Yesterday I was in a store, and a friendly employee asked me if I needed any help.  I kindly asked him if his store carried a certain item I was looking for, and he politely told me, “No, we don’t carry that in the store, but I can order it for you and have it delivered here.”

“Really? Can it be delivered in the next ten minutes, because I could’ve gone online and ordered it myself.  Heck, I have an iPhone, I could order it right now. No I don’t need you to use the Internet for me. Why don’t I just buy it myself?”

Okay, so that wasn’t my real reply, but the more I thought about this conversation after I left, the more appalled I became.  Seriously, if you don’t carry the items that I want in your store, then what is going to cause me to actually go to your store in the future?

I feel like book stores were the first to enact this customer service tactic, but I’ve recently seen it in other types of entertainment stores, clothing stores, and department stores.

If I have the urge to go to a store to buy a DVD, Blu-Ray, Book, or Video Game, I actually want it to be there for me to purchase.  Sometimes I want to actually hold an item and inspect it before buying it.

Now stores are making it harder and harder for me to buy from them and easier and easier to buy from and other online retailers.  And the funny thing is, is usually cheaper anyway, but the consumer in me is still set on running in to a Barnes & Noble or Borders if I have some time to kill.

I bet you’re probably thinking, “But Brian, if you let the store order it and send it to their location, then you don’t have to pay shipping.”

Oh, I’ve thought of that, but if I ship it to the store for free, I still have to use gas and spend time to drive back up to the store, and I still have to pay sales tax, (which is 8.25% where I live in Texas).  Plus, most of the items on are around 30% off, no sales tax is charged, and if it’s over $25 for your order, the shipping is free.

“Fine.  Why don’t you just use,” you ask?

Well, I’ve already mentioned that I like to pop into stores when I have some time to kill, and I also like to inspect things before purchase.  But I also like to search for particular items, and I tend to go on these item-quests after the item I’m searching for is out of stock.

For instance, I fell in love with the movie Almost Famous about three or four years after it was released.  My good friend owned a copy of the Director’s Edition Bootleg Cut DVD, and I, being the person who does not settle for the generic DVD release, also wanted the Director’s Bootleg Cut.  Unfortunately, by the time I came around to this movie, the Bootleg Cut of the DVD was sold out and out of print.  It is currently back in print, but at the time, the DVD was going for three or four times it’s MSRP by resellers.

I went into many a Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and Barnes & Noble hoping they might have it.  In these instances, the employees would offer to order it for me, and then they would find that it wasn’t available in their system.  No kidding?  Like I hadn’t already known that from using my own Googling skills.

I suppose from their point of view, they could wonder why some idiot like me didn’t call ahead to the store to see if they had it.  But that’s beside the point.  Even if I did call ahead for an item that was not out of print, they wouldn’t have it anyway, and they’d ask me if I wanted them to order it, and once again, they would be in the wrong.

So I guess the moral of the story is that if you know what you want, it’s probably best to buy it online.  If you want to discover something new, going to the store and inspecting items might turn you on to something interesting.  But with an abundance of customers reviews, suggestions, and recommendations, you can discover some pretty awesome stuff without ever going to a store and letting someone else order it for you.