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Made A Grave Mistake

, , , , | Right | December 1, 2017

(This exchange takes place during my first year managing a particular cemetery. We have a policy, posted on the gate to the cemetery and printed on the back of cemetery maps, that people may decorate graves for holidays/special occasions, but that decorations will be removed a week after the holiday and disposed of. Although it isn’t posted policy, we also store the removed items outside the workshop for about a week before throwing them out. People who have been visiting the cemetery a long time know about the unofficial policy, so they’re not always quick to get decorations they want to keep off the graves, and may drop by to root around in the “decorations heap” to retrieve their items. We never guarantee their things will be there.)

Customer: “What happened to the Christmas decorations on my husband’s grave?”

Me: “We remove holiday decorations a week after the holiday, ma’am.”

Customer: “How is anyone supposed to know that?”

Me: “It is posted policy, ma’am. The sign at the entrance to the cemetery explains it, and we do recommend not placing items you want to keep in the cemetery.”

Customer: “I spent a lot of money on those decorations! I spent a lot of money and time, and you’re going to reimburse me for them!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry you’re upset, but it is cemetery policy to remove the holiday decorations a week after the holiday. We’re not going to reimburse you.”

Customer: “Oh, yes you are! I spent over $200 on my decorations, and they were removed, and I want them back! Where are they?”

Me: “Items left in the cemetery are disposed of, ma’am.”

Customer: “You threw them AWAY?! Where are they? You used to put decorations somewhere out back so people could get them!”

(As that was never posted policy, she wouldn’t know about it unless she’d been decorating the grave, and having her items removed, for years, so our “items are disposed of” policy could not have been a surprise to her.)

Me: “We did store them, ma’am. We kept all removed decorations out back for two weeks before disposing of them. We also didn’t take the decorations down for two weeks this year, instead of the single week that is our posted policy, so there were actually four full weeks you could have come retrieved your items before they were thrown away.”

Customer: “But it’s still the holidays! Other people still have holiday decorations up!”

Me: “We don’t prevent people from redecorating graves, ma’am, but those decorations will also be removed. And as our posted policy says, we remove holiday decorations a week after the holiday.”

Customer: “Just where is this policy posted?”

Me: *getting very tired of repeating myself* “At the gate to the cemetery, ma’am.”

Customer: “Well, I celebrate the holidays through the end of January, so it is still the holidays, and you took my things down, and you will reimburse me!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am, but it’s several weeks past Christmas and we will not be reimbursing you.”

Customer: “Well, you’re going to be sorry! I’m going to write a letter of complaint! You have serious problems here. I’ve had things removed, and things have been stolen before, and you have no security here—”

Me: *fed up* “Yes, ma’am, because this is a cemetery, not a bank.”

(Naturally, the customer was furious with me and stormed out. I mentioned the exchange to one of the cemetery owners, who was my boss, just in case the customer called or wrote the owners to complain about me. The owner just rolled her eyes and said she knew exactly who I was talking about, and that she complains like that every year!)

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