A Write Up To Bring You Down

, , , , , , | Working | June 29, 2017

(The bakery department in my store closed earlier than usual today. Since I work in the next department over, a customer asks if I know of anyone who can answer a question for her. I know very well that I don’t know the first thing about that department, so I tell her to wait by bakery as I get on the phone and call for the manager.)

Manager: “Well, have you tried helping the customer? How about trying that?”

Me: “Well, I’d be glad to, but the issue is I don’t know anything about bakery, so I’d rather ask for someone who knows the area first.”

(The manager hangs up, so I realize that I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and hope I can produce the answer somehow.)

Me: “All right, looks like I’m the one helping you today! I just ask that you bear with me, because I don’t really know this department very well, but I’ll certainly do my best! How can I help you?”

Customer: “This cake on display here, without a price tag, how much is it?”

(Sure enough, I haven’t the foggiest clue. However, after a moment of thinking, I head into the back room and start flipping through all the books stored back there. Finally, after a fairly large amount of time for so simple a question, I find the order guide and then the page with the picture of the exact cake the customer wants. I walk back out and tell the customer the price. The customer walks away thanking me for my help. The following day, the manager calls me over.)

Manager: “I’m writing you up for yesterday.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Manager: “I shouldn’t have had to tell you to help that customer.”

Me: “Okay, hold on. I had no problem attempting to help that customer, or any customer; I just figured it would be wiser to ask someone who knows the area to help the customer. What I was trying to avoid was me either being completely unable to help her or taking a much longer time to answer her question that it should take, which is what happened. Either one risks leaving an odd impression of our customer service on the customer, so to me, it was just better to try and direct her to someone more knowledgeable. Once I knew that no such person was available, I had no issue trying to help her. I thought quickly and ended up finding the answer she needed, so overall, I think I handled that situation as best as possible without any prior training in that area.”

Manager: “But I shouldn’t have had to tell you to help the customer!”

Me: “If you want me to always first try to help the customer before asking for assistance, that’s fine. However, this is a training issue, not a disciplinary issue. Four write ups in this store and you’re terminated. Do you really think that the act of being uncertain in an area I’ve never worked or trained for is so terrible that it should go on a list of reasons I should be fired?”

Manager: “It doesn’t matter. I’m tired of my side of the store getting the lowest customer service scores, so I’m not playing around anymore! If anyone’s customer service is not TOP notch, you get a write up! That’s it!”

Me: “And I don’t hold that viewpoint against you. What I’m saying is that there’s a difference between being incompetent and not having the training. If the employee never had the opportunity to first gain the knowledge, how can you then punish them for not having it?”

Manager: “Look, if you want to challenge this, take it up with the store manager.”

(I did just that. The store manager said that while I didn’t actually do anything wrong, the write up would still stay on my record.)

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