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Customer-Employee Relations Are As Brittle As Glass

, , | Right | CREDIT: MaybeMabelDoo | April 4, 2021

I once had a customer who seemed to be completely, perfectly wrong. He brought in one of our shopping bags containing a broken juice glass that had chipped in his dishwasher. This happens, and I was trying to figure out which set it was from while we argued about whether his replacement should be free.

Customer: “The sign says it’s dishwasher safe. It broke in the dishwasher.”

Me: “Dishwashers have boiling water and extreme dry heating. All glass is unaffected by those conditions, making it dishwasher safe. If it bangs around due to over-filling, that’s on you.”

Customer: “No! It means that the glass cannot be broken while in a dishwasher.”

After chatting for a while, I finally realize we don’t have any sets that match his glass. It also doesn’t look familiar, and I got my start in the glass department three years ago. He admits he has owned the glass for at least three years. We still keep a limited quantity of discontinued pieces, so I start asking some of the veteran salespeople if they recognize the design. None of them do. Then, the man admits that he has owned his glass for over a decade. He still feels that we owe him a replacement, as he has apparently not already had his money’s worth.

On a hunch, I check our competitors’ websites and find his glass at one of them.

Me: “If you take this to a [Competitor] store, they will likely replace it for you.”

By this time, the man is getting really frustrated. He keeps talking about how we are obligated to replace the glass due to our false advertising claiming glass is dishwasher safe. Using very small words, I explain that we do not sell that glass and never have.

Customer: “I’d be willing to accept another glass of a similar shape and size.”

I show him the [Competitor] page for his glass.

Customer: “No, I bought this here!

He did not have a receipt or the credit card which he used for the original purchase. He just wanted a small glass for free in exchange for his broken glass. I apologized and refused, explaining as politely as I could that he was being totally unreasonable.

He left in a huff and complained to corporate. They called the store and told us to give him a $25 gift card to make it up to him; he would be coming back that afternoon. My boss and I discussed it and decided to offer him one free juice glass of his choice, instead. He picked out a glass which retailed for $1.25. We took his broken glass in exchange.

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