Friday, December 30, 2011

Pencils: The Buck Stops Here



Here is a  great story.  I have worked for Pencils for a long time.  Of course, I work in office supplies, which means I also work in furniture, office equipment, cashier, copy center and every thing else because I have to.  Too bad the other departments don't have to do the same.  So on Wednesday Dec 27th, an old man comes into the store and says that the chair he is looking at right now was on sale last week for 99.99, original price is 149.99 and that he wants the chair for the sale price even though it isn't on sale anymore.  I explained that our sales run from Sunday to Saturday and that if it isn't on sale anymore, he wouldn't get it for the sale price since we don't backdate sale prices.  I asked why he didn't buy it when it was on sale last week and his response was that he didn't feel like buying it then because his son was out of town and it was for him for Christmas.  But now his son is in town and he wants THAT CHAIR AND THE SALE PRICE FOR LAST WEEK.  Again I reminded him that the sale was over and it was back to full price.  So the arrogant ass tells me that he has been a long time customer of Staples and that he wants to see my manager RIGHT NOW BECAUSE HE DOESN'T WANT TO PAY FULL PRICE and he doesn't want to talk to me anymore.  So of course, I responded that I'll get the manager for him but the sale is over, for the third time.  I go tell my Ops Manager about the situation and he tells me to handle it.  I told him how the customer demanded he talk to a manager and didn't want to deal with me anymore.  The manager again pawns the guy off on me and I responded that the customer demands he talk to a manager.  so the manager finally leaves the office and I'm walking him to the customer.  He tells me to go check for the chair so I do and we have 3.  I get one down and bring it out and the manager says " I'll take it from here" and wheels it away saying that he is sorry for the inconvenience.  Not 2 weeks ago, the company screwed up and released a coupon for $90 off of a massage chair, which was already on sale for 99.99.  This bitch blew a gasket telling me that we have to honor the coupon because we issued it and she wants the chair for 9.99 after the coupon.  I told this situation to my GM and he did the same thing...   YOU handle her.  These are managers making a minimum of 50k per year and are afraid to talk to customers unless they have great curves and slinky dresses on.  My advise to anyone looking to get a great deal.  Next time something WAS ON SALE AND YOU WANT IT FOR THE SALE PRICE WHEN THE SALE IS OVER, just bust the manager's balls until you get your way and if they still don't give it to you, remind them that you are a long time customer, threaten to take your business elsewhere and then ask for the OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT'S NUMBER.  Guaranteed you will get your way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND PENCILS

So to start, I "was" a Pencils employee for about 5.5 years, and just recently quit only a few months ago due to well, there is not much need for explanation there. Anyways, I have been reading this blog for some time and absolutely love it, and I can agree with every single post written. I passed along the link to fellow workers some time ago and everyone loved it too. So I'm writing this today not to give you a special story about one of my experiences as they have pretty much already been posted and I don't have anything remarkable to say. I took this picture a couple of years ago (he hasn't been with the company for a while), and thought it would be perfect to post on your site without any commentary - I don't think any is necessary. This was not a staged picture at all, I merely snapped a quick pic. The surroundings are clear to anyone who has or does work at Pencils and I thought they would get a kick out of it. Again, he hasn't worked with the company for a while now so there really is no harm in this. Looking forward to seeing it on a post. 

Thanks from a long time reader and fan- 

OUTSOURCING: PENCILS' STYLE


Let me preface this posting by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed my job as Mobile Tech for more than 7 years. For those of you who don't know, Mobile Technicians were the Pencils employees who were doing the "on-site" tech work for the company. In order to be even considered, you have to have AT LEAST your A+ cert. if not more. Basically our part time job was to perform the on-site tech work...our full time was job was answering questions and solving problems that the in-store techs couldn't do or didn't know how to do. We also had the joy of getting into customer's homes/businesses and having the entirely wrong services rung up. My last ever job was hooking up a wireless printer to a laptop, when the customer didn't even have internet service. The customer was obviously pissed that the store sold her something she had no way of using just to get Tech Sales. This happened to every mobile tech at least one time a week, if not more. Thankfully we still got paid for "doing" the job as well as mileage.
                The stuff I saw when I went to other stores was mind boggling..... In my area (10+ stores), I could  probably only recommend only 2 stores to drop stuff off too. The rest had "technician's" - in the loosest sense" that shouldn't be allowed within 50 feet of a computer. I will not go into details, but thank god Staples has good a good legal team.
                January 2011 rolls around...We have our annual East Coast Mobile Tech meeting. There are roughly 25 people doing the work for the entire Northeast. The same core group of us have been together for years; however I saw a couple of new faces. They seemed eager, which was good to see. One of the questions during the meeting was "Are we training our replacements?" This was referring to the COT Program (In-Store employees doing tech work.)We were assured that we weren't, but we all knew something was up.
                July 30 - I got a call from my boss saying that Pencils was disbanding the Mobile Tech position in favor of having the in-store techs perform the work. Obviously this was a cost cutting measure as we actually made semi-decent money, which is rare at Staples, unless you are high up on the corporate ladder...See previous posts. There is now absolutely ZERO support system for the tech department. Associates must call either I/S Support or Support.com for help. They are wondering why Tech Sales are down? The good mobile techs would bring in at least a $10,000 worth of upsells to stores every month.  You would think that each of one us had at least 2-3 years with Staples they could at least call us in to tell us they were firing us. No, I heard about it on the phone. (Which in fact I had to turn in since it was a corporate Blackberry)
                Aug 1 - Pencils Techs have free reign! All hail Pencils! Software piracy can continue 100 percent. You would think a tech would be smart enough to not do it, but when they are encouraged by management to do it, you can't really say no. You would think that every time I come to your store, I find pirated Windows/Office/Antivirus discs and throw them out, you would stop. (EVERY STORE DOES IT...if you say that you don't you are lying.) I got call that day from a store that I used to like going to...Their tech was at an onsite and was having trouble putting in new computer RAM at a pretty large area business. "Does customer have xxxxx speed RAM?" "No, there's a difference?" "Well I no longer work for Pencils, it's your problem. Click." Stuff like that pisses me off. Pencils saved what, 5 million dollars by letting us go? Yet, they have associates doing in-home work now who can't even  tell the difference between  RAM??! After years of telling them that they would be able to do my job, they are now able. Go ahead and celebrate your independence. Seventy Five great men and women are out of jobs!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another Pencils' EasyTech Bites The Dust...


So we had 4 Easy Techs in my store and 3 of them left in the same 2 week period. I am the only Easy Tech left and not to mention I'm also A+ certified and I'm not a dumb ass.

So my manager says "Hey do you want to work full time as the Easy Tech expert?" Of course I said yes because $8.65 an hour is fucking balls and I could use the pay raise + full time hours.

So after I said yes he said, "Okay show me this week you can sell and it's yours!"  Our store is doing shitty because of our location and no one gives a shit. But anyways I end up selling about 20 ESP plans that week,12 of them computer ESP's.  Sold bunch of cameras and other shit.  Anyways at the end of the week I ask him "Alright week is over and I sold a lot of shit so can I get the position now?" And then he fucking tells me, "I can't hire a Easy Tech expert right now, don't have the store hours for it." So I told him to fuck off and walked out that day. Way to piss off your only tech during Christmas season... we have about 15 computers that need to be worked on and I'm gonna call out for the next entire week while going on some job interviews. Fuck Pencils.

To see your rants and raves published on this blog, email your stories to: iworkatpencils@gmail.com


Friday, December 23, 2011

RANTINGS OF A FORMER EASY TECH


I am a former Easy Tech employee at Pencils. I was previously employed for the atrocious retailer for six years and I worked and assisted in over fourteen stores. I was a former "Office Equipment Specialist" (what a joke for a title). So, like many other disgruntled Pencil employees, I would like to share some of my experiences.

I started working for the company on June 17, 2005 (scary I still know the day I started working there.) I was a 17 year old High School Kid making $7.80 per hour selling computers, printers, GPS's and other overpriced, low quality products Pencils has to offer.

1. Pay Scale: 

      During my time at Pencils raises were absolutely nice: after my first year I got a raise from $7.80 to $9.00 an hour in the Easy Tech Department. Nine months later I was promoted as an Equipment Specialist at another store making  $11.00 an hour and then 3 months later received a $1.00 raise, ultimately making $12.00 an hour. After 6 months of being a lead I stepped down to focus on my schooling and my college work as working 40 hours a week and school full time took its toll on me. They let me keep my hourly salary and I moved back closer to home. In 2 years with the company, I was "maxed out" at what I made at my position. For three years, I did not receive a raise at my job, I was rated #4 in the entire company selling TSP's, PRP's and FPP's. With my salary being "maxed out," I didn't see the point of putting my effort into selling these god awful technical support plans, training people, giving my knowledge and experience to customers, if I was not being properly compensated. In addition, hearing employees getting "seven cent raises," Managers receiving 1% raises, and jobs being threatened because of unable to sell these expensive Protection Plans, and lets not forget those amazing EasyWay selling Bonuses! Pencils says they create a "positive working environment" and offers "competitive wages" but for the hourly wages us pencils employees receive, it is nowhere near the frustration and mental heartache we go through on a day to day basis. On a side note, I am working for a Home Improvement Retailer and thinking I would have to take a pay cut leaving Pencils, but I was hired for more money! Making $14 an Hour just emptying a truck out! Wearing jeans, and whatever damn shoes I want!

2. TSP's / PRP's / FPP's / Easy Tech Services:

Assurant, the third party that supports these Service Plans, makes the plans very deceptive... the Pencils plans brochures states "Date of Purchasing Coverage." However, if you read the brochure intently it states: for the first year "whatever the manufactures does not cover, we will cover." So for the first year you own the product you have to go through the manufacturer. While I was working for the company, I was ultimately telling customers who bought our service to bring the product back to the store, because dealing with the 1-800 number provided in the brochure was absolutely a hassle and speaking to a person who speaks very little English is absolutely unbearable. We have the capability at the store level to call the associate number and deal with an English speaking human being, However, numerous Managers of mine over the years frowned upon me for doing this. I am sorry isn't this a company that prides itself on "taking care of the customer?" Aren't we here to make it Easy? If the product can't be repaired, Assurant is supposed to issue a full refund in the form of a Pencils cash card. However, over the years I have seen times where repaired machines aren't fully repaired and replaced with refurbished parts, I even have seen computers comeback turned on and caught on fire! In addition, times where Assurant has only offered customers a fraction of what they originally paid for the machine. Also, what person in their right mind, would pay 60 dollars for a 3 year plan on a $79 dollar printer? or 25% of the price of a $300 laptop? or 300 dollars for one year free tech work on their old PC? and charge $200 for a virus removal when downloading malwarebytes and run it in safe mode 90% of the time solves the problem? The bottom line is when as a salesperson, sells a service plan or a service they put their name on that product and they believe in that product and ultimately I could not put my name or faith in any product or service Pencils sells anymore. Ultimately, if your company you work for can not support or backup your word in what you sell and what you believe in, It only deteriorates your image as a Salesman.

3. Operations:

My Old District Manager, whom in another blog about Staples is called Lord Farqua, had a motto that states "12 Great Stores Equals One Great District." On my last day working for this company, he showed up at my store. I have such a profound hatred for this man that I stated "Hey Farqua, How does 12 Great Stores Equals One Great District when you don't even have one?" The look on his face was absolutely priceless and I will never forget it... But Any-who, operations at Pencils, which the company absolutely prides itself in is absolutely atrocious. Stores are allotted a certain amount of hours of payroll each week for its employees. For example, if I am open 97 Hours a week, and I am allotted 250 hours in payroll, How is a store supposed to function? If you have 4 full timers (Easy Tech Lead, CSL, CPC Expert, and Inventory Specialist) how is a manager supposed to run a store with 90 hours left in payroll to spread out to stay open for the rest of the week, meet company goals, and do the day-to-day operations throughout the week. In addition, having other employees who are not familiar with other roles in store cover others for breaks and lunches...either taking a CPC order completely wrong and then having the CPC employee call the customer to verify the order placed, is very unprofessional and speaks volumes to how Pencils trains their employees. Communication is absolutely atrocious! When Managers / HR / DM ask employees how to improve the store and what needs to change, they simply dismiss these issues and state "that's not the problem." Pencils is simply a company that keeps wanting their employees to do more with less and ultimately, you cant keep cutting back and still expecting to achieve these results. The results are also showing based on Pencils stock, which has dropped 45% compared to last year December. Ultimately, Pencils El Presidento "El Sargento" is making 15 Million Dollars a year, and states "our employees are our most valuable asset." Well your most valuable asset is being lost as many people are looking to get off the sinking ship. Maybe Unions are the Answer for Pencils.....

Overall, I have never worked in such a company that has such drama and turmoil from top to bottom in the company dealing with incidents in such a non-chalant manner. Dealing with numerous people with little to no professionalism that think they have the slightest clue of how to run a business, I guess this company simply hires anyone off the streets, throws them a gray shirt and hands them keys and says "your a manager" manage. My life has been so much better since I left this company, and the piece of advice I can give for current Pencil employees who are sick and tired of the constant day in and day out abuse (which is everyone reading this blog.) There is opportunity out there: Go out and Get It.

Thank You

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A CASHIER


Hey there, I'm lucky enough (sarcasm) to be a cashier at Pencils... I don't really have one particular awesome post-worthy story, but I can tell you some tidbits about my wonderful (sarcasm again) three years with the company.

Well first of all I work in two different stores. So yes, the company as a whole is a mess, but the store you're working in can make all the difference. If I were to drop out of school now and need a full time job I would have no problem being a full time cashier in one of the stores. Though every hour I work at the other store makes me die a little bit inside. Since this blog is all about venting and how much Pencils sucks, I'll tell you about the worse store.

Its the first one I worked at, and my first job while I was still in high school. My training/orientation/whatever they're calling it these days, was accompanied by a Spanish associate handbook, because they were out of English ones of course. Things weren't so bad when I was hired, 2 out of the 3 managers were great, and our CSL was awesome. I quickly learned that in this store anyways though, cashiers are basically at the bottom of the Pencils ladder. I know easy techs have it rough (I'm dating an ex-easy tech) but believe me us cashiers have a real shitty time too. 

Well anyways, here are my rants:

1. The uniform. We just got women's shirts this past year. Well correction, my store as a whole got them this past year, I had to wait until I went back to my other store because the one I worked at in the first place wouldn't order me one. Now I'm by no means a crazy feminist, if anything I'm more of the opposite, but the shirts women had to wear prior to the new less disgusting looking polos we have now were absolutely atrocious. Any woman, with the slightest amount of hips and boobs looked horrible in those "unisex" (mens) shirts, with the awful, unflattering stripe right across the chest region. Tucking them in just created more problems. I know this rant may seem irrelevant now, but as a curvier woman I seriously used to feel uncomfortable in my work uniform. Tucking a men's shirt (which is meant to fit into men's pants) is just horrible and stupid looking. I swear I would gain 20 lbs just by putting on those God-awful shirts. Oh and the shoes! We have to wear BLACK shoes, why I don't know but in high school when I used to go from school to work this was sometimes a problem. I mean, it was my own fault for not bringing my work shoes to school, but seriously I'm a cashier. I stand behind the counter all day, no one can see my feet. 

2. The CSL position in my first store has become a complete joke. When I was first hired, our CSL was great. Well, now he's gone and we had a different CSL, a previous OS and OE associate. He wasn't bad, though he was never really even around the front end. Then he left. Our next CSL was a cashier that was hired like a year after me, and I trained. She was younger than me, and had only been with the company (and worked as a cashier) for about 8 or 9 months when she was made CSL. I'm not trying to trash her, she's a great person, but she was thrown into the CSL position because she was the only one who could work full time. Instead of finding someone who would have great potential for the position, they looked at who they had for cashiers, eliminated the students and offered the job to the one that was left. Well now she's gone and we have yet again, another CSL. I don't really know whats going on with her. She's nice and everything, but she can't really do much and basically seems like a glorified cashier. Now, every store is not like this. The CSL at the other store is GREAT at her job, and is completely deserving of that position, but unfortunately in some stores this has been made into a glorified cashier. 

3. PRPs and ESPs. I would just like to point out that yesterday I worked from 9 to 5. And in the first two hours, I got 2 service plans. Then my manager came up to me and said that we needed to get more plans. I averaged one an hour when he told me this, and considering it was Christmas shopping season, the store wasn't that busy, really??

4. The Rewards program. The program really is a joke. First of all, anyone without an email address is now unable to get their rewards. I know this is a small percentage of customers, but it sucks to be the one to tell them that. If the program would suck less more people would sign up for cards. This is a regular conversation I have with customers:
        
me: Would you like to sign up for a Staples rewards card?
customer: What does that do?
me: You would get 10% back on ink, paper and copy center purchases and $2 for every empty ink cartridge you recycle with us.
customer: So it doesn't do anything for envelopes or pens?
me: No.

So yea, customers who don't care about ink and paper have no use for a rewards card. Someone could spend thousands of dollars in this store, and get no reward, while someone who buys $50 worth of ink would at least have $5 in rewards. Stupid.

Monday, December 19, 2011

CAN I GET A WITNESS?????

I need all you honest, hard-working Pencils' employees to send me your stories! To keep this blog going, I need some fresh material to help entertain the masses (the 99%). E-mail your submissions to:
iworkatpencils@gmail.com

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Customer Code Brown

As I was taking out my garbage this morning my neighbor Clark drove up and shouted out the window of his Lincoln SUV, "Mitch, I took a giant dump in your old store yesterday!" I knew there had to be more to the story, and one question was: Since we only live five minutes away from Pencils, why didn't he just come home instead of taking a crap in the hazardous waste site otherwise known as the Men's Bathroom at Pencils?
I got Clark to pull over and fill me in...
"I was out shopping with my wife for office supplies and we had just eaten a huge lunch. There was no way I could make it home! Well, I ran into the men's room and of course that fat, lazy manager of yours, Matt, was in the only stall grunting away while playing games on his smartphone. I waited a minute and there was no sign he'd be wiping-up anytime soon, so I ran out and was faced with my only option, using the ladies bathroom. Just then the cute assistant manager came out of the ladies room and asked me if there was a problem. I told her the toilet in the men's room was inoperable. She then told me to go ahead into the ladies bathroom and she'd stand by the door to make sure nobody came in. Well, now I'm ready to take a steaming dump and have to think about the girl standing outside the door waiting for me. With great gusto I finish up and coincidentally as I'm walking out of the ladies bathroom, Matt comes waddling out of the men's room. The cute manager then asks Matt if there is something wrong with the toilet in the men's room. He gives her a strange look and says, "NO! why are you asking?" Clark then tells me he walks away, gets in his car (where his wife has been waiting for him), goes home and takes a shower. End of story.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

SAY IT, DON'T SPRAY IT!


Today I was chewed out by my manager and assistant manager (who hired me) because of my "attitude". Apparently, she didn't like the fact that on the radio in front of the customer I said, "Is their a manager who can speak to a customer?" She didn't like my tone and thought that it sent a bad message to the customer that the manager was lazy or whatever.

Seriously lady, WTF should I have said? If that wasn't enough, she also didn't like the fact that I walked into her off office and asked her to get a laptop for a customer. The only reason I did that was because I had done the same with the old manager and the assistant manager was nowhere to be found.

She told me she is allotted one day for pure office time (which she spends on the phone or surfing the web) and didn't like to be distributed. Really, what is so damn important you couldn't do something for a customer? And then you want to complain about why are sales are down?

To make things worse, she let out a huge tsunamis-size spit while she was talking to me to the point that I wanted to bust out a poncho and an umbrella in order to prevent myself from getting wet.

Anyways, you see anything wrong with what I did Mitch? I swear, getting paid $12 an hour to put ads on people's cars sounds so much more exciting (and rewarding) than working for an office supply retailer.

I won't let "I WORK AT PENCILS" die!!!!

A message to all the faithful readers of this blog:
I will continue to administrate and post your submissions as long as you send me your stories. Keep your anecdotes short and sweet... of course the more bizarre, the better- here is my e-mail address:
iworkatpencils@gmail.com

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

It seems I have inspired other down-trodden Pencils' employees to share their misery. I was hoping to use "I Work At Pencils" as a forum for continuing my legacy, but... oh well. Here is the link, read it and weep.

http://myjobisthebiggestjoke.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just When We Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse...


I have a great CSL. He's just fantastic at standing around doing nothing. He is a professional at talking about the good ole days when he owned his business. He is just super awesome at flirting with all the older ladies (example: during BTS, when we had one giant line for all four registers, and his job was to make sure customers got to the right line, what he would do was stand there and chat up some heavily made up lady and did not realize that ALL four registers were open. lets just say the other customers in line were not very pleased) One other side note, his wife likes to call him every single fucking day. It can be super busy in the store, and he is hiding away in the office chatting with his wife for about 5-10 minutes! Then when he is nearby, he likes to pretend he runs the show, makes stupid suggestions of how I should attach those damn batteries to every transaction. Talk about your ESP number reports or whatever, we have these dandy rewards penetration reports. Which great man CSL, likes to flaunt how his are always over 90%, and why we are not meeting that. Which is is bullshit, because isn't 75% the goal? Funny thing is, he is never on register. So when there is only one cashier and and he's the only one to cover, he doesn't. So sucks to be that cashier (ahem, me) He is a jerk. You would not believe how rude he was to this one lady on Black Friday. She had bought a picture frame and realized that the box was kinda dented, and since it was a gift, she wanted a pretty box. Normally that kind of thing would piss me off but she was really nice about it, but dickhead CSL was like we need to run this through the register even though she was exchanging it for the same exact thing!!! (She got really angry at how rude CSL man was being that she just returned it and stormed out)  Now i don't know what the official policy on that sort of exchange is, but later on that day GM exchanged a laptop for a customer without ringing it through the register. 

Mitch, that sucks that you got fired. But to be honest, you kinda hated working there, so no loss right? 

Quick about me. I worked at Pencils since before BTS '10 and I recently (2 months) have been cross training for EasyWreck. Any advice?

Mitch: Start looking for another job! I was just offered a job putting advertising fliers on car windshields at the mall for $12 an hour-
 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Pencils... People Need Jobs That Don't Suck!

Stumbled upon your blog a few weeks back after Googling "Fuck you, Pencils," and I'd like to give you a hearty thanks. 
I'm a night shift supervisor of 5 years-- I'm in Western Canada. I dodged a lot of the bullshit you and the others speak of for years (evidently), but it was inevitable that it would creep up on me eventually, and now I'm looking for the nearest exit. I hope to Raptor Jesus that I'm out of this shit hole before the new year, or I'll probably end up getting fired for telling a Blue Shirt that they're a fucking idiot, and after being here for 5 years, I sure as fuck don't need that on my record. I may be making my own "Pencils" blog soon, and if I do, I'll make sure to throw it your way so I can appropriately join in on the "liaising." Stay strong, fellow Pencils slaves. 

Thanks Mitch, and I hope you find a job soon. Would love to have you as my manager over the moron I currently have at OfficeMax. Thanks for keeping your blog alive for all to post and read! 

Thanks Mitch, for all the stories from the dark side of retail. Many peoPle just don't have the balls to come forward like you did. I don't miss working there, best of luck to you.

Keep those submissions coming! e-mail to: iworkatpencils@gmail.com

Saturday, December 3, 2011

TERMINATED... Help Keep The "I Work At Pencils" Blog Alive!

Of course Matt would wait until after "Black & Blue Friday" to call me into his office to say, "Mitch, we're letting you go. You just didn't meet enough numbers. Hope there are no hard feelings."
Sure Matt, no hard feelings. "Fuck you and your extended service plans." Truth be told, I was wondering how long it would take the corporate morons to figure out where this blog was originating from.
To continue the Pencils dialogue, I am willing to offer "I Work At Pencils" to all the Pencils' employees who would like to post their stories. E-mail me your submissions to: iworkatpencils@gmail.com and I will see that your voice is heard. I also would like to thank all those who expressed their support over the past 9 months. Life goes on.