Hello shoppers...

Summer? Summer?? Hey...hey, where are you going? Are you leaving already??? You just gave us three amazing Labor Days and now you're shipping out? Dude, you can't leave on that note. You didn't even LEAVE a note! Seriously - was it something we said? 

Certainly you know that I was just kidding when I complained about sticking to the seat of my car. I was actually starting to enjoy it. Even the scars!

And those dumb whiny comments I made about it not being the heat but the humidity, Summer? I wasn't talking about YOUR humidity! Spring left that wet air here back in April - you just heated it up. That's your thing, that's what you do! I'm down with that!

And my July through September electric bills that were each south of two hundred bucks, Summer? Uhh...I know I sorta blamed those on you at the time, but...it was probably just a Mid-American accounting error. I'm SURE they'll refund my overpayment by November!

And even if it wasn't a mistake, my 12 inch color TV just SUCKS the wattage. That's not your fault, baby! Bad TV! Baaad!

And when I cussed you out after I got so sick with that horrible sunburn and heat rash I got after working in the garden for four hours back in July? Now that I think about it, Summer, I went inside to cool off afterwards and fell asleep IN FRONT OF THE TV! Coincidence? I think not! Sure it wasn't actually turned on...but hey, that ole' thing must leak like Chernobyl - THAT would explain all the blisters!  

So it wasn't you, Summer! I swear! I was wrong! Forgive me, Summer! Forgive me! Pllleeeeeeeze!

I see. You've made up your mind. Very well, then. I understand. We all understand - a season's gotta do what a season's gotta do. 

No hard feelings, okay? Thanks for being so great to us this year, Sum'. You were truly amazing: beautiful southerly breezes, stunning sunrises and sunsets, and very few buckling county blacktops leading the TV-8 News at six.

In spite of our silly complaints, we  loved every minute of you.

Hey - would you mind doing us a favor? Would you come back a time or two over the next few weeks, Summer? We know you won't be able to stay long. But it would sure be nice to feel the warmth of your smile again, before that jerk Winter comes rolling in - if you have time.

In the meantime...same time next year, old friend.


In summer, the song sings itself.  ~William Carlos Williams

Onto reader feedback...

On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Iowa State University (Click to read this post) 



I want to thank you for taking time to visit Iowa State University and nearly every department to evaluate our customer service levels.  It was a great reminder to me, as I am pinpointed in your findings being the only “Rita” in the bookstore, that I need to be at the top of my game each and every time I am on the sales floor.  I take great pride in helping parents and students with many facets of their college experience, not just buying product from the bookstore.  Assisting with directions to campus buildings, class schedules, explaining financial aid or simply listening to the fears a large university can present to a small town student are important to me.  I especially liked your review of the “it’s all online” comments.  As technology has increased, it is my belief that customer service levels have decreased which must be continually dealt with and trained.  I call it “hiding behind the screens” whether it’s cell phones, pc’s, or ipads, communicating has become the most difficult customer service challenge in training our staff to speak and to engage.  I will be using your findings to address our concerns.  We have a 12 month training program which many focus on customer service.  This information will be used as an example of how we must improve. Thanks again for the insight. 

P.S. just for the record,  I am an English major and would never begin a sentence with “Help you find something?”  Typically, my question is “May I help you find something?” I have many other questions that I ask but apparently did not do that with you when you entered the store.   I will work on a more appropriate greeting but with the way you quoted my question, it does sound heartless and I would have never said it like the way it reads in your text.   In the end, I need to do a better job and thanks again for the secret shopper information.”

-Rita Phillips, Director

University Book Store

Iowa State University



Thank you for covering the Memorial Union as part of your visit to Iowa State University.  The feedback you provided as a result of your experience will prove helpful as we strive to improve our customer service in all areas of the building.  Thanks!”

-Richard S. Reynolds, 

Director, Iowa State Memorial Union

Iowa State University


“Mr. Wright,  

I feel like I have been arrested for selling beer to an underage person who produced a fake ID.  Here is my rebuttal to your experience in ABE.  I am sorry that it was not a pleasant one.

After your first statement to me, which was something to the effect of ‘I am looking for some information on your graduate program for my son’, I was somewhat suspicious of your intentions. On occasion people have come into my office that act suspicious and have later been detained, thereby creating a safety issue.  Your demeanor and the fact that your “son” was not with you created a similar feeling and put me on guard. 

First of all, in my 29 years of working in this department I have never had a parent come and ask for information on graduate school for their son.  At the risk of being rude, I didn’t convey that to you. You asked for printed material for the graduate program which we have none. I directed you to our website, by giving you my business card with the URL listed, where we work very hard at keeping information up-to-date. In this era of technology and budget cuts, printed materials are not very cost effective or affordable.  I guess I feel fortunate that we can still staff offices in the repeated years of budget cuts. Also, Live Green! is Iowa State University's campus-wide sustainability initiative encouraging all faculty, staff, and students to be fully committed to and engaged in making our campus, its operations, and initiatives as "green" as possible. Secondly, where was your son? Again, in order to not appear rude, I did not ask.

You suggested that I should have offered you a computer to use.  I would have, if I could have. Unfortunately, we do not have public computers in Davidson Hall. Computer labs are funded by student fees and only students have log-in access. I could have suggested that you go to the Library and use one of their computers, but as you noted when you left, it was raining and I didn’t think you would be thrilled with that option.

You also suggested that I should have let you talk with an instructor.  We have many professors in the department whose days are heavily scheduled with teaching and research activities and who are also housed in four different buildings on campus (not right next door either).  Without your “son” there and an idea of his area of interest (we have many at the graduate level), searching for someone to talk to did not seem like an option.  If you had been a parent of a high school student or prospective freshman who was actually with their parent, there would have been many more options available in printed material and in finding an academic advisor (who by the way are located 3+ blocks down the street) to talk with.

Lessons learned:

Your visit has made me more conscious of my response to people as they come into the office seeking information.  However, I do not plan to air our “dirty laundry” in order to defend the reasons why we can’t always offer what the customer wants.

One person’s experience does not negate the positive experiences that have been documented.

My intuition is still intact.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my side of the story.”

-Sylvia Anderson


“Mr. Wright,

I appreciate the feedback. It is always good to know if you are doing a good job of taking care of our "customers" or if we are doing a bad job at it. I will ensure to improve on the things you suggested that I do better. It is all about taking care of our Soldiers or customers. Have a great day. GO CYCLONES!!!”

-Adam Giroux




I've read your blog and greatly appreciate your insight.  It's good to have fresh eyes on a situation and I will definitely take your comments to heart.  You are most correct, this is an awesome place to work, we have the best students and faculty.  Again, thank you for the opportunity to improve my level of customer service. Go Cyclones!”



“Unfortunately, Jonnie, you were spot on.  I've been working for ISU for 4 years and, even as an employee, to get someone to smile and engage in conversation is almost impossible.  At least you managed to get a few cards.  :)  When I decided to work at ISU I pictured myself surrounded by intelligent, educated, open-minded, welcoming people.  I am sorry this is not the case.  I'm afraid the student body is following suit.  I'm glad you managed to meet a few of those rare gems on campus during your visit.  I wish you had come my way.”



“You bring up some valid points, but does it really matter if a receptionst in an ISU department office smiles at everyone who comes in? Is that really going to make people not want to come to Iowa State? I’m a Junior at ISU and I can go a whole day without having anyone on campus smile at me. If the University was losing students over it, wouldn’t they have done something about it by now?”



On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: American (Click to read this post)


"Mr. Wright,

Thank you for providing me with feedback regarding your recent shopping experience in our store.  I will be reviewing the information with our Consumer Relations Specialist in our Corporate Office...


-Jason Young,

General Manager,

American TV of Des Moines
“Mr. Wright-

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter with me. As discussed, I was disappointed to learn your experience was not more of an accurate reflection of the way we conduct business. You made valid points with some of the concerns you raised. We take customer feedback very seriously and take the time to individually address any concerns raised. We then use the feedback to make any needed changes to improve. We will, as always, work to improve all aspects of our company with the goal of providing every customer with an experience that is both positive and memorable.”


-Stephen DeShong

American TV & Appliance

Corporate Consumer Relations


"Horrible. I refuse to shop there."



“I can’t believe what you went through at American! Practically their entire staff should be fired, and the rest should be retrained by YOU! J”



“I also had a bad shopping experience at American. I’m not sure why they have the greeters standing at the front as you come in. The employees act like they’re doing you a favor when they finally wait on you, if they do. In this economy, you’d think a company such as American would have to have their act together just to survive. Guess not. Thanks for the insightful review.”



"I sprinted to my car, cranked up Foghat, got home in 5 minutes, jumped into bed, pulled the covers over my head and cried myself to sleep. "

I hate shopping just for that reason. I am, however, incredibly grateful I did not read this review at work - because my laughter would have set off the fire alarm and chaos would ensue....

Do these people really WANT us to buy on-line???? Seems so...”



On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Scheels (Click to read this post)


"Hello Jonathan,

I wanted to thank you for your feedback and the experiences that you have shared in one of our stores. We appreciate your willingness to take the time to make us part of your evaluation and will share a more in-depth perspective of our customer service with you in the near future!

Thanks again,"

-Matt L.



"I read your review of Scheels with great interest. I used to work for Scheels (in a different state) so I speak from experience; they try to hire people who understand the importance of customer service, but don't always hit the mark. Their customer service training is okay but it's more about the quality of the managers they hire. I've shopped at the Jordan Creek Mall location and while the service is pretty good, there are definitely some holes. Nice analysis. Keep up the great work!"




I think you should judge a store by more than how many girls flirt with you. You should go through the entire process of buying and returning something to see how store personnel treat you. Your stories, while fascinating, are much too long. I feel like I had to run an obstacle course of BS just to read your conclusion, and even then, it was ambiguous. Love the idea, just get to the point!!"



"Scheels? Why don't you secret shop Kmart? They're awful!"



On Oakmoor – Secret Shopping The Sixth Health Club: I See Dead Signs (Click to read this post)


“Why don’t you quit sneaking around these businesses and have the (courage) to walk right up to the owners and tell them exactly what you write in your reviews? You’re a coward, that’s why. You know they’d punch you right in your stupid face. GET A LIFE! GET A REAL JOB!!”



“I’ve been a member at Oakmoor at 10 years and never noticed all the signs until you pointed them out in your artice. Thanks a lot! J”



"Maybe they are covering up cosmetic blemishes on their walls, mirrors, etc.?"




Odds and Ends…


(The Good...)

“Hi Jon,

Your junk removal appointment is cancelled.

Please keep us in mind the next time you need to remove junk. We take care of all the loading, cleanup, and disposal so you can sit back and relax.

If you wish to book a new appointment, call us directly__________ or book online 24/7 at __________.”

-The 1-800 got junk team

(An email I received five minutes after I cancelled a pick-up time with 1-800 got junk. Listen to an interview with their quality control manager by clicking this sentence.)

(The Bad...) 

"This afternoon I did my grocery shopping at the Hy-Vee on University and 73rd, in Windsor Heights.  I won't go back to that store after how I was treated today.  I thought I'd share my story with you as testimony that poor customer service does in fact cause stores to lose business.

When I approached checkout lane #2 the woman checking me out, Deb, began scanning my items without ever greeting me, smiling at me, or even looking at me.  As she continued to scan she never said a word to me, though she did scowl.  When she completed scanning she said, "$75.75."  I ran my card through the debit machine and requested $60 cash back.  When Deb's drawer open she handed me my 60 bucks and then turned away from me and started to scan the items belonging to the person behind me.  She did not thank me.  Other than telling me how much I owed, she virtually ignored me throughout the entire transaction!

I asked to talk to the manager, whose name was Frank, I believe.  I told him how I was treated.  His response was a sheepish grin, a slight shrug of the shoulders, and an excuse that it was just Deb's second day on the job.  I said, "Don't you have a customer service training program that your staff goes through before you allow them on the floor?"  Frank told me that yes, they do, but he hadn't had a chance to check in to see how Deb was doing.  I responded with a very sincere, "If Deb just finished your customer training program you may want to seriously consider the quality of the training."  I told Frank that sometimes people will miss one or two of the pillars of customer service, but rarely does someone so blatantly miss all of them as Deb had done.

I told Frank that since I drive by 10 groceries stores every day to work and back I would gladly choose another one from now on.  I explained that I am a human being and I deserve to be treated as such.  I told Frank that if his store is going to promise a "helpful smile in every aisle," they need to start meaning it and doing it because I am proof positive that their poor customer service DOES and IS causing them to lose business.  I started to apologize for being harsh, but then stopped myself and instead told Frank that I was doing him a favor by telling him about my experience because most other people just don't go back and Hy-Vee doesn't know why. 

By the way, Frank never apologized.  He did not attempt to find a way to make it up to me.  He did not tell me to please give them another try.  He offered the excuse of Deb being new and of him not checking in on her.  His response was just about as insulting as Deb's treatment. 

As I reflected on this scenario I realized that going into Hy-Vee I wasn't feeling the best and thanks to the very poor treatment of one employee I left feeling even worse.  I won't give money to a business who is willing to do that to me.  I talked to Frank in a very calm and quite way, but I hope he got the point and understands the negative impact of Deb's poor customer service on me and ultimately, on their business."


(The Ugly...)

"The average date in Iowa for the first Fall freeze is October 12th."

-The National Weather Service



Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.      


Ways to contact Jonnie:


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Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@thebuyosphere.com)   

Phone: 515-480-4190    


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