Categories
Retail

A note about Videotron (So that I can continue my unbiased blogging about Videotron)

I wanted to write a short entry about Videotron’s new “flagship” store downtown today, as I was at Tuesday’s press event, but quickly realized I couldn’t. After what happened over the weekend, I was in a lose-lose situation: Heap praise on the concept and appear like I’ve bent over for the company, or criticize and look like I’m holding a grudge. So for that reason, I’m writing this.

I was interviewed on CBC’s daybreak on Tuesday morning to discuss what happened and had the pleasure during that interview of hearing a clip of Marc Labelle, Videotron’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications. The clip features Mr. Labelle saying that “according to what they hear” I took a lot of pictures from the entrance of the store of the inside of the store with a flash. Patently absurd stuff.

Of course, no mention of the actions of their employees.

On Monday evening, however, I did have the chance to speak with Mr. Labelle personally. After sending an email to Videotron’s PR about attending their press event the next day, I was asked to call the company’s offices. They were concerned I’d pull a stunt the next day. Apparently, getting threatened by Videotron employees somehow gets you confused with Alan Funt, Ashton Kutcher, or Jamie Kennedy. Everyone who knows me is aware I’m about as controversial as 2% milk.

I won’t delve into much detail about the call, but I will say that’s it’s disheartening that they seem to be accepting the bald-face lies their employees have said following what happened. They went so far as to question whether the guy who threatened to punch me in the face even worked for Videotron. I’ve offered repeatedly to ID the culprits, but they are not interested. Mr. Labelle did express regrets that the incident happened, but there was no real apology.

Years back, I was watching a CNN interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton, who was ranting about some controversy and subsequent apology, and how offended he was by the apology. I’ve since forgotten what the controversy was, but I’ve never forgotten the analogy he used to describe an unapology-apology:

When you step on someone’s toe, you don’t say “I’m sorry your foot can feel pain.” You say “I’m sorry I stepped on your toe.”

So while I can’t say I expected much – it’s clear legalities on their end make having an honest conversation difficult, to say the least, I can say that the incident is entirely separate from what I think about Videotron’s products and services.

I don’t think two twenty-something thugs represent Videotron (although many of the people who’ve emailed, commented, tweeted, and talk to me do!) and my only real interest in the company is what they offer consumers, and its continuous battle for market share in Quebec. The actions of those employees was wrong, and as a lot of you have pointed out, assault under the Criminal Code, and they should be disciplined by their employer for their actions.

And that’s what I’ve got to say about that. Cool? Cool. Comments? Comment away.

Categories
Retail

Don’t mess with Videotron or they’ll punch you in the face

The Videotron Store in Carrefour Agrignon. Thug No. 1 is all the way on the left.

Whoah. Adventures in retail this morning in Montreal. I ventured out in to the semi-suburbs this morning (LaSalle & Carrefour Agrignon) to buy a couple of video games, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, both for the Wii, which are getting pretty solid reviews. Little did I know just how much of a hassle this was going to turn into.

First, I stopped at GameStop. There, the employees tried to sell me opened games as new (A common practice for them well described here, here, and here). Having struck out once, I went to Zellers, since it was closest, and in typical Zellers fashion, they didn’t have them. Why I even tried Zellers, I don’t know. Strike Two. So I decided to go to Best Buy, knowing they’d most likely have the games in stock, and new to boot.

Here’s where the fun starts. Walking to the Best Buy, I noticed the Videotron store, which has recently been remodeled as the company focuses more and more on its new cell phone services. Not only was the store remodeled, but there was a ratio of about 6 employees per customer in the store.  This was hilarious to me, and even more so when I think about how Videotron’s parent company, Quebecor, has locked out 253 Journal de Montreal employees for almost two years now. Apparently the company can’t pay for journalism but can afford an army of numbskulls selling cell phone contracts.

So I took out my phone and snapped one picture of the store from about 20 feet away. Put my phone back in my pocket and walked to Best Buy. About a minute later, I feel a hand on my back.

“Why did you take a picture of me?”

I was floored. “What?” I said, realizing that it was a Videotron employee from the store. He asked the same question again. I looked at him, flabbergasted that he even cared. He looked very nervous, like he knew he and his store was incompetent. He told me not to take pictures of his store, or else. I stared at him, realized I didn’t have to tell him a thing, and walked away, although not before I must have gave him the most confused look in my life.

I get to Best Buy, walk to the games section (major cutie working there today!) and found several new copies of both games. I was happy. I picked both games up. Then, out of nowhere, this guy approaches me.

“If you take another photo of my store, I’m going to punch you.”

“Another Videotron employee? Really?” I was thinking. This goon wasn’t wearing the familiar button-up black shirt that most Videotron employees wear. It was a brown shirt, so either this guy wasn’t on duty or was a manager of that same Videotron store. “Are you threatening me? In a Best Buy?” I asked. He repeated the threat, except this time he said “me” instead of “my store.”

Incredulous, I said “You realize if you do that, I will have you arrested?”

He began to ask why I was taking photos. I could have gone on and told him that it was just one photo, the reason, etc., but stunned that I had been threatened by two Videotron employees within 10 minutes, I simply shut my mouth and took out my phone. “If you don’t get away from me,” I said, “I will call the police.”

He heard that and took a b-line out of the store. Mr. Physical Threats was not a fan of the police, it appears. I went to the cash and paid for the video games. I was going to leave the mall, I really was, but I couldn’t believe I was just threatened twice by a couple of Videotron thugs. So, since I had to walk to my car anyways, I went back past the Videotron store to take one more picture, because intimidation isn’t cool.

Walking to my car, the first videotron thug starts following me again, talking on his cell phone. I look at him, and he shouts “I have the right to follow you!”

I keep walking to my car, but then I see him dart to go grab two mall security people. Again, not willing to be intimidated by punks who sell cell phones for a living (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I go right up to the security guards. Before Mr. Moron can start talking, I tell the guards what happened. The initial photo, the two threats, the next photo. I ask the guards if there’s a problem. They say I’m not allowed to take photos in Carrefour Agrignon, to which I respond, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that.”

The guards then ask me to DELETE the photos from my phone. Realizing I was in Canada and had rights, I ask “Have I done anything wrong, and are you holding me here?” By then, there’s several people watching this play out right in the middle of the mall.

Videotron’s thug yells “You took pictures! Of me! At work!” The security guards didn’t say anything, but ridiculously ask me again to delete the photos from my phone. I turn around, and start walking to my car. They just let me go, because they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

My return trip to Videotron.

So I walk to my car and go home. As they say in the military, it was a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot kind of morning. So if you find yourself at Carrefour Agrignon this holiday season, show some solidarity with me and take a picture of the Videotron store. Send any pics to videotronpics@gmail.com and I’ll post them up here in a future post.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play with a Mii version of Alex Trebek.

UPDATE: I’ve added my final thoughts about this debacle here.