An amusing yet also somewhat insulting incident at Chapters/Indigo

In complete fairness, the Indigo employee was trying to provide exceptional customer service to me; it just happened to come at the expense of customer service to my sister.

My sister and I dropped by Indigo last night on our way to a movie. They had a Buy 3, Get the 4th Free sale on, so after Jess found a couple of books she wanted, we went around looking for a couple more just to get the free book deal. (Note to Indigo: that marketing plan does work.) I went to pay for the books, and when Jess wanted to buy a magazine, she went to another cashier to purchase it.

The Indigo employee was thrilled to find that I had an irewards card (“even better than plum points!” he said), and was processing my sale when Jess comes up to me. “Look,” she says, “I just got a plum points card!” She reads from the receipt: “Ooh, I already have 160 points on it… Next rewards level is 2500 points…”

I ask the bookseller what 2500 points gets you. He tells me $5 off your purchase. I had asked earlier when my irewards was due to expire, so I guess he was worried I was planning to switch to plum points. He started talking up irewards to me: “But you save so much more on irewards!” He looked at my purchase and said, “I bet you read a lot. Do you read a lot of books?” I said yes, and I agreed with his point, which is that with all the books I buy, it’s probably worth renewing the irewards card rather than switching to plum points.

That would have been fine, and I completely agreed with him, except he decided to keep going. “For serious readers like you, irewards is definitely worth it. Plum points are just, you know, for people who buy a magazine every now and then. Then at some point, yay, they get a free magazine.” He glances at my sister with her magazine, turns to me, rolls his eyes and smiles, like, yeah, that’s not us.

At this point, my sister, who’d been standing right there the whole time, was looking glumly at her brand new plum points card and the magazine she’d just bought. “She (the other cashier) recommended plum points,” Jess said. The Indigo employee ignored her, completely focused on me as he kept talking about how since I read so much and I wasn’t just a magazine reader, I would definitely not want the plum points card. It was mostly his dismissive tone of plum points card holders that struck me.

Honestly, I was mostly amused then at the irony. After all, three of the books that had so impressed this employee were my sister’s, and if I were to renew my irewards, it’ll be worth it mostly because of the amount of books my sister buys from them. But I also felt bad for Jess — if I were in her shoes, I’d be feeling pretty insulted that I wasn’t considered enough of a reader to be offered an irewards card instead of “just” a plum points card.

So I appreciate that Indigo employee’s enthusiasm for the irewards program, and I appreciate his eagerness to chat with customers. I also appreciate his desire to explain to me why irewards will be a better option for me than plum points. It’s just that, if someone had just gotten plum points, is obviously excited about it and is standing right there, please don’t dismiss them as a non-serious reader. It may not be true, for one thing, but more importantly, it creates the impression that plum points card holders aren’t as valuable as irewards card holders. Good customer service to one shouldn’t come at the expense of another, and I definitely think that employee could have sold me on irewards without putting down plum points.

EDIT, SEPTEMBER 27TH

Upon Sally’s recommendation (in the comments), I emailed Indigo customer service about this incident. As she pointed out, even though my sister is completely over it by now, it may still be beneficial for Indigo to be made aware of the incident.

Indigo customer service emailed me back fairly quickly, but, more importantly, the store manager sent me an email as well, thanking me for my feedback and addressing my concerns.

So I just wanted to say thanks to that manager, for taking the time to reach out personally and show me and my sister that all Indigo customers are, indeed, valued. Thanks as well to Sally for suggesting I bring this to the manager’s attention.

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6 thoughts on “An amusing yet also somewhat insulting incident at Chapters/Indigo

  1. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I have to say, I think I’d have reacted a bit more than you did! Yeah, I appreciate what he was doing for you but he totally dissed your sister and made an unfair assumption, to boot. I think I would have said as much. Both options are good and all customers should be made to feel good about what they just signed up for! As you said.

    On a different note, I had the irewards card but now that I work at an indie, I shop only there and get a better discount than my irewards card will give me. For that reason, I didn’t renew my card and instead got the plum rewards, which basically is like our rewards system at our store, and I’ll use that if we end up in an Indigo or Chapters outside of town.

  2. Thanks Steph. I was too amused by the irony (my sister buys a million times more at Indigo than I do), and especially by how unaware the employee seemed of the effects of his words to have been enraged at the point of sale. It was only afterwards, when I thought about it a bit more (and put on my empathy cap, I guess) that I realized how upset I would’ve been in my sister’s shoes. That particular evening, she’d had a stressful day at work and wanted to treat herself with some books. So it was doubly upsetting for her when the employee dismissed her as he did. As she said, Indigo’s lucky they have so many things in stock that she wants, and so many convenient locations, or that incident would’ve lost her as a customer completely.

  3. Great post, Jaclyn! It sounds like the employee made a really bad judgement call, and went a bit too far with his sales attempt. I can certainly appreciate the irony, and in your sister’s situation I’d feel pretty insulted! I’m sure she’s over it now, but it’s worth raising the issue with the store’s manager, just so they have the chance to make things better. Maybe this is me speaking as an Indigo employee myself, but the hearing about incidents like this is one of the most valuable forms of feedback the store can receive, especially from its regular customers. The Plum Rewards is a new program, and everyone is pretty excited about it, so I’m surprised that the cashier was so negative about it. I think it’s great that between you, you now have one of each card :)

    • Thanks Sally! I did ask my sister if she wanted me to talk to the manager or email Indigo customer service, but she didn’t want to get the employee in trouble. After reading your comment, though, perhaps I should drop them a line, just so it won’t happen again. :)

  4. I think I might know why they do this, they HAVE to sell a certain amount of Irewards cards per month I believe (I’m not sure on how many or if it is in fact monthly). I use Plum points, I’m looking forward to getting so much that I can just walk into the store and feel like I’m getting books for free LOL.

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