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November 12, 2006

Radio Shack Needs Sales Representative Training

By Li Evans

Radioshack I wasn't going to blog about this because this happened in the offline world, but I saw a posting on Seth Godin's blog about Radio Shack and it was pretty much the experience I had yesterday.  That's when I got to thinking about a post I wrote about Jackie Huba's experience with J.Crew.  That was a totally positive experience and the type of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) marketers treat as gold.

What Seth wrote and what I'm about to relate is something corporations should start taking note of as more and more consumers take to the web and even start blogging about their experiences, since its not the WOMM companies really want to see.

I don't know if it was the "Radio Shack Water" they all drank, but I had a bad experience at Radio Shack, too.  I should clarify, my father had the experience, I like Seth, was merely a spectator, shaking my head as I left the store.

As par for the course, my father comes in with his list and gives it to "Lance" at the Frackville, PA store.  I've seen my father do this before with no problems from the other sales reps, in fact most of them are very grateful my father has it so spelled out.  This guy gives a snarky remark "What's this?!"

Immediately, my "oh this is going to be fun" meter gets triggered. 

Rather than look at the list and go back to the area where the items would be, he goes to the computer.  Then gets all snarky again, "these will ALL have to be special ordered."  My dad replies "O.K., how long, because the last time it took 3 weeks."

"Oh it NEVER takes that long sir, it should only take 3 days. I believe you are mistaken when you say how long it took, because it never takes that many weeks."  We both heard the 3 days from this sales representative with "LAC" on his sleeves, and I was a bit taken aback by him telling my father he was wrong.

So the bantering with this sales rep, who's being very combative with my father goes on, and it's not  a nice in tone at all.  Finally the sales rep says it'll be 3 to FIVE days.  When my father questions him on why now its "to 5 days", Lance replies "I said 3-5 days before." 

WOW!  This guy was just plain out rude.  And upon leaving with a receipt for the products special ordered in hand, my father says "That guy said 3 days at first, you heard it too, right?  That guy's the reasons why I hate coming to Radio Shack, next time we'll drive to Moyer's in Pottsville." (smaller more personable electronics type store farther away).

Seth's story is pretty much along the same lines.  Radio Shack, with all it's recent woes (its had to close close to half its brick & mortar stores and has had to corporately restructure to prevent even more financial losses) would be wise to re-invest in training for their sales representatives.  I think they want them coming back to them in droves, not vowing to go to the competition.


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Found your blog while doing some googling re: customer service at various companies. Unfortunately, the incident that you describe, and that others I've found about Radioshack have become far too common in the last 2 to 3 years. As an x DM with many years of past experience, I can tell you without reservation that the company is in DEEP trouble. Years ago, it was pretty much standard to recruit managers with college degrees. The pay plans were decent and managers made a decent living, as did their associates. Then in about 2000 or so, the upper management started screwing with the pay plan structure. And they kept screwing with it, averaging about every 18-24 months. And every time, the incomes DECREASED, not increased as was told and represented to my people. Enter then the class action lawsuits over overtime pay. I have to admit, the managers were getting SCREWED and royally. I knew it, they knew it, and Ft. Worth knew it. But Ft. Worth didn't care. That's why they had to finally end up and settle for millions.

Then in order to make back that money, they again screwed the payplans. Enter into it the coming of the Day. Suddenly anyone who had over 15 years experience with the company was targeted. They were suddenly too expensive. The company shifted their focus to cell phones. If your store don't sell enough + all the accessories, you are OUT. Assocates are barely averaging min. wage and managers' wages are not much better. The company requires the managers to work 50+ hours; they have NO say over inventory ordering (it's done completely by computer out of FW); they have no say over scheduling hours (again done by a computer program). Since inventory is completely controlled by Ft. Worth, there is no discrection for individual managers to gear their stores to their particular clients. Reordering hot items in response to times like Black Friday is no longer an option. This year alone, stores were constantly out of advertized items simply because the managers weren't allowed to order what they needed.

Our "job fairs" are basically a joke. We no longer can attract college grads because, quite frankly, we can't pay a decent wage anymore. Long term people, people who had the knowledge of the products other than just cell phones, are being let go because the company doesn't want to pay them.

I'm not surprised your father encountered the problem he did. The current CEO and VP of Store Ops aren't concerend with customer service. They're only concerend with cell phone sales. The assocates aren't being properly trained in what the stores really have to offer; hense, they don't know their head from their hole in the ground. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

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