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This last week there was a bit of an upset with the bookstore where my local crochet and knit group meets. They will no longer let us meet in the cafe area, and asked us to sit in another area in the back. It wasn’t handled particularly well, and at first there was talk of not purchasing anything there anymore. Since then, I’ve spoken with the manager and things are looking better, but the whole situation got me thinking about the reasons we buy and don’t buy at certain stores.

One of the main reasons I hear people give for not shopping at a particular store is (lack of) customer service. One rude sales associate can just kill a shopping experience. (I do have the utmost respect for people who work in sales, because they have to deal with rude customers all day and still smile.) I think, though, that customer service boycotts tend to effect Mom and Pop stores more than large chains. If the little hardware store down the street treated me badly, I wouldn’t go back. On the other hand, I rarely get good customer service at Walmart, but I still shop there because I want to get all my kid’s school supplies for less than $40. Does this make me a sell out? Maybe. I think in the grand scheme of things many people are willing to sacrifice customer service in order to cut costs. I also hear about calls for boycotts because the store or parent company donates money to a cause that upsets others. You know, the whole Planned Parenthood/Right to Life thing.

I think the burning question is how much more are you willing to pay for good customer service and politics you agree with? My medical insurance won’t cover as much on my prescriptions unless I use their 3 month at a time mail order service. For one medication, I’m stuck, and I simply can’t afford to purchase it locally. For another regular prescription I use, I happily pay about $5 more a month to fill it at my local Target. The staff there is just great, and I prefer to purchase it there. I do shop more at the locally owned hardware store, where I get great customer service, than at the big chain store. However, the local place is also closer to where I live and much more convenient.

What about you? What matters more in your shopping? How often do you sacrifice service for a lower price tag? How much more are you willing to pay to make a point?