Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Rant: Is a Bone Folder really worth all of this?

OK, we all know what a bone folder looks like, right?  A very common little tool for creasing or folding paper ... used by bookbinders, scrap-bookers, and many other paper artists.

All I wanted was a little old bone folder.  So, I stopped by my local Hobby Lobby, thinking I would just run in, grab one quickly, pay for it, and run back out.  HAH!  I should have known better ... Hobby Lobby is not known for having the best (or in fact, any) customer service.

First of all, of course, there was no bone folder to be found in either the art or the craft section.  After looking and looking, then vainly searching for an employee ... any employee ... on the entire sales floor of this giant store ... I finally trudged up to the front of the store near the cash registers.

There, lounging around the area, were six ... count 'em, SIX ... Hobby Lobby employees, with nary a customer to be seen in the area, laughing and talking and having a wonderful time.  I actually had to interrupt them in order to ask for assistance.  Here's how the conversation went:

Me:  Excuse me, do any of you know where the bone folders would be?  

Them:  (Blank looks.  Confused silence.)  

Me:  You know, a bone folder, used for bookbinding, paper folding ... etc. etc. etc.  

One of Them, who was later discovered to be the Front-of-Store Manager:  Ohhhh, that flat thing that people use for flattening paper?

Me:  Yes, that's the one.

Front Manager:  Well, I don't know if we have any.

Me (After a Long Meaningful Pause):   Well, can you find out if you have any?

FM:  She (pointing) will go with you and show you where they are.

She:  I don't know where they are.

FM:  Yes you do.  They're probably with that scrap-booking stuff.

She:  OK, I'll look, but I'm not guaranteeing I can find it.

Me:  (sighing and following She, with little hope.)

Well, as you can probably guess, there was no bone folder to be found.  Upon returning to the cashier's station with the rest of my purchases (yes, I have no will power when it comes to art supplies), I began asking where the Store Manager was.  

Front Manager:  I don't know, I don't think he's here.

Me:  When will he be here?

FM:  I don't know, they usually don't come in until the afternoon.

Me:  What is his name?

FM (looking shifty-eyed):  I don't know, they keep changing all the time.

Me:  Can you tell me why you have 6 employees up here at the front ... with no customers to be waited on ... and none in the rest of the store to assist customers?

FM (smiling nastily):  I don't know, I'm only the front-of-store manager.  Why didn't you just come up to the front here and I could have sent someone back to help you?

Me (incredulously):  Are you kidding me?

Now, I fully recognize that this little Front-of-Store Manager didn't have any real authority, and that she was just following the rules set down by Upper Management.  Nevertheless, I was trying to get her to understand that I would like my complaints passed up to the next level.  She chose to take the offensive tack, however, by blaming me for not trekking up to the front in order to track down an employee for assistance all the way on the other side of the store.

About this time, one of the Very Valuable Up-Front Employees (the one who stands slack-jawed at the front door to "greet" customers) chose this moment to roll her eyes expressively to one of her co-workers.  Unfortunately, I caught her doing it, and promptly called her on it to the Manager ... who looked me straight in the eye and said, "she wan't doing it about you, she was doing it about someone else."  Yeah.  Right.

As our conversation was getting louder and louder (the woman was actually arguing with me), an older gentleman walked up behind me and asked for the return of his backpack.  When the woman very condescendingly assured him that it was "tucked away, safe and sound", he asked, very politely, why he even needed to surrender it when he came into the store.  When she explained that it was to prevent shoplifting, he (again, very politely) asked if his backpack was any bigger than his wife's shoulder purse.
At this point, I was already so mad that I told the manager and everybody else within a half-block's hearing distance that it was an INSULT to their customers to automatically assume that they were thieves, depending on the type and size bag they bring into the store.  

Whereupon, the gentleman and I grandly (and I'm sure, hilariously) stomped out of the store together, swearing never to return.

I'll seriously not be going back to Hobby Lobby ... I'll happily drive a little further and give my business to Michael's.
I'm also writing a letter to CEO David Green ... it all comes from the top down, of course, and this Ostentatiously Christian Business has decided it's OK to blatantly insult its customers by assuming that they are shoplifters.

Not to mention never having enough (or any) employees on the sales floor to assist customers.  Ever.
Can you tell I'm royally P.O.'d?
OK, I'm going to go bind my quilt now.  Maybe sitting nice and quiet in my Big Comfy Chair and hand-stitching the binding will lower my blood pressure.  Wish me luck.


  1. This is the same store that closes on Sundays. Yup. Customer service at the forefront, even if not at the front of the store.


    (And can I share with you just how hilarious it is to have use word verification for my comment here? LOL *hugs*)

  2. Yep, Carol Dean, life is just a chair of bowlies. I've spent way too much time on this, and given myself a raging migraine. (I have often, serendipitously, found the verification word to actually have something to do with the post! Funny.

  3. It's like going to Joanne's ... except Joanne's is open on Sunday. And I occasionally get a person that really DOES give a rat's rump at JoAnn's - but I have NEVER gotten anyone with an IQ above plant-stage at Hobby Lobby. I think it must be a requirement that you know absolutely NOTHING about crafts & hobbies if you want to work there. Great rant! It made me feel wonderful! I hope you can calm down enough to appreciate all the humor you presented in your post... especially the part about stomping out.. TOO FUNNY!!!!

  4. Unfortunately, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joann Fabrics, and Hancock are ALL like this in my town. No one in any of these stores know what they have on the shelves. If you call, they just say they don't think they carry it. More and more, I have to depend on the internet.

  5. I've had similar experiences, but yours is the best (?) tale!
    My ultimate aggravation in a store is staff who pretend to know something instead of admitting they don't know any more than I do. Then they waste my time while they stand there searching or reading with no more success than I had.
    Curmudge on, my friend!

  6. Oh I SO enjoyed your rant! So sorry you were awarded with a migraine, which is wildly unfair. Still, this poor customer service absolutely confounds me. I hope you took names so you can proceed to kick some a** with your letters. Maybe it will make a difference.
    I truly dislike Hobby Lobby. I can't imagine what level of desperation would be required to get me back in one of their stores.

  7. I enjoyed your rant Linda.. it is so 'today'... Michaels here in Palm Springs is the same...I wonder why I go there!! Lately I do a lot of ordering online.. only thing is, when I want it, that usually means now... carole, who is still trying to find digital grounds locally...
    A big hug...

  8. Boy, this really touched a nerve. I have tons of private emails about this! As one of them said, "Thank goodness for the internet!"

  9. I was so glad to see a Hobby Lobby come to Richmond, Michael's has gotten a really bad reputation here, and since Richmond is an "art mecca" with the VCU arts department, and all the art stores are downtown, Hobby Lobby is a breath of fresh air. They each have their problems, but...

    When I lived in San Antonio and shopped at the Bandera Rd. Hobby Lobby store, I picked up 3 of an item in the art department. The art department manager saw me and wasn't happy -- he said the area manager was there and if the area manager didn't see 3 of the item on the shelf, he would get in trouble. Well, I don't know if that was true or not, but I told him I was sorry and walked off with them to the register.

    I have vision problems and have to wear sunglasses most of the time when I am out. The FBI and police department here have recommended to banks and stores that customers with sunglasses and caps not be admitted due to crime issues. I let the FBI and police know what I thought about that. My bad...

  10. I find all the employees in chain stores are like this---another reason to keep supporting our local stores who have knowledgeable staff...and also why we have to resort to mail order to get what we want

  11. At least our local Michael's and AC Moore employees are pleasant, even if they're not helpful. For helpful, I go to Plaza Art. Sigh... if only their fiber department were bigger.

  12. I am so sorry to hear about your Hobby Lobby woes. But seriously, you had me laughing! I just make it a point to NOT ask questions. If I can't find it in the third department visited, I walk out. Asking questions never got me anywhere. True for all three big box craft stores. That's why I try my darndest to offer great customer service on my little art supply website. Because people WILL get sick of HL, Michaels, and Joanns and come to me, hehe.

  13. Carol Warner Mesimer10:36 PM, March 09, 2011

    Hilarious! I've worked for Michaels, ACMoore, and Joanns, and I can tell you it ALL comes back to the manager. If the store has a good manager, then the employees will toe the line and do what they should to make your shopping experience pleasant. Having said that, our ACMoore went thru 4 managers in the 2.5 years I was there. The turnover of district managers was even higher.

    When complaints are made to the corporate level, believe me, you know what flows downhill. I've even heard of customers taking pictures of lounging employees and sending the pictures in with their complaints.

    BTW...I happen to have a bone folder, and rarely ever use it, even when I can find it. I just use the side of a table knife handle. Those, I can always find in the kitchen drawer!

    1. Carol, your unused bone folder is great for tucking in bed sheets if you have long finger nails or arthritis in your hands, don't think that would such a good idea with a table knife.

  14. Yes, Lynda, we now have a HL in Richmond, and I am sorry to hear your service at M's isn't the best...but I have heard tell that HL will stay stocked and staffed for the first few months and then after that....

    I work at the M in Colonial Heights, and believe me, as wrong as the service you received was, Linda, the expectations and behaviors of the customer on many occasions leaves something to be desired... you can read a bit about that in my occasional rants at my blog (look back around the holidays!)

    I had to actually argue (and then graciously give in and go and get more) with a cashier at HL who insisted an item was 50% when I knew it said 30% off ...Who am I to argue? It can lead to an awful lot of abuse and internal theft that way, because the receipts don't say WHAT you bought...

    The shelves have no labels, and they spread stuff out to look full, so even if they HAD that boning tool, they could easily have no idea how many they have in stock or where someone may have hung it...

    I am curious to see what the store looks like by Christmas...

    Unfortunately, right now at M's the hours have been cut to the point where we have in the store a manager, a head cashier, a floor person and a framer (4 human beings for a 20,000 sq ft building) ...when lucky two floor people (one of whom ends up on the register) THAT is the thing that we can't fix...we HAVE to give customer service, and answer the phone and walk you to the product and ask if you are looking for anything else and by the end of a walk through with you, I look like the Pied Piper with customers trailing behind me wanting assistance....when you toss in those who asked someone else first, and didn't believe or like the answer that we don't carry it (lampshades, measuring cups, cooking timers and curtain rods were all items people wanted last night)....
    Retail is not for sissies!! LOL

  15. I have every sympathy for the working clerks and cashier's in retail. It the Management that makes or breaks a store, from the customer's viewpoint. I made it very clear to the cashier yesterday at Hobby Lobby that I knew it wasn't her fault and that I wasn't angry at her. Nevertheless, by the time I left the store I was livid at the Manager and the higher-ups!

    I don't even care if they don't have something I'm looking for. I just want some tiny semblance of customer service ... which has evidently gone the way of the Do-Do Bird. And the policy of confiscating backpacks is just beyond the pale!

  16. Agreed. And truly, it isn't always the store managers fault, either --they are given the hours and are whipped into not going over, indeed cutting hours, if it looks like we won't make our sales---it is those corporate people, who live in a fantasy world of perfection...Backpack confiscation would be a fantastic thing for us, we could probably save THOUSANDS of dollars of beads from being stolen every year.(..and candle/soap fragrance. Don't understand that one, but I am always finding empty packages of that.)...of course, to have BPC, we would need (my favorite store in the world, BH Photo in Manhattan, has an amazing BPC set up....)

  17. With all due respect, I will never agree that back-pack (or big-purse) confiscation is a good idea. There are other means of protecting stock, such as the use of mirrors, cameras, even the old-fashioned floor-walker. Of course, all these things cost money, and it's much easier and cheaper (in the short run)to simply denigrate your potential customers by treating them as criminals.

    I wonder how many other people have sworn off particular stores because of this practice. It's probably a "drop in the bucket", but if adults would truly stand up for themselves and for their children, this kind of personally degrading policy couldn't continue.

  18. Wow. That's amazing.

    I have a HL just 2 miles from my place, and, happily, I have never had a bad experience there. They sometimes don't have what I am looking for, but there are plenty of employees in various sections to help out. Employees who seem happy to be there!

    It does drive me crazy that they don't scan products so I can have an itemized receipt for my taxes, though.

  19. Boy do I feel your pain.

    As a woman of color, crap like this happens to me all the time.

    By the way, I got my bone folders at Archivers (scrapbooking store)....

    Would love for you to stop by my blog when you have a moment or 2.


  20. WOW so far ours is in direct competition with Michaels which is across the street...both TRY to help..Michaels is much better at helping now...BYTW bone folder...try the MS word in Michaels..that's where i got mine...Martha she who shall NOT be named:> and YEP worth colors left on the fold when you crease it...ask me how i know...learned the hard way:>

  21. Thanks Maggie, LuLu, and all. I guess I should 'fess up here and say that when I got home from that unpleasant shopping experience ... I found my OLD bone folder! Whew!

  22. This makes me glad that we don't have a Hobby Lobby here! I have found it rather interesting that with the economy being so bad and people desparate for jobs, customer service has really gone down hill. You'd think that employees would be more consciensous of doing their jobs well, and keeping them! I realize that not all businesses and all employees are like this, but I've found that a lot of them are. Amazes me!

  23. Isn't retail fun? NOT! We call that customer-no-service around here. This is part of the reason I now buy most of my creative supplies on the web. Prices are great, although there are no 40% off coupons. Freight isn't much (I shop that carefully and combine my orders too) and is often offset by the sales tax and gas savings, not to mention the time savings.

  24. As a follow-up, I did receive a response from Hobby Lobby. Not from CEO David Green, but from a regional manager. He assured me that at this past Friday's meeting in San Antonio, they addressed the issues in my letter to him. A manager should be on the floor and available to customers at all times, and backpacks will no longer be confiscated. Progress!

  25. WOW! Just to think I was considering leaving my cashier job at Micheal's which is about a 40 min drive and putting in an application at the new Hobby Lobby coming to town that is about a 20 min drive. Maybe I should reconsider.

  26. Debi, I've heard from people who have worked at both Hobby Lobby and Michael's, that there's not that much difference between the management styles. Besides, I'd hate for my rant to paint all Hobby Lobby's with the same brush!


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