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I like to buy everything I can online, usually from Amazon.com. Why? Because shopping in an actual brick-and-mortar store is unbelievably painful. Maybe I should subtitle this post, how I wasted an hour on Sunday afternoon trying to buy something that costs $15.
Our mission — look for a new patio table. Last October's freak snowstorm destroyed our old one when a tree fell on it. So off we went along Route 10. Our first stop, the Fortunoff Backyard Store.
Everything there is a "set." Table, umbrella, chairs, cushions, all rolled into one not-so-low price. But we only want a table. So the hovering saleslady has to manually look up the table prices because they're not posted anywhere.
Of course she can't do this from any old workstation. Nope. She has to use the one she's logged in to, which of course is located all the way on the other side of the store. We quickly learn that Fortunoff isn't the place for us, because the average price for 3 ft by 6 ft table is twelve hundred dollars. With of course an additional delivery charge.
In their defense, they do sell some pretty nice patio furniture.
Anyhow, along the way I noticed they had a rather extensive inventory of Weber grill accessories. I was planning on cleaning my grill when we got home, and I'm out of the odd-sized, custom made aluminium foil drip pans that fit my grill, and lookee here Fortunoff has them right there on the shelf. They're $13.99.
I decided to buy them. What could go wrong?
Tammy and Sophie said, "we'll meet you in the car," and off I headed to the front desk to buy my grill pans. A dour and frumpy looking woman is pounding away on the PC as I approach.
"Can I help you?"
I'd like to buy these pans.
"Who's your salesperson?"
Huh? Salesperson? I took them off the shelf.
"One minute, I'll find an available salesperson."
You mean I can't buy them from you?
"I'm the manager."
Like that's some kind of badge of honor or something. So I mention that there was a lady helping us look at tables, and she says, "That's Marina, I'll get her."
Off she goes. And I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and I'm waiting, and finally "Marina" approaches the desk.
I'd like to buy these pans.
"Oh." Big sigh.
Then to Manager Lady, "Can I use this workstation?"
Manager lady walks away. Sales lady has to log in.
She scans the bar code and then says, "Phone number?"
What is this, Radio Shack?, I thought, but OK, I'll play along. I give her my office number.
Um, I just want to buy the pans, OK? Is this really necessary?
"We can't issue a receipt without a name and address."
Two desks over there's a guy just sitting there. He helpfully pipes up, "Use the store phone number."
To which sales lady replies, "I don't know it!"
He tells her. She types it in. "Fourteen Dollars, Ninety Seven cents."
I hand her a twenty dollar bill. She recoils in horror.
"We don't have change."
Now this is getting ridiculous!
Helpful dude wanders over, "Sure we do, it's in the safe."
"I don't have the key," says sales lady.
"It's in the drawer."
She rummages through the drawer. "No, it's not."
"Wait, I'll get the manager," and off he goes. A minute or two goes by. I'm smiling, watching her squirm.
Finally he returns with the key and opens the safe. Carefully they both extract a five dollar bill and meticulously count out 3 pennies. Then they place my twenty securely in the safe, lock it up, and breath a sigh of relief.
Sales lady hands me my change, and then a two page 8½ x 11 printed "receipt."
Finally, I've successfully transacted my purchase!
We checked a few more stores, but didn't see any tables which caught our eye.
Later at home I logged into Amazon, typed in "patio table", and on my screen was page after page of tables — no chairs, no umbrellas, no cushions — just tables, with prices.
Prices I might add, which are significantly lower than $1200.
For example, there's this one, which looks remarkably like one we saw in Fortunoff. Amazon's price? $429.99. With free two-day shipping via Amazon Prime.
I bought it with One-Click. It'll be here Wednesday.
So this morning, when I saw an entry on Instapundit noting
The End Of Retail, I
had to smile knowingly. Retail is dead. They just won't admit it yet.
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