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I Work Customer Support, Not 1-800-Oracle

, , , | Right | June 25, 2020

I work at a factory that manufactures over a thousand products that are distributed throughout the country of South Africa to just about all the major and minor stores that are in the country.

We make it, it gets sold to distribution warehouses all over, the big stores order from them, and the small stores order from the big stores.

As you can guess, the variety of stock can vary in every store and branch, so it is impossible to know where one particular variant of a brand of product can be; we supply probably about 250,000 stores. This is a call we get regularly.

Customer: “Hi, I can’t find [specific variant] of this product; can you tell me where I can find it in [Very Small Suburb]?”

Me: “Hi, ma’am, we are sorry to hear that you are having difficulty finding this product. Can you tell me which stores you have looked at so far?”

Customer: “I only shop at [Small Mini Shop] that is down the road from me; it’s where I always shop. I haven’t looked elsewhere. Why can’t I find it?”

Me: *Pause* “All right, well, have you spoken to the store manager? They would be able to tell you if they have it listed, or if they have placed an order, or even if another branch has stock.”

Customer: “Oh, no, I haven’t taken it that far yet. I was at the shop today and I didn’t see it on the shelf, so I thought I’d call you and ask you, instead. So, where is it? Are you out of stock?”

Me: “Okay, I can see on our stock tracker that we have sufficient stock, so there shouldn’t be any shortage of stock on the shelf. Unfortunately, I cannot accurately advise on where [specific variant] is right now in your specific area. See, we don’t supply the stores directly; we supply the distribution warehouses in your region, and then the [Major Brand] head office places an order with them and that stock gets allocated to the majority of the [Major Brand] branches in your city. The variety of stock is dependent on their orders and it can vary from region to region. We would recommend looking at more than one store, or alternatively, speaking to the store manager, as they may be able to order the [specific variant] of the product that you are looking for.”

Customer: “Oh! So, you don’t just, have a list or something of where your stuff is sold? I guess I’ll speak to the store manager, then.”

I can’t understand how customers think we have a list of a thousand different products that are in all 250,000 stores in the country that we can just whip out.

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