LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- Have you ever wondered what causes so many retailers to have to close stores, layoff employees and liquidate their assets? I don't have to wonder because I was at Big Lots today. It was at Big Lots that I realized that corporate America has fallen so very, very far.
I can remember when businesses hired people for employees that really wanted to work. I can remember when employees were trained. I can even remember when the people left in charge (management) were in charge because they not only had more experience but also were capable of directing other employees. I can remember when being a member of management meant that you had leadership skills, customer service skills and took pride in your work.
Imagine my surprise when I encountered a manager that not only didn't have ANY leadership skills, any customer service skills, any pride in his work or place of employment, very little if any training and very bizarre and disturbing behavior. Now I realize that sometimes businesses get so big that it is often difficult to monitor all of their employees. I even realize that sometimes some employees slip through the cracks but surely Big Lots has employees in place (like district managers or regional managers) that should be monitoring management and operations at the local level.
I unfortunately discovered today that apparently there is not ANYBODY in charge of the hen house in my area of the United States. Now you might be asking yourself what in the world would make me say such a thing. Today, after arriving at the college that my son will be attending for the next several years, I realized that there may be some additional things my son would need before starting school. Now since the college has grown so much that it has encompassed a large amount of property and has virtually taken over even a small strip mall at one end of the campus, I found myself at one of the two stores left in the strip mall, Big Lots.
I entered the store thinking I would be able to make the necessary purchases and maybe even get a deal or two. I was wrong!! The store was very cluttered with unattended pallets of merchandise and pallet jacks. I mistakenly thought that perhaps they were just putting out more stock. I soon realized the clutter and impassable aisles were just a small indication of an even bigger problem. While I wasn't pleased when an employee almost ran me over with a flatbed, I was even less pleased with his rude indifference. I was soon to discover that this encounter would be the highlight of my experiences at this store location.
I completed my shopping while watching out for any additional disgruntled employees. I thought when I had made it to the checkout that the unpleasant experience was almost over. I was wrong!! What could possibly go wrong? I was checking out and within 50 feet of the door. Finally, this was going to be over! Wait, what was that price? What?! Double the amount it was supposed to be? That's not what the sign said! "Sir that is wrong, let me show you where I got it and what the sign says." So I thought, well surely once I show the "manager" where it was and what the sign said that he would realize I was being charged an incorrect price.
But to my utter amazement after acknowledging that the sign indicated the item I was purchasing and indicated it was half of the price I was being charged he said "but not for that one!" What?? What do you mean not for that one? These are all alike items! "Yes" he replied "but that one will cost you double." I told him that it was not right to indicate an item and a price but then change it when it was being purchased. I then asked for a corporate number. It was at this point that he began to tsk, sigh and roll his eyes.
As he was towering over me in my wheelchair, he continued to tsk, sigh and roll his eyes then scared me half to death when he snarled at me. "Well if you are going to make a big deal out of it, I guess I will have to give it to you at that price". He then walks up to the cashier and tells her to give it to me at the advertised price. By then I just wanted to get as far away from him as possible and I was afraid to give them my Big Lots reward card as I was scared that when he found out my address he would come to my residence.
I can't help wondering how many people has he scared into paying the higher price with his antics. How many parents bringing their kids to the college has he pulled this stunt on? I am giving this experience a one only because there are not any negative numbers allowed.
GREENACRES, FLORIDA -- As a Big Lots employee, one of the greatest stressors in my workplace is numerous complaints about signage.
An end cap of cookware was signed $4 TO $18. Many customers thought they could buy four items for $18. I had to explain over and over that the sign said that prices ranged from $4 to $18 per item.
On a recent Friends and Family Day, a sun shelter that normally sells for $105.99 was signed simply "$84.79". One customer insisted to me that she should get 20 percent off the $84.79 price. I showed her how it worked, scanned the item and showed the usual $105.99 price, then scanned the F & F coupon to show the $84.79 price, and explained that said price was for that sale day only and that she was indeed getting the item at the signed price. She lectured me for a few minutes about how misleading the sign was, which held up my line, and then, two weeks later, called corporate to complain about me, not the sign!
This week's ad features "sandals" for $2. The ad signage also says "sandals". The actual featured item is rubber flipflops like those most of us have worn since we were kids. One woman wanted to buy a pair of men's $10 sandals, a $6 pair of women's leather thong sandals and a $5 boy's pair of canvas camouflage sandals for $2 each. The MOD let me change the prices to please the customer. It cost us $15 shrink.
Customers, please read the signs carefully! The vast majority of signage issues are from native speakers of English, not people who have come to the States from other countries. In light of this, there might be a problem with signage ambiguity, so I ask corporate to please review signage policies and procedures so that signs are easily understood.
EL PASO, TEXAS -- There were several people at the store and only one register open. A man was standing at another register trying to figure out whether to open it or not. He could see that the line was very long and decide not to and walked away. There was a lady standing there too and also walked away. The employees at this store were doing absolutely nothing. I really, I'm standing there with 4 items on my hand and they didn't even consider opening the register. People behind me felt the same way. Unfortunately the lady that was at the register got an earful. How about making it easier for the customer to check out.
Perhaps, a self register might do the trick!! You think??? Very poor customer service, you just lost a customer. Oh! Well I guess we a dime a dozen.
WEST JORDAN, UTAH -- **, who claims to be the store 'manager' at Big Lots #4485 (90th and Bangerter) kicked my kids out of the store because my 14 year old daughter was not using a chair to her standards, and then got 'mouthy' in her opinion. What the so-called "manager" didn't know was that I was one aisle over and heard the entire conversation. My 14 year old daughter was sitting on a floor model chair with one leg over the side. This employee asked my daughter to "sit like a lady". My daughter complied by setting her other foot on the ground, and responded with "Okay".
** then snapped back by telling my daughter "There you go; now you're acting like a normal person". My daughter told her she was a normal person, and that "you don't know me". This must have been what ** found to be 'mouthy' because she proceeded to speak to my daughters in a very loud and even more condescending tone. She asked if they "wanted to leave" and told them that "we can play it this way. Is this what you want? Well, is it?"
Both of my daughters answered only with "no" more than once, but ** was already calling security to escort them out. My 11 year old daughter told ** she "had done nothing wrong" and that she needed to "get my mom." ** said "I know, but that's too bad, you're with her (referring to her sister), you need to leave too." Then started shooing my daughters, waving her arms at them with a "Come on, let's go, let's go!"
She fully intended to send my minor daughters out into a parking lot without regard for their safety. She lacked concern for notifying or locating an accompanying parent or adult and denied my daughter the opportunity to do so. Fortunately, being an aisle over I was able to catch up and walk out with them. I feel the store 'manager' thought my daughters were in the store alone, targeted them for that reason and looked for an excuse to kick them out. ** said all of two sentences to my daughters before telling them to leave. I call that age discrimination, possibly sex discrimination, since my daughter's ability/inability to sit the way ** figures her gender should was at issue.
I have considered purchasing furniture from Big Lots in the past and was allowed to try it out beforehand, that's what a floor model is for, right? I have never seen a diagram on how Big Lots customers are allowed to sit in a chair, more specifically how a lady should. Is this 'managers' job to tell people how to behave if it's just against her personal code of conduct? My daughter simply had her leg over the arm of the chair. I don't believe that is against the law or destructive to store property. If this is damaging to the furniture in any way, that chair is poorly made and Big Lots should reconsider putting their name behind it.
If ** has some type of degree that makes her an authority on identifying a normal and moral person it must also entitle her to belittle those who don't measure up. After my daughter sat in the chair the way she was asked to ** should have walked away and left it at that. ** antagonized the situation and acted aggressively towards my children. At 14, 24 or 54 my daughter has every right to defend herself against someone personally attacking her.
I'll make sure to tell everyone I know about my bad experience, as its well known that is exactly what dissatisfied customers do.
I will post this on my Facebook and MySpace as well as any consumer blog I run across. I will never shop at Big Lots again. My daughters and I set down approximately 35 dollars worth of merchandise and hadn't even made it half way through before exiting the store. At minimum wage, that's practically half of **'s wages for an 8 hour shift. In today's economy I don't see how Big Lots can afford to employ people such as **, let alone promote them to 'manager'.
I shop at Big Lots because they have good sales on many items. However, many of their prices have gone up considerably within the past three to five years. That narrows the margin between their originally good prices, and the prices of competing stores. Big Lots is slowly losing its appeal to thrifty consumers.
As far as customer service, their clerks have always seemed bored and robotic to me. On six occasions in two years, clerks have forgotten to place purchases in the bags before I left the store. This happens more at Big Lots than any other store I've frequented. It's evident that this company doesn't make any effort to motivate personal enthusiasm in its employees. To add to my several unpleasant experiences at Big Lots, I've witnessed blatant rudeness from clerks, who seem to develop a sort of mob-mentality when dealing with customer complaints during checkouts and returns.
It is not unusual for two or three clerks to gather behind the checkout counter and address a single customer "en masse". This is very juvenile, and rather obnoxious. It is an "us against them" attitude which no proper business would want to portray to the public. Returning anything at all to Big Lots means the consumer has to deal with the "third degree". If you don't have a receipt you might as well give up. This doesn't happen as much with other stores that take the time to research transactions via computer, if necessary.
Case in point: I was assured by a clerk that I could return something after the 30 day limit on returns. I told the clerk BEFORE my purchase exactly when I might make the return (to the day) because it was a gift to be given after the 30 day time limit for returns. I asked, "Would it really be alright to return it after 30 days?" The clerk said, "Absolutely! No problem." Still, to feel really comfortable about this, I asked a different clerk the same question, and he told me that there is a very liberal policy on returns after the 30 day limit- not to worry.
Because of these assurances, I felt at ease making my purchase at that time, thinking that there would be no problem with stretching the return time period by two weeks. Looking back, I probably should have asked the workers to sign my receipt. But who thinks of those things during what seems like a friendly, respectful transaction?
The gift for my friend didn't work out, so I took my receipt, and the unused item back to Big Lots in its unopened packaging. But... it turns out that both clerks had misinformed me at the time of my purchase. This misinformation caused an embarrassing scene. I was told that never would a clerk who worked there assure me that I could return something after 30 days, nor that another clerk would have told me that there was a liberal return policy.
Suddenly there were three rather nosey Big Lots employees at the checkout stand, who presumed to tell me what two other clerks had said six weeks prior, when they were not even there. Although they had no way of knowing what had been said, and were absolutely in error, they pretty much told me I was lying about my experience. One clerk mentioned she could lose her job if she let me return the item. I was flabbergasted, and very much offended by it all.
I decided to call the main office and was treated even worse. The manager there told me I didn't even deserve a store credit, but that he'd give me one anyway. Gee, thanks. Whatever happened to the "good will" policies that didn't make a consumer (a repeat shopper at that) feel embarrassed and defensive?
I won't be frequenting Big Lots as often now, and I believe I'm not alone in my disappointment with this company. There are other stores that treat their customers with dignity, and still have fair prices which don't escalate every year. Those other companies are wise enough, and flexible enough, to think outside the box when it comes to dealing with the public. Good public relations = good business.
Does Big Lots still have Layaway on furniture?? If SO... can I make arrangement to make MONTHLY payments instead of weekly or bi-weekly? I am a senior disabled lady living on a low fixed MONTHLY income, and I can only make payments as I get my check on the 3rd of each month! You have some bedroom furniture that I would LOVE to have... but, I can NOT afford to pay CASH for the complete outfit, and I don't want to run the risk of losing the availability of part of the set by purchasing it by one piece at a time.
The items I am wanting would run about $250 - $300, so it would take me about 3 months to pay it out of layaway by making monthly payments of approximately $100 per month! I also live about 50+ miles to the nearest store, and I don't want to waste the time/money/gas to drive all that way IF you don't allow layaway. PLEASE let me know ASAP, as IF you allow layaway...I would like to plan a trip for March 3rd...when I get my check! Thanks!
This is the reply I got back from Big Lots...in a timely manner, I must admit! "Good afternoon and thank you for contacting Big Lots! Big Lots stores do not offer layaway for any of our products. We do offer a Price Hold policy for our furniture products. Price Hold is not a layaway, only the price is guaranteed for later merchandise pickup. We do not store your items. Big Lots holds customer payments until items are paid for. Feel free to contact your local Big Lots store for further information."
OK...Am I missing something here? Does anyone make any sense out of this 'Price Hold'? Sounds like a wild goose chase to me... and I think the GOOSE gets away with the money, and I end up empty handed all the way around! At any rate... I've decided that as much as I would LIKE to HAVE those pieces of furniture, I'm NOT going to travel in excess of 50 miles (one way/per trip) to take the risk of being taken even MORE! SORRY Big Lots! But, you USE to be a decent place to shop for furniture... but, I think you've gone downhill with the rest of them! I'll keep checking around... ONline if I have to! I'll find a better deal *somewhere*, I'm sure!
INDIO, CALIFORNIA -- 4/01/2014 got patio umbrella 5/2/2014 broke! They said no return after 30 days - $60 down drain! That was 8 hours of hard work! The manager said then shop somewhere else that gives a better warranty! I called corp. They said talk to manager! The runaround! Indio Cal store # 4554.
BELL R. AND TATUM, PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- I visited Big Lots (Bell Rd. and Tatum, Phoenix, AZ) to purchase some patio furniture. The products were too heavy for me to lift; my car was too small to accommodate the products. ** and ** were very kind to help in the selection and layaway process. Two days later, a young woman loaded them in the car for me, and was most kind and friendly.