The House of Tatterdemalion


Recent Posts



Dear Jo-Ann's. . .

February 16th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

I would like to suggest a proposal that would greatly improve customer relationships.

I propose to call down fire and brimestone and turn the entire franchise into nothing more than a sulferous wasteland, with a special salt pillar for every Jo-Ann’s policy maker.

I can totally affirm from my time spent in Jo-Ann’s stores that this arrangement would greatly improve my enjoyment of the my time spent at Jo-Ann’s, encourage me to visit Jo-Ann’s more often, and talk to my friends about Jo-Ann’s more often.

I don’t usually do a lot of vendor bashing, but occaisionally my experiences with a merchant lead me to believe there should be public health warnings posted on the door. “Warning: Shopping here will raise your blood pressure to dangerously high levels. The Surgeon General says that high blood pressure has been linked to strokes, heart attacks, and fatalities. By opening this door, you acknowledge you are taking your life in your hands.” Or, at the very least: “Warning: This store has been shown to raise blood pressure. Please remain alert.” Since the good Surgeon General hasn’t yet taken it upon himself to warn everyone, I figured I should do a public service announcment.

Now, as I mentioned before, Jo-Ann’s is a franchise. That means that the parent company makes decisions about policies, and the store managers are in charge of running the store. I have heard a lot of complaints from people who say their local Jo-Ann’s are filthy, have fabric falling off shelves and piled in the aisles, have incompetent employees, treat their customers rudely, and many other problems. I think those are problems with the store manager, and I can honestly say I’ve never had those problems. My “local” (30 minute drive one-way) Jo-Ann’s has always been clean, the staff has always been polite and helpful, the fabric well maintained. Sure, the selection has been terrible, and quality very low-grade, but I’ve always felt that I got what I paid for, when I chose to buy anything (which was usually only with sales/coupons).

My complaint? Their coupons and sales. The policy-makers at Jo-Ann’s have been foolish enough to believe that their only goal is their customer’s money. This is false. You may have their money, but if you lose them as a customer, you’ll never get any more out of them. If you win them as a customer, they will keep coming back again and again and again—far out-weighing any momentary rip-off.

At first I thought I just had to get used to the way things work. They always have mulitple sale dates in their flyer, so if you have 2 things you want to get, one may be on sale one day, and the other the next, and if you try to get them both, you’ll suddenly realize only one of them is on it’s proper sales. The very nice saleslady will point out that the other one wasn’t on sale yet, and even ask you if you still want to purchase it. Then you realize that you drove 30 minutes out of your way to get here, and if you really want item number two, you’ll either have to drive all the way back out here later to get it at it’s sale price, or else cough up the absurd non-sale price. Usually, this occurs at the check-out, with a line behind you. All the while you’re trying to figure if item number two is really that important to you, you can hear the Policy-Maker’s sniggering up their sleeves, ’cause they know you’ve already decided to get item number two (it’s half the reason you drove out there, after all), and that their other sale has successfully caused you to pay full price for the other thing you wanted.

Then there are the coupons. You think you have a coupon you can use, and you bring it to the cutting table, and the very nice, polite sales lady says, “Oh, I’m sorry, this coupon doesn’t start until 6pm. Would you like me to hold your fabric until you can come back this evening?” Lady, I live 30 minutes away!! I AM NOT COMING BACK! And, of course, the Policy-Maker’s are laughing at their deviousness.

Then JoAnn’s starts sending you print-out coupons to your email. And you think, there, this will justify my trip out. I will use the coupons in the flyer, and my print out coupon, and I’ll be able to get everything I want for a good price. It will be worth the drive out. So you get there, find what you want, and get to the check-out. Then the very nice saleslady says, “Oh, I’m sorry, Jo-Ann’s has just insituted a new policy. You can’t use print-out coupons at the same time you use flyer coupons.” My saleslady was mortified to have to say this. She even went as far as to suggest I leave my last item with her, walk out of the store, come back in, and buy the last item–to fulfill the letter of the law, even though she was appalled by the spirit of the law she was supposed to be handing out.

Needless to say, I got quite disgusted with Jo-Ann’s. I decided that I would only buy patterns (when on sale), and notions when I needed them with very short notice. Unfortunately, I discovered that the myth that women have a biological function that causes them to forget unpleasant events (so as to forget the pain of childbirth, and keep bearing children), was not a myth. Recently, I became loaded down with 3 coupons–one was the regular 40% off coupon with every flyer. One was a special mailer for 50% off. And one was a email print-out for 50% off. And I didn’t even really need anything. I was simply suckered in by their coupons, and decided I wanted to treat myself to something I wanted. So far, so good, for the policy makers.

However, I remembered enough from my last experiences that I took my print-out coupon to A.C. Moore, where they cheerfully accepted my JoAnn’s coupon without any problems at all–they didn’t even hesitate.

Next I went to JoAnn’s, looking for something I that I would simply be happy to have. I also needed a spool of thread, but I didn’t need to use a 50% off coupon on that. I found some really nice wool yarn, and took two skeins. I checked for sale signs, and didn’t see any. In fact, I had a hard enough time finding the price for the yarn–$5 a skein.

So I get to the check out line (and there is a line today), and show the cashier my two coupons.

“Now, I can use both of these coupons, right?”

She glances at them.

“Sure!” She starts ringing things up. “Oh!. . .Um. . .this yarn is already on sale, so you can’t use the coupons on it.”

“It’s on sale?! For how much?”

“. . .It’s $4 each.”

“Can’t you just cancel out the sale, and use my coupon instead?”

“Oh, no! We can’t cancel out sales.”

At this point, smoke is beginning to pour out of my ears. If I hadn’t come in here specifically to have a good time, and buy something just to make me happy, perhaps I could have smiled cheerfully, stepped out of my line in the long wait of customers, found something else that wasn’t on sale (like muslin, you can always use more muslin, right?), and still made use of my coupons. But as it was, the saleslady was lucky that I don’t believe in taking out my grievances on the grunts.

I carefully set the yarn aside–I wanted to smash it on the counter, but it looks pretty ridiculous if it you do that with something as soft as yarn–and told the lady that I wasn’t interested at purchasing the yarn at the price. I didn’t look at her, I looked at the counter, and I may have been making it smoke. Certainly I was willing it to burst into flames. At any rate, the lady caught wind of my mood, and asked me a little nervously if I “would like to use a coupon on the thread.”

“Why not,” I said disgustedly, to the counter.

“Which one do you want me to use? I mean, are you going to be coming back again later before they expire or anything?”

“No, I’m not coming back,” I said, to the counter.

“Do you want a bag for that?” she asked meekly.

“No, I’ll just stick it my purse.”

She was perceivably relieved when the transaction ended. Perhaps the smoke was getting to her. I did not slam the door on my way out. You can’t; the doors are un-slamable. Apparently Jo-Ann’s has had experience on how it’s customers prefer to exit the building.

Like I said, I don’t like to give grief to the people who are just doing their job as they are told to do it. It’s not like it’s their idea. Whoever did have that idea is already making me miserable enough; there is no reason for me to make them twice pleased by taking out my ire on their underlings. They probably make their underlings plenty miserable enough without me helping.

And I was upset enough, anyway, I probably wouldn’t have been very coherent. But I probably would have said things like “If you treated your customers better, it might not take three 50% off coupons and a store-wide sale to lure me in here!!” and “Stop sending me your stupid idiotic coupons if you won’t even let me use them!!”

The worst, most ironic thing was that I had seen the exact same yarn at A. C. Moore. Maybe I should just stay on JoAnn’s mailing list and take all of my coupons to A. C. Moore.

Posted in Merchants | 8 Comments »

8 Responses

  1. toya Says:

    everything you said is very true, I have ranted about joanns on countless occasions

  2. LauraTS Says:

    Not that I don’t find JoAnn’s frustrating myself, but I think their coupon system is pretty straightforward. Sales have a time limit, coupons have a time limit, and you can’t use a coupon on anything that’s on sale.

    I’ve wondered, though, whether they’re actually making more money with this scheme – the result on my part tends to be I just buy the one thing that I have a coupon for, and maybe something that’s on clearance, but I rarely browse there. Their fabric prices are artificially inflated so that they seem cheap when the sales are on.

  3. Tatterdemalion Says:

    All other things be equal, Laura, you’re pretty much right. Other things aren’t always equal, though, like when they fail to mark the sales in the store, or in their case of deciding (without notifying anyone) that print out coupons can’t by used as the same time as coupons in the flyer, and that there are multiple sale dates within one flyer.

    I know a lot of people have complained about a lot of things about Jo-Anns, to the point where it sometimes seems they are just the store that everyone loves to hate. But everytime I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, I leave the store upset or frustrated.

    I don’t have much of a choice “locally”, but it certainly drives me to internet shopping.

  4. LauraTS Says:

    T, I totally get where you’re coming from. At least you have another store near-ish that will honor your J’s coupons. I was at Hancock’s the other day, which is a bit of a trip for me, and I overheard the cutting table lady say that the reason that they didn’t have any more carts for customers to use was that they kept on disappearing (this is inside a little mini ‘mall’ where most stores don’t have carts, so not a big shock) and management said that if more carts kept getting lost the staff wouldn’t get a raise for the next three years. (!) At what point does that make sense, ever? There’s something about big corporate retail outlets that creates the worst morale, doublespeak and insanity I’ve seen outside of certain government agencies.

  5. Jenna Says:

    I was so glad to see that I am not the only one J’s has caused hair tearing! I live a mear 20 minutes from thir corporate headquarters… one would maybe assume that they would be a little more pulled together. One would assume wrong. If I want to purchase anything in their flier that is said to be on sale, I know I will have to bring said flyer with me as the employees will look darkly at me and in several cases inform me that I’m a “thieving little idiot” – and at 6’1 THAT was a trip I must say – to try and make them ring items up they KNOW aren’t on sale. So far? Everytime they have been wrong.

    After the last name calling session (sometimes, being raised by a southern momma makes life hard. I just can’t bring myself to cuss and name call. Well. mostly I can’t.) I requested the manager to come over before I blew my top. Only thing the women would say was “You can’t expect us to know EVERYTHING we are selling.” Yes, yes I can.

    The internet for this seamstress. Well, that an a planned trip with friends over the boarder to a Canadian store.

  6. Tatterdemalion Says:

    Jenna, your story gives me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t believe they’re still in business. That would certainly be the kind of experience that would make we want to boy-cott them for life. At 5’1″, the “little” part wouldn’t be much of a trip for me, but the “thieving” and “idiot” parts would certainly make the Irish blood in me boil.

    As far as Internet shopping goes, my favorite stop is Denver Fabrics. Not only do they have good fabric and good prices, they have excellent customer service. They have never failed me to be totally helpful, put me completely at ease (e.g., no such thing as a stupid question), been very prompt in response, and generally made it quite clear that when they say “we’d love to hear from you!” they mean it. I’ve always been happy when I’ve ordered from Denver Fabrics, and I wish I could spend more money there! 😉

    Laura, I’ve never worked in a large corporate retail before, but I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from people working in the government. Hence, my pity for the small people.

  7. The Ethereal Voice » Rant of the Week: 2/25/07-3/3/07 Says:

    […] The Tatterdemalion knows how do a proper rant. This particular rant by her has to do with a store that most of us don’t shop at, but we all still enjoyed it anyway. […]

  8. Linscee Says:

    You are so right about JoAnn’s causing high-blood pressure alerts. I am not suckered in by the coupons any more. It’s just not worth it. If I happen to need something that is NOT on sale and I happen to have a coupon, then I’ll go. I never go just to use a coupon. I buy patterns and notions on sale.

    I do have a gripe with the employees who have made me feel that I was annoying them for asking them to cut off the damaged fabric before cutting my piece. I actually had one sales person saying quite loudly that she didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was embarrasing. When I got home with my fabric there was a hole in it and I took it back and she cut me a new piece. So there! Inconvenient, but worth it. Now I look over every piece of fabric very carefully and it has to be really good for me to purchase it with or without a coupon.

    I had no idea that JoAnn’s were franchises. That’s an interesting tidbit of news.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.