Apr 10, 2010

What Do You Make of This?

When Bandit visited Petco on his birthday he was accompanied by myself, my husband K, and our youngest son M. Bandit was wearing his "Birthday Dog" bandana. It was a Wednesday afternoon and the Kirkand store was pretty devoid of customers except for us. As we walked through the store and visited several areas (including the fish area, small animals, and definitely the doggy area), I snapped several pictures of Bandit. We walked around for a good 15 minutes before heading up to the front of the store where the cashiers are. I decided to take one more picture of Bandit at the snack bar area(where the open bins with pet treats are). As I snapped my last picture a young female employee in her early twenties asked me to stop taking pictures in the store. We thought she was joking. But she insisted that we stop taking pictures, so she definitely wasn't joking. I also detected a slightly snippy, holier-than-thou demeanor.  I asked her why we couldn't take pictures. Her reply: "How do I know that you're not from PETA?" We were really taken aback by this. She even went so far as to tell us to delete all the pictures we had taken from our camera (though fortunately she didn't insist on watching us do so, and which we didn't comply with). We made our purchase and left the store. There's another close-by Petco in North Seattle and numerous PetSmarts in the area, so fortunately we're not limited to Kirkland's Petco for Bandit's and Simba's needs.

The next day I went to Petco's main website and sent off an email to their Customer Service detailing our experience. I received a reply well within 24 hours which read:

Dear Ms. __________,
Thank you for contacting PETCO regarding your concern with our store at 12040 NE 85th St. We are sorry to hear about your recent experience.
Please accept our apologies for any problems or inconvenience you have experienced. We strive to provide exceptional customer service, and sincerely appreciate hearing from you. Your feedback is vital for us to continue to improve our products and services.

I have notified the store's General Manager your concern for this to be addressed accordingly and belated Happy Birthday to your dog. Again, we apologize and hope that you will shop with PETCO again soon.

Please know that we care about our customers and what they think of us. By letting us know when we fall short of your expectations, we have the opportunity to address your concerns and to be better prepared to meet your expectations in the future. If we can be of any further assistance, please feel free to reply to this communication or call PETCO Customer Relations directly at 1-888-824-PALS (7257). Thank you again for contacting PETCO.

Vincent M.
Customer Relations Coordinator

I'm disappointed that "Vincent" didn't mention anything specific about whether taking pictures inside the store was okay or not, but it sounds as though the store will be contacted regarding our experience. I'm thinking from the apology that the store associate was in the wrong.  Does anyone know if Petco has a no-photos/-camera policy, particularly because of the fact that PETA might be lurking about?  Do you think this employee was justified in asking us to put our camera away and to delete all photos from our visit?  Why would she be concerned about PETA coming through the store?  Does she think her store's in-house animals are being treated poorly?  It pisses me that she could full well tell that we were just a typical family shopping at her store, with family pet in tow.

Oh, and I guess I should add that I was hoping for some free coupons or something instead of just a reply from Vincent.  I still am.  In sending my concerns to Customer Service they asked for my Petco PALS number, so they obviously have all my information (for sending coupons).


Priscilla said...

Wow, those people are such meanies.
Sorry, but what is PETA?

I can't believe a store will not let you take any pictures, and Vincent should have given you more than just an apology.
What a terrible shop!

Pat said...

Can't believe an employee there would act like that but I wonder if there had been some run in with the PETA gang. But it could have been handled better. Did you know that Starbucks don't allow photos taken in their store? I see no reason for that. I'm sure the Bandit boy had a great birthday anyway.

Bandit's Pack said...

You're right, Pat, it certainly was a great day! I wonder what the bug is at Starbucks. Priscilla: PETA is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They are a major force in the U.S. and do a great job of protecting animals from all kinds of things. They also do things such as prominently point out Hollywood stars who wear furs. PETA is a very good thing, but for a general pet store chain to be afraid of PETA keeping tabs on them is concerning.

Bella/Dodger/Izzie said...

I just checked out PETA's website and Petco was not on the list on the main page for bad companies to do business with because of their practices but PetSmart was. I would assume Petco may have the same problems and that is why they are afraid of PETA.

Mini Aussie Ace! said...

Sheesh! How rediculous!
I would have asked to speak with the manager! That would have stopped her holier than thou attitude! What she said doesn't even make any sense haha! Why would PETA be concerned with PETCO? They sell pet toys and snacks! So silly! Why would someone from PETA go there with a Happy Birthday Bandana on their dog & their family to take pics...
We don't live near any large pet stores anymore like PETCO or PETSMART, but we used to go when we did. Now we go to small local owned pet stores, I wonder if they would have a problem with me taking pics... =0 we will find out haha.(If I could ever find my camera charger)....
I hope they send you some coupons! Especially after not addressing your main concern..(That is a premade letter to send to upset patrons).
Let us know if you get any coupons in the mail!!

Reena said...

How strange. I'll have to remember to ask our local store and see if there is a policy about it. They do all kinds of free 'photos' with the animals all the time (have a photographer come in, etc)

I would have for sure asked for the manager or even now, call and speak to that person. Sounds like the associate had her panties in a wad.

Emma Rose said...

I hate to be a downer here, but you need to know that PETA is a political front. PETA KILLS 97-98% of the dogs and cats that come into their shelters. They do not even TRY to find homes for them. PETA is an EVIL organization. Here is a link for more information http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

PETA can make life miserable for anyone they decide to target. But once their true colors are known to the general population, they will lose their power and be exposed for the criminals they really are.

Sorry for the long comment!

The Duchess

Morgan in Pittsburgh said...

My mom took me to Petco for my birthday, and we took pictures, and nobody said anything. I think that girl knows too much about how PETA really operates. Demand Petco investigate her! And demand coupons too.
Your pal, Morgan

Tiffany said...

Lots of stores don't allow photos, but if that is there policy there should be a sign clearly posted. The whole mention of PETA would have concerned me. I think I would have replied to her question, "How do I know you're not from PETA?" with, "What, do I look like a lunatic???" It was so obvious that it was Bandit's birthday that that employee was being ridiculous. I say find another store that doesn't accuse you of being a crazy person and really wants your business! And no offense to anyone who supports PETA, but I am a true animal lover and I find their tactics way too extreme for even me.

K9friend said...

They sent you a form letter to pacify you and returned your complaint to the local store. Not a very effective way to handle a valid complaint.

And if they have a problem with people taking photos in the store...why is it not posted?

My guess is that employee needs some training in customer service.