Letter to the CEO of Radio Shack: Get a Clue

12Jul10

Dear Radio Shack:

I am looking for a gizmo.  I am not sure what to call it.  I do a search on your website, using the best name I can imagine:  “Ethernet extension adapter.”  Nothing comes up; you apparently don’t have it.  Point no. 1:  you’re the adapter store.  You should have ethernet extension adapters;  and if you do, you should have a database that’s smart enough to find them, if that’s what people call them.

I Google it.  “Ethernet extension adapter” produces lots of results.  There’s one for $2.77 on eBay, with free shipping.  But, of course, shipping takes time.  That is your advantage:  I can just pop over to the local Radio Shack and get one.  I need one today, so this is important.

There is one problem, though.  I don’t know if your local store carries this product.  I could call and ask, but I left my cell phone out in the car.  Besides that, though, I might be one of the many Chinese- or other-speaking tech nerds who are not comfortable with situations in which I must display my poor English and rely upon the kindness and intelligence of the store clerk to help me.  Or maybe I’m a good English speaker, but like many computer users I’m not good with people, or maybe I’m just lazy or addicted to my computer.  If God had meant us to use the phone, he would have designed a mouse for it.  For whatever reason, I’d rather send you an e-mail or do a chat.  Sadly, a search for “Chat” on your homepage turns up nothing.  Point no. 2:  Radio Shack, if you are in the tech business, then for heaven’s sake catch up with the 1990s and discover chat.  My local library has chat help; how can you not?

The other reason why I can’t just call up your store and describe it to them is that, the last time I was in a Radio Shack, the employee had no idea of what I was talking about.  Here’s where you basically piss away your home-team advantage:  if I’m going to drive to your store and have a fruitless encounter with a clueless clerk, I would have been better off to just buy the thing online and do without it for a couple of days.  Point no. 3:  if you can’t get competent nerds to staff your store, I sympathize; but at least give your employees a database (see above) that can help them figure out what the customer is looking for.  Even better, give your employees, if not your customers, a direct chat connection with the super-nerds you should have been recruiting to staff your global chat line all along.  If you can’t find super-nerds in America, I hear there are still a few left in India.

I was thinking that you would be interested in this sort of feedback.  After all, your webpage pestered me with an opportunity to participate in a survey, as soon as I arrived there.  I waved that off; but then, when I went seeking my gizmo and yet did not find, it occurred to me that I probably should have done that survey after all.  So I looked for the “Contact Us” link at the very bottom of the page, like other websites have.  None to be found!  Radio Shack, get a clue.  You are the gizmo store.  People like me are paying your salary.  Please don’t treat us like pests.  Give me a nice, clear “Contact Us” at the bottom of the home page.  Indeed, give me a big red button, above the fold, that says, “What are you looking for today?” leading directly to the enhanced database (above).  And if your super database doesn’t find what I need, put me directly through to a chat wizard — one available 24 hours a day, because there’s a good chance that I’m doing this at 2:35 AM.  Point no. 4:  if you’re not going to be there when I need you, Radio Shack, don’t expect me to be there for you.

A lot of this would have been avoided if your webpage were as usable as, say, Amazon’s or Newegg’s.  There, I can click on options, on a left sidebar, that narrow down the scope of what I’m looking for.  Or, if you insist, a menu bar across the top — but either way, give me menu options that make sense.  I’m looking for an ethernet adapter to connect to the Internet.  I click on your “Cables, Parts & Connectors” menu option.  Hmm.  Radio Shack does not seem to have heard of the ethernet, or of the Internet; or if they have, it hasn’t occurred to them that these would be subjects of interest within the sphere of cables, parts, and connections.  There’s space for a menu pick for the very narrow slice of customers who want LEDs; but nothing for the Internet — unless, of course, I want to pass my time wandering around your site, trying to figure out whether my ethernet adapter would perhaps be found under the menu’s “Connectors & connectivity” option, or its “Wire & cable management” option, or its “Component parts” option.  But of course I’m not going to do that; after all, a general-purpose search already failed to turn up the item.  Point no. 5, Radio Shack:  give me reason to believe in you.  Show me that you don’t really believe it is more important to sell people LEDs than to get them connected to the World Wide Web.  Because if you believe that, I am probably wasting my breath.

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