I went to Towson Town Center today to return a few xmas items. It took 20 minutes to find a parking space. Then I tried to go to Abercrombie & Fitch to return a pair of pants for my son. According to the folks at the end of the line, the wait was going to be over an hour. I have never seen so many bored teenagers in one place before (outside of school, of course). I decided I'd try some other time, and headed over to Macy's. I went up to the housewares dept, figuring that I would return my gifts and then buy something for the kitchen. I had gift receipts, so I figured this would be a no brainer. Except that the incredibly snippy man at the counter wouldn't take my return. I said I wanted to shop housewares, so it made sense to do my return where I wanted to shop. "At least take it down to the right floor!" he snapped. So I stomped down to the first floor, and made my returns. Which had to be processed as two separate transactions, despite the gift receipts, because the upc code was missing on two of the items. Then I had to supply my driver's license. And then my change of address card. For a return! I felt like I was being treated like a criminal, not a customer.
Finally though, I had success -- two macy's gift cards in place of merchandise I didn't want. Of course, I used up all the free time I had, so I will have to go back later to redeem them.
The mall was insanely crowded. Every store, the food court, the parking lot. Tons of people carrying lots and lots of packages. Every kiosk was packed with people. The phone stalls were even crazier -- I guess phones were a popular gift this year.
And the people working in these stores were clearly overwhelmed, and understandably, fraying around the edges. Still, in a year when retail sales were slow, you would think that every single person at the mall would be trying to provide stellar service to encourage people to shop. I didn't feel like anyone was trying to encourage me to shop -- rather the reverse.
Don't people know there is a recession going on?