business news in context, analysis with attitude

I got the following email from an MNB reader about yesterday’s Eye Opener:

I find the stories of employees losing their jobs at retail a bit disturbing.

Why is it when a person makes a mistake, the first response is to fire the individual? To me that can almost be a cop out of sorts.  Sure there are always instance where instant termination is warranted but these 3 instances don’t even come close in my opinion.

While I agree that what the pharmacist did at the CVS is repulsive, I wonder if it would have served everyone better to educate and yes, discipline the employee to understand that their job is to serve the public, not judge them.  And if the Pharmacist still has a problem with that then they should seek other employment.  Does what the pharmacist do justify ruining their life? 

Firing makes a statement that CVS does not tolerate the bad behavior but does it do anything to really solve the problem?  How do we get better if we just get rid of the problem instead of solving the core issue?

How do we make all our employees better instead of afraid?  I’d be more impressed if they had the employee do something to change their attitude or at the very least, make them understand that as a representative of the company, that is not how they should conduct business.

As far as Burger King goes, while I understand that there were some concerns about food safety, how can a company fire someone plus the manager, for trying to improve customer service?  Maybe she wasn’t dressed in uniform but if she washed her hands, put on gloves and used proper sanitation practices, I don’t think a tank top hurts anyone.  People who have never been on that side of the counter don’t understand the pressure that can be felt when business gets overwhelming.    A bad choice, maybe?  Again, educate them, don’t fire them.  If I were waiting in that line, I would appreciate anyone pitching in to help.

As a former manager, give me more employees who care like the one who was fired. I’d hire her in a minute.  And really, fire a manager for trying to help customers?  Educate, don’t terminate.

And Home Depot, really?  Firing a 10 year employee for simply asking a customer to put his dog on a leash?    All dogs should be on a leash in public, you never know what can happen with an animal in a crowd.  It doesn’t sound like he had an opportunity to alert management.  Again, a business firing someone for making what the company feels is a mistake seems like the easy way out.  Plus in this case, I don’t think he did anything wrong.  On top of that if the customer made a racist remark, he was the one who should have been made to leave. I would like to know my managers and company support me in that instance.

Since when is making a mistake a fireable offense?  How do we get better when we just get rid of the problem instead of addressing why it happened in the first place.    Why isn’t a sincere apology sufficient.   People who work in fear of making mistakes ultimately make mistakes that get themselves fired.
Businesses that create a culture that does not allow for an occasional mistake run the risk of people not taking any chances to improve.  When did we become a country of no second chances?

I take your point, and, in fact, I agree with you on two out of three and said so yesterday. I had no problem with the CVS pharmacist being fired, but I’ll accept your suggestion that there may have been a better way to handle it.

I think your broader point is a good one. Not only do we as a society not give people second chances these days, but we don’t even allow for personal growth … someone does or says something stupid when 18 or 20 or 22, and now they’re losing jobs and becoming pariahs 10 or 20 or 30 years later. This troubles me … and I think it is worth considering in a nuanced fashion.

Regarding Amazon and Walmart and their ongoing battles, one MNB reader wrote:

One of the biggest “pain points” for a seller on Amazon is the ratings and reviews.  New companies are sometimes targeted through malicious reviews,  written by alliances / friends of competitors. Despite proving this to AMZ, it is difficult to get these less than honest reviews removed.

Walmart could help the industry with this enhancement.

And from MNB reader Tom Carroll:

I ordered an inside -outside temperature gauge for the house. In my haste I ordered the wrong product. I went online to send it back and there was a notation- not eligible for return. Damn.

So I called Amazon and asked why I could not return this item. The rep explained why- really not a very good response. Then he said "I see you are a very good Amazon customer and one of our Prime folks so we will issue you a credit to your credit card and thanks for all your business."

Amazon- what a no brainer.

Regarding software that keeps popping up ads for products you’ve viewed online, MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

The thing that drives me crazy is that once you search for something the ads never stop.  I recently needed a new office chair and like most of the rest of the world started my search at Amazon.  Not finding what I wanted, I moved to Google and finally made the purchase at Staples.  But for the next month, everything (and I mean everything) I did online was accompanied by one or more ads for office chairs.  We need to put a button on those ads, “already bought, leave me alone”.

MNB reader Jeff Gartner wrote:

Hey Kevin, you commented with the question "Could we somehow at least have an opt in/opt out feature?" about Amazon extending its Sponsored Products into its advertising marketplace. Perhaps someday that opt in/opt out feature will be connected to a more expensive Prime membership, with Prime enabling you to see fewer or none of these ads.

PS: I appreciated your comments about the CVS, Burger King and Home Depot employee situations. You were right on with all three.

From another reader:

Saw your article about Amazon ads that will retarget based on items you’ve viewed or searched for earlier. I already get these from Google and other online merchants all the time. They appear in my weather app, on FB/IG, in banner ads (the rare times I’m on my laptop), etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve completed the purchase on said item but continue to get retargeted on that exact item for weeks afterward. I wish there was a way to opt out and say “I already purchased this” or “even though I looked, I’m not actually interested”. I’d be curious to see how effective this type of customer marketing is. To me, it’s just another advertising medium to ignore.

And from yet another reader:

I love Amazon KC, but when I'm scrolling through the app and it has pics of 3 or 4 items I just purchased a day ago but have not received yet, asking if I would like to purchase them again - annoying!

And about companies that now are including ads for other companies who pay for the privilege when they send boxes to customers, MNB reader Gail Nickel-Kailing wrote:

What’s old is new again.

I spent years in the “name and address data hygiene” software industry - those are the people who make software that does things like clean up your mailing address so something you order can accurately be delivered to the right address (in theory). As a result, I worked with lots of catalog companies and public utilities and both had the means to put printed ads and promotions in the boxes or envelopes you received. And some inserted material from other companies. Even utilities experimented with inserting coupons or promos both as separate printed pieces or printed at the end of the bill.

Certainly helped offset the cost of printing or packaging and mailing/shipping.

MNB reader Lisa Pawlik wrote:

I’m a little surprised you’ve never seen ads in the boxes of products you purchase. This isn’t anything new. Even before the internet if you ordered mail order certain retailers would include samples or ads in the boxes you would receive. When I worked in magazine publishing I’d get companies calling all the time offering to co-pack with their packages. Response rates were very low as the problem is these things probably only get seen if the consumer needs to return a product and needs to find the receipt to do so.

Commenting on Michael Sansolo’s Disneyland-themed column this week, MNB reader Kellee Harris wrote:

Each year the FPFC hosts a show at Disneyland, and service from booth delivery to room check-in is always first rate. Did you know Disney keeps your name on file and if you let them know in advance you loved the room you stayed in the previous visit (yes, they keep a record!), they will try and get you the same room, even if it was a free upgrade? Amazing! I mentioned this to the check-in clerk and they tried to get me the same room as last year, but when they didn’t have that available, they asked me what I liked about my previous room and booked me into one that had similar features.
Surprise and delight delivered!

We reported on Chick-fil-A testing meal kits, prompting one MNB reader to wrote:

Now die hards can pick up a meal kit on Saturday night and enjoy Chick-fil-A on Sunday! Another problem solved.

And regarding Tesco’s reported decision to launch a new bargain chain in the UK, one MNB reader wrote:

Hopefully better than Fresh & Easy!

KC's View: