Malicious Compliance, One Gram At A Time

, , , , , | Right | October 30, 2020

I’ve worked retail for a long time and thought I had seen almost everything, but every now and then, a customer will surprise me with their outlandish demands and complaints.

I am serving at a dual counter where the deli products are, as well as the tills for checkout. It isn’t a busy period of the day, which is probably why we got away with this little game. My manager for the day is a friend from high school and he is firm but fair with a wicked sense of humour.

A regular who is known for being unbearably rude and condescending approaches the deli and makes her request for approximately 300g of cheerio frankfurts. Anyone who has worked a deli knows that it can be difficult to get exact weights, and most customers are understanding of this. Not this woman. I bag up just under the specified weight and she demands I do it again. And again. And again. On the fourth attempt, she starts screaming at me: “Useless, lazy, uneducated, f*** you, f*** this, f*** that, so on and so forth…”

I am rather shocked at how quickly she went from rude to tyrant. My manager, however, has watched the entire exchange from the nearby office and now approaches.

Manager: “Hey, couldn’t help but notice… What seems to be the issue?”

Rude Regular: “This little b**** can’t bag up f****** cheerios and I want this fixed now!

Manager: “No worries. How much would you like?”

Rude Regular: *Sneering at me* “I want 300g. No more, no less. She can’t seem to understand that simple request and I want her fired!”

My manager ignores the petulant demand to fire me and proceeds to start bagging up cheerios. As soon as he gets to just below the weight, he stops.

Manager: “I think I can see the problem. You are correct in your assumption that she cannot supply you with what you’ve requested. Only management can do this next step.”

The rude customer is now looking as though Christmas has come early, until my manager pulls out a pair of deli scissors… and proceeds to cut up a final frankfurt into small chunks. He then pops it in the bag one piece at a time while dramatically checking and rechecking the scale’s display until it hits 300g.

Then, he inputs the product code, which in most deli’s will automatically drop the weight reading between two to five grams to make up for the weight of the paper or container. Most customers don’t realise this is a thing and it’s designed that way so that customers don’t get charged for the packaging.

This drops the weight back to below 300g. The woman looks ready to explode, but my manager then holds up a single finger in a “wait a second” gesture. He then dramatically picks up the final piece of this mangled frankfurt, dropping it ceremoniously into the bag.

The final readout? 300g exactly.

She was NOT impressed, but I sure was.

Only then did she realise that if she had simply let me finish the code input, she would have had exactly 300g without having the final frank chopped into itty-bitty pieces.

Maybe next time she will be a little more courteous.

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