more expectations for marketing in 2008

This past weekend, I saw a Captain America shirt that I thought was excellent (it had very similar artwork to the picture above). It was a replica of a shirt they used to sell in Marvel comics from the 70s. Very retro.

It was apparently purchased at a Steve & Barry’s t-shirt shop. Easy enough, I thought.

So I went online to their website to order a shirt for myself.

Turns out you can’t order a shirt online from Steve & Barry’s. Annoying. One of my personal favorite things about the Internet is that it reduces the need for me to interact with humanity. I can do all my shopping online and never have to drive to a store. But, OK.

So, I go to their store locater on their website and look up their shop at West Towne Mall in Madison. But instead of giving me the store number where it says “store number,” I get a universal customer service line. In fact, every store in their store locater has the same phone number. Kind of renders the individual store phone number line kind of pointless. But, OK.

I call the generic customer service number, and I ask them about the shirt. They tell me that to get the shirt, I have to call an individual store. And if that store doesn’t have it, I have to call a different one. To finish this string… I have to call all of their stores in the world until I find what I’m looking for. Why? Because they have no inventory system, so someone at one store can’t just look up to see if another store has something. And if I am lucky enough to find it, they don’t transfer an item from one store to the next. If I find one in Idaho, I have to call Rick to go get it (which he may or may not be willing to do).

Seems to me that in 2008, the technology exists to manage your inventory, sell product, communicate between locations and manage customer service all online. Instead, here’s what they are asking me to do:

1. Call the global number
2. Get the number for one of their stores
3. Call the store for which they give me the number
4. See if that store has the shirt I want
5. If not, repeat steps 1 – 4 until I find the shirt
6. If I find the shirt, then I need to find someone to pick it up from which ever store it is found

I can’t even articulate what the equivalent situation would be if we at NewTunes wanted to make our customer interactions with us so time-consuming, unhelpful and frustrating.

Worse yet, they are, apparently, the only store that carries this shirt. Now I’ll never be able to show the world my support for Captain America. I can only hope that he realizes how much I appreciate everything he’s done for us.


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