Friday, December 12, 2014

Keep On Nagging!

It was a surprise and an honor to be nominated as one of five candidates for "Greenways Champion" - the individual who has most advanced the cause of safe streets in Seattle in 2014.  As Gordon said in introducing the nominees, I wear a lot of hats, including this rather neglected "blogger" hat!

So in honor of this nomination, and in recognition of the actual well-deserved winner, Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog, I thought I should blog about a past nag that has been, you might say, nagging at me.

On April 14, 2010, I sent the following message to Macy's department store through their website:
I notice that your website links to a Mapquest site that gives driving directions to your stores.  In Seattle, as I'm sure in many other locations, your store can be reached very conveniently by public transit(the transit tunnel, which carries our beautiful new Link Light Rail as well as buses that serve the entire metropolitan area, runs right through your store), as well as by bicycle and on foot. It is a shame that your website tells customers that the ONLY way to shop is by car!  I have seen a number of commercial websites with links to more comprehensive tripplanners.  Google Maps now includes walking, public transit and biking directions; our King County Metro has a web-based trip planner than can be added to a website.
I travel by bike, transit and by foot, and it can be very challenging to find the best route to my destinations. Just this morning, I was waiting for a downtown bus when I noticed a tourist puzzling over a tourist map.She was trying to find the Macy's store, which was only 4 blocks away.  A link on your website could have helped her find her way by foot from her downtown hotel.
Please let me know how you will address this concern.
A few days later I received this encouraging reply:
Dear Merlin, Thank you so much for your email inquiring about public transportation to our Macy's stores.
We apologize for the inconvenience to those not driving but we are very glad you pointed this out to us. We certainly will look into adding these services to make shopping more accommodating for all of our customers! In the meantime, Google Maps is a great alternative and as you pointed out, has more options than MapQuest.
Stay tuned for more exciting changes and additions to our website.Thanks again,Jennifer
JENNIFER GOTHELFManager, Macy’s Visitor Services and Tourism11 Penn Plaza, 11th Floor, New York, New York 10001
Well, time went by.  I checked in with Jennifer about the exciting changes, she reassured me they were coming.  More time went by.  Nothing changed.  On January 31, 2012, I sent this note (Kimberly had responded to an earlier nag):
Hi Jennifer and Kimberly,
How discouraging!  A visitor arriving at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, curious about taking a trip into town to go shopping, might check the Macy's website for directions to the nearest store.  And this poor soul would STILL not learn that the Light Rail train from the airport goes DIRECTLY to the basement of the Seattle Macy's store!  Your website still gives directions that are of use only to people traveling by car.  And by the way, your next-door downtown competitor, Nordstrom, now offers public transit directions on their website!
You might also be interested to know that less than 50% of the people who work in downtown Seattle arrive there by car.  If you want them to shop in your store, give comprehensive directions for people using ALL modes of transportation!
Again nothing changed.  A year and a half later, on July 12, 2013, I sent this exasperated note:
Today I read about Macy's great promotion for the Maison Jules Fall collection - giving away beautiful bikes!! So I checked your website again (first time since last year) thinking perhaps you had decided to include directions for people who travel by bike, and/or by transit or on foot.
I really honestly don't understand why Macy's would want to encourage people to drive to shop.  Especially in Seattle, which is the number 2 bicycling city in the US, and where fewer than half of the folks who work downtown arrive by car.  And your store has a Light Rail station in the basement!  Don't you want international travelers to zip over from the airport by Light Rail to shop for the Maison Jules Fall collection?  and win one of those lovely bikes to ride a few blocks to the Pike Market?
It's very easy to add multimodal travel directions to a website.  Google Maps includes walking, biking and transit as a matter of course.  Please pass this request on to your webmaster.  
I didn't even get a response, and after that I gave up.  I didn't even look at the Macy's website again until last week.  And there to my amazement,  I found this:

Multimodal directions via Google Maps!

Was my three-and-a-half year nagging campaign successful?  Or has the world of transportation just shifted?  I'll let you decide.  And meanwhile, I'll keep on nagging!

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