As an JCPenney international customer, I have been visiting Florida for the last 10 years, and have shopped in your stores multiple times during each of these trips. I have never felt the need to complain to a store before, but the incompetence and rudeness of your staff has left me so angry that I now feel the need to express it somewhere. My first poor experience of JCPenney this holiday was before Christmas when I attended your Davenport store to take advantage of your JCP Cash offer, whereby a $10 coupon can be used on purchases of over $50. Upon entering the store with my mother, customers were being handed several of the aforementioned (photocopied) coupons by a staff member.
To save time (so we didn’t have to join the line to get some), we grabbed one from the pile and continued into the store. Additionally, while browsing I noticed several sales associates gathering these used JCPenney coupons from behind the various checkout points, and then handing these out to new customers. Since your staff were giving out multiple coupons to each customer, one would assume that each customer is permitted to use more than one coupon. Apparently not.
During a similar sales event the week before this incident I had printed off a couple of these coupons from your website, unaware of the fact they were freely given out in store. In fact, when I got to the checkout on this occasion I was told not to even bother printing off the coupons since they rarely scanned. I was advised that the staff always kept “master” copies of these JCPenney coupons at the checkout anyway.
So, with this in mind, I am waiting in a long line to pay for my purchases. I end up waiting for 11 minutes (only two checkout points in the store were open, despite this being a “massive sales event”) before we are greeted by a sales associate. My mother gave the gentleman her $75 purchase and it is processed and paid for using the coupon. I then present my $60 worth of merchandise and state my wish to utilise the coupon (I felt the need to specify this, because after witnessing an argument between customers and your staff before I realised that unlike other stores, namely Macys, apparently JCPenney doesn’t scan coupons that are being given out freely within your store unless the customer specifically requests that they do).
The sales associate tells me he can’t, because it’s already been used. I question this, explaining that I’ve seen other members of staff restocking the coupon pile from the used ones behind the till. He is persistent that he can’t, and he tells me I must walk the 20 feet to go and get a “new” (i.e. previously been used by another customer and put back onto the “new” pile) photocopied voucher. Feeling slightly cross but not wanting an argument, I walk like to the associate giving out coupons at the front of the store. He gives me 3.
I return to the checkout and my payment is processed. Wonderful, one down and one more to go. I place the next $60 lot of merchandise on the checkout, this time feeling secretly smug that I already have my next coupon ready and waiting. However, now your sales associate tells me he can’t process the transaction because I’ve already used the offer once. I question the sense of this when the employee at the front of the JCPenney store is giving multiple coupons to each customer anyway. I ask him what’s stopping me from just paying elsewhere in the store. He, perhaps not surprisingly, has no answer. Now furious, I make my way to the other line (remember, still only two checkout points open) and wait again, this time for 8 minutes. I complete my payment and leave the store.
My second poor experience of your store actually occurs on several occasions and actually occurred in three of your stores. It is based on the complete inability of any of your sales associates (or at least the ones I have had the misfortune to deal with) to effectively deal with a traveller’s cheque. When in England, we are encouraged to use traveller’s cheques as a means of payment rather than cash for security reasons. I have never had a problem paying with a traveller’s cheque in any other store (I have successfully used them in Macys, Wal-Mart, Sears, Dillards, Bath and Body Works to name a few) in the 7 weeks I have been here. Yet in your stores in Davenport, the Florida Mall and Estero, Florida I have had problems.
On one occasion two female employees stood behind the counter discussing why they thought the $100 cheque could be fake while waiting for a manager to come down. I found this particularly insulting, and felt the need upon this occasion to endure another 10 painful minutes in your store waiting to speak to the store manager. He was very apologetic, repeatedly informing me that he didn’t want to lose my custom. Clearly that’s all customers are to you.. money. The other two occasions involving traveller’s cheques involved me being asked to wait to one side while the sales associate continued to serve other people.
After waiting for at least 5 minutes, a manager turned up to press a button on the till thus allowing the payment to be processed (why this couldn’t have been communicated over the telephone, I have no idea). The only time I was ever offered an apology was when the manager was called down, and like I mentioned earlier, he was only sorry “to lose our custom.” The thing is with traveller’s cheques, if I were in a store that wasn’t the tourist capital of America I might be able to understand the lack of staff training, but in Orlando. Really?! I felt so angry after this that I even did one of your customer surveys advertised on the back of your receipts – I couldn’t even fully express my anger there due to a word limit. How funny, you want customer feedback but only 1000 words of it.
My third JCPenney complaint and perhaps the worst occurred today and it left me so incensed I felt the need to write this message. I was in your Davenport store today (16th January 2012 between 20.35 and 21.00), once again with my mother, to purchase some cosmetics. After spending 20 minutes deciding on the purchase, we continued to the Sephora check out where a young lady served us. I swiped my credit card (MasterCard) and signed the little screen. The associate then asks me if my name is “Jenifer” to which I answer yes. She then asks for photo identification. Confused, I tell her that I have shopped with my credit card for 7 weeks in this country and have not once been asked for ID in either JCPenney or any other store.
She insists she must see it, explaining the computer is asking for it. I tell her I don’t have any (I don’t have a driving license and I leave my passport safely locked up in my accommodation – as I am advised to do when travelling), all I have are other bank cards and credit cards. She calls over a manager. The manager turns up after a few minutes later and tells me she will on this occasion accept another card with a signature on it. I once again ask why they need further identification when they never have before, apparently the manager tells me it’s store policy and on every other occasion that I’ve used the card the sales associate has been breaking store policy.
I have travelled the world, and in every other country (and apparently in every other store in Florida) I have visited, when you use a credit card, the signature on the back of the card is compared to the one you provide at the checkout – the transaction is then approved by the sales associate if the signatures match. Your staff didn’t even want to see the back of my card. Getting angry at the lack of explanation by your staff (hiding behind the “it’s company policy” excuse is not a valid explanation – WHY is it company policy??) and the rudeness of the manager, I refuse to provide another card with a signature. The manager leaves without apologising or anything. Dumbfounded, I ask the cashier what is happening and she tells me she can’t proceed with the transaction. She tells us she has rejected the transaction on the screen so it shouldn’t go through, but doesn’t provide any evidence of this (in England if something like this happens, you are always given a “void slip”).
After researching this matter upon my arrival back at my accommodation, I have discovered this a common customer complaint. The practice of asking for further identification by merchants when paying with a credit card is apparently discouraged by credit card companies (MasterCard, Visa and American Express). Furthermore, making it a requirement for the purchase of goods is unlawful and a violation of contract. According to the MasterCard website, photo identification should only be requested if the credit card is unsigned (my credit card is signed, not that your staff would know because they didn’t even ask to see it). I am so angry at this refusal of sale that I am considering reporting the behaviour to MasterCard as a merchant violation.
Perhaps you could inform me (once and for all) of your store policy regarding this matter since 99% of your staff don’t seem to be aware of this “policy” – as evidenced by the fact they don’t ask for photo identification when making a credit card purchase.
I have spent many years shopping at your stores and have never had a bad experience with a member of staff, in fact I normally hold your staff in very high regard. Some of my best bargains have been from your stores. However this year, on more than three occasions your staff have been rude and insulting, poorly trained and your company policy (if it is true) is ridiculous. They have made both my mother and I feel like criminals for paying with travellers’ cheques and are petty to the point of being pathetic. I have had more pleasant shopping experiences in Dollar Tree than in your store (the bonus is they even know what to do with traveller’s cheques). To conclude I would like you to know that I will never be shopping at any of your stores again out of principle, and I intend to actively discourage every single person I know from doing the same.
To add insult to injury, I have spent the last 90 minutes searching online for some form of official email address I can send this to. When searching for “JC Penneys Complaints Department” all that comes up are endless descriptions of poor experiences in your stores and vows by your past customers to never visit your store again. In all honesty, after my experience I can’t say that I’m surprised.
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