Friday, April 30, 2010

yet another reason to dislike joann fabrics

I've been sewing my little fingers to the bone lately, but most projects are in some final stage of completion...awaiting buttons, hook 'n eye closures, a little hand-tacking...as soon as I can get finished and take photos, I'll have some great summer wardrobe updates to share.

In the meantime, a story:

Yesterday I took my children with me to Joann Fabrics. I needed some large white buttons to finish up a skirt, and found nothing appropriate in my stash. Now, my children have both, since birth, spent A LOT of time in Joann Fabrics stores. I would say I am there on average once a week. When I am stressed out, I will often head there after the kids are in bed at night, just to wander the aisles, see what's new, browse pattern books, whatever.

Plus, they're the only game in town. There is almost literally no other place to get sewing supplies in my area. WalMart has eliminated their fabric department, and now carries only limited notions. Hancock closed their doors 4 years ago. Other than a few small specialty quilt shops and sewing machine dealerships, there is nowhere to shop for sewing supplies, and certainly no other store to get the specific items one needs for garment sewing.

So yesterday we cruised in, Daughter walking, son in the stroller. We looked at one aisle of buttons, and finding nothing to my liking, I steered the stroller around the corner to the next aisle, maintaining conversation with Daughter so we'd both know the other was still there. I couldn't see her, but I could hear her. She was looking at a new rack of beautiful hand painted buttons while I browsed just opposite her.

Suddenly I heard a woman's voice saying, "little girl! excuse me, LITTLE GIRL!" and my head snapped up because I thought, oh my goodness, something is wrong with Daughter. I rushed around the corner as the Joann employee went on, "you can't do that! You have to STOP taking all those buttons off the rack!"

Which, ok, yes. Daughter had taken about a dozen button cards down and was making a neat pile on the shelf. She should not have done so, and I take responsibility for not giving her that explicit instruction. I am not offended that the Joann employee spoke to her.

But she went on.

"It's going to take us AT LEAST A HALF AN HOUR to find where all those buttons go!"

Ok, um, really? It's going to take you 30 minutes to replace a dozen very distinctive buttons which are also numbered? I immediately apologized to the woman, and said of course we would put the buttons back. It took Daughter and I about 45 seconds to replace them all, and while we were doing so I gave her what-for in her ear, mostly because I was embarrassed that someone had to speak to her. But she didn't even understand what she had done wrong...she just kept saying, "I'm sorry Mommy, I was just picking out the pretty ones to show you."

What really frosts me about this occurrence is not that the woman spoke to my kid - I have worked retail and it sucks when some kid (or adult) comes along and destroys a display. Many people would let their child make a big mess and just assume the employees will clean it up because "it's their job." I am not like that, but there's no way that woman could know that about me. So I do not fault her for that.

What frosts me is that last part she felt she needed to add...that snarky, nasty comment that it would take a half an hour to fix what my child had done. Seriously? Was that necessary? The poor kid is only 5 years old. She was not strewing buttons around madly, throwing them hither and yon just for the sake of making a mess - she was neatly stacking a few cards to show me the prettiest ones. She was being quiet, and not causing any problem or disturbance. I had half a mind to go back to that woman and speak to her, but I thought that would be setting a bad example for Daughter.

It just brings to mind the general lack of customer service and basic kindness you find in Joann Fabrics stores. How many times have I been treated nastily by one of their employees? MANY. I have been huffed at while at the cutting counter, told I am buying the wrong item for the project I'm doing, been treated badly when trying to use a number of coupons to save a little money, and just generally get the idea when shopping there that I am majorly inconveniencing the employees. The women at the cutting counter will literally turn their backs on you, or walk away when it is time for their break while there is a line of customers. Heaven forbid you ask for an item you can't find, they will look at you like you have six heads and sigh deeply.

If they all hate working there so much, they should quit and get another job.

More importantly, if working at Joann Fabrics is so miserable, what is wrong with the company? Obviously something is really lacking in the work environment, or compensation package, or training, when not one employee appears happy to be at their job. And they are taking it out on the customers!

I spend a lot of money at Joann Fabrics. I like to touch fabrics and yarns before I buy them, and I like the convenience of running to the corner for a zipper or sewing machine needles or whatever, when I need it. But I could be persuaded to stop going in there and simply order what I need online. I can make up the difference at Michael's and AC Moore, for the most part. But I really don't want to do that. I like the store. They just really, really need to do something about their people.

8 comments:

Hannah said...

Seriously, AMEN!

Karen said...

Anytime our Joann's acquires an employee who has personality, customer service skills, and knows anything about sewing they don't last. Honestly, what is the problem with their stores? Sometimes I think I want a job there just to be the one employee that people find helpful and who they seek out when they have a question.

lizzytish said...

We don't have Joann Fabrics here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada...and perhaps this is a good thing. Poor customer service is intolerable anywhere. Your daughter is a potential future customer. Unfortunately, some store staff lump children and teens together as bad customers.

April said...

Here! Here! Seriously. It's got to be a trickle-down-effect. When I studied Human Resources - stuff like that ALWAYS originates from the top. Always.

Erin said...

Have you seen Undercover Boss? I'm thinking this would make a great episode.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I just wanted to say that while you have a totally valid point there are a few things I would like to add. I've worked for a joanns for 6 years, I have had many compliments on my work ethic, and quite a few comments on how awful my boss is and how many people have quit shopping there due to her attitude. I have been looking for a secondary or more full time job for two years, in a county where unemployment is over 14 percent its hard to just quit cuz your job sucks. So I understand where your coming from but I try to think of it this way, maybe they were just having a really shitty day and if not karma will catch up with them eventually :)

Anonymous said...

It makes me really sad to hear about your experience because I work at Joanns in Michigan and I would have NEVER, nor would anybody in our store speak to a customers child in that manner. While it is frustrating sometimes, there are a lot of things that are worse than a few buttons.

On another note, the way the company runs is not so desirable for the employees. Typically all Joann stores are understaffed, and under a tremendous amount of pressure for meeting payroll, items per transaction and average ticket goals. Not to mention all those coupon sign ups - we have quotas on those too.

The employee that behaved this way was most definitely in the wrong, and as someone who works in customer service we are supposed to have more composure.

Anonymous said...

Me and joann's go way back, It used to feel like an art store since the remodel of the store near my house. The prices seemed to have tripled, I've gotten entire hoards of fabric at estate sales for less than what they charge for one yard or jersey knit. The store is so stretched out I can't find anything, and the 40% off coupon has been 30% as of late. I just learned that the glue sticks I paid $8 for were only worth $3 store credit when iI found my glue stick stash and wanted to return the one I bought the day before. Thanks for the platform to vent. Its over joann's I'm breaking up with you.