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CONTRIBUTION · 27th August 2011
Buy Local Shopper
I believe in supporting local Terrace business and I will go out of my way to find a local provider that is locally owned when I am looking for something I need. When a new store or boutique opens I am one of the first to check it out. I don't mind paying a little bit more to support local business.

In some respects local businesses have a very captive audience in Terrace; there are not many choices of where to shop. There are two issues that have been very prevalent in my shopping experiences lately; price gouging and really, really bad customer service.

Price gouging is when, anywhere else something would normally cost less, is priced unreasonably high here. For instance; a 17" high toilet here is $299 but in Prince George it is only $79 to $149. To reference another item: a free standing bathtub here: $1500, in PG only $497. Before you respond about shipping costs, and that the tubs must be different; think about this - when I am redoing my bathroom I can pay for gas to PG, a hotel, meals, and shipping home for my items for less than what it would cost to buy them here. And as far about the tub being different - just the brand, and I don't care what brand my tub is when it costs three times the price. I don't like being gouged every time I walk in a store and this is only one example of this. A health product I use daily sells for $4 to $6 in Victoria or Vancouver. Here: $18.99 - $23.99 and it is the same product - exactly. That’s right; three to four times the price. Somehow, I can't help but feel I am being taken for a sucker when I figured this out.

Customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won't be profitable for long. It would even be nice to just not be ignored, or darn near growled at when you enter a new or existing store, not to mention outright driven away with rudeness.

Case in point; I thought I would go check out a new clothing boutique and buy something I needed. Good for the business because I am buying local and helping support a new business in Terrace, good for me because I am getting what I need. Not so. When I entered the store the owner was at the counter, barely looked up and pretty much scowled and glowered at me; not very welcoming. She continued this customer service "tactic" as I did a quick circle of her little shop and left as fast as I could. I went to the local big chain store and bought what I needed at half the price with a product I was familiar with. To bad for the new store too - I bought three of them and she lost out on over a hundred dollar sale.

I could go on and on about experiences like this here in Terrace. Some might think I am a difficult person to deal with - I can assure you I never have had this problem before I moved here, or now when I go other places that have a little more competition. It seems special to Terrace.

I have noticed the where service is sold: service is good, where products are sold - service is really bad.

So what to do? You can try to talk to the people in charge but in my experience that doesn't work. So, if business frontline staff can't treat you with a little dignity, be at least a little welcoming - make a statement with your money - walk out, don't go back. If you like, take all that money you save and take a trip to Prince George and go shopping. Have a nice lunch (and dinner), and stay in a nice hotel. Maybe if everyone asked the businesses why the price is 3 - 4 times more than anywhere else maybe they would get the point; we aren't suckers and we won't stand for it. Vote with your money.
Shopping in Terrace
Comment by Miss Priss on 5th September 2011
You are soo right...i feel the same way and I do most of my shopping on airmiles.ca

I always hear on the radio "Shop Local" but the customer service and lack of product is my beef...so now I'm earning airmiles so i can travel and shop else where.
On the bright side ...
Comment by c. sandecki on 30th August 2011
Misty River Books is one store where service is tops and prices within range. Open the door and someone will greet you, often by name, before you ever reach the counter. They order books for me without quibble, no pre-payment required, have done for years.
On the other hand, in stores where you are ignored or staff seems to be hiding, you can add a number to your daily requirement of walking 10,000 steps by hunting for a clerk to help you. In one store I felt I was herding chickens, so determined were the clerks to stay beyond speaking range.
Last Friday, at one major store, except for a single cashier on duty, all staff were gathered behind a door marked Employees Only. I heard voices, I opened the door, seeking help in finding Kleenex on sale.
I understand staff meetings may be necessary, but in the meantime they are losing sales if customers can't locate items. As it happens, the store was out of stock. Even two staff couldn't find the item for me.
On going
Comment by James Ippel on 29th August 2011
I have a Delta Band Saw, and when I went into the local building supply ( who sells this item) for a new blade I was told that they don't carry the blades. They would have to be special ordered because there is a wide variety of blades.
When I need a new blade for my saw, I need it now, not three weeks down the road. If you are going to sell the tool, then you should sell the accessories for that item, and blades are pretty important for a Band Saw.
In my hobby I use a lot of wheels for toys, and usually order 1,ooo to 1,500 at a time. The same goes for axel pins. I would like to buy locally, but at the best of times I might be able to purchase 4 to 8 wheels, a few axel pins, at 3 to 4 times the cost of bringing them in from the east. The freight cost from Ontario is $10.00 for one wheel, of for 1,500 wheels. Where do I buy my wheels???? You guessed right. Would I like to support local business? yes, can I afford to?/ NO!!!!
I have found that Canadian Tire has the best service, the best return policy, and a knowledable staff. If the staff member does not have the answer for you, they will get on their headsets and get an answer or help.
While On This Topic
Comment by SC on 29th August 2011
While on this topic, what about the price of eye glasses in this town.
For Stacey re "Sullen Teenagers"
Comment by Roy Harding on 29th August 2011
Read my remarks again - I didn't say "get rid of teenagers", I said get rid of sullen teenagers. And then I went on to say "some of whom will be teenagers - bright, intelligent younger folk do exist here in town".

We're in agreement - I think.
Bad Price Gouging!
Comment by Mike on 29th August 2011
Further to Local Shoppers comments: How about this for being screwed on prices: I needed glass for my walk in shower: local glass shop $4100.00, Vancouver price (exactly the same glass..I made sure!) $1500.00. What the heck? Also, why is it the buiding supply store wants $30.00 to deliver the $400.00 worth of trim I bought the six blocks to my house when I got over 800 pounds of solid hardwood for my stairs shipped from NOVA SCOTIA for $289.00!
Terrace
Comment by Karen on 29th August 2011
When I moved to Terrace 17 years ago I felt that this was a town that I could truly feel at home in - finally. The people are wonderful and, with a few minor exceptions, have been approachable, friendly and helpful wherever I go. Maybe I don't get out enough but I have never experienced any bad shopping experiences to the extent that I needed to express my discontent publicly.

This is not to minimize the writers concerns and frustrations but to simply give another perspective on interacting in this community.

The writer has obviously met with problems with supplying his/her renovation project. That in itself is grounds to be put in a state of chaos accelerating the bad vibes from some inconsiderate salesclerk. Not knowing the huge differences in the qualities of products (hence price fluctuations) on the market can be a major frustration and even worse, not having a choice with our economy overflowing with substandard, offshore products.

Sometimes, when entering an establishment, the mood can be changed substantially by being the first to make friendly contact with the sales staff. One often forgets that even store personel can be having a difficult day, may be shy or are still learning their positions.

I totally agree that Terrace is far from offering the same ammenities as Prince George or Vancouver but I am optimistic that when the economy improves so, too, will the availability of more shops and a more competitive environment. For now, consider the wonderful scenery, the great outdoors and fresh air as compensation for the things that are lacking in this smaller community.



Couldn't agree more... BUT...
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 29th August 2011
I really couldn't agree more. I've written similar stuff. However, I don't blame the staff I blame the management.

Management should have an expectation of their staff and should present that. I have been in an eating establishment here where management literally screamed at servers in front of customers. No wonder the servers are miserable.

I've said it before and I will say it again, I will happily offer free customer service workshops to any local business that is interested.

Now for the comment of get rid of the sullen teenagers. I have received some EXCELLENT customer service from teenagers, just as I have received terrible customer service from adults. It has nothing to do with age, it has to do with training and expectation of management.

So please, the next time you have a terrible customer service experience give the owner/managment my name. If I can do anything to change the service presented in this town on some occasions I would be more than happy to.
Worst service and prices ever...
Comment by Mike on 29th August 2011
I recently built a house here in Terrace and finished the inside myself. My experience with our suppliers has been nothing short of horrible. Why am I paying ten dollars shipping charge on a twenty dollar item (supposedly special order yet it was a part for the woodstove that I bought at the very same store and the same part came in on their own company truck). Why are simple galvanized deck hangers 28.99 in Terrace and 14.99 in Prince Rupert? Very bad service, and completely unrealistic pricing (do any of the owners of these store have a computer so they can see what thing cost in the rest of the world?) I realize that many of our stores cannot compete on big box/ chain store pricing but if you can't compete on price then you should be competing for service. That is something I don't mind paying for. Attitude I can get for free anywhere so I don't think I need to pay for it with a more expensive product. That and we seem to be a week away from anywhere.. Anything I do order takes a week to get here. I've given up ordering anything. Why should I pay someone else to fill out a form, order it, not call me when it comes in and then charge me outrageous shipping costs plus their markup. I can easily call any shop/store in the world and have them ship it directly to me for only the shipping costs. I regularly have things sent from Van by Greyhound and in takes two days at a great price. (hats off the good guys at the Greyhound office for their good service)
After adding up all my house expenses I found that over 90,000 of my dollars went out of town. Exact same product in most cases, but even in places as close as Smithers, up to 20-40% less cost. Smarten up Terrace merchants..its a global economy and we all know what things are worth cause we have computers too!
Totally agree
Comment by Dan on 29th August 2011
I think City Council needs to step up and invite new companys to town such as Costco and Home Hardware. Maybe they could by the old Co-op site? Lets start to build on Terrace not hold it down...
Post grades for all to see.
Comment by L.Stella on 29th August 2011
There are definetly a few buisinesses in town that have terrible service, usually the ones that think they have the monopoly. Someone should post a site or link with grades where shoppers could rate their experience. Maybe if our local buisnisses get some publicity, good or bad, they will do something about it. Hint Hint.
shopping in terrace
Comment by E. Puge on 28th August 2011
I must agree, shopping in terrace was a shock after coming from a major city. There are a few gems in this town but the majority of the stores have terrible customer service along with outrageous prices.
We have given up on ordering through the stores in town, I am sure some of our orders are still on back order from 1986. We have ordered online for years and when we order online we usually find extras included in our orders. Promotional stuff is usually meant to be given away but in terrace you have to buy it. Why?
100% agree....but,
Comment by Annabella on 28th August 2011
The prices in this town at many places are ridiculous for sure, but I also understand that it is a small town with a limited amount of stores to shop, they do it because they can ( I shop mostly online as I'm sure alot of people here do). Although if the customer service is good I don't mind so much to pay the extra, the customer service in many stores here is so bad though, I can't believe how rude and unwelcoming so many places are here, which is why I refuse to shop at many places here. Last Thursday I went to a restaurant, the girl who served us was so rushed for us to leave that we couldn't enjoy it at all. What ever happened to good customer service?
customer service
Comment by larry on 28th August 2011
and while we are on the subject it is not just shopping but customer service period, I can not believe that a tax office has such bad customer service and just because they are a large firm they charge so much. Try to get a straight answer and you go in circles, if you don't know what you are talking about don't work there and don't be rude and lower your prices and i don't mean the tax office on lakelse
I Agree (for the most part)
Comment by Roy Harding on 28th August 2011
I've been in Terrace for five years - and I've noticed the same things.

My PET peeve is businesses who are not interested in ordering in what I need. Most of my shopping experiences involve tools and hardware (not common carpentry tools - which are readily available in town) - and I've given up on local suppliers for many of my needs.

When we moved here (from Edmonton) we accepted that many of the less common items we wanted would have to be purchased online and shipped in - we just weren't prepared for the EXTENT of online ordering we'd need to do.

Like a previous commenter, I have a personal "local purchase" ceiling which I use. In my case, I'm willing to pay 15% more than I would spend online - for the convenience of getting the item immediately, as well as a desire to help out local business. If I can't get the item at that rate - it's off to the internet I go.

Like yet ANOTHER commenter, I usually know EXACTLY what I'm looking for when I am shopping - when I say I need a rip saw with 14 TPI, a 6 thou set, and a 26 thou kerf, don't hand me a cross cut saw, I'll immediately know that you don't know what you're talking about and walk out (true story). I may have discussed it with you if you offered an alternative with a slightly different set, kerf or TPI, but to try to sell me a COMPLETELY different saw is beyond the pale.

Having said all that - I've been very happy with some local outlets. I find the staff at Rona fairly knowledgeable and helpful, NIS staff is also usually helpful - but I think their corporate system fails them - I'm STILL waiting for parts I ordered in April (too late, folks - I already received them from a company in California). Compusmart deserves a mention for their knowledgeable and helpful staff, as does Petsmart (who are more than happy to order bulk supplies of some items for me, AND cut me a reasonable deal for the bulk nature of the items). Coles is also staffed (in my experience) with helpful folks, more than willing to order stuff in for me (although the Kobo they sold to me is going to significantly cut into the amount of business I do with them). I'll also mention Pete at Sears - that man is golden (what I think of Sears as a company is a separate issue); and Totem Furniture has been MORE than fair with me in my dealings with them.

So all the bouquets and brickbats (which I kept anonymous for the most part) having been handed out - here are some suggestions for local retail businesses:

- Get rid of the sullen teenagers that you're hiring for minimum wage. Unemployment is high here - you can attract intelligent, involved, and responsible folks to work for you - and those folks (some of whom will be teenagers - bright, intelligent younger folk do exist here in town) will INCREASE your business.

- Explore the possibilities of having specialty items shipped in with your regular orders. I suspect that by piggybacking on your normal inventory deliveries, the shipping costs to you would be significantly less than to me as an individual. You can PROBABLY charge me a small surcharge over and above what it costs you to ship, which would STILL be less than I'd pay as an individual. A win/win for everybody. But you need to DO it - the number of outlets I've been to who have dismissed out of hand the idea that they actually order something for me is, to say the least, disappointing.

- Don't tell me your sob stories regarding pressure from the internet, the big box stores, or the state of the local economy. I'm in YOUR store, having already decided NOT to go to the internet, or the big box stores - I'm looking for SERVICE, try to provide it - I'm not stupid, I EXPECT to pay a little more for it.

To be fair - the complaints regarding retail outlets here in Terrace are not uncommon in bigger centers - the difference here is that we are severely limited in our choice of local outlets, and that makes the problems appear more significant.
Forgot to Mention the Good.
Comment by Tara Lynn on 28th August 2011
I meant to add, after my previous rant, positive feedback about a couple stores here. The new Reitmans that opened near the dollar store, and Ricki's in the mall. Both were very helpful and pleasant and polite, and I'm actually looking forward to shopping there again.

My shopping experience mirrors author
Comment by Loki Smith on 28th August 2011
When I first came to Terrace I was surprised how everything cost so much more than where I came from, which happened to be a similar sized city in BC. I was also surprised at how insular Terrace is, and how hard it was to make friends.

Family came to visit once, we went into a local parts dealer (now gone) and asked how much for a trailer hitch. He was quoted a price 3 to 4 times what it cost at home. He asked the salesman, "Don't you think that's a bit much?" The guy said breezily, "Yeah, it's Terrace, where are you gonna go?"

Personally I have given up trying to change the attitude of stores which provide bad service and exorbitant prices. I shop online for anything I can, the savings are real and the service is better. Without internet shopping, I don't think I could last out here.

I'm not saying I haven't received good service from a few places in town. I honestly have, and I continue to shop at these places with a smile, and pay a small difference if it's reasonable, but overall the service and shopping in this town seriously needs an enema.

Here is what service is often like in Terrace sit-down restaurants.

You walk in and stand by a seating area, eventually someone sits you down without making eye contact. Sometimes a person coming in after you will be seated before you. You place your order, wait and the food arrives. Your server may or may not roll their eyes, sigh, or look upset if you ask for an extra napkin or a refill on your drink. Some visits your server will check on you, sometimes they don't. If you wait for your bill when finished, you could be waiting for an extra 15 minutes or so vs. getting up and tending to it directly. When you pay, servers will talk amongst themselves ignoring you while you pay. Of course you'll leave a tip, because you don't want to risk spit in your next meal there.

Here is what it's like shopping in a downtown store. You enter and the chimes on the barred glass door announces your presence. Someone is probably sitting by the cashier, and may not look up at you as you enter, but sometimes there's nobody there at all. If you say hi to whoever is at the cashier, they may nod, quietly say hi back or completely ignore you. You circle the store uncomfortably, sometimes with no other sound than the buzz of fluorescent lights. If the cashier does look up, they will stare at you uncomfortably while you walk around the store without saying a word. When you are finished looking around you might say thank you and goodbye, and they'll say nothing back to you.

Here is what it's like shopping at hardware stores in town. If you have a question, there is always a line up a mile long at the service counter, and there's nobody tending to anyone because the one or two people there continually take off to help others. If you ask someone floating the store for help in finding something, they won't know and will refer you back to the unattended lineup. If you do find what you're looking for, it's going to cost more money than it should.

I miss my old city.
10% Rule.
Comment by Mr. Peters on 28th August 2011
I have what I call the 10% rule. When I am shopping for a product I will give local merchants and extra 10% which is more than enough to cover shipping. If a product locally cost beyond the 10% I will order it and have it shipped in.

The other thing that drives me beyond crazy is when a local merchant has the balls to tell me that I do not want product "a" what I want is product "b".

Our selection of outdoor gear in this town is beyond pathetic, which is ironic considering were we live. The outdoor gear that is available is usually not even second rate but is priced at above top rate gear.
Shopping in stewart
Comment by JM on 28th August 2011
Oh and "Shopping in stewart" has proven the point right there
terrace past 4 years
Comment by jeffG on 28th August 2011
i have been in terrace for the past 4 years, in and out for work work and can honestly say i have received some of the best customer service in this town that i have anywhere. there are a few times thats not been the case and prices might be a bit higher on some things but thats what you get in a smaller community. scotiabank, kent harvey demers, rona, industrial supply, and many many others.. keep up the good work
You get what you pay for.
Comment by JM on 28th August 2011
I won't say I disagree with this article cause I don't. SOME buisnesses here are ridiculously over priced. You can order most things online from the states, pay 100 in shipping and still get it cheaper. I'm sure the internet is making it harder for these shops to be competative. The more products bought online, the higher rates go here and so on.......

The bottom line is this....We all choose to live here. We choose the housing costs 4-5 times lower then those in the lower mainland. I'm not saying it's right, but everything is cheaper elsewhere as that's where people "prefer" to live. The selection here is small because we have a small population.

But as for customer service, I have personal stopped giving some establishments any of my money, as there is no excuse for horrible customer service.

While we're on the Subject....
Comment by Tara Lynn on 28th August 2011
I got horrid service at a clothing boutique last week. I bought a dress and the seam was coming apart... In several places. A dress that was originally $54. the same thing at Wal Mart would be $25 or less....A simple rayon dress!

I noticed after purchasing the dress and before leaving the store. The young girl in charge of the store at the time (mother is manager and wasn't around.) assured me that she would fix it. So, I ran some errands and came back.

When I came back, she informed me that she had sent it over to Speed Cleaners to be fixed but that she would pay for it. Fair, right? I didn't damage the dress, so I shouldn't have to pay to have it fixed. Any store that deals with customers knows that rule #1 is, the customer is always right. If you want that customer to return for more business, that is!

The next day the girl contacted me and said I would have to pay $20 to have this dress back. She accused me of damaging the dress when I tried it on.

When I eventually came in to get the dress, the manager was there and acted like she had no idea what was going on, and as I explained, the guy next to her said that they sell their items "As Is" and any repairs or alterations are up to the customer.

I thought, "Great, so you have no problem whatsoever with selling a customer something that is damaged!"

When I came back and paid for my dress, the young girl took my money and no one else was around. I told her how unhappy I was with how this all turned out, and she told me that I shouldn't be, because I had received a discount on the dress. She just proceeded to argue with me!

I thought this was the WORST experience shopping in any retail store. I'm not from Terrace originally, and I have shopped at most clothing stores in this town, and I found this store to be the worst. They don't seem to value customers at all. At least, that's the way I was treated when I shopped there.

Don't even get me started on the price gouging!
Agreed...
Comment by Gina on 28th August 2011
Shopping in Terrace is a nightmare. I've actually waited at the counter because the cashier was texting ... The final straw was definitely when the girl behind the counter, who completely ignored my presence the entire time I was in her store, held up the size small I put on the counter to pay for, looked at me and said "Uhhh... We have XL you know." Shockingly enough, I knew that size XL existed... But wouldn't fit the 11 year old I was buying the shirt for.

And thus. I shop online for anything I can.
shopping in Terrace
Comment by fred_brill on 28th August 2011
here here......
Agree 100%
Comment by melcmoore on 28th August 2011
I absolutely agree with your view about the shopping situation in Terrace. I have been here for nearly 5 years now and having moved here from much bigger cities, I have always been shocked by the absolute lack of customer service in this town. The problem is that most businesses have a monopoly and just don't see any reason to impress or work for loyalty from customers. The fast-food restuarants are sooooooooo slow that it shocks me that corporate wouldn't come and fix the situation, as that low level of service would NOT be tolerate in a bigger center, and it shouldn't be tolerate here either. A few years ago, I called a local painting company to give me an estimate to paint my house, after finally getting them to come out, I was told "the job is too big " and they simply left! Now I am trying to get ahold of a local siding company who never answers the phone and apparently doesn't have an answering machine! What kind of business practise is that? I realized that because Terrace is so small that most people do know each other and tend to stick with those that they know, but businesses cannot be run that way. There is so much room for improvement, I wouldn't even know where to begin.
Try Shopping in Stewart
Comment by Mabeline on 28th August 2011
You should try shopping in Stewart before complaining too loudly about Terrace stores. At least you have selection and prices....gads you have no idea about prices. Open your eyes and be just a little happy. Services? Services? Try driving for 8 hours just for a Dentist Appointment or even for a special Blood Test. Try driving it in the winter in a ruddy blizzard. Try comparing prices on an oil change for your car. You ... have ... no ... idea!
or go to Grande Prairie
Comment by Eric on 28th August 2011
Instead of Prince George, if you have lots of shopping to do, drive the extra 5 - 5.5 hours up to Grande Prairie and only pay 5% GST there.

I've lived here for 23 years, service has always been lousy in the stores, I don't see it changing any time soon.