It's the start of my 2nd week as an associate in OS and my lard ass GM tells me I'm now in charge of cleaning the bathrooms. This was no joke, and I flat out told him, "I don't clean fuckin' bathrooms at Pencils." He then told me he was going to write me up. I told him to clean up his own shit, and quit. I only make this point because the customers at Pencils can't seem to use the toilet in a normal, civilized way. Why? Can anyone enlighten me on how people can shit everywhere but in the actual bowl? Is it Pencils, or other retailers too?
I'm a single mom supporting myself and two children no thanks to my deadbeat ex-husband. Three months ago I started working as a cashier at Pencils. My pay was minimum wage, 20 hours per week which included constant pressure to sell extended warranties to customers who could barely afford the damn printer or computer they were buying in the first place. I put up with it because I needed the job. So now my take home pay after taxes is approximately $125. When my girlfriend Stacey suggested I think about dancing at our local gentlemen's club, telling me I could easily make $200-$300 a night, I gave it serious thought. It didn't take me long to arrange an interview at the club and I committed to dancing 4 nights a week. Well, here is the kicker... my first night, who walks in? You guessed it, my store GM, Daryll. I could tell he just about shit his pants, but I decided to play it cool. Here's the best part: When I arrived for my shift at Pencils the next morning Daryll called me into the office and told me I was "let go." I knew this was bullshit and thought about hiring a lawyer, but I signed the papers he put in front of me and there is now probably no recourse. I was thinking if I see Daryll at the club again I'll tell the bouncers he tried something inappropriate and let him get his ass kicked for ole times sake.
I've been told that it isn't just our store, but we're open New Year's Day! That's right, instead of being able to stay up late and actually have a few drinks, I'll probably be going to bed. For what exactly? For nothing. On New Year's Day, you can fire cannons down Main Street and not hit anything. I suspect if people do brave the bad weather to come in the store, they'll just be there to return things, not to buy. Happy New Year, you greedy bastards!
So, here is my situation. I have been stuck at an absolutely shitty job at this pizza place where I have been for a little over a year now. My manager is a total bitch who is secretly bitter towards me because I am a full time college student. She is only two years older than me and is obviously jealous that I'm getting an education. She insults me on a daily basis and I am just done with this bullshit. My hours have also been severely cut and I only work two days all of this week. I figure what the hell, I'm only 18, why not work in retail instead? I have been filling out LOADS of applications in an attempt to be out of this shit hole by early January. Well, guess who called me this evening? You guessed it, Pencils. The guy wants me to be there for an interview at 4:00 pm tomorrow, for a cashiering position. Unfortunately, my options right now are very slim. I can't just quit the job I have now because my family is reliant on me for money and I have to buy my own textbooks for school. It is necessary that I have another job before putting in my 2 weeks notice. I do find it sad that I am desperate enough to still want this job even after reading through this site. So Pencils employees, what's a girl to do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I'm an office supplies/cashier associate who transferred from another store, but now I work exclusively at the register at this new store which I hate because they normally make me work 9 hour shifts vs. my old store where my average shift was 5 to 6 hours. I'm a real friendly guy and easy to get along with but no matter how polite i am to customers there are always a few who seem to just have it out for the world and like to send a little of their rage my way. So the other day this lady probably in her late 50's was complaining to me at the register about how one can ever find her rewards card info by her phone number. So I tried looking it up by her name, email address, several phone numbers and finally she asks me (in this aggravated tone) if i worked at Pencils as my career or was i just doing it while I'm in college. I answered the latter to which she replied "it shows". I had done nothing but try to help this lady out in a polite & friendly manner as do with all customers, so I was a little confused by her rude remark but chose to ignore it and just kept killing her with kindness. Since I was not able to find her rewards number in the system I explained that I would give her the rewards hotline number to see if she could get it sorted out that way and she was all like " I guess you didn't notice that I have a cochlear implant and I can't use the phone!". Well of course I noticed she had a cochlear implant, it was the biggest one I'd ever seen... she looked like fucking Lobot from cloud city. How the hell on planet fucking earth was I supposed to know that you can't use a phone if you have a cochlear implant? ! At $7.79 an hour does she expect me to be some kind of cochlear implant expert? If she asked me to look up her rewards card by her phone number than isn't safe for me to assume that she can use her god damn phone? Just can't get any respect at Pencils.
I'm starting to wonder why more disgruntled Pencils' associates won't vent their rage and frustrations here on this blog. You probably have a 5th grade reading and writing ability, so there is no excuse why you can't sit down and fire off an anecdote (story) about your life as a miserable, low paid, unappreciated Pencils' employee. We need to fuel the fire. Misery loves company! Get off your ass and send in your submissions! E-mail to: email@example.com
Once you're a published blogger, you can tell your friends how smart you are! Now get back to work!
I started at Pencils in office supplies in the beginning of high school, in a teensy small gap town on the lamer side of nowhere. Back in the day, it wasn’t actually that bad a place to work. I had a heroic manager who took no shit from the badger-fucking clientele that seem to invariably congregate at Pencils, which did a lot. I also was looking for, like, 10 hours a week, tops, which they could easily provide.
So I got what I wanted, I was protected from the shitty customers, and my managers were heretics who told us only to sell warranties if it made sense for the customer. Unbelievable, right? Our numbers were always great, because a culture had arisen whereby people would trust us if we said they could use it. We also had an amazing tech guy who was known for fast turnarounds and doing what he could to navigate the Byzantine bullshit that is the ESP.
Everything was pretty fine and dandy and we were doing good business. We were known as the honest Staples around the district, which speaks volumes to the company’s business model. Anyways, our store was humming along nicely.
And then corporate demanded more warranties, fewer hours, and more exhausting expectations. Going to work stopped being fun. The more experienced workers got fewer hours; the new kids got next to no training because they couldn’t afford the hours. But we still had our manager (nicknamed “Buddha”, so I’ll refer to him by that), and our tech guy, “Bird” (so named for his tendency to make loon and owl sounds when the store was quiet). Between the two of them, and with a family dynamic that saw most of us actually volunteer to help from time to time, we barely held on.
The problem wasn’t the lower hours – it was the warranties. We had made a name for being honest, and we didn’t want to lose that. Our warranty pitches became more frequent, though we made sure to say that corporate was demanding we do this. In a touching display of understanding that I won’t soon forget, customers sometimes bought the cheap warranties on peripheries to help us out. We got more in the bank, but we weren’t quite hitting the targets. Corporate started to look at us. They didn’t actually see how our store was working – the trust and the hard work we put in for them was never sought nor searched for by them. They saw numbers – their target, presumably written in lipstick after a drunken conference meeting, and ours. And they didn’t like what they saw.
They came for Bird first.
Losing Bird cost the store more than anything else. They replaced him with some beer-swilling huckster type. He cost less, you see – Bird was getting good pay, and the Warranty Bot had just started and was both cheap and utterly unscrupulous about warranties. The guy was all about the power of tune-ups and loved nothing more than mocking people who bought Set-Ups. When he wasn’t busy wheezing about how many suckers (his words) he had nailed that day, he was leering at our female employees and walking about with a slap-on grin that almost instinctively got my fists balled.
Buddha didn’t like it, but he said that he needed to keep costs down. I, after years of working there, was getting something like 6 hours a week. We were hurting, and people were distrustful of the new Warranty Bot. The kindness was wearing off and we were spiralling downhill. When I moved away, I noticed how much older Buddha looked after the changes.
I left that store and picked up work at another Staples, this one in the suburbs of a decently sized metropole. This store looked like crap from the start – the shelves were in appalling shape, the employees looked miserable, and the warranty booklets were huddled around like beggars on every available surface. But I had to eat and this store let me start the day after I walked in to ask about a job, so I took on the task.
Something was wrong from the start. Well, a lot of things were. They were trying to run the biggest size of store in the region with 500 hours, a number that would make sense only if we were a Starbucks on a quiet side of town. Morning meetings consisted of reading the warranty sales numbers followed by a reading from corporate’s magnum opus, the sales tactics book. We were told to ‘overcome objections’, to ‘ask repeatedly’ about warranties, and to ‘use the customer’s insecurity against their objections’, lines that creeped me out. They put me in tech without asking how much training I had had (none) and how much I wanted to be in tech (not at all). Once they noticed that I didn’t sell warranties, I was shipped to office supplies. And my hours were cut for ‘ignoring company policy’.
Office supplies there was a special type of hell. Our captain was a uniquely incompetent fellow who fell so below grade that he was actually fired (I don’t know how you get fired from Pencils – it’s a war of attrition, nothing more), meaning that four of us with school hours had to run the place. It was especially helpful that the daughter of the manager worked in the department and did nothing but planograms, leaving the mountains of stock to three people with too few hours to do anything and no good reason to care.
The Eye of Sauron was on the store at all times. Management harassed everyone to go faster, work harder, and sell more warranties. All the work we did to clean the warehouse was rewarded with demands to do more work, if it was even ever noticed (which was rare). Hours oscillated between 40 and 10, meaning that I could never really feel financially secure. While we were written up for any infraction, management performed such vital tasks as taking personal calls on the floor, playing Angry Birds on their personal iPads, listening to music in the back office, and scowling at everyone who didn’t get warranties.
If management and its stupendous motivation didn’t get you going, there were the middle managers. Personal friends of the general manager, the consultants were a little Gestapo, hounding everyone for…well, I still don’t know what I was being harassed about. After I noticed their habit of expressing their utter joy about every company policy whenever they were in earshot of anyone, I started feeling badly for them. How warped do you have to be to get excited about Pencils? It was almost pathetic.
Several stories come to mind about that dump. There was the time where the manager’s daughter left without telling anyone (that was what management said; I imagine they just forgot about) and then came back to 30 hours, slashing the part-time cashiers and I down to 9 hours. There was the time when they had everyone Apple trained and then didn’t get Apple products. The staggering idiocy left us in rough shape, and the turnover rate was appalling outside of the favourites.
The customers were also their own brand of moron. I’ve been yelled at for being too slow, being too fast, not having products like canvases and scrapbooking stickers, not having product on the shelf (which was impossible with too few hours and a moron at the wheel), not accepting Euros, not being up-to-date on Norton Antivirus (the person came into office supplies to quiz me, because sense), $0.30 differences in price, too few staff (of course, this was a long rant which took me out of commission for some time, fulfilling precisely what the guy was whinging about), not being open at midnight, refusing returns on expired ink cartridges, having garbages that are too full, having black employees – you name it. I remain convinced that the suburb I worked in is proof of the Decline of Man. Roll that place up Katamari-style and you’ll probably find 50 I.Q points and a stick of butter.
Quitting was the best thing I ever did. Of course, my letter of resignation was never read such that they ‘accidentally’ fired me, but that’s to be expected. Bottom line is simple: Pencils is nothing more than a pile of detached, 40-something straight white men in suits mistaking projections for reality and suckling at the teat of mediocrity. The company’s strategy for sales reads like a mugger’s handbook and makes as much sense as a peanut butter and tuna sandwich on stilts. It’s dishonest, greasy, cheap-ass misers hiring dishonest, greasy people to hawk extraneous crap on an unsuspecting public. Staples as a company is best personalized as an annoying 40-year old bald man with a stamp collection and a Cheetos-stained t-shirt waddling around offering life advice in exchange for a couch to crash on. The company sucks, the job sucks, and the workers deserve better jobs. Fuck Pencils.
I was hired onto the Pencils crew in 2003 when the choice for me in jobs was between a restaurant cook and pencils tech "guru". This was back before the EasyWreck and CSL and many other areas were added. The job was easy and I quite enjoyed going in and talking to managers and being a part of the team... I will say that the bonuses were a lot bigger when I first started, "Think 3-400 dollars a month extra". This all changed about a year in when bonuses became non existent.
In the first few years there was a thing called mystery shop where someone would come into the store and check to see how long it takes you to say hi to the person, if you hit each question you were supposed to ask, and whether or not you were certain heights or had your name badge on. Multiple times we got our "test results" back and they were completely off. It really isn't hard to figure out who this person is. When someone walks into the store and asks questions in the copy center but don't get copies and go directly into OS and BM asking all kinds of questions while not buying anything and also watching their stop watch like a hawk. Being 6'4 and not a small guy it was amusing when these tests came back showing me as under 5'9 and having glasses and no name tag.
As to managers, I've had different experiences. My second store was absolutely nuts. The general manager was never around and when they were it was in the office doing nothing of real meaning. The "sales" manager decided that her button down shirt should be unbuttoned a few buttons to many in order to "entice" male customers to buy service plans from her. The operations manager could not stop flirting with a CC employee and even went as far as to take the same lunch breaks and normal breaks with her while hanging out almost exclusively in CC and asking her to help him do planograms. Somewhat discouraging, but thankfully she refused all of his advances. I just wish HR would have listened.
Customers weren't even my biggest frustration I suppose but here are a few stories.
During the time allotted for 'blocking'/pull lists/cleaning the store/tech work/whatever else managers dumped on you, I found a 9 mm bullet behind a ream of paper. I've walked into the bathroom after a customer to see poo all over the toilet and on the walls... THE WALLS!!! Come on now..
There was a customer that came in saying he wanted to use his grandmas credit card to buy a laptop and "She said it was OK!!!!" so we refused his offer of purchasing a computer. He and his sister promptly started swearing up one side and down the other of me and telling me where I should shove my copy project I was working on. My manager came over, looked at the customer, said, "We can't take it" and he started swearing at her. She told him in no uncertain terms to get out of the store or police will be called and he ran away like a little child... Man I liked that manager.
I can't comprehend why a customer would call you on the phone and then ask you to walk them through fixing their computer.. As if we had enough time during the day to spend an hour and a half telling you how to insert disks into the computer and install your printer for you because you are too stupid to know how to plug a USB cable into the computer and let the disk run. I'm sorry sir, I did not know you were disabled...
Customer interactions were generally,
Me: "Hey can I help you today?"
Customer: "Yeah I want to buy a new modem for myself, which do you think would work best?" While pointing at a new desktop sitting on the shelf with a tag that says "HP PAVILLION DESKTOP PC"
Me: "You mean desktop, sure this one would work well for you!"
Customer: "Ohh, no I wanted a new modem because my old one isn't working with my monitor anymore!"
If a customer came in spouting all sorts of useless knowledge about certain products in the store, generally my brain shut down. I do not care the repeating process of a wireless g router and that you need one that will work at a 500 repeat rate blah blah blah blah.
No sir, I did not know that this "ubs" stick that is 2 gigaHERTZ would run at 5 teraflops a second in your linux... And frankly..... Please show me this new technology!
When Windows Vista came out there was a general outcry about how terrible it was. Almost every person that came in for a new pc walked out very disgruntled that there was no longer support for windows xp and that they would be charged for us to put windows xp on for them and some drivers may not work well. The same is true when Win 7 came out. I'm sorry... I didn't know you were so attached to an outdated operating system that is a complete piece of junk.
Back to managers.
The first store I was at was simply incredible. I really enjoyed it and they were fun to work with. My managers trusted me with their passwords and such to get things done and not have to do as much "grunt" work during the day. When I transferred, I had built rapport and been doing things for long enough that certain tasks such as looking up an item under my managers password were second nature. Well, one day at my second store I was looking up something under my new managers password without thinking and she was standing there watching me. Lo and behold I got in a fair amount of trouble for using it, rightly so, and I felt bad for not asking and thinking about it. What I DIDN'T realize at the time was that later in the day I would ask her to find something out for me on the POS400. I stood by and watched her put the DM numbers into the computer... I asked her, "Didn't you just get mad at me for using your password... And you're now using the DM password? Does he know that you do that?" To which she replied "editted for the younger readers", "No, I just watched and learned his password. Don't tell him. And I'm a manager so its different that I use his password." Of course this meant, "You ignorant little *@!$ why would you question my !@#$ing motives and you better sit there and take my berating otherwise you're fired."
Man that grinded my gears.. That and seeing her stand around talking to the "mobile tech" while her tits were flopping out of her t-shirt like nasty sandbags on her large "not big boned" frame.... 'sigh'.
The chasm between what is often uttered on a corporate level and what is actually meant is as cavernous as the stale air which has moved in and taken up permanent residence between the ears of most District Managers. The words you actually hear pursing your employer’s chapped lips are little more than the white noise acting as a Klingon cloaking device camouflaging the between-the-lines code you’re assumed to be too daft to crack. But not unlike most mediocrity masquerading as authenticity, what isn’t said is usually louder than most of the syllabic muck through which you’re required to wade during any given eight hour shift.
Here are a few of my favorites.
We Want To Know What You Think
Translation: We want you to tell us what we want to hear. If you want to be classified as a troublemaker and instantaneously rise to the top of the corporate shitlist, tell your bosses your actual opinion of your workplace environment when asked. Though the average employer will try to convince you that your opinion carries as much weight as Kim Kardashian’s panties, your boss wants to know what you really think about as much as you want to walk in on your parents having wild, greased-up animal sex. Being asked your opinion by your employer is mostly little more than an obligatory yardstick used by many mediocre middle managers to measure the degree to which you’re buying into the company crapline. The workplace minefield is littered with the corpses of unsuspecting minimum wage warriors who self-destructed on their own honesty, mistaking we value your opinion with we value your opinion. So if eating and paying your bills have any sort of priority in your life, the next time you’re asked what you think of your job tell your boss that the mere thought of going to work makes you fire orgasms out of your eye sockets. Then quietly go back to imagining yourself introducing a taser to his shriveled gonads. Or her wrinkled labia.
Our Employees Are Our Greatest Asset
Translation: We appreciate your letting us use you to make ourselves wealthier. Though you often treat me otherwise, I’m not another one of your commodities, you lice-encrusted odorburglar. We both know that your most valuable asset in the store is the overpriced drivel gathering dust on the shelves and that my value to you is contingent on how good I am at conning the suckers you refer to as customers into buying it. Without the merchandise to define us, I seriously doubt that you’d one day wake up with a sudden case of philanthropic fervor and decide the one thing missing in your life is paying me to stand around and jack myself off in the middle of an empty shopping mall cubicle. And if I’m such an invaluable piece in your lifestyle puzzle, why am I barely able to afford a steady diet of cardboard and paste on the pittance you call a wage? Shit, your dog eats better than I do, and probably more often. And you better hope this treasured asset of yours doesn’t get seriously sick any time soon, because that porous bandaid you call health insurance covers about as much as the missing g-strings on Larry Flynt’s latest centerfold skank parade.
Service Is Our Number One Priority
Translation: We’re paying you to sell shit. Period. Service is a necessary evil in the retail world, because the greedy fucks haven’t yet figured out a way to persuade customers to automatically choose the stuff with the best built-in profit margins on their own. Without the not-so-gentle nudging of their mostly underpaid army of coercion specialists, most retailers would wither and die on the vine of I didn’t screw you enough to stay in business. Your boss has the same kind of relationship with you that the unlucky slob who contracted crabs has with his pharmacist…They both need to pay someone they’d rather not for fucking someone they probably shouldn’t have. The corporate tit is seemingly swollen with just enough excess profit to allow you the luxury of a suck every couple of weeks to keep you nourished, but the taste it leaves in your mouth is pretty damn close to the unexpected olfactory greeting you get when walking into an unflushed public crapper. It may taste like you’re eating shit, but for some reason you keep reaching for the ketchup to convince yourself it ain’t so bad after all.
You Have Unlimited Opportunity For Advancement
Translation: Your success will be proportionate to your willingness and ability to kiss ass. The service industry in general is one big asskissapalooza, with a lot of unlucky ticket holders competing for the chance to smooch the mosh pit of corporate butt for the dubious opportunity to climb another rung on the way to the front row of subservience. There is never a shortage of ass that is craving the purse of career-climbing lips in the retail world. Customers want it. Bosses need it. Coworkers are appreciative of it. There’s always a line for a surgically-enhanced derriere collagen pucker, and you perpetually seem to be at the tail end of it. So reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Don’t settle for less. Climb the highest mountain. On your winning drive to the end zone, though, don’t forget to periodically high-five the poverty-wage warriors whose shoulders you’re riding on as you circle the corporate arena on your I’m just doing what I have to do to survive and don’t hold it against me victory lap.
Our Letting You Go Is Just Business, It Isn’t Personal
Translation: We’re transitioning you from a full-time employee to a full-time customer. Several years ago, I actually had some semi-significant snot-bloated cockface use this line on me as he was kicking me to the curb. What used to be his conscience had been replaced by a vibrating strap-on he used to fuck everyone else and eventually himself with after his rechargeable batteries wore out their overused welcome. But what he unintentionally taught me on my – and his – way out the door is this…If you ever think that you matter to your corporate employer as being more than a statistic to maintain profit margins, then you probably deserve the fucking you may not see coming. Your worth to your employer is relative to your ability to generate revenue. Your kid has a learning disability? Fuck you. Your wife has some kind of unidentifiable tumor? Blow me. You have the audacity to request two days off in a row to be with your family? Tickle my taint. Look here, boss – Your “letting me go” is nothing but personal, you genetically-challenged jizz machine. I happen to be in possession of this silly thing called a life, and it actually requires my attention outside of your periodic kindergarten-laden tantrums. So every now and then I may need a day off other than the one you required me to request six weeks in advance, and I apologize for any workplace disruption the unscheduled part of my existence may contribute. After all, my kid may get unexpectedly sick every now and then. My wife may get a breast tumor we hadn’t scheduled for. And my grandmother may die. For the third time this year.
Attention all Pencils' associates and sinners...
Let's keep this blog rolling! We need your stories. REPENT! You know you are going to hell for working as a underpaid, under-appreciated, sex-crazed employee of one of America's most God fearing corporations. So, let yourself be heard! Stop dancing with the devil and take-up thy keyboard in your hand and type those words. You'll feel better.
Let me start by
saying I didn’t hate working at Pencils in the beginning. It was
actually enjoyable working Cashier and Easywreck. I started working
at Pencils in August 2010, I went in for my interview took the “Tech”
test (Which is what they call certifying you for computer work) and
got the job. In the beginning we had a great and friendly management
system. A talkative but very friendly store manager, a sometimes
bi-polar but still friendly Ops Manager, and an awesome young Sales
Manager. The first thing I noticed is that I was hired for Easywreck
immediately. Well that’s what I went to my interview for. When I
asked the store manager he said “Its Pencils policy to keep you on
register for 3 months”. That was fine I can kind of understand his
point, my last job was stocking produce at a grocery store so I had
no knowledge of the register. Well 3 months came and went; I spent my
time at register and also working on computers at the same time at
the customer service desk. Being a pencils cashier is terrible on a
side note. When you’re not being harassed for not getting enough
customers to sign up for the god awful “Rewards” program the
management is hounding us to sell the terrible PRP and FRP shit, oh
and don’t forget the ridiculous expectations to have 10 PRP’s a
week and 30 Sign Ups a week. Now that 3 months was up I thought that
I’d be getting my Black tech shirt and finally put my knowledge to
use! Wrong! Every week I would ask the Store manager “Can I get
into tech now?” And he would respond casually “We have to clear
it through our district manager”. I was so annoyed. Don’t hire me
for something and have me sit in limbo for 4 or 5 months jackass!
Anyway January of 2011 came rolling around and I finally found myself
an Easywreck! Hurrah! Well not really hurrah. Aside from the SLIGHT
pay raise there was absolutely nothing good about working in that
department. I constantly had to lie to customers about manufactures
warranties to get them to buy “Extended Service Plans” through
Pencils which could sometimes be half the price of the laptop. Not to
mention the bullshit “Setup” plans that any 13 year old kid could
do. That would cost about another hundred dollars. Oh and don’t
forget Office 2010 and Norton 360 which Pencils wants us to shove
down customers throats. I didn’t like lying to customers so I
wouldn’t. I would give them the straight facts (That I knew, not
what pencils thought it knew) and let them decide but when a manager
would hear me that would seem repulsed by the idea that I didn’t
want to sell useless shit to customers. I was never written up for it
though only talked to by the awesome Sales manager (he was rarely
serious about anything). While working in that department I had the
misfortune of meeting someone with the last name “Champion”. He
was another Easywreck and had his head so far up his own ass it was
crazy. He would constantly let us know how well he was doing and how
he knew everything. He was truly a douche, but unfortunately my
nature led me to trust him and even consider him a friend which was
the worst thing possible. A few months went on at the same pace then
came the middle of the year. The store went low com (Which means we
didn’t have enough sales to keep normal hours and whatnot) and the
awesome Sales Manager left followed by the store manager who was
replaced by a pig-faced douche from another store nearby. He had the
same attitude as this “Champion” fellow and thought he was the
king because his store averaged more Tech money than any other in the
district. In this time frame a few new techs were hired and
immediately given black shirts. I asked the new store manager (Who I
didn’t hate at the time) “I had to wait 3 months why don’t
they?). He replied “Change of policy”. That was it. A few months
passed by and my “friendship” with this “Champion” guy and
his girlfriend evolved. My girlfriend was friends with his and I even
sold him a custom built computer that I was getting rid of (although
he claims he built it). Anyway fast forward to September. Me and my
girlfriend were joking about with “Champion” and his girlfriend
and came to an idea that we might move in with each other and split
all the bills. By this time “Champion” was an Easywreck expert
and was even fuller of himself. We went to look at a place and
everything seemed to go alright. Then all of a sudden he decided he
would make the rules of the entire furniture placement. My girlfriend
didn’t like it and so we called it off. The friendship pretty much
ended there. So fast forward another two months of complete bullshit
of lying and stealing customer’s money by selling them useless
things. Anyway it’s now November in my story and things have slowly
degraded the relationship between my manager and “Champion”. One
night “Champion” asked me to close the store with him and I
agreed. I was closing down the Easywreck counter and doing last
checks on computer locks and paperwork and he asked me “What do you
really think of Easywreck?” now at this time I still thought he was
a decent enough of a friend and I answered honestly. “I think it’s
a scam practically, I believe that really do rip people off for plans
that don’t cover jack shit. And I believe that we also lie to them
and pressure the customers to but stuff they really don’t need”.
That was the last conversation we had that month as it was the end of
November. The next day I worked, the Pig-faced store manager took me
into his office and suspended me for two weeks. I was so confused I
asked him why he had suspended me. He said “It’s because you
stole information from customers and left computers unlocked when you
closed with “Champion, you have two courses of action, right here I
have a form you can sign to quit or I can submit this is Human
Resources.” I told him to submit it to human resources because I’m
human I can make mistakes maybe I did leave a computer unlocked but
stealing customer information? That was ridiculous. So two weeks came
and went while I was suspended, lost my Easywreck shirt and title,
and another Easywreck was fired because corporate found out he had a
criminal record (which the store manager did not check for when he
was hired) Two weeks came and went and my hours were dropped from 35
to 8 hours a week. I filed for partial unemployment and got it.
Nothing ever came out of the case I have asked about it several times
and haven’t got an answer. “Champion” left the store to go be
an Easywreck expert at the store that the Pig-faced Manager came from
and everything seemed to cool down for a while. The original Ops
manager left in January which made things worse because she was the
only manager who was defending me at this point. I worked only one
day a week for a few months. Around the month of April my work days
went from one to two. The Pig-faced manager still tries to talk to me
about improving the store and sales and I just look away from him and
nod my head. I rarely actually hold a conversation with him. I hate
this place so much but can’t really quit because my area has a lack
of employment right now. So that’s my story. I’m still working at
Pencils but hopefully someone will call back with an interview for
I'm at a West LA store and I'll start by writing about the good things about working for Pencils (while it lasted) and then the dark side of working for Pencils.
This month, I start my third year since I started working at Pencils as an EasyWreck technician. My first year and a half was pretty good. The GM at that time would actually do some work. He would come in to work like at 6:00am and finish most of the work he had to do for the day. By the time the store opened, he had enough time on his hands to be on the floor to greet and help out customers or help out at the Copy and Print Center. He would treat managers just like managers would treat associates. The GM would put managers to work! EasyWreck was cool too because he would help with the sales and there was hardly any sales pressure on the associates, which made everyone work hard. It was motivating. I had full time hours, little pressure, and I was glad to work there. The numbers were good, always above 85% in CSAT, and everyone was pretty happy.
THE DARK SIDE
A year and a half later, the GM left the store. He wanted to get transferred to a store closer to his home. The new GM that we got was... um... she was pretty much like just any other associate. If you had a problem with anything in the store, she would just say something like, "Yeah... oh well." and then she would just leave like if she had absolutely no control over how to fix the problem. It's her store! How could she not act like a leader and do something about it! Everyone started transferring to other stores and the store was really changing. We now have managers who are lazy and get angry every time you page them for help or page them for an override. All the managers, including the GM, are always in the office. My hours were cut short too, from 30 hours to 16 hours a week. This sucks! I'm the On-site tech/Resident tech/BM associate/cashier. When the cashier is on break, I have to cover the whole floor except Copy and Print and OS. I can't even call for back-up because there's no one to call!
Regarding EasyWreck, I'm pressured to sell because if I don't, I get in trouble. They even printed an email for me sent by the DM saying that if we can't sell, to just replace us. Our knowledge doesn't matter to them. All they want is money, even if we have to lie (which I refuse to do). A few weeks ago, they gave me a write-up because I don't sell $1000 worth of EasyWreck services a week. A couple of weeks ago, my hours were cut to only 8 hours a week. They said they'll give me more if I promise to sell more. They cut my hours on purpose just to "incentivize" me into selling more! The store is always dead, empty!! How dare they!!! Isn't this against the law?!!!! Who can live with 8 hours a week!
The store is almost an hour away from my home (due to traffic). I wanted to transfer to a store that is literally 5 minutes from my home. I went to the manager of that store and I talked to him. For some reason, he already knew me and he said he would be happy to have me there. I would have had 8 hour shifts. When I went to my store and asked for the transfer, the GM said she would have to find someone to replace me before she authorized the transfer. One month later, after I kept on reminding her about the transfer, she said that the other store already got someone else and didn't want me anymore. That was unfair. It was really messed up. Pencils has disappointed me so much. I don't even care anymore about repairing anything. It's depressing. I'm already looking for another job.
All retail stores are the same. All they really want is money. But, not all the stores are messed up. It all depends on the managers who work in the store.
Okay, so it's me, the cashier from the last post. I just wanted to say that Pencil's so-called "Incentives" for last period was garbage. I'm talking about the $1 per prp you sell bullshit. I sold three plans last period (Thinking that it wasn't going to be so great) and guess what the paycheck was for the accumulated whoppin' 3 plans? Well, after being assfucked by taxes, I made an extra $1.88. What. The. Fuck. What a fucking joke. And the manager gave me his little pep talk about how I have a year under my belt and how he's sooo happy he has one more experienced employee who can't escape the grasps of this shithole. All I got was that pep talk. What one should get is a raise. I have had to deal with a year of those fucktards hiring the most unreliable idiots I've worked with, minus the few that are still around. Apparently I've been doing such a great job, but yet I don't deserve anything above minimum wage. I make the same as those inexperienced assholes who know nothing. Got to love the injustice of working at good ole Pencils!
The incentives apparently got so much good feedback, it's continuing on through this period. Do I care? No. Is it a huge sham? Yes.
The good news is, though, I won safety bingo. $75 dollars just for having a card on the wall that they cross the number off of for you.
For starters, I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for this blog. Working at Pencils has severely affected my mind, to the point where I hate mankind even more than when I worked in fast food (On grill duty- the nastiest place). It's ironic I find people who share my views right after I receive title of associate of the month... "Title," being key word, as I have yet to receive a gift card or a pin for my name tag. I've been working here for... holy crap 9 months... please, kill me....
I'm primarily cashier, but I am the go-to person if there is no OS. OS in my store is combined with Furniture, for maximum physical labor at minimum wage. Generally, I like my coworkers. We got a new general manager a couple months after my arrival, and he was a complete dickheaded prick to me the first few months he was here. I ended up reporting him and shortly after that and he stopped bullying me. We also have the manager who does all the paper work, who is the easiest of everyone to pick on, because of his selective narcolepsy. He is infamous for taking naps in the back office while he's supposed to be doing shit. I heard from an older ex-associate that they once posted picture of him asleep and the manager ended up making the entire team stay in the store until 1am because nobody fessed up to the prank.
Being a cashier is probably one of the most boring jobs in the world. It's also a huge pain in the ass, because we get pushed to sell plans about as much as our EasyWrecks do. The more they try forcing me to sell more the less I really give a fuck. Rarely do I bother to even offer a plan to a customer, because I still have my dignity, and it really does hurt inside to get rejected, despite the fact that you are obligated to ask. I really wish that customers realized that we don't have a choice. We are now also getting paid a dollar a prp... REALLY? A fucking dollar? I could sell a $50 prp on a kindle, or a $10 on a phone and only make 2 dollars extra? Fuck off. Other people get commission, me? I don't even get enough money to buy an expired candy bar at the shit hole I work at, since a candy bar is $1.19 here.
Oh, and another thing; bonuses. CPC has them. EasyWreck has them. I understand why cashiers don't have them, since cashiers seem disposable here, but why the fuck not office supplies OR furniture?! The people who really bust their fucking asses lifting furniture, handling most of the store (In this particular store) and pick up the slack on days where we have a slow cashier on duty. When I got here, the most experienced people were all in OS, and now the store has had so many different people in and out of every department. In OS, you're not as pressured to sell plans, but they expect you to be fucking superman, finishing load when you're being called up every five fucking minutes to be a cashier.
It's true, we do get a lot of fucking retards here at Pencils. I've even taken to making a list of all the things I hate about them on sticky notes when we aren't busy. Allow me to list some of them off to you :)
I am not your maid, so put your baskets & amp; carts back when you're done, lazy fuck.
If you plan on writing a check, bring your own fucking pen, or buy one. Don't rudely take one out of my pencil holder without asking.
Don't open the packages on the shelf unless you intend on buying it. It's fucking rude and you should be able to decide if it's what you need or not without vandalizing ourshit.
Comprehend the idea that Pencils employees are not superheros, and that you will need to actually wait your turn, like normal people. It's first come, first serve, don't like it, fuck off and get out.
Just because we work at Pencils doesn't mean we'll advocate for them and purposely try taking all of your money for our own amusement. You don't have any right or reason to bitch at me, a cashier, because I can't refund your expired coupon, or because I offered you a prp when my manager was standing in earshot and would bitch at me otherwise.
The customers who come into the store get help quicker than those who call. If you don't like being on hold for 20 minutes because our store is understaffed, get off of your fat lazy ass and come in to the store; it burns more calories than bitching.
DO NOT by any means expect cashiers to know everything. Many of them have little/no experience in OE and OS and therefore wouldn't know where jack shit is in the store (Or know much about CPC stuff).
Don't blurt out your fucking phone number to me when you arrive at my register, before even asking for rewards. Wait politely, shit head. I really wish you lazy fucks would carry those cards, it's stupid when you make me go through twenty phone numbers, or look over my shoulder and ask "Can you look it up by name?" NO ASSHOLE, I CAN'T, BECAUSE I'M GETTING PAID MINIMUM WAGE. Seriously, do you fucktards realize how many times I hear this quote in a day: "I have rewards, but I don't have the card with me." I just wish I could look into all of your eyes and say, "TOO FUCKIN' BAD THEN!"
Don't get mad if we can't find what you're looking for because of your horrid half-assed description.
NO, we can't search to see if you have unredeemed rewards because you're lazy and couldn't print them out at home.
I'm sorry the product your purchased rang up at the wrong price, but since I can't physically check the price tag to see if you're trying to bullshit me, you're gonna have to wait until one of my lazy and/or deaf coworkers decides to show up and check for me so you can save your whopping 80 cents.
Don't make shit up to associates or managers when you're too stupid to understand that our PRPs aren't through Staples. We gave you that fugly ass brochure in hopes that humankind would evolve and READ it.
Sorry this post is rather long, but after so many months of repressed anger working at this shit hole, I feel better knowing I'm not alone and other stores really are shitty like mine :)
In the two years I've worked for Pencils we have had more new managers than new associates. It seems as if they are always changing but the only thing that doesn’t seem to ever change is my pay. The only reason why I have stayed for so long is because I have been on the, “I promise we will pay you train” ever since I accepted my prestigious title. In my department we have three real techs, the rest of the guys are just there to spew information that they "Googled" and use it to sell protection plans. I have a shitty job and when I do the math it actually almost cost me money just to drive to work and see these idiots in action. I also get to constantly hear about my market basket and how I don’t sell computers. I can sell, I just chose not to. I really don’t see the point in lying to people just to be able to brag about my basket. I tell everyone I know to never buy a computer from Pencils, and if they do, just order it online. I know I’m on my last legs because I have started getting write ups for stupid stuff like not taking out the trash. My store is the biggest rip-off store in the district and if you have had the opportunity of visiting it, all I can say is, "I’m sorry". I apply for jobs daily. I’m hoping to get them before they get me. Fuck this place! I just want to leave, but for now that is just a dream because tomorrow morning I know I will just get up and do my 45 minute drive to the place I hate to be at.
In the spirit of former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith’s op-ed in the New York Times, I too decided to write about the many reasons why I chose to quit my job at OfficeMax.
The biggest reason was the customers. Now, not all customers are bad or give you a hard time but, the area I worked in, we had an entire tribe of rude and downright nasty customers. Some of the things I failed to understand are as follows:
1.) What store in America does NOT have a return policy? I know what are competitors policies are so don’t give me the bullshit that “Well, Office Depot let’s me return this all the time even when it’s past the date?”
“Oh, really?” “Well, let me give the nearest store a call and see what they have to say!” I actually did this once and proved the lady wrong to the point that she threw her stuff down and ran out the door.
Also, I’m tired of the bullshit I get from customers about return policies on receipts. Customers like to ask, “You seriously expect us to flip our receipt to the back and read the return policy?” My response has always been, “Well, yeah…there is a reason why we give you the damn thing in the first place!”
No wonder people had homes foreclosed on in the economic meltdown in 2008. You failed to read the fine print and other information and made assumptions. Well, guess who got screwed in the end? YOU DID!
2.) When you buy something for say $12.00 and use a coupon for $5 and then you return the item to us, you only get back $7. Your coupon does not get refunded to you and nobody that I know of (not even Walmart) refunds your coupon.
3.) Don’t bitch at us because we don’t have things in stock. I’m just a damn store associate/cashier; you have a problem call corporate. And no, we don’t have it in the fucking back!
I could keep going, but I’ll stop here.
As for management and corporate, I have so much I could write it would take a lifetime to write it down. Here are the basics:
1.) You pay us crappy wages; give bonuses to management for OUR sales, and then insult us by giving us crappy “commissions” (e.g. $129.99 for a full in-store diagnostic and repair = $12 commission which, after taxes, isn’t much at all)
And you wonder why we come to work and give less of a fuck about our jobs? Guess that Harvard MBA failed to teach you that when you have disgruntled employees, production declines.
2.) To management: If you’re a new Store Manager and have never worked at an office supply, stop trying to dictate like you know everything. YOU DON’T! We’ve been working here longer than you have so why not ask us what needs to be done?
I guess you don’t care, which is why, I don’t give a damn either. Have fun trying to convince others to take this job and have fun training them (if they’re stupid enough to take it).
I've been working at Pencils for five years and I'm really feeling unappreciated for the work I've done. I've been in the CPC for the whole time and about a year ago our expert quit. I knew that I could do the position so I applied for it. I was overlooked and they hired some guy who only worked there for two weeks. I only worked with the guy for 5 minutes maybe. After he left I pretty much (still) ran the department and had a great co-worker who left late last summer. He was the only other person who I could trust that when I wasn't there, he could do things properly. I enjoyed working with him. We got a different GM last fall and the one we have now is pretty arrogant, lazy, and comes off as a know-it-all. A real smart aleck. Things were okay until a week before Thanksgiving he was being real sarcastic and I told him "I'm not stupid!" real loud and had a lot of stress/anxiety as a result for more than a month. I finally told him I don't want the expert position and then they went and hired someone who doesn't even have a copy/print background and doesn't even like working there. She wasn't trained properly and as a result I'm still being asked question on how things work. So that's kinda being overlooked twice. My GM and DM's reason for not supporting me in purusing the position: I'm "not ready yet". BS. If I didn't know I could do it I never would've applied for it. Not even so much of a "thank you for your contribution" or anything like that. So now I'm really feeling unappreciated (on various levels) and I want to write a letter to a few people up the chain and let off some steam. I would tell them exacly how I felt, but then again, I still need to keep my job...
After a fellow Pencils associate directed me to this blog, I thought I'd like to share my story as well as my current situation. I'd like to begin by saying that my manager is a straight-up hardass, and that's all there really is to say on the matter. He is twice divorced and for good reason. He constantly makes fun of his associates, and commonly makes passive-aggressive jabs at them. I'm not excluded, and as of recent I'm probably his favourite one to pick on. And that's on good days. On bad days he actively looks for reasons to be mad at people. He pushes completely unreasonable expectations for the sales of those god-awful Extended Service Plans (often times totaling half the cost of the computer) and Computer Setups (which, along with the ESP, can total the cost of the computer). Why anyone would want to spend an extra $100 for someone to take the 15 minutes to set your computer up is beyond me, but that's an entirely different story. Being one of the top stores in the company for attachment sales doesn't really help his expectations either.
At any rate, a lot of the time the management will stand behind unreasonable expectations under the guise of saying that it's "store policy" (having to clock in five minutes early, for example). Not only is it completely ridiculous to EXPECT your staff to clock in early, it's a whole different level to punish them for not doing it. I was actually written up for clocking in on time and not early. They looked up every time that I had clocked in over a period of a month and a half, and told me that every time that I wasn't swiped in at least five minutes early, that I was late (keep in mind that our store time is a couple minutes slow; if you clock in at 9:58 according to downstairs, it's actually 10:00 at least upstairs). When I was told that the reason I was written up was because it was "store policy", I actually physically asked to see the policy that they claimed existed. Of course, no such policy existed, but I was reassured that it was still what management expected, so I was still expected to do so. Long and short of it is, I've been looking for other work.
Now, don't even mention the horrible TSP (Team Sales Plans or some shit) that they use as a replacement for commission. For every little accomplishment that our associates make (getting a high survey response, a lot of ESPs, etc.) we allegedly get a certain amount of money thrown into a pot which at the end of each quarter is split up amongst the associates.
Not only have I NOT ONCE seen this "quarterly bonus", but apparently when people do get it it's usually only in the amount of $30 dollars-ish. That's just utter crap. Not only do they push us to sell these completely unreasonable plans, we also have no benefit for doing so aside from the praise of our management whose pockets we've just filled with cash. I don't understand how we have the drive to sell these plans under the guise of "giving the customer what they need" when we have absolutely no incentive to do so. How many times have I tried selling something to a customer to have them get frustrated at how unreasonable the prices are, to have me only agree with them, and then explain that I hate the whole system and am looking for a new job. The funniest thing is, most of the time they completely understand where I'm coming from, and respect me as a person for doing so. Now THAT's earning customer trust.
Oh and even then, all of the laptops we receive are immediately brought to our tech room and set up, under the expectation that we will sell that Standard Setup every single time. If we do, then the customer can walk out with it; if the customer has even half a brain and knows what they're paying for, they don't buy it. Then they have to wait a day for us to wipe their laptop before they can even take it home. Of course, that's only if they want to hold on to their hundred bucks. That's a bait-and-switch if I ever saw one. And then we are thrown to the dogs and have to deal with the frustrated customer who just wanted to buy a laptop and leave, and now has to pay and wait a day before they even get a machine because we wanted to inconvenience them enough to convince them to pay for something they don't need.
I could go on for hours, but I just had to get a lot off my chest because I hate working at Pencils with a burning fiery passion.
I too work at Pencils and have been with the company about a year now. I have seen many of the stories told and more. I have had a customer break up with a girl over the phone while I was ringing him up and have also had customers try to use gift cards from other stores to make a purchase. The pay sucks but it is a job. And, I recently got a promotion to inventory associate.
I got a raise but now, that is not enough. Basically, everything that the managers are supposed to do is now on me. From receiving purchase orders, process paperwork and keying stuff out, I do it all. I also work tech, copy center and am sometimes the only cashier for the day on top of being expected to get all of my required duties done for the day. My most recent experience sucked.
We received our truck one morning and it was just the manager and myself in the store. The manager walks me back, unlocks the door and leaves. First, I had never been walked through receiving a truck before. Second, I knew it was against company policy to leave me in the back, doors open and no one else around. The truck driver and I fumble through receiving the truck and he leaves. I then quickly realize that I have no key to close the door. I close it as much as possible and go halfway to the front to call the manager to come back and lock the door. He does. Later in the day, the same thing happens again with a manager in training. My ops manager shows up and goes off or me and the CSL for being back there without a manager as if we had control over the situation. I went off, rant and raving and finally just falling apart from exhaustion.
Luckily, I still have my job but I shouldn't expect any less. It is Pencils and no one gets fired, everyone quits!!!
Over the past 4 years I have loyally patronized my local Home Depot, Starbucks and Whole Foods. What amazes me is the lack of turnover of those companies' employees. I continually see the same faces working at Home Depot. Jim at the paints counter, Jason in electrical and Wilfred in plumbing. Now, walk into your neighborhood Pencils, and it is unlikely the cashier or EasyWreck Tech you see will still be working there on your next visit. Why? Because if you have read the postings on this blog, you know they treat their employees like shit. No benefits, lousy pay, sexual harassment and management that has their heads up their asses. Pencils should top the list in "The 100 Worst Companies To Work For In America."
A recent television advertisement for Mitt Romney touted that he helped start Pencils. I'm assuming that statement refers to the tax breaks and other incentives he offered the company to locate in Massachusetts when he was Governor. Of course all the corporate bigwigs made out like bandits, while the employees of Pencils are paid minimum wage and are rarely eligible for health or other benefits. Go ahead Mitt, take credit for another half-assed corporation that exploits their workers. You have my vote.