I pulled my chair to a halt. I had a decision to make. I've resisted making it because I don't like being an whiner or complainer, but I also don't like being a wuss or feeling like a victim. Here's the situation, I have one of those wonderful big bookstores right in my neighbourhood, it's an Indigo bookstore, part of the Chapters chain. I shop there a lot. Both Joe and I love to read, it's a perfect place to pick up gifts, it's a wonderful place to wander around.
Over the last several months they've been rearranging the store thus that it's getting more and more difficult to get in. They have this great, huge, octagonal table that sits at the head of the entrance way. When I first moved here I could get by on either side, no problem. But now it's impossible to pass by. To get in I have to go around a narrow passageway behind a table laden with art books. There's always people standing looking at the books, I always have to ask them to move. They all do with greater and lesser degrees of grace.
Today I didn't want to have to ask someone to move, I didn't want to do anything but get into the store to pick up a couple of books. But I had to ask, the woman moved, and now I'm parked thinking about what to do, what to do. As I was near the head of the escalator and as a staff was getting off the moving staircase, I took the bull by the horns and asked her if I could speak to a manager. She said sure, stepped over to a store phone and called Chris.
A few seconds later Chris was getting off the elevator and heading over to the woman who'd called. I addressed him by name, 'Um, Chris, it was me who asked to speak to you.' I began by telling him that I loved the store and that I was a good customer (I don't know why I always do that, even if I was a customer coming in for the first time, I should be able to have access) then I told him of the problem. At first he thought that I was talking about a new display, I turned my chair and took him over to show him where the problem was. He saw that it was the octagonal table.
As we were talking a fellow making his way through that space overheard the conversation and simply entered in saying to the manager, 'If you moved this table over a foot and a half, there would be plenty of room in the passageway.' The manager looked to me and asked if that would work and, though I had a different solution in my mind, I nodded and said it would work.
The manager then explained to me that they had 'people' who came in and designed the look of the store, changing the design every week or so. He said that he would note that they had to be reminded of practicality and diversity. He also said that he would email all stores in the chain asking them to remember customers in wheelchairs and the need for space in entering and exiting the store.
Then he said he'd get someone and make the change now. I told him that I didn't mean for them to do it right now, I just wanted them to think about it and make the adjustments for chairs. He said, 'I'm aware of the problem now, why wouldn't I fix it now? I want you to be comfortable in the store and I want you to be able to get out easily when you are done with your shopping.'
About twenty minutes later I sailed out of the store, lots of room on either side. Thank heaven's I took a moment to speak up.
Here's a Shout Out to Chris at Chapters Indigo at Bay and Bloor ... Thanks Man! That's customer service for you.