It seemed like a good idea to get new tools. I mean, it was Saturday, there were a ton of specials going on.

Earlier that day, I’d taken one of my old cars to my favorite shop for a little transaxle leak. OK, it was gushing enough oil to have triggered an alert to Green Peace. So I drove my trusty truck to what used to be “Where America Shops” and began shopping for tools, atypically clutching coupons and door buster specials. (My wife was proud of my shopping prowess. All of it was her idea.)

A red-vested product specialist appears, sensing a valid Visa card, “Can I help you find something special today?” he asks. “Well, lucky you” I responded, “I need a new tool chest, some shiny things to go in it, and it’s my birthday.” Smiling he responds, “That’s a good start!” Things went downhill from there.

Oh, we found the deals. We fondled the socket sets (not together mind you, that would’ve been just weird) and I even selected a lighted workbench, with a drawer and external plug.

I figured I’d be out of there by noon. It was just 11:40 a.m. Keep that in mind.

I pull my truck to the loading door where I’m told it’ll take “5 minutes” to go get my stuff off the floor. Make that 10. OK, it’s 12:20 p.m., no tool chest. Apparently, the computer never told the loading fellows that it was on the floor. (Funny, the computer never asked me anything.)

They eventually locate the runaway chest and load almost everything in the truck. “You’ll need to go to the warehouse to get the workbench. Just show them this receipt.” It’s not far, but my teeth are grinding to the point of expelling little teeth chards and the guy thinks I’m choking on a Trisket. It’s 12:30. I stuff my wad of receipts in the console. As I’m driving away, it hits me: “Why do I have a wad of receipts?” (This is the male shopping gene. Females look at receipts and say, “I don’t have NEARLY enough!”)

In the warehouse parking lot, I unroll said wad to see I was charged twice for my tool chest. I briefly consider redelivering my entire purchase through their front door.

I’m staring at the warehouse entrance. A big bay door is open, and one lone worker stands at the loading dock. I have a partial order in my truck, an overcharge in my hand, and have spent a full hour trying to give this store $580 of business. Above the door, in faded paint, I see the tagline, “…Where America Shops”, and think, “Not any more.”

Points to Ponder :

What is your customer process?

Why would anyone recommend you?

What do you do to encourage referrals?

How hard are you to do business with?

What one thing would make it easier?