Good Customer Service Doesn’t Grow On Trees

, , , , | Hopeless Right | December 26, 2018

(I work in a garden centre. Due to being the on-site horticulturist and having a very even temper, I end up getting the complaints and difficult customers, even though on paper I am not officially responsible for complaints or refunds. It is close to Christmas, and we are working flat out, hauling real Christmas trees about when my radio phone rings.)

Coworker: “[My Name], sorry about this, but I’ve got a really angry customer who wants to speak to someone about a tree. She’s shouting really loudly. Can I put them through?”

Me: “Go ahead; I’ll do my best.”


Me: “Hello. This is the plant department. I’ve been told you’ve got a problem with a tree?”


(I realise from her tone of voice that she isn’t angry; she’s really, really upset.)

Me: “Oh, dear! What kind of tree is it, please?”

Customer: “I bought a Christmas tree from you, and I brought it inside, into my living room. A few hours later, all these beetles crawled out of it, and now my house is now full of them!”

Me: “Wow. That sounds… absolutely horrible. I’m so sorry! We definitely need to sort this out for you.”

Customer: *much calmer now* “Yes, so I was wondering… do you have any artificial trees? I’d like to buy one. Could you reserve one for me?”

(I pause to process what she just asked. Yes, she doesn’t want a refund. She isn’t threatening to get us fired. She wants to buy a replacement. Buy.)

Me: “Madam, I can assure you that you are well-deserving of a refund in a situation like this. This absolutely should not have happened at all, and I’m horrified that it did. We need to get that tree back here to examine it, and also a sample of the beetles. If you can’t bear to touch it, I’ll arrange to have our delivery driver pick it up for you, free of charge.”

Customer: “So… you’ll give me an artificial tree in exchange? I’ll have to get a smaller one, since they’re much more expensive.”

Me: “Well, this is an exceptional situation, so I’m going to stretch a point and say that as long as we get your tree back, we will do a straight swap: the same size artificial tree for the real one.”

Customer: “You’d do that? That would be great! I’ll get my husband to bring the tree back.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll make sure a similar artificial tree is put on one side for you. Could I take some details, please?”

(I take the details, and put a nice artificial tree on one side. It’s twice the price of the real tree she bought. I also plant up a small pot of primroses as a complimentary gift for her, and quickly wrap a red bow around it. The husband brings the tree in, and it is infested with Cinara piceae, a kind of big, ugly aphid. The warmth in her home had no doubt made them wake up and become active. I’ve never seen this happen before in Christmas trees, but her story all checks out. I give the go-ahead for her to get her refund and replacement tree. Unfortunately, I am with another customer when she comes in, but apparently, she bursts into tears when she is handed the complimentary pot of flowers. Slight overreaction, I think, but okay. Some people are just made that way. Fast forward to a little after Christmas. We have a visit from one of the directors. She is known for being strict but fair, and also a stickler for rules.)

Director: “[My Name], I had a letter about you from a customer. I wanted to discuss it with you.”

Me: “Really? What was it about?”

Director: “A lady said she had a tree full of beetles…”

Me: “Oh, the beetle tree! Yes, I remember all about it. I realise I went against refund policy by giving her goods worth twice the amount of the diseased tree, but I felt it was a very unusual situation and could have become a complete PR disaster.”

Director: “So… Do you think you made the right decision?”

(Okay, I’m in trouble. “What the heck?” I decide. “I might as well stand up for myself.”)

Me: “Yes, I do.”

(The director suddenly smiles and hands over an envelope.)

Director: “She sent you a Christmas card. There was a letter in it that told me about the tree. Her son had a bad motorbike accident earlier this year and is spending his first Christmas in a wheelchair at [Customer]’s house. They wanted to give him the best Christmas he could have. She said that you saved the day.”

(I can feel my eyes tearing up.)

Me: “Oh, right.”

Director: “So, well done. You did the right thing and saved us from a seriously embarrassing situation!”

(And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got promoted: by breaking the rules! I’m very happy to add that I have handled tens of thousands more Christmas trees since then, and have never seen a “beetle tree” again.)

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A Christmas Gift Of Having A Christmas

, , , , | Hopeless | December 25, 2018

(At the end of last year, I left my job. I was suffering with severe anxiety and depression and that, along with a hostile work environment, was affecting my mental health and my work to the point I was having breakdowns every week and I just couldn’t take it any longer. I got a monthly allowance from my mother but it wasn’t a lot, and in November I accidentally went into my overdraft by a few pounds. Unfortunately, my bank charges £8 per day that the overdraft isn’t paid, and I was unable to pay for nearly ten days. When my dad gives me £100 as an early Christmas present at the start of December, nearly £80 is taken out immediately to pay my debt. I call up the bank and this happens.)

Customer Service Representative: “[Bank], how can I help?”

Me: “I’m very sorry to do this, but I just checked my bank account and all my overdraft fees were charged at once, leaving me with less than £30 for the next month. Would I be able to get it back, and pay in increments instead over the next few months?”

Customer Service Representative: “Well, we don’t usually do that, but I’ll see how I can help. Do you need the money urgently for something?”

Me: “My dad gave me £100 as an early Christmas present and I was planning to use it to buy some presents for my family. I’ve been struggling financially in recent months and–”

(To my embarrassment, I start to cry. I’m trying to hide it, but the rep must have heard me, because his voice gets a lot gentler and kinder.)

Customer Service Representative: “Let’s go through your monthly spending and see what we can figure out, okay?”

(He asks me questions like how much my rent is, do I go out drinking, do I order takeaway or eat out often, and so on. I answer no to all of them, because I’m spending all my money on rent, travel, and medication, with barely enough left over to buy food.)

Customer Service Representative: “I’ve spoken with my supervisor, and I’m going to wipe your debt.”

Me: “What? No, you don’t need to do that! I can pay it, I promise; I just need until next month…”

Customer Service Representative: “According to your records, you’ve been with us for four years now. You’ve only gone into overdraft once before, and you paid it off immediately. You’re clearly having a hard time right now, and everyone should be able to spend time with their family at Christmas. Think of it as a present from us.”

Me: “Thank you so much! You have no idea how much this means to me;I’m so grateful. Could I have your name, and your supervisor’s name so I can send in some good reports?”

Customer Service Representative: “Of course. It’s [Representative] and [Supervisor]. I’ve disabled overdraft on your account so you won’t get charged again by going into it accidentally. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

Me: “You’ve done more than enough. Thank you so much!”

(I sent the reports in as soon as we got off the phone, and although I never got a reply, I really hope that they helped the two get a bonus, or some other reward. CSR, if you see this, thank you again.)

Holiday Roundup 2018

| Friendly Healthy Hopeless Learning Legal Related Right Romantic Working | December 25, 2018
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year(*)

Long before we started NotAlwaysHopeless we had lots of stories that put smiles on our faces and cheer in our hearts.  We offer you a present of a sampling of those older stories!

Faith In Humanity In Small Doses — You never know who will turn your day around.

We Love (To Pay) To See You Smile — A smile on your face today can mean a new job tomorrow!

Good People Are Not A Dime A Dozen — A small good deed becomes a special experience.

Please Let The Coffee “Be Good” — A joking and friendly clerk give a big boost!

How To Make An Employee’s Day — Something that seems small can make someone feel very important.

Not All Knights Are In Shining Armor — When the best people turn up at just the right time.

Tipping The Scale — One big smile earns another.

Random Acts of Cuddleness — Helping others inspires.

Good News For A Change, Part 2 What starts out as a typical NAR story turns into a feel-good tale.

There’s Something In Those Poppy Seeds — BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL


Want more stories to warm your heart and lift your spirits?  We have plenty over at NotAlwaysHopeless.


(*) “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Pola & Wyle, 1963

It’s A Catty Christmas

, , , , , | Hopeless | December 24, 2018

I’ve been volunteering with an animal shelter for a few years now. About a week before Christmas, I go with the owner to open the main building, and there’s a huge bag in front of the door. To our surprise, there’s a ton of stuff for cats: sealed bags of dry food, cans of wet food, old — but clean — blankets, cat collars, toys, flea treatments, and even a carrier.

We bring everything inside and are shocked that someone would just drop this all off and not want to get recognition or anything, but then we see a note attached to one of the food bags. It reads:

“I adopted my cat from this shelter many years ago. He recently passed away, and while I knew it was coming, I’d hoped I could have one more Christmas with my best friend. Since I can’t, I’m donating some of his old things, along with a bunch of new things, so that the cats still waiting for their forever homes can have a happy holiday. Thank you.”

We showed the note to every volunteer that came in and, needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the shelter for days. We still have no idea who left all of those wonderful gifts, but if you’re out there, rest assured that the cats in the shelter had a very happy holiday, thanks to you!

That’s One Prescription Of Holiday Cheer

, , , , | Healthy Hopeless Right | December 24, 2018

(It is just before Christmas and my son’s prescription needs to be refilled. The office gets the prescription written in a timely manner, but then my father is hospitalized. I spend the week bouncing back and forth between the hospital and getting our house ready to move him in. Finally, at the end of the week, I get everything settled so I can run over and pick up my son’s prescription so it can be refilled before it runs out over the holiday. Unfortunately, I arrive ten minutes after the office closes for the holiday weekend. I’m sitting on the curb in the parking lot… exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling like a complete failure.)

Nurse: “Are you okay?”

Me: “I screwed up. I was supposed to pick up my son’s refill this week so he wouldn’t run out over the holiday. “

Nurse: “Did anyone call you?”

Me: “Yes. I’ve just been in the hospital with my dad all week, and I finally was able to get over here. I forgot the holiday hours. It’s my fault.”

Nurse: “It’s a good thing I came out the front. I usually leave by the back door. Let’s go get his prescription slip.”

(The nurse unlocks the door, takes me inside, and signs over the prescription.)

Me: *still a bit teary* “You are the first thing that has gone right for us all week. I’m sorry I kept you late.”

Nurse: “I’m glad you caught me. Merry Christmas.”

(A heartfelt thank-you to healthcare workers. You do not get the credit you deserve.)

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