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    Resistance To Assistance

    | Edinburgh, Scotland, UK |

    (I’m in a quite upmarket department store in Edinburgh, buying a new camera, and the store operates a concierge service for the assistants. You speak to a desk, and they arrange for a trained assistant to come and deal with you personally. I have been placed on the list and am awaiting my assistant at the camera desk, when a woman walks up to the opposite and just stands there. Five minutes later, the assistant arrives to help me.)

    Assistant: “Hi there, sir. How can I help you?”

    Other Customer: “Excuse me, I’ve been stood here five minutes and he’s been here two. You should be helping me first!”

    Assistant: “I’m sorry. This gentleman has requested assistance from the concierge. Have you arranged for an assistant?”

    Other Customer: “Yes, I did before him so you should be dealing with me first!”

    Assistant: “I’m so sorry. If you have arranged for an assistant, then one should be along shortly. However, I have been assigned to assist with this gentleman.”

    (Five minutes pass, and the other customer is getting annoyed just standing there. The assistant is taking me through various different features of the cameras. Suddenly the other customer walks around to my side of the counter and interrupts.)

    Other Customer: “Listen, I was here first! I should be helped!”

    Assistant: “I’m sure your assistant will be here shortly.”

    Other Customer: “This boy shouldn’t even be in here. He is clearly going to steal whatever it is you are trying to sell.”

    Me: “Excuse me? I’m 26, not a boy, and I was here at least 10 minutes before you!”

    Other Customer: “You’re lying! I saw you walk up to the counter after me!”

    Me: “Yes, because I was coming back from the concierge desk over there, after booking my assistant. I was here for ten minutes before that having a look around, and you were nowhere to be seen. In fact, you bumped into me whilst I was at the desk as you came off the escalator and didn’t apologise. You haven’t been anywhere near the desk to arrange an assistant, so that’s why no one has come to help you.”

    Other Customer: “It’s a shop! You don’t need to book an assistant! I’m more important than you, so I should be treated first! I’ve just left work because I’m sick and I need to have this sorted now!”

    Me: “So, you’ve not arranged an assistant even though you were standing next to two signs that said ‘If you require assistance please speak with the concierge’, and you have been stood there for ten minutes complaining about no service. You’re ill, so you thought it would be a good idea to come into a store with hundreds of other people for you to infect today, and potentially hundreds more another day because you’re getting your germs everywhere. You’re claiming you’re better than me despite the fact that I read the signs, have been patient and calm, and have not done anything to suggest I’d steal other than wearing casual clothing?”

    (The other customer then leaves in a huff, walks to the concierge and arranges the assistant. One minute later, an assistant comes to help her.)

    Other Customer: “I’ve been waiting for you for 20 minutes! The customer service here is horrendous! I want to speak to your manager!”

    Assistant #2: “Actually, I am the floor manager today. I was informed of your outburst and I was asked to deal with you as no other assistant wished to deal with your attitude, and your illness. I am fully aware that you only asked for an assistant less than two minutes ago, but have been stood at the desk next to the signs telling you what to do for ten minutes. I am happy to help you, but please try to keep calm or I will have security escort you from the building. Also, please do not touch any products or surfaces as we do not want our customers to get ill.”

    (The other customer was quite shocked, but clearly took on board everything the manager said. Her issue was dealt with, which was to find out what type of memory card her camera would take, which happened to be the cheapest model the shop sold. I left shortly after with my new, high-end DSLR at a discount because of the hassle.)