November Theme Of The Month: Black Friday!

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!

My Apple Has No Vegetables

| TX, USA | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Technology

Me: “Good morning, this is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I need to talk to [Assistant, who is at lunch].”

Me: “I’m sorry, he is not available at the moment. Is there something I can help you with?”

Customer: *gives me a very long-winded account of what I assume was an extremely long conversation she had with the assistant the day before* “So I need him to do whatever he was going to do so I can get to my stuff.”

Me: “Okay, if [Assistant] has already discussed this with you then they will know where we are in the process and they can assist you when they return from lunch in about an hour.”

Customer: “So will you ask him to send me an email so I can send him an email back explaining all this?”

Me: “Would you like our email address so you can send him an email? That way he will see it as soon as he gets back and we can get you what you need more quickly.”

Customer: “No. I know your email address, but I just can’t use it.”

Me: “I’m sorry; you cannot use our email address?”

Customer: “Yeah. It doesn’t work or I don’t have all the right buttons or something.”

Me: “I’m not sure what you mean when you say you don’t have the right buttons…”

Customer: “I just got a new computer and I don’t think it has a reply button or at least I haven’t found it yet.”

Me: “The reply button should be on the screen when you are logged in to your email, not on the machine itself. What kind of email are you using?”

Customer: “Just regular email.”

Me: “I mean, are you using Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo—”

Customer: “OH. I don’t know.”

Me: “Well, what is your email address? A lot of times the part after the ‘at’ is the type of email.”

Customer: “My email address is CARROT-A-B-C-A WITH A CIRCLE AROUND IT…”

Me: “I’m sorry, did you say carrot?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “So your address is C-A-R-R…”

Customer: “No. Not spelled out. Just a carrot.”

Me: “Like, the vegetable?”

Customer: “Yes. There is a carrot at the beginning and at the end.”

Me: “I have never heard of a carrot in an email address. Could it possibly be a V or another symbol?”

Customer: “No. I know what the letter V looks like!”

Me: “Okay, but I cannot send you an email to an address with ‘carrots’ in it because there is no key that I can hit to make a carrot show up in the address bar.”

Customer: “So your computer doesn’t have all the buttons either, huh?”

Me: “No, ma’am, my computer does not have a carrot button.”

Customer: “Well, then I guess I’ll just have to call back and talk to [Assistant].”

Me: “That sounds good. Have a nice day.”

(Later, as I was telling this story to the assistant, I pulled up an email that we had sent to this customer and figured out what she was talking about. The email address showed up inside < > brackets, which she was referring to as carrots.)

A Multidirectional Question

| Chennai, India | Health & Body, Language & Words

(This took place a few years ago when Mum and I were at a pharmacy. We are stocking up on some over-the-counter medications and witness this gem of a conversation between the busy pharmacist and another customer:)

Customer: *in a low voice, clearly embarrassed* “I, umm… need some medicine for the toilet.”

Pharmacist: “For diarrhea or constipation?”

Customer: *with a confused look on his face* “What does that mean?”

Pharmacist: “You wanna make it stop or make it go?”

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!)