Why West Marine pi$$es me off - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-28-2012
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Why West Marine pi$$es me off

I needed to buy some new battery cable today, so I stopped by the closest West Marine. I'm looking at the rack of spools of marine electric cable and one of the two sales people in the store comes by and asks If I need help. "Yes, can I get six feet of that #4 black battery cable? Oh, and is that tinned?", I say, as I try looking the cut end of the wire at almost arms length because I have the wrong glasses on. Blank look on her face, "Is it tin wire? I think it's copper." "No, tinned wire," I say, "Is the wire tinned?" She turns to the only other employee in the store (presumably the person nominally in charge; who we can see just beyond the end of the aisle, at the register) and asks, "Is this stuff tinned? "What's that mean?" comes the reply. I explain the rather exotic concept of tinned marine electrical wire as one of them looks up the item in the store Bible, er, the WM catalog. The holy tome confirms that, lo and behold, it is tinned.

Is it asking too much to expect someone working at West Marine to have a passing knowledge of the stuff they carry?

BTW, these weren't kids. They were both at least in their forties, and I can recall seeing the gal in charge at that store for quite some time. So it's not like a just happened to catch a couple of trainees.
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Old 02-28-2012
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Unless you want the prices to go up even HIGHER for the extra training that they would have to receive on all the different items in the store I would just be happy they had what you needed...
Also, I had the unfortunate experience of working at West Marine for three summers while I was in college and I've never heard that term before. It is nice to know now why it is "marine" wire and not just regular wire
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Old 02-28-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post

Is it asking too much to expect someone working at West Marine to have a passing knowledge of the stuff they carry?
Yes. It is asking too much.
When stuff like that happens to me, I take the opportunity to educate them while assuming that there are most likely things that they know a lot about and about which I'm ignorant. I don't expect everyone I deal with to be experts. It's nice when they are, but I usually double check their information anyway.
I don't expect everyone I deal with at Home Depot to know everything about all the products they sell. That would be silly.

The ladies were probably a couple of very nice girls who needed a job and had some connection with sailing. My wife was one of those years ago. I would venture to say that when she first started out working for WM she didn't know about tinned wire. She probably didn't know the difference between 304 and 316 stainless steel or how to interface a gps with a autopilot. But she would have been happy to learn about it from a gracious and patient customer.

Your expectations are unreasonable in my opinion.
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Old 02-28-2012
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... and that is why I support my local chandlery rather than the Walmart of boating. Of course I always check their prices and I'm not afraid to ask for the same price elsewhere. I have never failed to have the little guy match West Marine unless it's some sort of internet only special.

Defender is a good place that carries just about everything, ships, and has a people there who know what they are talking about.
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Old 02-28-2012
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They were in shock that someone would think of buying it there? No really, to expect knowledge is just wrong, lol

This is best place to buy wire according to most boat owners here.
Genuinedealz > Marine Wire, Boat Wire, Boat Cable, Marine Grade $1.97 ft
-----
WM = 4 Gauge Battery Cable, Black, $2.99 ft
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Old 02-28-2012
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I dunno... I love west marine... when Im bored or pissed off at something, I go in there and spend $$$ for boat crap I probably never really needed. Kinda like a woman who buys new heels when shes depressed. I suppose its therapeutic. I think I've even commited their 2012 catalog to memory by now.
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Old 02-28-2012
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God, we love WM - we whore that place on a weekly basis via their price match guarantee and less than knowledgeable staff. They will match Amazon if it's a direct ship from Amazon, plus match "brick and mortar" businesses prices. It's awesome. If you're quick witted, you can often get them to match online store prices as well...

Just last week I bought a roll of 1" 3M grip tape (WM price $2.79 per foot), I got it for .44 c per foot instead... pulled it right up on my phone right there in the aisle before heading up to the register..

If they didn't match Bolt Depot prices (for example), I'd have had to use gum to stick my boat together after the first six months of the refit... I can't even begin to tell you how much we have saved by price matching every last item we have bought from there. For this reason alone I never get mad at the lack of knowledgeable or helpful staff... and actually the WM in Annapolis has some reasonably knowledgeable staff, however that store is an anomaly..
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Last edited by chrisncate; 02-29-2012 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 02-28-2012
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Yes I kind of think its too much to expect someone working in a retail store like WM to know everything about everything they stock. It would be nice if they had a few folks with expertise in SOMETHING (rigging, electronics, etc) in the store, but given the number of items they stock there is no way I'd expect anyone to know the details on every product.

What would like is a readiness to immediately admit what they don't know and offer to look it up. Nothing is worse than someone that doesn't know yet is willing to give advice anyway.

WM catches a lot of flack, but they have stores where I sail, and there are some products I want to see in person so I'll support them when I can.
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Old 02-28-2012
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At least they didn't try to fake a knowledge they didn't have. I get your frustration but when I'm in those situations, I try to educate the salesperson (if they're open to it and I know what I'm talking about) so that he or she isn't caught out the next time.

We're all human.

Whenever possible I try to do some research and know exactly what I want before I go into a store mostly because I hate shopping (the UPS guy gets a hefty holiday bonus from us) and I hate having salespeople hover over me.
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Old 02-28-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
I needed to buy some new battery cable today, so I stopped by the closest West Marine. I'm looking at the rack of spools of marine electric cable and one of the two sales people in the store comes by and asks If I need help. "Yes, can I get six feet of that #4 black battery cable? Oh, and is that tinned?", I say, as I try looking the cut end of the wire at almost arms length because I have the wrong glasses on. Blank look on her face, "Is it tin wire? I think it's copper." "No, tinned wire," I say, "Is the wire tinned?" She turns to the only other employee in the store (presumably the person nominally in charge; who we can see just beyond the end of the aisle, at the register) and asks, "Is this stuff tinned? "What's that mean?" comes the reply. I explain the rather exotic concept of tinned marine electrical wire as one of them looks up the item in the store Bible, er, the WM catalog. The holy tome confirms that, lo and behold, it is tinned.

Is it asking too much to expect someone working at West Marine to have a passing knowledge of the stuff they carry?

BTW, these weren't kids. They were both at least in their forties, and I can recall seeing the gal in charge at that store for quite some time. So it's not like a just happened to catch a couple of trainees.
Come on now SBS - do YOU know every detail of every piece of electronic hardware in one of those stores? I suspect you'd be just as pi$$ed if you were looking at a chart plotter and they didn't talk like a factory tech. Tinned wire is kind of exotic - those of us who do our own work know about it but store clerks???
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