Our mall pet store looks nice enough, but the employees are complete dolts. I refuse to set foot inside anymore because I always end up fighting with them over their stupidity (yes, I am a sucky customer there -- and yes, in this case, I'm damn proud of it). I've pointed out sick fish, hamsters kept in bird cages (the wire flooring's bad for their feet)... You name it. Once, when I pointed out a betta that was covered in fungus, the employee said, "Oh yeah, they're always getting sick when we drop them on the floor." Sadly, she wasn't joking. Another employee tried to tell me that an injured betta (it was gasping for breath and had no tail or bottom fin left) was "small."
(Okay, that employee wasn't an example of bad service in the end, because he gave me the betta for free. But I think it was just because I scared him. ;D)
I've heard lines like "Ooh, you'd better buy that puppy right now and not think about it overnight! Think how sad you'd be if you came back and it was gone!" and "Nooo, golden retrievers don't get all that big. She'll barely get any bigger than this."
But the best story is the one about the turtles.
My family has two turtles. You know those adorable little sliders you see in pet stores, that are barely bigger than silver dollars? Ours are the size of dinner plates now, and well cared for (when they got that big, we converted our hot tub into a pond). But one of my pet peeves is when I see a pet store employee pushing baby turtles as impulse buys, and blatantly lying about them.
My mother and I were in the aforementioned pet store last year when we saw an employee doing just such a hard sell to a father and daughter. When the employee left for a moment to get one of those little turtle "habitats" with the plastic palm tree (sigh), Mom took the opportunity to mention to the father just how big sliders can get. Then the employee came running back (I guess she recognized that she was about to lose a sale) and contradicted Mom, saying "Oh, no, turtles never get that big." Mom and I both turned on her and insisted they do, at which point, Employee of the Year said, "Yeah, but it takes a few years. And when they get that big, you can just put them in a lake somewhere."
Yeah, great. A pet store that advocates dumping your pets in the wild when you get sick of them. Aside from it being cruel to a domesticated turtle to dump it in a lake to fend for itself, such an action can also introduce harmful diseases/bacteria and throw off the lake's ecosystem.
I argued with the Employee of the Year for a moment longer, then pulled myself away before I could smack her. ;) I just hope Mom and I persuaded those people not to buy the turtles unless they were prepared to care for them. I considered trying to find the manager, but I was so pissed off by then that I couldn't think straight. Plus, the employees never wear their name tags, and that woman wasn't about to give me her name. I wish I'd followed up on the matter.
It'd be nice if everyone who went into a pet store educated themselves before they bought animals. Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works, and when I hear pet store employees giving out "advice" like that, I just want to scream.
Incidentally, I wrote up the incident and sent it to my local newspaper as a letter to the editor. Surely there are some local ecological types who'd be interested to know what the store's been advocating. The paper's printed plenty of my letters before, but oddly, they never ran this one. Perhaps because the pet store advertises with them? o_O