I recently took a trip (or 3) to Tourneau, the upscale watch emporium in New York City.
Upon entering the cavernous and empty store, I was greeted by a gaggle of salespeople working the front door. I was directed to the lower level for the repair desk. From that moment on, I felt like I was in the Department of Motor Vehicles. After taking a number, I waited, and waited for my turn. In observing the counter, it was clear that they were not understaffed. In fact, there were more people working the counter, than waiting for service. It’s just that they all seemed to be talking to one another, or staring aimlessly into the abyss of the otherwise empty store.
Finally, my number was called. After an additional 20 minute wait to write up a watch battery, (priced at $75!!), and finding out that they were out of watch bands for this model (which start at $240),I left the watch and was asked to return 2 days later.
On Wednesday, the same scenario took place…empty store; long wait. When it was my turn to pick up my watch, my sales associate disappeared into the glass encased work area. She was seen having a lively conversation with her colleague. Upon her return, I gave her my credit card. Another disgruntled customer approached the counter, and she engaged in a prolonged conversation with her. After about 10 more minutes, I interrupted and asked if she could please finish my transaction before she helped the other customers. It seemed to be a common theme; ADD afflicted customer service people with the attention span of a nat, and the personality of someone having undergone a lobotomy. I finally left, only to discover that the watch didn’t work the next day.
Thursday dawned, and I made yet another trip to Tourneau. It’s clearly Groundhog Day. Long wait, inattentive sales people and a total lack of personality emanating from any of them. I pleaded my case. They suggested leaving the watch for 2 weeks, in which they would call me with a price quote for the repair, usually about $400 (not including the band).The repair might also take months. I asked to have my money reimbursed for the battery that didn’t work,and suggested that I might bring it back for service at a later date (like when Hell freezes over?). Unbelievably, they did refund me, albeit with a slap on the wrist from the manager. I left thinking once again about the total lack of service provided by this seemingly upscale retailer.
In a difficult economy, they should be fawning all over their customers, instead of treating us like interlopers. In a time when so many talented and hardworking people are unemployed, they could have their pick of pleasant, knowledgeable employees, happy to have the opportunity to work, instead of these listless and lifeless people who act like we should be honored to have them wait on us. Once again I have to look at the retail woes and question how much is reality, and how much is self inflicted?
Hey Mr. Tourneau, you lost me. When I finally can afford to spend $500 on watch repair, or invest in a brand new one, you won’t be my merchant of choice. Let this be a lesson in customer service. The experience is often as important as the product. Now is the time for retailers to get their game on, or they will wake up one day, realizing that the world has changed, business is being conducted again, and the customer is too diserning to put up with mediocrity.
Photo: Spencer Jones/Glasshouse Images