No Helium, But Plenty Of Hot Air!

, , , , | Right | May 9, 2020

My store sells helium balloons. As a complementary service, if you purchase the balloons from us we will blow them up from you free of charge. We aren’t allowed to blow balloons up from external companies or other shops, even if the customer offers to pay.

Whenever we run out of helium, we take down all the balloons and put them behind the nearby electronics desk. It’s largely to stop customers being disappointed at not getting their purchased balloons blown up and complaining or asking for goodwill. It’s also to stop us having to refund every customer’s balloons and wasting time. A woman approaches the desk.

Customer: “Hi. Do you have any helium balloons? The stand is empty.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry but we’re out of helium so we don’t have the balloons out right now.”

Customer: “Oh. I have a helium tank at home so I don’t mind buying them and doing it at home. I really need them for tomorrow for my son’s birthday.”

Me: “Oh, well, that’s fine, then. If you follow me, I can get the box and find the balloons you like.”

We both start to walk towards where the box is kept at the desk.

Customer: “So, I’m assuming I get a discount on the balloons due to the fact you aren’t blowing them up.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we can do that. Head office is very strict about our sale of balloons in relation to the helium. At the end of the day, us blowing them up is a complimentary service. I can ring a manager to double-check, I guess?”

We reach the electronics desk and she asks for a specific balloon, which I hand to her. I ring a manager who confirms what I told the customer: that we cannot discount balloons just because we’ve temporarily run out of helium. I hang up the phone and turn to the customer.

Me: “I’m sorry, but he’s confirmed that I can’t give you a discount.”

She glares at me and sighs.

Customer: “Are you sure?!”

Me: “Yes, I’m sure. I’m sorry but it’s company policy. I can’t override it.”

Early on in this interaction, I felt bad for her, since it was for her toddler’s birthday party. I had planned on giving her a few of our “£1” coupons to apologise and essentially give her her discount. The coupons are generic so it wouldn’t have flagged on the system and the manager would have been none the wiser, and the woman would be happy. However, she is so insistent on the discount, I tell her twice more that there’s nothing I can do. A couple of minutes later, she hands back the balloon I’d given her.

Customer: “You know what, I’m just going to drive to [Same Supermarket the town over] and get the balloons off of them. They’ll blow it up for me. Thanks for nothing!”

With that, she walked away to purchase the rest of her shopping. I still don’t get why she made a big deal out of the helium, when she stated she had a tank at home she could use, nor why she figured driving ten minutes away to the same supermarket — therefore still giving our company money — just to have them blown up would save her any money or time!

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