Monday, February 25, 2008

The joys of wedding registry shopping at JCPenny's

Warning: Shameless whining and venting ahead.

This past weekend {A} and I went to the local shopping mall to get our wedding registry kick-started. We had some some research and planning in advance and knew which dinner set we wanted, and the prices that Macy's and JCPenny's charged for said set. (Let's refer to JCPenny's JCP from now on - they seem to like that abbreviation too...)

Needless to say, JCP was cheaper than Macy's. (For my SAfrican readers, JCP is kind-of equivalent to Mr.Price, whereas Macy's is more like Stuttafords or Woolies). So, off to JCP we went... To do a wedding (or general gift) registry, JCP has gone the totally automated, inpersonal route. (The first warning sign). A PC kiosk asks you for your pertinent info and then plays a "training video" with the audio so low you practically need to plaster your ear to the case to hear anything. Lovely... Part of the training video related to dinnerware, and instructed us to use the "Dinnerware Selection Book" at the kiosk to find the set we wanted ("choose from our extensive collection" yadda yadda), and then use a bar-code scanner gun to read the bar-code of the set we wanted. All well and good, but the afore-mentioned book was no-where to be found.

Thinking "outside the kiosk", we searched around the actualy dinnerware display area, but came up empty-handed. A helpful cachier redirected us to the customer-support / catalogue counter (which was next to another gift registry kiosk - a good sign I though). The person behind the counter looked at us blankly as we explained what we were looking for, and we very quickly realized she had never heard of this book. So, I resorted to Plan C (or perhaps Plan D, I lost track...) We used the telephone on the side of the registry kiosk to talk to - gasp! - a real person!

The helpful chap on the other end of the line informed us that the book should be under the keyboard at the kiosk, or very close to it. I informed it was not there. He then suggested I speak to the store manager... So, back to the person at the catalog counter to chase down the manager. For some reason the manager was only available over a walkie-talkie. (I guess phones are passe?) Luckily the counter-person cranked up the volume so that we (and everyon in a 1-mile radius) could hear the manager: Evidently the book had been discontinued in January 2008, and we were SOL (sweet outta luck). No apologies. No mention of an alternative. No humble admittance that the kiosk video is out-dated and misleading...

So, {A} and I were left feeling incredibly frustrated and disappointed. We decided to not register for anything at JCP and instead went to Macy's and were almost ready to not register for any dinnerware at all (since Macy's didn't have the color we wanted available online and their price was almost double JCP's ). A real person took our personal details and walked us through using the bar-code scanner (uh, thanks) and we then started browsing. Most of the linen and bed stuff was not our style, so we had difficulty getting started, but the kitchen department fixed that, and we soon had a lot on our list.

We had also asked the store assistant whether the dinnerware we wanted was available in the color we liked, and yes, he was able to find it! Despite the price being higher, we added it to our registry, and got a nice surprise when we got home and checked our list online: the dishes were the exact same price as JCP had been offering! So, after all that mental anguish, we were able to get what we wanted, with great service, and without paying more!

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