Secret Shopper March/April 2023April 12th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
‘A’ Is Also for Absence: On a Recent Trip to Vegas, Pella Wasn’t In the Card
By Drew Vass
Las Vegas might not be the best place to shop for Pella brand windows, as it turns out—not even amid the International Builders Show (IBS).
I look forward to IBS every year, not only because it gives me an opportunity to inspect many of the doors and windows I write about, but because I’m a homebuilding and remodeling “geek.” This year, I had several products on my list that I hoped to go hands-on with, including Pella’s new hidden screen for its 250 Series windows. The product is touted as the “first and only stow-away screen for vinyl windows,” so I was eager to have a look at how it operates. I was disappointed to find out that Pella wasn’t exhibiting, but that gave me the perfect opportunity to do a little shopping—secret shopping.
I flew into Vegas a day early, opened my maps app and searched for a Pella dealer. There was a listing for Pella Windows and Doors at 4571 W. Flamingo Rd., just a short Uber ride from where I was staying. Moments later, my driver pulled into a small strip mall where I jumped out, only to find there was no yellow Pella sign in sight. Maybe it was hiding somewhere? Perhaps it was behind the strip mall, in another building? I had no such luck. Pella was long gone, with a drugstore in its place.
I called the number listed for the missing location but was connected with a customer service representative in a call center. She couldn’t have been more helpful and quickly confirmed what I already knew: There was no Pella showroom at that location, nor were there any nearby. She proactively searched for another door and window dealer or lumberyard with Pella products, and suggested I visit a nearby ABC Supply, at 3670 Procyon St. It was about a mile and half away.
Show Yourself Around
The location wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but inside it was exceptionally clean and well organized. I received a smile and a “hello” when I walked in, though the associate working the front desk was immediately taken by a phone call, so I showed myself to the section for doors and windows. The word “section” might be a stretch, as it was merely a corner of the showroom, where there were just two windows on hand to look at. Fortunately, one was Pella’s 250 Series. Unfortunately, it wasn’t equipped with the screen I sought.
Right next to the front door was a sign that read, “Our mission is to make your job easy. How can we help you?” I waited about five minutes for someone to follow through on that promise, but no one ever approached me. So I went to the front counter, where the same worker was caught up in the same phone call. Eventually she hung up and very politely asked what she could help me with. I asked who I might be able to speak with about windows. She said, “Okay, hold on just a moment,” then approached several open doors behind her, sticking her head into each one. As I waited, a worker entered the showroom holding a clipboard. He looked like a driver or picker, but he stopped, greeted me, and asked if anyone had helped me yet. I thought that was a nice touch and a great example of brand ambassadorship and customer service. Earlier, another yard worker had smiled and greeted me as I entered the building.
A moment or so later, the front desk worker returned and informed me that the “window person” wasn’t in, then she reached for a business card, suggesting I call her later. “Hmmm …,” I said. “Well, is there anyone else I might be able to speak with?” She said just the manager, then asked me to hold on while she checked with them. A minute or so later, she returned and said, “No, the window person is the only who can help you,” handing me their business card.
I thanked her for trying. I mean, she did her job. The “window person” is entitled to a lunch break or a day off. I get that. The manager, on the other hand, made a choice that I’m not sure I’m on board with—choosing not to come out and speak with me personally.
A Second Chance
I ventured back over to the windows display to piddle for a moment. Maybe the person in the manager’s office would peer out and have a change of mind? With just two windows to look at, I was overstaying my welcome within about five minutes. Still, no manager in sight.
In all, I think it’s sufficed to say that some aspects of my experience were a complete dud. It wasn’t ABC Supply’s fault that I was steered to a ghost location for Pella. It also wasn’t their fault they didn’t have the screen I was looking for. The location definitely gets an ‘A’ for cleanliness and presentation, and I think the yard and transport workers got an ‘A’ for making me feel welcome. The front desk worker was polite and tried to be helpful—nothing wrong with that. I’m tempted to believe that with so many ‘A’ grade workers on location, the manager has to be a great teacher, or
at least a good leader. I just wish that they had come out to shake my hand, to make me feel a bit more valued as a customer. As for Pella’s screen, I guess there’s always next year’s Builders Show to hope for.
Drew Vass is the executive editor for Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine.
To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.