I am a former Easy Tech employee at Pencils. I was previously employed for the atrocious retailer for six years and I worked and assisted in over fourteen stores. I was a former "Office Equipment Specialist" (what a joke for a title). So, like many other disgruntled Pencil employees, I would like to share some of my experiences.
I started working for the company on June 17, 2005 (scary I still know the day I started working there.) I was a 17 year old High School Kid making $7.80 per hour selling computers, printers, GPS's and other overpriced, low quality products Pencils has to offer.
1. Pay Scale:
During my time at Pencils raises were absolutely nice: after my first year I got a raise from $7.80 to $9.00 an hour in the Easy Tech Department. Nine months later I was promoted as an Equipment Specialist at another store making $11.00 an hour and then 3 months later received a $1.00 raise, ultimately making $12.00 an hour. After 6 months of being a lead I stepped down to focus on my schooling and my college work as working 40 hours a week and school full time took its toll on me. They let me keep my hourly salary and I moved back closer to home. In 2 years with the company, I was "maxed out" at what I made at my position. For three years, I did not receive a raise at my job, I was rated #4 in the entire company selling TSP's, PRP's and FPP's. With my salary being "maxed out," I didn't see the point of putting my effort into selling these god awful technical support plans, training people, giving my knowledge and experience to customers, if I was not being properly compensated. In addition, hearing employees getting "seven cent raises," Managers receiving 1% raises, and jobs being threatened because of unable to sell these expensive Protection Plans, and lets not forget those amazing EasyWay selling Bonuses! Pencils says they create a "positive working environment" and offers "competitive wages" but for the hourly wages us pencils employees receive, it is nowhere near the frustration and mental heartache we go through on a day to day basis. On a side note, I am working for a Home Improvement Retailer and thinking I would have to take a pay cut leaving Pencils, but I was hired for more money! Making $14 an Hour just emptying a truck out! Wearing jeans, and whatever damn shoes I want!
2. TSP's / PRP's / FPP's / Easy Tech Services:
Assurant, the third party that supports these Service Plans, makes the plans very deceptive... the Pencils plans brochures states "Date of Purchasing Coverage." However, if you read the brochure intently it states: for the first year "whatever the manufactures does not cover, we will cover." So for the first year you own the product you have to go through the manufacturer. While I was working for the company, I was ultimately telling customers who bought our service to bring the product back to the store, because dealing with the 1-800 number provided in the brochure was absolutely a hassle and speaking to a person who speaks very little English is absolutely unbearable. We have the capability at the store level to call the associate number and deal with an English speaking human being, However, numerous Managers of mine over the years frowned upon me for doing this. I am sorry isn't this a company that prides itself on "taking care of the customer?" Aren't we here to make it Easy? If the product can't be repaired, Assurant is supposed to issue a full refund in the form of a Pencils cash card. However, over the years I have seen times where repaired machines aren't fully repaired and replaced with refurbished parts, I even have seen computers comeback turned on and caught on fire! In addition, times where Assurant has only offered customers a fraction of what they originally paid for the machine. Also, what person in their right mind, would pay 60 dollars for a 3 year plan on a $79 dollar printer? or 25% of the price of a $300 laptop? or 300 dollars for one year free tech work on their old PC? and charge $200 for a virus removal when downloading malwarebytes and run it in safe mode 90% of the time solves the problem? The bottom line is when as a salesperson, sells a service plan or a service they put their name on that product and they believe in that product and ultimately I could not put my name or faith in any product or service Pencils sells anymore. Ultimately, if your company you work for can not support or backup your word in what you sell and what you believe in, It only deteriorates your image as a Salesman.
My Old District Manager, whom in another blog about Staples is called Lord Farqua, had a motto that states "12 Great Stores Equals One Great District." On my last day working for this company, he showed up at my store. I have such a profound hatred for this man that I stated "Hey Farqua, How does 12 Great Stores Equals One Great District when you don't even have one?" The look on his face was absolutely priceless and I will never forget it... But Any-who, operations at Pencils, which the company absolutely prides itself in is absolutely atrocious. Stores are allotted a certain amount of hours of payroll each week for its employees. For example, if I am open 97 Hours a week, and I am allotted 250 hours in payroll, How is a store supposed to function? If you have 4 full timers (Easy Tech Lead, CSL, CPC Expert, and Inventory Specialist) how is a manager supposed to run a store with 90 hours left in payroll to spread out to stay open for the rest of the week, meet company goals, and do the day-to-day operations throughout the week. In addition, having other employees who are not familiar with other roles in store cover others for breaks and lunches...either taking a CPC order completely wrong and then having the CPC employee call the customer to verify the order placed, is very unprofessional and speaks volumes to how Pencils trains their employees. Communication is absolutely atrocious! When Managers / HR / DM ask employees how to improve the store and what needs to change, they simply dismiss these issues and state "that's not the problem." Pencils is simply a company that keeps wanting their employees to do more with less and ultimately, you cant keep cutting back and still expecting to achieve these results. The results are also showing based on Pencils stock, which has dropped 45% compared to last year December. Ultimately, Pencils El Presidento "El Sargento" is making 15 Million Dollars a year, and states "our employees are our most valuable asset." Well your most valuable asset is being lost as many people are looking to get off the sinking ship. Maybe Unions are the Answer for Pencils.....
Overall, I have never worked in such a company that has such drama and turmoil from top to bottom in the company dealing with incidents in such a non-chalant manner. Dealing with numerous people with little to no professionalism that think they have the slightest clue of how to run a business, I guess this company simply hires anyone off the streets, throws them a gray shirt and hands them keys and says "your a manager" manage. My life has been so much better since I left this company, and the piece of advice I can give for current Pencil employees who are sick and tired of the constant day in and day out abuse (which is everyone reading this blog.) There is opportunity out there: Go out and Get It.