Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lew's Other Work

If I were making a list of common sense items (which I, as a matter of fact, do...especially while out on some of those ridiculously long runs that I do), this one would be real near the top. I may never have pointed out to you all the fine work that Lew Bryson does in attempting to illuminate the workings, the misworkings, and the oddball machinations of the entity that is the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board). He's been up to it (and up in it) now for a little over a year and a half. I typically tend to veer away from these topics because while I have the bandwidth to read about it, I certainly don't to explore, investigate, and write about it. Particularly when esteemed folk such as Lew cover the topic so well. I get bad customer service that's rooted in ignorance...and that's almost fine. If you don't know something, you don't know that you don't know...and some people get a bit flustered when challenged on things they don't know. But, customer service that lacks even the most basic ability to communicate on a human level with people that you want to purchase your products and services? That, I just don't get. But apparently it was so bad the State of Pennsylvania felt that it was a good investment to make earlier this year in training of staff to carry through on such basic human interactions as greeting and friendliness. If it was wine and spirits training, that might have made much more sense. But, this? Not so common. Anyway, the couple that I frequent the most (since I would never, you hear me?! ever!...go out of state for alcoholic purchases to be consumed back in Pennsylvania...except...) are located in Exton and Wayne. Generally, I know what I'm looking for and/or am comfortable searching around on my own to find whatever I may or may not be looking for. The times when I do need assistance, I have received very tepid if not even sometimes mildly un-grouchy service. Mind you, they're never quite bending over backwards to help, but they do when called upon. Case in point, last week I was looking for a bottle that once upon a time had been considered one of their so-called "Chairman's Selections." It was so good that we were considering a case or so of it to keep on hand for times like Thanksgiving dinners, etc. The store associate (is that their name, I don't know...I made that up, I believe) brought me into the office as he searched on the computer for other stores where it could be found. He printed a list of stores and their address from their intranet. He then offered to call them to either have the wine held or delivered to Exton. Not too shabby from a customer service perspective I must say. It turned almost into a chore to get him to stop helping me. I rarely ask for customer service interaction from PLCB employees save for actually paying for the purchase. So, I may not be the best qualified to speak on this topic, but generally I've found the service at the store locations that I frequent to at least be marginal or slightly better. This isn't to say the Lew is wrong on this topic. The idea of training basic human interactions as a form of customer service does seem to be a colossal waste of taxpayer matter the total expenditure. And, on these matters, I must say that Lew is rarely wrong. If you haven't checked out his blog on Why The PLCB Should Be should.


Lew Bryson said...

Thanks, Brian. It's not going to feed the world, or stop pollution, but I do think it's important: it's just weird that Pennsylvanians have put up with this for so long. And on customer you, it's been marginal or slightly better. Compare it to the service you get at the Beer Yard, for instance, or at Total Wine in Delaware (where I will buy booze when I'm headed out of state, because buying it to bring back home would be illegal!, and you'll soon see where it falls short.
The other point...I don't hate the PLCB employees. The major sticking point in abolishing the State Store System for me is their jobs. I'd hate to see anyone lose a job, so I think taking them into account is key to any successful plan to abolish the PLCB.

In any case...thanks for the notice!

Helene said...

I've had similarly great experiences when in Jersey at Total Wine (when heading over the bridge for dinner at friend's houses, since I wouldn't go over state lines to buy alcohol, either). But yes, the experiences here in PA are somewhat lacking. It's a shame.