One of the critical steps in my plan to open a fabulous needlepoint store is being able to turn on the light. I know about this clever retail technique because I have many, many, many years of experience in the needlepoint business.
So I called the Florida Power & Light company (lovingly known as FPL in these parts), all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 9am. I confidently gave my particulars to the nice representative who eventually answered (long delays… Mondays morning blues I reckon) at the other end of the line, including Needlepoint Land’s physical address:
3836 Old Dixie Hwy
Stuart, FL 34997
Then the bubbly voice at the other end of the line informed me that, sorry, but our computers show that this location doesn’t exist.
I sat there, for a moment, in stunned silence. My store, my baby, my dream, didn’t exist? For a horrible moment, I thought this had all been a mirage. Maybe I’d hallucinated signing the lease and paying a rent deposit.
“Our computers only go up to 3700 at this location,” continued the chirpy voice of doom, as if in consolation.
“But.. but… what about the Dixie Grill that’s next door,” I stammered. “It’s in the 3800 series, and it’s been there for ages. I have pictures to prove it.”
Another long pause.
Then, the bubbly voice of doom returned.
“Sorry, Ma’am. There’s no Dixie Grill either.”
I’m going to spare you the details over what happened next. Suffice it to say that it turned out that I was actually talking to someone in Texas. She didn’t know from shinola about the history-laden Old Dixie Highway in Fla. Instead, the voice of chirpy doom suggested I go find the store meter, read off some obscure part number, and call them back.
I remained calm. I had another call to make: turning on the water.
So I called Martin Country water, and poof voila, just like that set it up. I told them about the FPL business and they suggested I provide them with a slightly different address — namely, 3836 SE Dixie Hwy.
Which I promptly did.
Worked like a charm. Got an account number for Needlepoint Land, and everything. I guess the address cleaning feature of FPL’s back office mainframe computers is still in beta testing, or sumpin’.
At any rate, I was now all set to turn over the needed bank info for an electronic deposit on my power bill when suddenly the wheels again ground to a halt.
“Sorry, Ma’am, but our systems are down temporarily. Could you call back in a few hours?”
I laughed, but only because I didn’t want to cry.
No problemo, I said. I’ll call back later.
Which I did, and now everything worked like a charm. The nice rep told me the power would go on automatically in about 4 hours, since I have a smart meter.
Guess I’ll head over to the store after tennis to check out if I can turn on the lights and AC!
My takeaway from this experience is as follows.
Big, hi-tech, established companies sometimes get confused about the real world and how to deal with it, as opposed to the world as represented in their computers. Me, as the owner of a small start-up business, who generally likes to know each customer personally, well, I’m not very hi tech or anything, but I would NEVER dream of telling a potential customer that they don’t exist.
That would simply be too shocking.
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016