Too Chicken To Go To Your Competitor

, , , , , , , | Right | October 24, 2017

(At our supermarket deli, we sell two types of oven-roasted chickens. The supermarket brand is barn-raised and comes in a brown bag, while the name-brand is free-range, $1 extra, and comes in a green bag. We cut the chickens in half upon request. It is one to two hours before closing, and the oven has been turned off for the day so it can be cleaned. Our large batch of cooked chickens has managed to sell really well; there is only one “normal,” or barn-raised, chicken and two of the name-brand, free-range chickens left in the warmer. A customer comes up to the counter.)

Customer #1: “Hi, could I please get half a chicken?”

Me: “Sure thing! Just the normal one, or did you want the free-range?”

Customer #1: “Just the normal one, thanks.”

(As I get out my plate and scissors, another customer pipes up.)

Customer #2: “Can I have the other half?”

Me: “Yep, no worries!”

(I cut the chicken and give each customer half. The customers leave, satisfied. At this point, another customer who has been standing further away, but who has been eyeing the warmer this entire time, approaches the counter.)

Customer #3: “I’d like a hot chicken, please.”

Me: “Okay. We’ve sold out of our normal chickens, but you can grab a free-range one right here.” *gestures towards two free-range chickens remaining, only $1 more than the barn-raised ones*

Customer #3: “No, I don’t want the free-range one; I want the normal one.”

Me: “Okay, well, I’m really sorry, but it’s 7:30 and our oven has been turned off for the day so it can be cleaned, and this was our last batch—”

Customer #3: “Don’t just say sorry. I can’t eat ‘sorry.’”

Me: *slightly taken aback* “Um… Well, there’s a [Roast Chicken and Chips Store] just next door, so you can try there—”

Customer #3: “I don’t want their chicken. I want a [Supermarket Brand] chicken, now.”

(At this point, I am completely at a loss. Thankfully, my coworker comes back from her break, and I wave her over and quickly explain the situation. My coworker is a few years younger than I am, and has far less patience for difficult customers than I do.)

Coworker: *talking slowly like she’s talking to a five-year-old, complete with over-dramatic hand gestures* “We’ve run out of our normal chickens tonight. We only have the free-range ones left.”

Customer #3: “I don’t want the free-range chickens.”

Coworker: *continuing her condescending tone* “Okay, well, I’m sorry, but our oven is being cleaned, so we can’t magic up a chicken for you. If you like, you can always go next door and grab a chicken from [Roast Chicken and Chips Store].”

(They go back and forth a little while, and I have to clench my teeth so I don’t start laughing. The customer keeps reiterating that he “can’t eat ‘sorry’” and “wants a [Supermarket Brand] chicken.” Thankfully, the late hour means it’s relatively quiet in the store, and nobody else comes up to the deli during this exchange.)

Customer #3: “Maybe I’ll just take my business to [Rival Supermarket], then.”

Me: *in the politest, most helpful voice I can muster* “You’re welcome to do that, if you like.”

Customer #3: “That’s all you have to say? You’re just going to let me go to [Rival Supermarket]?”

Me: “You’re a free person, sir, in a free country. I’m in no place to stop you from doing what you want to do.”

([Customer #3] seems to stammer a bit, then shrugs his shoulders.)

Customer #3: “I just feel like I came all this way from [Suburb ten minutes away] for a hot chicken, and I deserve at least a voucher or something.”

(My coworker, who has gotten well and truly sick of dealing with him, whips around.)

Coworker: “You want a voucher? Okay, we’ll give you a voucher.”

(She rifles through the drawers until she finds the vouchers for free chickens. I stop myself from pointing out that the customer “can’t eat vouchers.” Instead, I turn back to the customer.)

Me: “You say you’re from [Suburb]? Next time you come here late like this, just give us a call earlier during the day and tell us you want to reserve a chicken. All you have to do is give us your name and the time you’ll come to pick it up, and we’ll keep one aside for you, so this doesn’t happen again.”

Customer #3: “No, that won’t be necessary.”

Me: *feigning concern* “I just don’t want you to have to go through the trouble of driving all the way here, as you said, and finding out we’ve run out of chickens. It’s really simple; you just have to ring up and tell us next time to save you a chicken.”

Customer #3: “No, I know what to do for next time. It’s fine.”

(The customer got his voucher and left. I suspect that he waited until all the barn-raised chickens had been bought so he could try and wheedle a voucher out of us. Judging from his reaction to my last suggestion, he was probably a repeat offender!)

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