Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Take your customer "goodwill" and shove it, J.C. Penny

Tonight the lovely Mrs. Jib and I had a little shopping we had to get done. While we were at the mall, she decided to stop in at J.C. Penny to use a gift coupon she had received from the company. This coupon claimed to be a way for Penny's to thank customers, offering $10 off of merchandise for any transaction exceeding $10. On the front of the coupon it said some exceptions apply.

I will be the first to admit that neither of us took the time to read the exceptions. Shame on us. My wife wandered around the store and picked out something that she wanted. When it came time to ring it up, we found out that it was on the "exception" list. She looked pretty disappointed, so I offered to just buy the product for her, but at that point it had become less about the product and more about the principle of the whole thing to her. And so began our death by fine print.

After that first rejection, buying something she wanted became secondary to her. Getting $10 of flesh out of J.C. Penney while spending as little as possible became the goal. So we went and picked out a secondary product that she was interested in, a coin purse/wallet. It cost $9.99. She picked out a pair of socks to bump the total over $10, and we were off to a register. We get up there and the price of the socks come off the total, but nothing from wallet. The cashier takes us over to the rack in small print, the sign says "value item" or some such nonsense. Turns out, these volume items are exceptions. So we go back to the drawing board, and she tries to pick out a piece of apparel that she likes. The cashier says, "umm, no, that won't work either. Anything that is '2 for' or '3 for' is excluded." So we walked around a little more only to find that almost all of Penny's clothing was either regularly priced as an "x for" or marked down on sale as such.

At that point I asked for this coupon that represented J.C. Penney's generous customer goodwill. As I read it, I discovered that damn near half the store was off limits to this coupon. "Some Exceptions" actually meant "many, many exceptions." At that point I started getting really, really pissed with this little horseshit ruse Penney's was playing on us. As best I could tell, about all you could buy with it were two styles of socks, a couple of different items of costume jewelry, and their ample supply of ugly assed clearance clothing.

We spent an hour in that damn store. What at first was a feel good activity, something that could build the bond between us and the store, became a quest to get from J.C. Penny without giving them very much in return. I frankly resent their little attempt at expressing goodwill by putting half the store off limits. I worked retail for 4 years and I know a lot of the tricks stores play. This was easily the most bush league ploy I've ever seen. Every year at Christmas I spend money at J.C. Penney. This year, Penney's is going to have to do without my pennies. I refuse to spend a dime or a moment in their stores. And the best part is that I know that there are others out there just like me, because our cashier told us how common this problem was. So take my advice...spend your money at another department store.

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