July 1, 2009

Navel gazing

Having totally given up on Geek Squad's ability to fix my defunct router, I went to Future Shop last night after work to get an ethernet cable that would stretch into the kitchen. I'm sitting amongst a mass of wires, but no matter. At least I have a working connection and some sort of idea on how to get everything humming along nicely.


Future Shop is a place that seems to pride itself on technology, service and know-how. Their commercials--although pretty lame--show employees pointing out great deals on new trends. The store is filled with long, white shelves loaded with every gadget imaginable. The prices are relatively competitive. The commission-driven salespeople juggle client after client, a bit rushed but always pretty well informed.

Plus Future Shop was the first place to pop into mind when I decided to kick the router out and bit the cable bullet.

So I was pretty surprised when I got to the cash to discover the direct-debit machine from hell.

I mean, this thing was big--a Motorola touch-screen Behemoth that stood upright on the counter... a counter that's inconveniently placed at the end of a very busy aisle.

The employee swiped my card and moved to the side. So I prompted the screen.

Price? OK.

Account? OK.

PIN. Er...

Try to hide a screen as big as your hand while attempting to hit the right numbers in sequence. The screen is flat. It's waiting for the right touch at the right place. And it's hidden behind my hovering hand.

I missed the first attempt.

I missed the second.

I tried peering over my hand, through my hand. I tried to stand in front of the thing. But there were people everywhere--even an employee typing away on the computer next to me, looking up stock. Not a lick of privacy and no way to feel around for the numbers I know the touch of by heart.

So I gave up, stood back and punched the things in full sight of whoever happened to be looking. I felt vulnerable and exposed, me who is so careful about keeping my money matters in check.

I assume some Future Shop big shot saw these direct-debit machines and drooled. Had visions of being technologically advanced at every touch point, offering a nifty new gadget that people would remember--hopefully even talk about. Wanted a fabulous Future-Shop experience for customers to get all excited over.

They should have tried the dang things first.

Innovative doesn't get to replace practical. And standing out certainly shouldn't come at the expense of ease, simplicity and comfort. You want to impress customers? Deliver great customer service. Make your store appealing. Be helpful. Take the time.

Get back to basics.

And get your heads out of your navels.


  1. Teenie:
    Just a note to thank you for reading my stuff....I certainly follow you and enjoy every word. Yes, the SC Guv is a dumb ass...and I believe recently, he's gotten worse...there have evidently been a few more sweeties besides Ms. Argentina! HA!
    Excited to hear when you have your little one!
    Happy 4th weekend! I'll be packing so when my old house sells, I'll be ready for a smaller nest!

  2. You know how The Atlantic Monthly has the back-of-book item where you have to invent a word? Your experience would be a perfect candidate: "The anxiety resulting from having to reveal a password or other vital financial information in the public square."

    Identidonation? Enter your passnude? Needs work, but you get the idea.

    I just went to Future Shops the other day to replace a crapped-out ipod shuffle. Very friendly, but then again, I paid by credit card...

  3. adchick: Ah, cheers! I love your blog. Always puts a smile on my face! Little bump is kicking away but we've still 'till October before baby makes an appearance!

    Jake: How about PINpanic? Or Passparanoia? Those need work, too.... I chould have paid by credit card... except my new credit card has a PIN on it, too! Argh!