Monday, December 19, 2005

Officially Done!

As of 30 minutes ago, I have officially completed my Christmas shopping! What a day it has been. We (along with our siblings) decided we'd get our parents hotel and shopping gift certificates in one of Kansas City's finest shopping areas. One would think a simple phone call would be enough. Not so.

I first contacted The Fairmont on the Plaza. It took three phone calls and multiple transfers to the gift shop to determine no one there could help me. Can you imagine purchasing $250 worth of gift shop items? Yeah...right!

Frustrated, I changed shopping areas, this time selecting Crown Center. After three attempts at communicating with a reasonable person at the Westin, I sent a frustrated email message to the Crown Center management office. If the person at the Westin could have told me how to purchase a CG online, I would have taken that opportunity. Instead, she explained that she couldn't sell it, but she also didn't know where to find the GC link on their website. They also don't sell GCs on site.

I called the Hyatt and discovered that they sell gift certificates in the lobby until 11 p.m. each evening. Still, I would have to get in my car and drive out there. I called Crown Center to check on gift certificates--what I really wanted was a package that included hotel and shopping. A grumpy person answered and told me that I could buy a GC, but I still needed to get into my car and drive there.

Extremely agitated at this point, I decided S and I would go to lunch at Fritz's and try to have a little fun while we ran our unnecessary errands. (Fritz's is a theme restaurant where you sit on a "train" and order your food by phone and a mini train that circles the restaurant drops your food off at your table.)

As I gathered baby supplies for our outing, a manager from Crown Center called me in response to my email. WOAH! A link that actually goes somewhere. A link someone actually does something with! I was impressed. He confirmed that I could indeed purchase what I wanted at the places I narrowed down. BUT, still not conveniently over the phone or online. He did tell me to call him from the shopping center if I ran into any trouble and he'd assist.

We made it to Crown Center. Because I don't get that way often, I had difficulty navigating the stairs and finding elevators to get us to the various levels and through the link (walkway) to the hotel. But, we got the job done! We also had a fabulous lunch. S gave it a big thumbs up. And, Crayola had an awesome Santa exhibit where the kids had a chance to play and forget about shopping.

Round trip, including lunch, playtime and errands: four hours.
Time spent on phone the past few days: over one.
Number of happy grandparents this Christmas: four
Number of happy shopping girls: two
Number of times I forget my camera when I go to Crown Center: countless!

I really need to take my camera every time I get to that part of the city. Even when I don't plan to go to Crown Center (such as when we are at Science City) we end up there and I wish I had my camera. Always a good time...even if I didn't want to be there!

So, that's my Christmas shopping story. Mission accomplished.

When we got home, I had a voice mail message and an email message from a manager at the Westin. No, they couldn't sell the GCs onsite, but he was calling to tell me how. Unfortunately for them, I had already purchased elsewhere. As a marketing person, I'll just say there are too many marketing and customer service lessons in this tale to count.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I'm not sure what ever happened to the "service" part of customer service. I think its mostly a matter of lipservice. But I am glad that you got your hotel/GC - what a great idea for A christmas present. Can I be on your list next year? )))grin(((

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Don Tate II said...

Sounds like a fun shopping trip. My shopping experience this year has been anything but fun. I shopped online. Nothing looks like the advertised pictures, and many things are on backorder, not expected to arrive until Jan. And I started early, I thought.


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