counter never said a word to us - even when we walked 6 inches from the counter on our way out the door. Not even the obligatory "have a nice day" that even the most apathetic hourly employees seem to manage. Maybe he'd had a bad day that day - but if so, there are apparently fly shop employees everywhere who have bad days almost every day of the week, month and year. The exception to my life long experience with fly shops was on my one and only trip to West Yellowstone, where every single fly shop employee in every single fly shop save one very famous one was what we call "super nice." After coming home to the South and being ignored at that last shop in NC, I decided that I was ok with supporting Cabelas from now on. If small local shops want people's business, they should provide something the other online and big box stores don't - and sadly, very few are willing to go the extra mile to off-set their normally higher prices. And this, kids....is called capitalism and it works like a dream to separate the wheat from the chaff. PS - I didn't think your joke was so bad. :) Nice work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Owl. That one in Townsend is a keeper.

      Delete
  8. This hit way too close to home. I recently left my job managing a small chain of fly shops because of the same attitude toward customers. Everyone knows everything and everyone else is an idiot, all "customers" have a price tag floating above their head. It is that horrible Wal-Mart mentality that is working its way into fly shops. These people are too busy turning out dollars instead of friends and customers. Thank you for saying something about these guys. This should be required reading for shop "employees".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing that made me scratch my head I don't even think he saw me as a price tag beyond the single transaction.

      Delete
    2. Good point. I think the "customers are idiots/Noobs" thing bothers me more than the "customers are dollar signs...." But both are perceptible and I've walked out of shops (courteously, with a 'thanks for your time') because of both. My favorite local bar has a doormat that reads "Be Nice." It's noteworthy for anyone in customer service.

      Delete
  9. It's just a good thing I wasn't with you. I have a disturbingly low threshold for such shenanigans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't like to "get your Irish up".

      Delete
  10. Though I live in southern California, I have experienced the very behavior you speak of at a popular fly shop in Fullerton. Though recently purchased by another fly shop in Missoula, and all of the staff except one replaced, they still do not know my name. at least they now say, "Hello", which after spending a minimum amount of $1k per each of the past 5 years is kind of exciting,

    ReplyDelete
  11. Whahaha, i thougt it was just my shop,

    ReplyDelete