Piss poor customer service is by far my biggest pet peeve. This weekend I witnessed some of the worst I have seen in the recent past; even worse than United Airlines. Lead up: My wife wanted to get some additional Passport Stamps added to her tattoo. Both of our regular artists book up months in advance so being that the passport stamps are pretty straight forward she started to look at some local shops to get the work done on Sunday as a walk in. She called Ricks Tattoo. Figured this is a good place to start. After all they have been around since the 70’s and are a local land mark. Also they are open on Sundays and except walk ins.
She called on Friday afternoon and asked the person answering the phone if they take walk-ins on Sundays. She was told yes they will have multiple artists in the shop on Sunday and should have no issue taking care of her. She than told the guy, I am looking to get passport stamps, Do you have a person you recommend that does good line work since these stamps are all line work. Again he stated it would not be a problem and that they had many artists that do good line work and should be able to knock it out for her. She than asked, should I make an appointment with anybody particular? I don’t want to not get tattooed because they get booked up. Again she was told no, there would be plenty of artists there and they will get her taken care of.
Sunday: We roll into Ricks about 12:45 and she walks up to the counter to say she was there for a walk in. The guy at the counter asks her to sign in and take a seat. They have a few openings and a couple artists that should be able to get her taken care of. He said he will go talk to the artists and figure out who is best. We take a seat and start our wait. Now I have always wanted to own a tattoo shop, so whenever I am in a tattoo shop I pay close attention to how things run. I have also been tattooed on 3 continents, by at least 12 different artists in 13 different shops totaling over 100 hours of tattooing. This doesn’t count the countless shops I have been in for piercings and with friends getting tattoos. What I am saying is that while I am not an expert, I have seen my fair share of shops over the years.
What I witnessed next made Ricks the first tattoo shop I have ever gotten up and walked out of.
Ricks posted hours on Sunday are noon-6pm. After signing in we sat down to start our wait. The first thing I noticed was an employee walking around taking everybody’s lunch order. If you open at noon wouldn’t you think you would eat lunch before showing up to work so that you can actually get work done while at work. Now people clients half way through a session are going to have to stop and wait while some of the artists eat. I am not saying artists should not eat at work. I have taken many lunch break during LONG sessions. But I have also gone to artists that plan ahead and try to not take breaks so we can keep working. No big deal everybody has to eat after all. There was the proverbial loud mouth egocentric artist that seemed to take way to long setting up because he spent way too much time talking about how good he was and how much of a rebel he was. Again no big deal most shops have this guy and as long as his work holds up I find arrogance to be helpful to some artists. But it all has to be kind of kept in check and not allowed to run so rampant that every customer is subjected to it for extended periods of time. About 30 minutes go by and my wife decides it’s time to ask what the status is on them finding her and artist and get a ball park time frame for when she might start the process. This is when things turn south real quick. The guy at the counter says, well we only have one artist doing walk-ins today and he is busy we also want to show him what you want to get to make sure he is comfortable with the line work. This came out of left field to my wife as she was told a couple times they had artist that could help her and everybody could do line work. (If you know anything about tattooing you know this is the furthest thing from the truth not every artist can lay good lines). She questioned the guy again saying, you only have one artist free and you don’t know that he can do what I want? His reply was yes, to which she replied “I called on Friday and somebody told me it would not be a problem and you would have multiple artists available. I even stated I was willing to make an appointment to make sure I could get in.” She was then told that they do not do phone appointments so that would have never been a possibility. Ok dipshit, way to focus on the secondary problem without touching the primary. She than asked why she was told when she walked in that it would not be a problem and that they would talk to the artists and find out who would be best. When in fact she should have been informed that there was only one artist doing walk-ins and they didn’t even know if he could do the work. At this point the so called manager walked up to try and help out. Well at least I think that was her thought. However her execution was so bad that it put me back on my heals. Just when you think you have seen and experienced the worse of the worse when it comes to customer service out of left field comes this bomb shell. The manager opened with “shit changes”…….That is how you start a conversation with a customer. This is a simple case of poor communication on the part of the shop and instead of trying to resolve it you open with “Shit Changes”. I think my wife was speechless at this comment. I was so in shock that I don’t remember what her exact reaction was. I simple stated we are leaving and asked the “Shit Changes” lady who she was. She stated she was the manager to which I laughed and replayed with “You fucking suck at your job” I think her reply was “So do you” or something along that lines. By that point I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of that place.
We walked out of Ricks on Sunday and will never return. We will never recommend the shop and will make it a point to do just the opposite. We learned a very valuable lesson. Go to the shops you know treat customers with respect. Ink Junkeez in White Plains Maryland is a good example of this. The Body Gallery in Sterling VA is another great example of this. There are also many others that I do not have personal experience with but have heard great things from other tattoo artist and collectors. Just because you are in the tattoo industry does not give you the right to treat people like shit and hide behind the mind set of “deal with it we are tattooist” I have two artist that I will recommend to anybody. One reason is they are among the some of the best I have ever seen. More importantly they are great at customer service, they respond to tough situation with class and style; they are open and honest with clients; they go above and beyond to help out when at all possible.