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To think the customer service in WH Smiths is crap?

(96 Posts)
YourHandInMyHand Sat 09-Feb-13 22:16:45

I went in WH Smiths today with DS who has autism to choose some board games and learning toys, we also bought books and magazines. We were in there nearly half an hour, my arms getting gradually fuller and fuller, no staff offered to help, asked if I needed anything, or asked if I'd like a basket/stuff putting near the till, etc. I spotted at least 4 shop floor members of staff milling around.

I went to the till with nearly £90 worth of stuff, waited in line for ages, then was told if I wanted bags I'd have to pay 10p per bag or "how was you intending on carrying them home?" - said with a don't care stare. I don't even care about having to pay for a bag for life it was more the attitude of the person on the till, almost like she wanted me to be arsey with her! Which I wasn't, I've worked in many customer service roles and wouldn't dream of being rude to anyone serving me in a shop/pub/café/restaurant.

I came away wondering why I didn't just buy them all cheaper on Amazon/ebay, and amazed they are still in business. hmm This was a LOT of money for me to spend, but even if I was buying a 20p newspaper a smile and friendly manner wouldn't have gone amiss.

stormforce10 Sun 10-Feb-13 11:34:33

I used to love WH Smith and it would be my first choice for books, stationary, magazines etc. Staff used to be friendly and helpful. It was nicely laid out with a good choice of stuff

NOW I do anything to avoid it. I wanted to buy books for a birthday present the other day and WH smith seemed to be the only option without taking a bus. I went in, hunted about, didn't like anything I saw. I finally a member of staff and asked if they had children's encyclopeidas to be confronted by a woman who seemed to think I was looking for a magazine confused. Finally got the newspaper, ignored the chocolate sales patter and left.

I remembered there was a branch of the Works about 10 minutes walk away, went there, asked the same question and got offered a choice of 3 by a lovely smiley man who clearly knew his way around the stock. Another shop assistant talked to DS (6 months) while I dithered between them. Finally chose, paid and left with my free carrier bag and I suspect it cost me about £10 less than it might have in WHS. Guess who will get my custom next time

usualsuspect Sun 10-Feb-13 11:41:02

The Works staff alway try and sell me all sorts of weird stuff that's on the counter.

The choice of books in the works is rubbish too.

fridgepants Sun 10-Feb-13 13:38:55

I had to return something there a while ago. I'm always nice and polite in shops because I can't stand people who think service industry people are beneath them - so I said please, thank you, explained everything calmly etc.

literally the only word the woman serving said to me during the whole transaction was "CARD!" and a point at the machine, rolling her eyes all the way through. Friends of mine who haven worked in shops would never think of being that rude.

limitedperiodonly Sun 10-Feb-13 13:52:07

Smiths is crap. I always join in threads slagging it off.

In brief, I hate:

1. Them voiding stealing money from giftcards and then saying it's in the small print. Who reads the small print on a fucking present?
2. Having to buy something overpriced that I don't really want so my giftcard doesn't get voided raided;
3. The way my elderly aunt remembers them as a reputable bookshop so keeps wasting her pension on their fucking giftcard scam;
4. Pushing chocolate like heroin when I finally bite the bullet and buy something overpriced I don't really want so as not to have my giftcard robbed.

Last time there was a Smiths thread someone sounding knowledgeable said they'd soon close. I'm torn because I don't want people to lose their jobs but I really hate Smiths and their cynical senior management.

mrsjay Sun 10-Feb-13 13:54:51

I can't understand why Wh SMITHS IS STILL GOING TBH it is over priced and there is never anybody around to ask where i can find x yz, ours has a post office in it but the shop never seems busy,

mrsjay Sun 10-Feb-13 13:56:07

oh I was in using the post office yesterday and dd asked me to pick up a birthday card so i was looking and they all have those stupid codes on and they are miniscule I nearly bought a card for £2.99 shock

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 10-Feb-13 13:56:48

Our post office is in WHSmiths too.There's always a huge queue (so lots of whingeing) but the PO staff are very efficient and polite so you don't wait that long. But if you do choose to go at busy times then it's, well,busy hmm

WHSmiths though- practically everything in there can be bought elsewhere cheaper.
And I never buy sweets/chocolate in there because it's so flipping hot I imagine the chocolate would be a turdy slab rather than a solid block.

But the staff are ok. One member of staff spent ages helping my 10yo DD look for a book she was trying to find (she couldn't remember the name or author, just some details)grin

mrsjay Sun 10-Feb-13 13:58:27

Waterstones books are cheaper than Smiths books I was ripped off at Christmas saw it cheaper in waterstones after i had bought angry

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Sun 10-Feb-13 14:00:00

I agree it is a horrid place to shop. The one in my town is really cramped, messy and again, overpriced. I can't remember the last time I went in there tbh, I always tend to avoid avoid avoid.

MarmaladeTwatkins Sun 10-Feb-13 14:10:14

"The Works staff alway try and sell me all sorts of weird stuff that's on the counter.

The choice of books in the works is rubbish too."

Stewart Lee made reference to this in his Carpet Remnant World stand-up routine.

"The Works; a shop that claims it is a bookshop yet seems very suspicious of books. You go in and ask them "Do you have anything by Dostoyevsky maybe? Perhaps some of the earlier works of Satre..." .."No, but we do have a papier mache model of the Pompidou centre"


Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 14:10:36

I bloody hate the post office thing. We had a huge, central town post office which had proper disabled access, automatic doors, for pushchairs and knowledgeable staff till a few years ago when it closed, and the stuck it upstairs in WHS. It now has humungous queues constantly, (it did before but there was more room) and is very very hot, overheated I mean, really hard to get to (there's a tiny lift, then piles of stuff to get a buggy round in the shop before you get there) and the staff are all young students, though they mean well.
It's so rubbish, I have to leave most times as the baby gets too hot or I feel like fainting. Why did they do it?

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 14:12:03

The works is just a cheap stuff outlet, non? Not a real shop in its own right with its own stuff, iykwim.

Mind you WHS do have super deals on fountain pens sometimes. Only cos no one buys them I guess. Really sad what it has come to.

mrsjay Sun 10-Feb-13 14:13:02

Dunno rooney our huge post office is now a pub It was a great building and now it is Upstairs in smiths I thing ours closed because it cost alot to run it was a huge old building

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 14:16:50

sad Ours is Chimi changa I think

Odd Chinese restaurant thing with statues etc

MarmaladeTwatkins Sun 10-Feb-13 14:20:45

A chinese called chimichanga?!



FanFuckingTastic Sun 10-Feb-13 14:20:54

I used to work for them and I wasn't terrible at all.

I had special customers who came in to see me, the two older ladies with walkers who used to buy me fruit, and the older man on his mobility scooter who liked his paper and a packet of polos, plus the lady with sight issues who used to get me to do her lottery ticket for her.

I greeted all customers with a smile, even on Christmas Eve, when I was sick and could hardly talk, and when I got promoted to the customer services counter I introduced a new filing system for DVDs and the like which made it faster to find matching DVDs for boxes.

The problem with many companies I guess is that they employ younger staff because it's cheaper and then don't train them properly, so they give you their moody stares and teenage attitude. And with the rate of their pay, I guess I can understand it a bit.

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 14:25:38

Sorry Marmalade I thought it was called that, no idea, I don't go out to eat. Why the shock though? (am I missing something)

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Sun 10-Feb-13 14:26:22

Oh it's Mexican, sorry. Just looked it up.

calandarbear Sun 10-Feb-13 14:27:19


I used to love WHSmiths then last year I asked DH for a fountain pen for my birthday ( I was sitting an OU exam and find it hard to wrote for a long time with a biro) I was so excited but got in there to find they no longer have a Pen Counter. I mean really who buys a fountain pen in a sealed packet from a shelf, without trying it.
We went and got one from a department store instead with a helpful lady and all the exitement of her unlocking the display case and trying lots of pens.

MarmaladeTwatkins Sun 10-Feb-13 14:27:23

Heh heh! grin

Just shocked at the confusion that this could cause... you think you're going to get some hot mexican parcel and you get a spring roll... Imagine....

mrsjay Sun 10-Feb-13 14:30:40

OH and another thing the post office staff ALWAYS seem to refuse passport photos if you use their check and send, last year dd and dh renewed theirs at different times and they sent dd back to the shop for retakes 3 times dh twice then he just posted it himself , and i have heard a few people moan about them, that isn't wh SMITHS FAULT BUT I DO LIKE A MOAN ABOUT IT grin

tempnameswap Sun 10-Feb-13 14:36:03

YANBU - I think they are heading the same way as HMV.

Went into a large branch the other day to buy a fountain pen and came out empty handed. Chaotic shelves, random stock, no way of trying anything and (friendly) assistant who recommended a different shop!

limitedperiodonly Sun 10-Feb-13 14:38:00

What is The Works? Sounds like something worth hating.

Way back in the last century a schoolfriend had a Saturday job at Smiths and was saving up to buy their Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horrible Deaths or something or other like that.

We'd spend every Saturday looking at it. It was definitely worth it but looking back it seems their wages policy must have been shit even then.

limitedperiodonly Sun 10-Feb-13 14:40:17

And do you remember their Win A Pony competition? I did but I never won sad

They were morally suspect even in 1975.

limitedperiodonly Sun 10-Feb-13 14:44:22

I'm going to suggest they resurrect it as the Win A Lifetime's Supply of Findus Crispy Pancake Beef Pony and Onion Flavour Competition.

Can't be any more cynical than recent management decisions.

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