July Theme Of The Month: Great Timing!

Category: Language & Words

This category features customers whose mishandling of vocabulary and grammar are so bad that we literally have no words to describe them!

Zero Chance Of Success

| ON, Canada | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Technology

(If someone’s phone number area code is 905, it is commonly said as ‘nine-oh-five’ instead of ‘nine-zero-five.’ Everyone who has ever sent a letter in Canada, also knows that Postal Codes are always Letter-Number-Letter, Number-Letter-Number. I am trying to do an online order for a customer, who has been very difficult throughout the entire transaction. I am taking his shipping information down.)

Me: “Okay, and what’s your postal code?”

Customer: “P, ‘oh,’ E, 5, Y ‘oh.'”

(I type it in and ask for the rest of his info, but the computer tells me the postal code is wrong.)

Me: “Hmm, that’s weird, it’s telling me the postal code is incorrect. Maybe I typed it in wrong. Can you repeat it to me, please?”

Customer: “P, ‘oh,’ E, 5, Y ‘oh.'”

(I type in P0E 5Y0.)

Me: “No, it still says it’s wrong. Maybe it doesn’t want me to put a space. Did your area’s postal code recently change?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll try again.” *I try again, and nothing*

Customer: “You do know that when I say ‘oh’, it’s not a letter, right? It’s the number Zero.”

Me: “Yes, I know that. I’m putting in zeros.”

Customer: “Because ‘oh’ and zero aren’t the same thing. They may look the same, but they’re not.”

Me: “I know. I put in zeros.”

(I try again, but it still says it’s wrong.)

Me: *to an associate* “Can you put his postal code in? I keep trying with capitals, no capitals, spaces, no spaces, and it keeps telling me it’s wrong. I’ll bet you if someone else just does it, it’ll work.”

(My associate comes over and asks for the postal code.)

Me: “P, ‘oh,’ E, 5, Y ‘oh.'”

Customer: “They’re not ‘oh’s! They’re zeros! That’s why it’s not working!”

Associate: “I know they’re zeros, I know that postal codes are always letter-number-letter, number-letter,number.”

Customer: “But the computer doesn’t know that! The computer doesn’t know that you mean zero when you say ‘oh’!”

Me: “It doesn’t have to, because we’re not typing in ‘oh’s, we’re typing zeros. We’re just saying ‘oh’ because it’s easier. Everyone calls them ‘oh’s; even you did.”

(I tell my associate the postal code again, but I make sure to say ‘zero’ instead of ‘oh’ and when he types it in, it works.)

Me: “Thanks, I knew I just needed someone else to do it.”

Customer: “It’s because you were saying ‘oh’ the whole time! It’s not ‘oh’ it’s zero!”

(I wanted to smack him…)

A Very Sharp Customer

| Portland, OR, USA | Home Improvement, Language & Words

(I used to work at a semi-popular retail store. On my first day of working customer service I get called up to the registers, where I see a foreign man standing by the till.)

Coworker: “[My Name], can you help this gentleman here?”

Me: “Sure, no problem.” *turn to the man* “What can I help you with?”

(The man holds up his hand, obviously asking me to wait. He pulls up his phone and types something down, then hands it to me. He’s opened a translator app, and the word he’s put in directly translates to ‘meat processing board.’)

Me: “Right this way.”

(I lead him over to the kitchen appliance section and show him our selection of cutting boards.)

Me: “Is this what you’re looking for?”

Customer: “Ah, yes! Tacktacktack! Thank you!”

Me: “You’re welcome; if there’s anything else you need just let me know!”

(Later that night after closing my coworker comes up to me while I’m sweeping the floors.)

Coworker: “So, what did that man want? He wasn’t speaking any English!”

Me: “Oh, he wanted to know where our cutting boards were.”

Coworker: “I was wondering why he was pretending to brandish a knife at me!”

Getting It All In Español

| Berlin, Germany | Language & Words

(I’m an American traveling across Europe and manage to get spectacularly lost while in Berlin. I enter a shop to ask for directions.)

Me: *in very bad German* “Excuse me. I don’t speak German very well. Can you help me get to [Cross-Street]?”

(The EXTREMELY patient clerk tries her best but her English is about as bad as my German. Finally…)

Me: *jokingly* “Habla Español?”

Clerk: *in Spanish* “Yes! I do!”

(The rest of the conversation was in Spanish. I got my directions without further problems!)

It’s Oui-Si To Understand

| Minneapolis, MN, USA | Food & Drink, Language & Words

Customer: “I want to order something off the menu, but everything is really hard to say and I don’t speak Spanish.”

(We’re a French restaurant, with the word ‘French’ in our name.)

Directionless With Languages

| Pittsburgh, PA, USA | Language & Words, Technology, Transportation

(I’m working the electronics counter at a large retail store. A woman comes up to the counter and stares at the GPS systems. I ask if she needs help with anything.)

Customer: “My old GPS broke and I need a new one, but can you help me please find one that is in English?”

Me: “All the systems come pre-installed with English.”

Customer: “Really? My old system speaks a language I don’t understand and that’s why I need a new one.”

Me: “Ma’am, is your old GPS in the car? Can you bring it in?”

(She retrieved the GPS from her car and I took less than a minute to reset the language for her. She was nearly in tears because she was so grateful.)

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