Thursday, November 12, 2009


For years we unannointed have assumed that the initials MBA stand for Master’s of Business Administration. The more I see the state of business today, the more I contend MBA really stands for Master’s of Bullshit Administration.

Yesterday evening on my way home from work I decided I needed a new pair of jeans, so I headed over to the Gap. To me the Gap seems under the dangerous influence of MBAs. It is all about retail best practices and not at all about the customer.

The Mens' department in my local Gap is downstairs. The MBAs have decided on some sales to square foot ratio that there are no salespeople. There is a counter with three or four cash-registers with people folding clothing behind them. Can I pay here, I ask? No. Upstairs.

I head upstairs. The line is four or five deep and there is only one cashier. The line is piling up because the one customer paying has about ten items (everything in the store is at least 25% off.)

The store itself is as messy as Oscar Madison's closet. Again, no staff. Finally another cashier opens her register. She shouts "Can I help the next guest please?"

That's the line that set me off. Guest. Some MBA read somewhere that they should treat customers like guests. But since that costs money, we'll just call them guests. That's good enough's marvelously cost efficient.

Finally, I'm the next guest. I say to the cashier, if I'm a guest the pants should be free. Otherwise I'm a customer. She looks at me blankly. Her brain registers a gap. Somehow I avoid a Larry David moment.

In a few years or sooner, the Gap will announce it is closing 400 stores or something. We will read about it nearing Chapter 11 and people will rend their cheap Chinese-made garments over it. A CMO will be fired, as will an ad agency or two.

Not a single MBA in their employ will say, our product is the same as any other store; luck in forecasting merchandising trends comes and goes, let's differentiate on service.

Nope. They're Masters of Brain Atrophy.


Anonymous said...

I've been there.
Same store, but a different pair of jeans I hope.
There is only one solution George, anger management.We are powerless to change anything.

george tannenbaum said...

Anonymous, who are you?

Lisa Levy said...

I have to say, that freaks me out when they call me a guest. Way too personal and I would never visit anyone who wouldn't let me use their bathroom.

Anonymous said...

lisa, that bathroom observation is perfect.