Hi guys! Welcome to my first non-beauty related post!
I apologize to those of you who are only interested in posts about hair, makeup and nail polish, but Joslyn and I have always envisioned this blog evolving into a sort of life style blog and, although makeup and beauty products are a huge part of our lives (and I do mean HUGE), they are not our whole world. We each have a small piece of our brains that do not belong to the cosmetic counter, albeit, for me at least, very very small ;) If you are totally uninterested in any posts that have nothing at all to do with the simple little pleasures we usually post about, I totally get it. You'll want to stop reading now and check back tomorrow when I promise to have something a little more fun planned.
So, what is this post about????
Well, this post is about another hobby (sort of) that I've been into for a little over a year. Vaping! Ecigs! A method of inhaling nicotine without smoking tobacco. It's a weird hobby, I know, but it's mine and it keeps me from going back to my old pack a day habit.
Anyway, basically, this post is for fellow vapers. Specifically, vapers in Central Texas.
It's no secret to anyone in this area who has looked into vaping, that the Austin area is seriously lacking in the brick and mortar vape shop department. There just aren't that many stores here. Unfortunately, what that means for vapers in Austin is that we either have to resort to online shops or drive really far to pop in and buy the supplies we need.
I don't mind online shopping. In fact, for the most part, I prefer it. Typically, the prices are lower and I don't have to deal with crowds. The problem with shopping online is that you have to wait days, sometimes weeks to get your order. This isn't a problem if I plan ahead and make sure to place my orders before I run out of things like juice and cartomizers, but life happens and sometimes I need a store to go to where I can buy those things, get those things, and bring those things home all in the same day. The other problem is that, sometimes, I have questions. I have questions that I need answered by a real live person standing in front of me. Not a person a million miles away who can only get to my email queries days after I send them.
Until very recently, one of the only brick and mortar real live stores in this area is All About Vapor in Round Rock, Texas. I never shopped at AAV until about 6 months ago. Until then, I bought all my vaping supplies online or from the vape shops in Dallas when I was up there visiting family and friends. What finally drew me into making the hour long drive from south Austin to Round Rock was that Mr. Woofling and I had run out of cartomizers and couldn't wait days and days for an online order to come in. Joslyn and her husband Jake had shopped there so we thought it would be worth the drive.
It was not.
First of all, we walk in and no one says hello. No one even looks up to make eye contact and shoot us a smile to acknowledge we're even there. There is a sign on the wall that instructs us to take a number. Keep in mind, we've been standing around for several minutes feeling lost before we saw the sign. Not one employee bothered to say "Hi! Welcome! Please, take a number and someone will be with you soon." Not a one. We knew all we needed was a 5 pack of Mega Dual Coil cartos but we couldn't ask for help and a quick check out because because the employees won't talk to you unless your number has been called. So, we take a number. And we wait... and wait... and wait... An hour and a half later, our number is finally called. We ask for the box of cartos we came for and the employee helping us acts put out. We pay for our cartos and leave. No thank you. No see ya next time. No come back soon.
We were shell shocked. We could not believe it. We had driven an hour up north to come to this shop, waited another hour and a half to even be acknowledged, and then weren't even thanked for spending our hard earned money in their establishment. We were totally put off. Mr. Woofling said he never wanted to go there again, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was an off day? Maybe the guy that "helped" us was hung over? Maybe they ran inventory the night before and everyone was tired and grumpy and needed a nap? It could have been anything, but surely, this place can't run a successful business based on what we had experienced that day. It had to be a fluke!
Not too long after that, I decided to try a different approach. Jake advised me to pre-order my items so when I got to the shop, I wouldn't have to take a number and wait. The next time we needed cartos, I called AAV to see how to place my order. They said I had to do it online. Okay, I get that. There are certain security measures taken in online orders that can't be done on the phone. No problem. So, I tell the girl on the phone that I'll do that- I'll go online, place my order and I'll be in the area soon. She says I have to wait for a confirmation email telling me that the order is ready to be picked up and it would take a minimum of 2 hours for it to be completed. I was really puzzled by this because, again, all I needed was a couple of boxes of cartomizers but I said ok. It was a weekday. I was working. I had some clients to see in Round Rock so I would schedule my route around the order. I could live with that if I didn't have to wait in line. About an hour passed and I got the email. I stop in and pick up my order. Smooth. No problems. The staff still wasn't friendly when I went in but I was in a hurry anyway. I thought maybe it was all in my head.
I placed several more orders after that in exactly the same way. Most of the time, I never got the confirmation email that said my order was ready. It just never came. But I would place my order first thing in the morning, then by the time I got up there, it was always ready for me to pick up and take home. Until 2 Fridays ago...
On the Friday before Memorial Day, I placed my order online as I always do. 2 boxes of cartos and a small bottle of their most popular juice that I wanted to try. Keep in mind, there was nothing special about this order. I didn't ask for a different PG/VG ratio or anything. This was not a custom blend juice. This was a juice that they have on hand all the time because it's a popular flavor. About an hour and a half after I placed the order, I walk into the shop expecting my order to be ready even though I had not gotten my confirmation email yet (please, keep in mind, I think this because I haven't gotten a confirmation email since that first online order months ago). It wasn't ready... I was told to come back later...
I was stunned. I told them that I had driven up all the way from South Austin and that I wouldn't be back up this way again that day. The girl said she would check and see if my order was almost ready. It wasn't.
She came back and told me that they had 2 pick up orders ahead of mine. I asked her how long it would take- if she had said 5 or 10 minutes I would have been happy to wait. But she didn't. She wouldn't give me any time estimate at all. She just kept repeating over and over that there were 2 orders ahead of mine. I told her that my order is just 2 boxes of cartos and a small bottle of juice. It would just take a second to grab those things off the shelf and hand them over to me. They didn't even to ring me up because I had already paid for them online. She said to hang on and went to the back again. She came back and said that no, she couldn't help me. There were 2 orders ahead of mine...
At this point, I get angry. Up until then, I had been polite. I had been mild. I had smiled. At this point, I start to fume. Keep in mind, I had already PAID for this merchandise. It legally belonged to me. She would not take a few seconds to grab my 3 items off the shelf and hand them to me. There were 2 orders ahead of mine. 2 orders ahead of mine for people who were not even in the store!
I asked her to please check again if she can fill my simple, 3 item, non-custom order for which I had already paid in full. Either I was going to leave with the items I paid for or they would lose the $80 sale. She said there were 2 orders ahead of mine and I would have to wait.
I told her I would take my business elsewhere. She smiled and said OK!
That was the first smile I had ever gotten from anyone in that store! Unbelievable!
I told her I needed proof of a refund so I waited for her to get a guy from the back to bring me a hard copy of the voided transaction. He handed me the paper and didn't say a word about it. No sorry for the misunderstanding. Please come back again. Nothing. NOTHING!
I will never, NEVER spend another dime in that store. I am sharing this story with you so that you can decide if these are the kind of people you want to do business with. I certainly don't. I worked in retail management for many years and I would never EVER run a store like that. My home office wouldn't have tolerated it and I wouldn't have been able to stand myself. Retail is a customer service industry. If you can't take care of your customers, you won't last very long. Treat your customers like they are expendable and they will not stick around.
I have a lot of friends who vape and have previously shopped at All About Vapor. Most of them had something negative to say about the customer service there but none of them could believe how I was treated that day. I was so upset. I'm still upset. I have never been treated like that in a store. And I won't be treated like that again. My friends are boycotting AAV. They won't be shopping there anymore because of this incident.
I felt compelled to share this story with you because I want you to know there are other options out there. That same day that I left AAV, I found a brand new store in south Austin that treated me like the asset a paying customer is. Create A Cig is fantastic. The staff is super friendly and they all say hello to you as soon as you walk in. YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO TAKE A NUMBER! I highly recommend checking them out if you are fed up with AAV. If you are in north Austin or Round Rock, check out LiquidXpress! My favorite juice is made by them and again, YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO TAKE A NUMBER!
I have also had great experiences from a lot of different online vendors like Vape Dudes, Alien Visions, Epipe Mods, Discount Vapor, and a bagillion others. A great resource to finding good online vendors is to check out youtube reviews. My friend Justine from Justwaaa has really great juice reviews on youtube. I learned a lot about vaping from watching youtube videos. You can also check out message boards like Vapor's Forum or E Cigarette Forum for information about all things vape related.
Do yourself a favor and do some research so you don't have to rely on shops like AAV for information. They prey on people who don't know what they are looking for. They lack good customer service because they think they have no competition in the area. Prove them wrong. Shop anywhere else. Don't waste your hard earned dollars in a store run by people who don't care about your business. I certainly won't. And neither will my friends.
Thanks for letting me rant!
Dawn aka thewooflingdiva