Thursday, March 6, 2008

customer service makes all the difference

As you may remember, PollDaddy was on the fritz the other day and I wasn't able to make a poll about period sex, which saddened me. I tried every day to make another poll and came up against the same problem over and over. Finally today I decided to click the link that said "report this problem." I filled out the little form and submitted it, expecting nothing in return but an automatically generated response. Something like "Thanks for your feedback! We're working on it!"

Imagine my surprise when, within 30 minutes of sending that message, I got an actual message from an actual person named Dave, who explained how I could circumvent the problem and make polls anyway and promised that they would try and solve the other problem too. Now that's good customer service! And I'm not even technically a customer, since the services I use are free! God bless Dave and PollDaddy. They do good busines.

But back to sex and the related issue of customer service. I'm not talking about prostitutes, I'm talking about sex toy stores. If you're in the market for a toy, and you find yourself shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, rather than online, you might find that the customer service will play an even larger role in your experience than the toys themselves.

I still remember vividly the first time I ever bought a toy. It was, for your information, my very first vibrator and I was probably 19 when I bought it. At that time, I was in college in a relatively small, North Carolina mountain town (Boone) and the only place in town that sold sex toys was a head shop called "Expressions." If you made it past all the pipes, tie dyes and black-light activated posters, you'd end up in the far back corner of the store with all the "adult" items including edible panties, crotchless panties, wind-up hopping penises, and vibrators.

As you might imagine, this shop was run by a bunch of giggling stoner dudes and perverted weirdos who I mostly knew and liked to joke around with. Making crass, retarded jokes with "the guys" at Expressions was fun when I was just in buying screens or incense, but it was entirely less cool to come in looking for a sex toy, an item I was planning to touch myself with for pleasure. My only option was bravado. I went in, boldly announced that I was in the market for a sex toy, and jumped into the mockery and perversion with both feet. I didn't love it, but that was the only way I could get through it without appearing to be embarrassed, and after ten uncomfortable minutes of what felt like performance art, I was walking back to my dorm with a lovely new toy.

Nowadays things are different. Here in Portland there's an AWESOME sex toy store called It's My Pleasure. It's run by women, for women, and offers the most comfortable sex-toy environment you can imagine. They only sell quality products (none of that cheap crap that lesser stores sell) and their sales staff are knowledgable and friendly. In fact, there's one woman in there (who's name I can't recall) who is so sweet and so helpful, I always want to give her a big hug every time I see her. She has tried on harnasses to show me how they work, she never makes you feel dumb for asking dumb questions and she bends over backwords (sometimes literally) to make sure you get everything you need. Last weekend when Mera and I were in there looking for butt plugs, she spent about twenty minutes helping Mera decide what kind of new harnass she might want and then she opened up a package so we could inspect that doggie-style strap that we ended up buying. She is the best. And because she and the store itself are so awesome, I am much more inclined to drive way out Sandy Blvd to shop there than simply hop online and order toys from other, equally reputable purveyors of sexual items, such as Good Vibrations and Toys in Babeland. (Forgive my lack of links today, I'm in a hurry.)

Now I have to run off to work, but before I go, here's my latest poll. How do YOU feel about shopping for sex toys? We'll get into more discussions later about specific toys, but for now I'm interested in your feelings about the shopping experience itself. Embarrassed? Nonplussed? Start with the poll and then feel free to comment. Your comments make my little heart skip a beat every time. I swear.


south carolina girl said...

there are 2 stores here in my town. both i've been to. one is owned by a woman and she runs the store and the other has men and women running the store but nobody makes me feel uncomfortable in there. even the other customers. everyone is quiet and respectful looking at the merchandise.

heather said...

hah, the first sex toy store i went to was in north carolina. i was dating a girl from maryland and we were down visiting her family in NC. i remember a lot of giggling.

we don't use toys much now - don't feel a need for them i guess - but they're nice to have, when the need arises. and they still make me giggle a little. said...

We have a few of those big time sex stores (VIP and ummm -- something else) LOL

They are open til like 1 or 2 a.m. and I have no problem going in and doing whatever... f#ck it. :P

Grumpy Granny said...

Oh my god, I actually know where Boone, NC is! Both my parents were from NC, and I still have relatives there. My grandparents lived in Newton for years. What a small, small world!!


Grumpy Granny said...

Re: sex them online, it's just easier. Small town here, 1 store, it's okay, but nothing special. There's just way more selection online.