Some People Only Have A Shelf-Life

, , , , , | Right | February 5, 2018

(I work in a small charity shop, for a small, local animal shelter. Our prices are always pretty good. We have a shelf for 50p items: cheap stuff like generic mugs, small plates, little trinkets, typical charity bric-a-brac. I am manning the till when I see a regular troublemaker sidle into the shop. Today, she sneaks up to the area where things worth more than 50p are placed with price labels. I am subtly watching her as I tidy the counter. She browses, and then picks up a very nice vase, which is priced at £2.50. As I watch, she creeps — I do not exaggerate; she walks sideways, like a crab, so that her back is to me, “hiding” the vase — and pops it down on the 50p shelf. I sigh inwardly, because I know where this is going. She backs up about three feet, then swoops in and plucks the item from the shelf, exclaiming about how nice it is, before strolling over and placing it down on the counter.)

Me: “Just this one for you today?”

Customer: *all sweetness and light* “Yes, please! It’s quite a find!”

Me: “Lovely. That will be £2.50, please. Would you like it bubble-wrapped?”

Customer: “Oh, no. It was on the 50p shelf. See?”

(She points at the shelf, as though I am unaware of where the shelf is, literally five feet from the tills.)

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, but this item was out on the main shelves. Look.”

(I turn the item to show her the base, where the original price sticker remains.)

Customer: “Well, it was on the 50p shelf when I found it, so you have to give it to me for 50p!”

(Her nice tone is slipping to snappy now, as she and I have one of these arguments about once a fortnight, and she knows she won’t get her way.)

Me: “I am so sorry, but I can’t do that. It only went out today, so it has to be sold at the original asking price. After all, we are an animal charity; every 50p is another tin of dog food to us!”

(This “tin of dog food” speech is my greatest weapon against the customers who quibble over less than the cost of a pint on items in a charity shop, but today, she is not having it, and I brace myself as I see her visibly inflate with rage.)

Customer: “I AM A REGULAR CUSTOMER HERE. I SPEND MONEY IN HERE ALL THE TIME. YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TO ME FOR THE PRICE I FOUND IT AT. THIS IS FALSE ADVERTISING AND I WILL HAVE YOU FIRED.”

Me: “Ma’am, I am a volunteer. They don’t fire volunteers in the same way. And, as such, I am free to tell you that no, I do not have to sell it to you at that price. It is not false advertising, as the price on the base is present and correct, and you were the one who moved it to the 50p shelf.”

Customer: *starting to go a faint shade of purple now* “HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME IN THAT MANNER, YOU IGNORANT LITTLE BRAT?! NO WONDER THEY HAVE YOU AS A VOLUNTEER. NOBODY WOULD EVER ACTUALLY HIRE YOU!”

Me: “I am sorry you feel that way.”

(I pick up the vase and move it out of her reach, on a bit of counter beside the wall.)

Customer: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THAT’S MINE!”

Me: “It is not yours; you have not paid for it. I am refusing you service for insulting me.”

Customer: “HOW DARE YOU?! YOU CAN’T DO THAT! I’LL HAVE YOU FIRED! I AM A REGULAR! I AM NEVER COMING BACK AFTER THIS OUTRAGE! I SPEND A LOT OF MONEY HERE!”

Me: “Usually about 50p. Now, please, there is a queue forming.”

(Still ranting and raving, she storms out of the shop, all but shattering our elderly doors as she slams them.)

Me: *under my breath* “See you again next week.”

Next Customer: *puts down their genuine 50p-shelf purchases and grins at me* “So… How many tins of dog food do I owe you?”

Me: *laughing* “Five. Or I’ll take £2.50, instead.”

(The other customers were very understanding about the disturbance, and I am sad to say this was one of almost daily occurrences of trouble with the dreaded 50p shelf.)

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