Glitter Sharpies: Tale of Two Prices

Fish done in yellow, orange and dark pink Sharpie watercolor pens on Arches Velin. Background in Twinkling H20s. © Quinn McDonald, 2012

The Glitter Sharpies are a must-have for hand lettering. How I got mine is a story I hope you’ll enjoy–it involves a large-chain store (called XYZ here), a stubborn shopper (yep, me) and a camera. The pen review comes after the story. Part of the marker review is in the photo captions, so you can read just those and skip the store story if you prefer.

XYZ is a store I avoid. The one I’m familiar with is  older and has a messy display out front that’s tired and picked over, even in the morning.  The store don’t have enough help, and the help they do have isn’t well-trained so everyone is cranky (including me.)

On my trip to find the markers, I have to go down narrow, tall aisles jammed with Easter products and the omnipresent, overwhelming smell of what must be mountains of potpourri.  The Sharpie glitter markers are way in the back.  Pretty spendy at $12.99 for 3. But they put down color that looks like heat-set foil, so I splurged.

Back at the front of the store,  there is one elderly man with faulty glasses, peering at prices and slowly checking out customers. The line snakes through the store.  I stand and wait.

Eventually, it’s my turn. I put down the 3-pack of glitter markers, and $15.

He starts to give me a spiel to get a store marketing card, which may or may not cost money. “No, thanks,” I say, still cheery.
He scans the markers, and it comes up $14.99.

Glitter Sharpies hanging on the display. I've distorted the part of the tag that identifies the store name.

My eyebrows shoot up to my hairline. I say, “They are marked $12.99 at the display.”
“You’re wrong,” he says, “It’s scanning at $14.99.”
“That may scan at $14.99, but they are marked $12.99 in the back,” I insist.

He sighs. “I don’t have anyone to go back and check, so you’ll have to pay $14.99.” he says.

I think about the line I’ve just spent 20 minutes waiting in. “That’s OK,” I say, “I don’t want them at that price.” And I leave. Unhappiness chews at me.

Back home, I print out a coupon,  run errands, and return to XYZ.

The guy who couldn’t help me is hanging my purchase back on the rack. “I’ll take those,” I smile, and photograph the $12.99 price tag.  Markers and coupon in hand, I trek  to the counter, and the checker scans them at $14.99. “They are marked $12.99 in the display,” I say. She looks at me doubtfully and says, “They scan at $14.99.” Déja cranky.

I whip out my cell phone and show her the photo–she can read both the price and the writing on the package of glitter markers. The lady is astonished. “What a great idea!” she says. “But don’t you go telling anyone about this, or everyone will be saving money.” I do not want to think about what she means–just how many other products are over-priced here?  She calls the store manager. “The price signs were wrong,” she says, “you’ll have to pay the scanned price.”

“I have a photograph of the price marked,” I say, still polite, but firmly. “I expect you to charge me the marked price, and I want the coupon discount, too.”

The lady looks at me dubiously. I hold up my phone-proof, making eye contact.  “Ahhh, you deserve it,” she says, and then says, “So say ‘thank you’ or I won’t give it to you.” Small price to pay. “Thank you,” I say, and mean it.

And that is how I bought a packages of  glitter markers at a bargain price.

Markers on index card, tilted to show glitter effect. Smooth and rich, these Sharpie markers are worth the money.

And they are worth it. The Sharpie Glitter markers are water-based. You have to shake them and push the nib down to start the color. Once the color starts, it puts down a smooth line of glittery color. The color is so even and smooth that, once dry, you can go over it with a Pitt or Micron pen and the black outline pen won’t jump. There are six colors: green, blue, light pink, dark pink, yellow and orange. The colors are rich, the smooth glitter is bright. Small details and hand lettering look great.

Roofs are done in light and dark pink Sharpie Glitter markers. The rest of the color is Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. Left half is pencil, right half outlined in Pitt pen. Notice that there is no smearing.

You can erase over them without dulling the color or picking up the glitter.

Despite the drama of the purchase, I love these colors. I’m not much of a glitter girl, but the color is saturated, well- defined and crisp.

The yellow is bright and clear, and perfect for crowns, halos, light effects and well, koi scales (in the top illustration).  I’ll be using these often.

Quinn McDonald is the author of  Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art. She wrote it to help people who can’t draw become art journalers.

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32 responses to “Glitter Sharpies: Tale of Two Prices

  1. Wow. Thats pretty ridiculous service they have. I’d have been asking Ms. Poorcustomerservice to say thank you to ME for not creating a more public demonstration of their incompetence. I would definitely not have given her a thanks for doing what she ought to have done right off the bat. Ugh.

  2. Understaffed seems to be the one problem and the other is hiring people that are bodies who know nothing about a stores product and don’t care to, they just want a paycheck and want to do and little as possible to get it. But those of us who work hard don’t get anywhere by doing so in many cases and that can burn you out, so vigilance and personal pride in ones own efforts can help prevent that. Corporations don’t want you to equate the current economy as part of the staffing reasons, but numbers sold and hours allotted for paid staff on duty is the formula.

    • The most expensive an employee for a company is a cheap hire. A company needs to do a LOT of training. Companies that don’t do training wind up looking like XYZ. And while I won’t name them, other people will, and we know how effective social media can me–just look at recent examples of Pinterest changing their TOS because of customer uproar, for example.

  3. Umm….UGH! At my old local store in IL, I use to get yelled at or ignored by the cashiers as I stood there waiting to check out. The one I go to now is actually pretty nice — well stocked, with nice employees — but still…I kinda hate it. This post is a cautionary tale, of course, because it demonstrates HORRIBLE customer service. You would have to pay the higher price because the store’s understaffed? Really?

    When I worked at Office Max, the guys on the floor were so lazy and slacked off so much, they’d forget to take down or put up sale tags, and I’d have to check an insert or *walk over there myself* to see what the price on the shelf was. And then change it. Why should the customer be penalized for a mistake made by the store?

    *sigh* The only time this kind of discrepancy worked for me was when I got a $6 colored pencil case/book thingy for $.02. That’s what the register said, and I wasn’t going to correct it.

    • I’ve never had any luck at that big-box store. There are others that use better lighting, have wider aisles. And I’m a sucker for shopping at local mom-and-pop stores. I might pay a bit more, but the service is SO worth it.

  4. Hi Quinn,
    Poor customer service is dumb, because it’s not just about “I’m right and you’re not”; it’s all the bad word of mouth that can never be taken back.
    Did you know that the State of Michigan (via the Attorney General’s office) has a law about mis-marked and mis-signed retail items? I think it goes like this; if a cash register rings up an incorrect price (compared to the ad or the shelf tag), the store must pay twice the difference to the customer who paid the inflated price, if the customer points it out. For a while, one of our major grocery stores was getting fined by the state regularly due to this issue.
    Perhaps Arizona has a similar law?
    Vicky F

    • That sounds like a law that would make retail stores be very careful. Best not to ask me about Arizona laws. Right now one of our legislators is promoting a law that says all unemployed people must take drug tests and pay for them themselves and turn them over every time they apply for a job. CEOs of companies, of course, do not have to do this.

  5. A great story Quinn – a perfect anecdote – right up there with the ‘massive laptop sale.’
    Oh I WANT! Not need, just want. It looks like I’d have to buy them through Amazon as I haven’t seen them in NZ yet. I wait until I need a few things to reduce the postage a little.
    By the way, I had loads of fun nominating bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award – thanks!

    • Yes, these are markers you want. I’ll pass up a lot of OK things, but these are markers to get and hoard. I’m so glad you are spreading the word about good bloggers. I’ll have to stop by your site—How I wish I could stop by your house, too!

  6. I would not be surprised if you are talking about Michaels. I had THE most unpleasant customer service experience with them. I had a coupon that had expired the day before and the clerk would not honor it. I asked to speak to the manager and reasoned with her that she had the “power” to honor the coupon and get the sale or I’d walk out of the store without buying anything. She did finally acquiesce but with a nasty attitude about it. (Our Bed, Bath and Beyond honors expired coupons and more than one coupon at time making shopping there a real pleasure.) After that incident I called the corporate office to complain about the attitude I got from the cashier and manager and the man I spoke with was as tough and un-customer friendly as the store employees were to me. Instead of apologizing for how I was treated he went into a spiel about their “policies” and that he didn’t care what other stores did because they were not like them and that Michaels did not honor expired coupons. When I told him that the manager finally did honor the coupon he seemed aghast and told me that she was NOT following the store policy that she had been trained to follow. I have been in MANY customer service jobs and have always been trained to do whatever I could to make the customer happy. This experience put such a bad taste in my mouth that I have shopped much less at this store since then. I’m not so inclined to give them my business anymore because I was treated like I was trying to steal something instead of buying something to supporting their bottom line.

    • Bed, Bath and Beyond does honor expired coupons, and I was shocked. The first time I did it, it was an accident, and the customer service I got really surprised and pleased me. I’ve shopped there more often because of it. I deliberately did not mention the store, and I won’t name it now. The treatment you got at Michael’s is disappointing, but not surprising to me. And I won’t be surprised to see them go down with their “policies.” Policy is not a rule or a law, it is the value the store believes in. If more stores realized that, they might understand that we all shop at stores whose values mirror ours.

  7. I have thought, more than once, that certain of these big box stores have incorrect prices by a dollar or fifty cents or so, and most people, after standing in line for so long, just don’t argue, and that’s how they make extra money. I’m usually standing in line with at LEAST one child, so I rarely argue. It frustrates me, definitely. I’ve also found that while Joann’s doesn’t do this, a slight discount often isn’t advertised anywhere near the product, so I’ll get it, thinking I can use a coupon, then stand in line only to find out I can’t. Also frustrating! I love Amazon, though, and usually I spend enough in one shot to qualify for free shipping. :)

  8. Love the markers! Thanks for showing them.

    As for the story of their purchase, as a woman who has worked in many aspects of retail over the years, that just flat irritates the fool out of me! I’d be much more inclined to share the name of the store and write a letter to the corporate headquarters about it too!

    The only time I did not honor a marked price was one time when I knew that the “customer” had changed it with a much cheaper one — a $50 price tag for one marked less than $5 (this was many years ago).

    • There are fools on both side of that equation. I always think about what I’d ask in a letter to corporate–I used to work in corporate marketing. What I’m afraid of is that they’d send me coupons to use at the store, and I just don’t want to go there anymore.

      • That’s a good point. I would just hope that if they got a letter and realised what was happening, they would fix it, but the reality of it is that they probably wouldn’t. You are right. The last time I wrote to complain about a product, that’s exactly what the company did. They sent me coupons for the product I wasn’t about to purchase again.

  9. Shopping can be exhausting sometimes but mostly it is just great fun buying new art supplies. I’ll have to look for these. Thanks.

  10. Great story, Quinn. I’m not sure why you don’t name the store. Perhaps I should know just from your description. At least I do have a mental image which fits too well with a store I’ve been known to shop in on occasion.

  11. Will be getting some of these…w/out the cranky store folks :)

  12. They areSO yummy!! I MUST have some!! I haven’t seen them at my Wal-Mart, so I’m guessing you were either at Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s, LOL.

    • My closest Jo-Ann’s is huge and bright and largely helpful and friendly. What I love about the training is they never point and tell you an aisle number. They WALK with you and take you right to the item. That’s good training. I have a coupon this week. I’ll have to see if they have those markers. You will love them.

  13. Good for you Quinn! Persistence pays off! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Cheryl Herries

    Success! Amazon for about $8. Of course I bought both 3 packs of colors, a 5 pack of mostly different colors, a 3 pack of metalic colors and a book on botanical illustration but it was $55 with shipping….. and no snippy clerk or time in line! Normally I’m in favor of shopping local but this store doesn’t sound like it deserves the business. My blood pressure would be thru the roof.

    • I love amazon–and I do the same thing you do. Shop for $8 markers and leave with a pile of stuff and a book–but I still love it. As a non-prime member, I’d have to pay postage, which makes it more expensive. The store in question was local, but it was a big-box chain store. So I’m not really buying local. And while I’m piling it on, there is an amazon warehouse in my area, so I’d be helping them!

  15. That is so ridiculous! I can’t believe how unhelpful the store clerks were–they must really hate their jobs. In Canada, some stores abide by the “scanning code of practice.” If your items scans differently than the price on the shelf, then the store is obliged to give you the item for FREE! I have benefited from this on more than one occasion.

    • Now that is a rule I would LOVE! What I loved about the experience was the surprise on the woman’s face at the use of the camera to prove the point. And, of course, that I got all six markers at a good price!

  16. Cheryl Herries

    What a horrible store. I hope I can find them on line.

  17. What a great story! sorry you had to have such a hassle to get the sharpie glitter pens, but apparently it was worth it. Now I will have to find me some!

    • You can order them online. Of course, then you have to pay postage, but amazon has them. And they are truly amazing–you can paint over them without dragging the glitter or smearing the paint. It’s a great tool.

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