Friday, June 1, 2007

Commerce - Local Stores

Two places I dislike: FinnStyle in Gaviidae, and Au Bon Pain in the City Center building.

Au Bon Pain sucks because it is so convenient and is full of so much delicious food. It's right next to where I work; I could step out from my desk, trip out to Au Bon Pain for a cream cheese danish or their amazing cranberry almond macaroons, and return to my desk within five minutes.

Unfortunately, I have received terrible attitude from their employees almost without exception. They're gruff, they speak tersely and frequently mumble, and they refuse to make eye contact, preferring to stare over my shoulder as if I were presenting a discussion they didn't care to acknowledge. There's a sign posted that says, "If we don't give you your receipt, your purchase is free!" It is their favorite tactic to yank my receipt from the machine, crumple it up right in front of me, and toss it into the trash can, resuming their glare over my shoulder, daring me to say anything. To date, I have never mustered the courage to claim my free purchase. Many people would say that's what I get for being such a pussy, but on the other hand... why should I have to be subjected to that? I'm going to a cafe and buying pastries. I'm giving them money for a service. Why do I have to be called to account for my manhood just because I want a danish? Who pays for food and confrontation? I don't - I won't go there again.

As for the Finnish store... I didn't intend to buy anything but thought I'd browse out of curiosity. The staff, conversely, had no curiousity about me. I was ignored by two roving clerks and two clerks seated behind the desk. No obligatory "can I help you" or any stripe of greeting. I got the sense I was inconveniencing their conversation. A lot of stuff looked interesting in that store but I'll look for similar products in other outlets. I don't want to reward lousy attitude.


Kristen said...

1. Write a letter to ABP's main office, telling them exactly what you said here. If nothing else, they'll at least be aware of the situation.

2. Are the people at the counter of The Finn Store actually from Finland? If so, have you considered they may think it rude to pounce on a potential customer and pepper them with questions? I've found that's pretty common in Europe: they assume you're an adult and if you want something (help in finding a product, the check in a restaurant), you'll ask, so there's no need for them to get all up in your grill, asking you what you want.

Christian said...

1. I'll research how to do that.

2. They don't strike me as particularly foreign - I think it's a bunch of Minnesotans selling Finnish merchandise. Your suggestion is worth some consideration, though.

Kristen said...

1. If it's not readily available on their site, had addresses for every company on Earth.

2. Really? Seems an odd product line to sell if you're not intimately familiar with it. Maybe the relaxed and/or standoffish attitude is the boss's orders.

2a. I also have to admit, I'm sort of surprised to hear you say you'd rather have someone all hi! how are you? can I help you find anything? up in your face instead of just browsing in peace.

Christian said...

Well, yeah, I'll admit it's uncharacteristic of me to want a lot of socialization or interaction when shopping. But I don't begrudge workers one attempt - repeated hits will irritate the piss out of me, but outright neglect seems like bad business.