For all my love of New York there are times when I fear it will push me over the edge into insanity or violence. Last night I experienced one of those moments.
In the wake of Super-Storm Sandy, I bought a small halogen lantern through Amazon. To power it, I needed three D batteries, which were not included.
Just about the only place left that sells batteries in my neighborhood is the drugstore that ate New York City, Duane Reade. The Duane Reade store started a few decades ago and thrived because their prices are low. Over the years they drove virtually every other drugstore/convenience store out of business. Now they are ubiquitous, with over 150 stores in Manhattan alone.
I walked into the Duane Reade on 79th and York on Friday night and somehow, almost magically, found the battery section without having to ask nine people. They had no D batteries.
I asked the woman behind the counter, "Do you have D batteries?"
She grunted a "no" and suggested I ask the manager.
I did. They didn't.
And of course he couldn't care less.
I began steaming.
How do you run out of D batteries. They seem like a fairly basic thing. Something a store should never run out of.
Worse, was the attitude. The people who work at Duane Reade are not affected at all if Duane Reade serves customers well or not. They couldn't give a rat's ass if you walk out disappointed. They'll make the same $7.85/hr. regardless.
As I walked home battery-less I wondered not where I could find batteries, but if and how much "customer service" from agencies resembles "customer service" from Duane Reade.
After all, we are both owned by absentees.
For both agencies and Duane Reade there is no reward if you serve a client well. Your pay stays the same.
I guess the big difference between Duane Reade and agencies is that they serve many customers, so if they piss me off, no big deal. Whereas even the biggest agency has only a couple dozen accounts, so there are more consequences if you fuck up.
That said, if I were running an agency, I'd think about this.
The lack of customer service.
The disconnect between pay and performance.
The failure to instill a culture that cares.