Idiotic comments from outdoor shop staff

by backpackingbongos

A couple of weeks ago I popped into the Victoria Centre Blacks store in Nottingham.  The object of my attention was a pair of Trekmates goretex socks, which I thought I had glimpsed in there many months ago.  I walked to the back of the store and started to peruse the racks of socks displayed quite rightly next to the boots.  I soon had this conversation with a member of staff:

Him, “Can I help you?”

Me, “Yes I am looking for some goretex socks, do you sell them?”

A minute passed whilst we both looked at the rack of socks.

Him, “Not sure, I will go and check”

I fondled some boots whilst he was gone.  He soon reappeared.

Him, “Sorry we don’t stock goretex socks”

Me, “No problem”

Him, “But we do have some wool socks here that breathe just as well as goretex ones”

I left and plan never to set foot in a Blacks store again (except I have to because I still have one of their gift vouchers knocking about).  Funnily enough this is the same store where a member of staff was exceptionally rude to my partner when she attempted to buy a platypus bottle.  Apparently according to the woman who served her, you cannot buy a Platypus bottle without the full hydration system.  When my partner corrected her and said that most other outdoor shops sold just the bottle, she was pretty much called an idiot and had to leave.  If Blacks ever read this they can redeem themselves by sending me a pair of goretex socks and a Platypus bottle.

Many moons ago I went into another outdoor emporium in Nottingham called ‘Castle mountain and Moor’, which really should be called ‘The Berghaus shop’ as for some reason they seem to love Berghaus stuff in there.  Now, things may have changed as I have not gone in there for years after a little exchange with a member of staff.  In my early hiking days I used to wear Scarpa Manta boots for all of my hiking as I thought that was what ‘real’ hikers were meant to wear.  I came to the conclusion then that they were not really suitable for mooching up Kinder Scout and a lighter pair of boots should be purchased.  I set my heart on a pair of Scarpa Rangers and went to the shop to try on a pair.  They fitted and I bounded around the shop feeling pleased with my impending purchase.  To put the following conversation into perspective I recently binned these boots as they were beyond repair even for gardening duty.  They are big leather clod hoppers, twice as heavy as my current heaviest footwear.

Him, “What are you planning to do with them?”

I wish that I had said, “Club you to death with them”

But instead I said, “I am off to Scotland for a week to bag some Munro’s”

Him, “You can’t do that in those, they are only designed for canal towpaths”

Guilty as charged.


11 Comments to “Idiotic comments from outdoor shop staff”

  1. 80 Blacks shops to close soon according to the news. Why with sales staff like that ?

  2. Brilliant! As Martin said, no wonder thet are struggling. Mind you happens in all walks of life now, banks, mobile phone companies, you name it. Reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon: customer service is our top priority…meaning…nothing. Bit of poetic licence, but you get the gist.

  3. Martin I did not realise that 80 Blacks shops were closing – better spend that voucher sharpish!

    Robin – its this sort of stupidity that prevents me from entering shops these days. The patter that I had to endure when buying a phone for example. Thank god for the internet and the small retailers that trade on it, I could happily never go into a shop again.

  4. I’ve got as many similar stories to tell and not only about staff in Blacks stores…

  5. Loving your work here James! I’ve not had the misfortune of even engaging in conversation with the bigger retailers but I’ve learned just from the crap they stock that the internet retailers are my first stop everytime.

  6. Baz – go on tell all!

    Jamie – thanks.

    Dude Abides – internet retailers are my first stop these days, but sometimes you need that last minute purchase and you have to enter the den of crap!

  7. For reasons of sanity and street cred I do not visit the following stores:

    Go Outdoors

    It maybe just me but its the equivalent of going into WHSmiths when you want to buy a book when really you should go to Waterstones


  8. I too have to admit to being a bit of a gear snob but you can still buy some good gear in the shops you listed. I purchased all of my Paramo gear in Go Outdoors (CCC Outdoors in Hathersage) and it was really cheap. I have to admit to owning a pile of wicking Peter storm t-shirts from Millets – they were only a tenner and as good as more expensive stuff. It just trying to avoid the ‘can I help you’ bit!

  9. Great stuff!.
    I suppose he was at least factually correct about the wool socks!. I wonder what he would wear up the Scottish mountains…

    I use the internet mainly, but I still very occasionally buy something from Cotswold Manchester mainly because I have a 10% discount card and some of them know me.

    I try to avoid assistants, but they do vary a lot even within the same shop/chain. Outside in Hathersage had a very knowledgable lad in the footwear section, I don’t know if he’s still there. I spent a while with him, he measured and assessed my feet and knew exactly how to make a good fit perfect by cutting custom shims to place under the footbed. Impressive.

  10. Geoff, i have to admit to liking Cotswold and there is a store in Nottingham where I get 15% with my Backpackers club card. The staff know their stuff in my local store and I know a couple of them personally anyway. However most of the stuff I buy from there is casual wear for work, its pretty relaxed in my office!

    Outside in hathersage has given me mixed experiences. Had one member of staff who was more occupied trying to impress a female member of staff by being a twat than serving me. Another member of staff actually had a go at me when I was struggling putting up a tent I wanted to check out (I accidentally dropped the poles on the floor) – this was at the same time the idiot meant to be helping was being twattish! (is that a word?). One the other hand some really good staff there , especially in footwear section.

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