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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.

HoobleDooble Sun 10-Feb-13 14:46:05

Our local WHS is totally inaccessible for anyone with a pushchair or wheelchair, the shelving is so close together with tight turns at the end.

The last time I went in was just after I'd had my DS by c-section, I'd walked into town to get an anniversary present for DH as I wasn't able to drive, and thought of a few DVDs or CDs that would be nice. WHS is now the only outlet for sound/vision in our town (oh Woolies, I still miss you!!!). But it wasn't until this first (and last) visit with a pram that I realised they haven't got a lift, just a steep flight of stairs, and, as all the CDs, DVDs and books are on the 1st Floor, I left empty-handed.

Porkster Sun 10-Feb-13 14:46:46

I'm staging a one woman boycott of my local WH Smiths.

There's always a queue snaking across the shop, with 2 people serving on the tills and 4 members of staff wandering around being gormless.

You have to go upstairs for children's books, stationery etc but no-one ever serves at that till. Despite the fact there's always 2 people standing behind it, they have a sign saying go and join the queue downstairs (paraphrasing).

When I eventually reach the till, vein pulsing in my temple, the staff are always surly. And no, I don't want any chocolate; if I did I would have picked it up!


HollaAtMeBaby Sun 10-Feb-13 15:21:24

How is it relevant to your complaint that your DS is autistic? hmm

I don't understand why you didn't buy everything from amazon either. By all means go to Smiths to look and choose, but why pay over the odds to haul it home when you could pay less and get it delivered for?

MarmaladeTwatkins Sun 10-Feb-13 15:24:44

That's helpful, Holla.

I would imagine that the fact that her DS is autistic might be that she could not say to him "Sorry but I am not going to get these from here, tooexpensive, I'll get them from Amazon. You'll have to wait a few days though" in case of a meltdown? If he thought he was getting his books and stuff THAT DAY, a delay might have been bad for him.

Take the chip off your shoulder.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 10-Feb-13 15:37:19

Guess I just thought the OP was going to end with the DS being upset by someone unkind/insensitive, which would be a reasonable thing to be pissed off about. Instead the OP seems to have randomly mentioned it to garner sympathy before launching into a rant about the staff not fawning on her enough being rude and unhelpful. I agree WHS is a bit shit, but it's a bog standard high street newsagent, not Fortnum & Mason.

edam Sun 10-Feb-13 15:42:51

Smiths is a miserable shop. Gloomy, depressing, over-crowded with piles of cack teetering at you every time you go round a corner, pissed-off unhelpful staff and long queues.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 10-Feb-13 15:44:37

There is no service to speak of in Smiths. Horrible place. Trumped only by Iceland and the Main Post Office.

fridgepants Sun 10-Feb-13 16:38:28

In my home town, your choice for book buying is Smiths, The Works, or charity shops - often the latter are a better option in terms of choice as well as price. The local library is great, but that's not ideal for me as a visitor....

FakePlasticLobsters Sun 10-Feb-13 16:52:03

I used to spend a lot of time and money in WH Smiths but our local store has been going downhill for years and I go elsewhere now. In fact, some friends bought me a gift card for WH Smiths for my birthday this year and I was surprised to realise they were still open, I'd forgotten about them completely when I was looking for a particular book.

My biggest problems were the fact that the shop can't seem to decide what it sell now. Is it books and magazines or is it the massive display of vile pick and mix sweets that you almost have to climb over to get through the door. Because you can't use the other door, it's blocked by a fridge selling spots drinks and a mad woman trying to take white-background photographs of your baby before you can escape and hide behind a pile of tat.

Upstairs is no better. They've used the books and games to build a massive series of maze like tunnels, occasionally booby-trapped by a box of creme eggs or chocolate oranges and if you can find someone to serve you they give you a whole tree worth of Ocado vouchers and 15% off an easel the next time you spend exactly £37.62 on pencil sharpeners before 9am on February 29th only.

Which is impossible, because despite them having the opening hours on the door as being 7:30am, they don't open until 9am because "nobody wants to come in before then." I know this because I used to try and get my morning paper from them on the way to work at 8:15am and they would never let me in.

And they are overpriced. And they hide their books in weird sections that they don't actually belong in.

southdevondelight Sun 10-Feb-13 17:01:45

Will slink back to my pedant's cave but ... it's W H Smith. No plural. Guess you can tell I'm bored on a dull, grey old Sunday afternoon.

limitedperiodonly Sun 10-Feb-13 17:17:24

Holla buying from Amazon means only that you're embroiled in those angry 'why does my neighbour expect me to take in her parcels?' threads that baffle me because I suspect I'm the remaining person on earth to buy things from actual, real life high street stores and take them away there and then.

Just not W H Smith (thanks southdevondelight)

razamatazz Sun 10-Feb-13 21:09:55

I say this every time I go in. No one on tills but plenty of supervisors, hardly any stock, can't find anything in there. How on earth it's still going is a mystery to me. I used to love going in there when I was little with my pocket money each week too, it's a shame.

Floggingmolly Sun 10-Feb-13 21:17:12

They used to be fabulous shops, but have gone downhill shockingly in the last few years. It's a shame sad

freddiefrog Sun 10-Feb-13 21:27:50

Our local WHS used to be fab with really helpful and knowledgeable staff.

It's awful now, I'd rather go to Waterstones for books, their staff know what they're talking about and are willing to order stuff for you of they haven't got it

Last time I went to WHS, it was full of stationery covered with owls, cupcakes or Russian dolls, the book section was virtually empty apart from overpriced z-list sleb autobiographies and the lady on the till was determined to sell me either stamps or sweets. She wouldn't take no for an answer so I went elsewhere

pineapplecrush Sun 10-Feb-13 22:28:06

They have definitely lost their way, trying to sell a bit of everything. Stores are really untidy and not a pleasant shopping experience at all. Agree their staff look as if they dislike working there - perhaps someone could enlighten us? Thought new management had been brought in to sort out but nothing has changed in the 2 branches I occasionally visit.

FanFuckingTastic Wed 13-Feb-13 22:37:27

I contacted WHsmiths about the complaints and they messaged me back and said they would do something about it. can't copy the email as on my tablet, but it sounded positive.

YourHandInMyHand Thu 14-Feb-13 08:54:27

The complaints on this thread FFT? Had forgotten I'd posted this, your post had bumped it back up my threads I'm on page.

To the poster who asked why I mentioned my DS's autism, it was not to garner sympathy hmm it was to illustrate I couldn't have popped back up to the entrance/exit to get a basket (he would have got extremely upset), or leave the items at the till after the churlish service (again he wouldn't have understood and would have got upset), I couldn't have asked him to help me with the balancing act of carrying (his co-ordination isn't as it should be). So basically it was more to give an idea of me not being a straightforward shopper. Also as I mentioned he is quite obviously quirky in public, he makes odd noises, flaps, bounces up and down, etc. In terms of picking games it also means I can't just look at the age ranges on the boxes which is why choosing took us a little longer.

I was more annoyed at the churlish, almost challenging way I was told I'd need to buy a bag than I was at the basket issue.

The fact there were 4 shop floor staff milling about not helping anyone, and only 2 young girls on the tills did seem silly though, especially as there was a queue as always.

FanFuckingTastic Thu 14-Feb-13 12:31:40

I did discuss disability with them as I am disabled and my daughter most likely has a form of autism, I suggested some training in customer service and some sort of disability awareness training also.

I have my fingers crossed as I am an ex employee and it was sad to see how many people had a bad experience with them.

consonant Thu 14-Feb-13 13:00:14

I agree it's dreadful in there now - cluttered, impossible to find anything, quality of own brand products poor and that's before the sweetie-pushers at the till.
I used to love it as a child - books, toys, stationery, nicely laid out and good quality.
Sadly I think the bargain positioning is what has enabled it to survive the recession rather than the other way round. it is horrible in there now.

popcornpaws Thu 14-Feb-13 14:29:57

I once had an interview with them and the manager spent the whole time bitching about the staff and how useless they were...

berndoo Tue 03-Dec-13 13:51:12

I have to say I fully agree with previous comments. W H Smith must surely provide the worst customer service by a supposedly major retailer. Used their online ordering service and have been unable to find the whereabouts of the order despite the money being debited from my bank account almost immediately. No e mails to update me, and customer services provide a different response each time they are contacted. I would like my money back but cannot claim it online as there is no facility. How much of a stink do I need to create before W H Smith take notice. They should either provide a proper service or cease "trading" online. They are to be avoided at all costs

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