I work at a major chain pet store as customer service and a pet care specialist. I love animals and enjoy helping customers get set up with new pets, and I have several customers who come in and specifically ask for me. Unfortunately, a big part of the job is handling returns of pets who are deceased. My job is to replace the pet and advise them on anything that they could do to ensure success in keeping the pet.
In our store, customers fill out satisfaction surveys online that have an optional comment field. The managers post the comments each week. One day, I get called in to the manager’s office. She sternly tells me that there was a serious complaint about me in the surveys. She reads it to me and I turn redder and redder as she reads the long description of how a customer came in to return a bunch of fish that had died and I did not express sympathy for her loss. “Her cold, uncaring attitude and clear disregard for my emotional well-being and satisfaction as a customer make me feel too upset and traumatized to return to your store. I hope that you discipline her and perhaps terminate her as she doesn’t exemplify the love of animals that your store claims to represent.”
I was crying by this point. By the list of fish that the customer had described, I remembered the customers and that the interaction with them hadn’t been unusual at all. I had even said I was sorry to hear that their fish died and I spent 20 minutes with them trying to help them sort out why. They had even thanked me.
Despite my great record and all the compliments about me from other customers, my manager penalized me for the complaint, suggesting that I might consider finding another job if I didn’t care for animals. (She knew that I had everything from fish to reptiles to cats myself, so that was BS.) I had my hours cut and had to go through extra training.
Two months later, my manager came to me and apologized, saying that a customer had come in saying that they felt bad because they put in a joke complaint about an employee and were worried that she had gotten fired. Guess who? The reason they gave my manager: “We were drunk or high or something, and were just upset about the fish. Anyway, we’re sorry. She was actually really nice to us.”