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Daily Archives: July 20th, 2011

I beg your pardon while I rant for a moment.


As many of my readers are aware, I was hired to work at Borders Books and Music in September of last year. This was my first real-world job, being as it was the first post I was hired to following my college graduation. Naturally, I was thrilled when I was accepted. What kind of writer would I be if I weren’t thrilled to be hired at a bookstore? Life was good. When I was hired, however, there was one thing that bothered me. In September, Borders introduced a program called Borders Rewards Plus. For twenty dollars, a customer would get a year’s worth of additional 10% discounts. As an employee, I was given this upgrade automatically. It was great. I got great perks as an employee, and I got to work around books all the time. I loved it. Hell, the customers loved me. I helped them find books. I helped them place online orders. I wrapped their books for them. I recommended authors and titles that they might not have read. I wrote dozens of staff picks. I brought order to the manga section. I was tech support and cleaning crew and sales staff all in one. They called me “the pirate guy” because of my boots. It was a good gig.

So, back to the Plus card thing. Initially, getting customers to buy the upgrade was incredibly easy. After the Christmas season, however, things slowed down dramatically. Our ability to sell the Plus upgrades dropped drastically, but we were still expected to make a large number of upgrade sales each day that we were on the clock. Our managers maintained that it was for the good of the company, and continued to monitor our progress and remind us every thirty minutes or so as to how many upgrades we’d sold and how many more we needed to make our daily goal. At first, I truly believed in this program, but then a couple of events changed my view. In February, our company announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Management again told us that Plus upgrades would save the day, and that our performance had kept our store from closing in the initial shutdown of stores. Not long after this, however, it was discovered that our general manager and assistant manager were gaining bonuses for each Plus upgrade that we sold. Nothing was coming back to the associates, or even our other supervisors.

Suffice to say, I was frustrated with my company. I was not alone. I gave up on sales of Plus upgrades, because I decided that it was not worth lying to my customers just to keep my job at a failing retailer. As part of this, I began scanning my own Borders Rewards card for customers while I was working at the cash register. This got a dozen or so customers a 10% discount, and it earned a few points towards my own account. Our managers found out about this, and were less than pleased that I had been giving “undeserved discounts” to customers. I, unfortunately, failed to inform my managers that I was less than pleased that they were earning equally undeserved bonuses. As of Monday of last week, I was placed on a two-day suspension for my actions. I was asked to sign a formal statement saying that I had been giving these “undeserved discounts” and that I had benefitted from them in accumulation of points on my card, for a total of $67.58 owed in restitution. I was also told that I would be under investigation for the duration of my suspension, and that our Loss Prevention people would be determining my fate.

On Wednesday of last week, I returned to Borders to speak to my managers. I was informed that I was being terminated, signed my paperwork, and was given my final paycheck. I laughed it off, honestly, despite the crushing need for money right now, because I was finally out. I’d been debating for weeks about whether or not to quit, and now my decision has been made for me. Now I have time to visit friends and family, and look for something full time. I don’t regret doing what I did. I really don’t. I had my customers’ best interests at heart the entire time. Why should I regret doing what was best for them? There was never any reason for me to lie to them, and now I won’t have to. Plus, if anybody asks me why I “stole from Borders,” I can quote the legendary Captain Jack himself, and say “Pirate.”

Anyway, on the day they had me go in to sign my paperwork, I spotted a letter from Mike Edwards, the C.E.O. of Borders Group, Inc. It was letting us, excuse me, them, know that the one potential bidder lined up had withdrawn their bid to buy Borders. Now, less than a week later, the official announcement of liquidation has come down the line. This time, however, I’m not caught up in it, though I’ve not yet told everyone about my early release. It really doesn’t matter that much to me now. This is one pirate guy who found his lifeboat, even if I had to be kicked into it. I’m not going down with the ship. I wish the best of luck to my friends and coworkers who are remaining with the company through the liquidation process, and I hope that they find better things in their futures.

TL;DR: I’m down to one part-time job, now that Borders is closing, but I’m not going to be stuck in that place while they strip everything from the shelves. I don’t think I could bear to watch her go…