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Phoning In This Whole Taking Ownership Thing

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: Billiam201 | November 26, 2021

Quite some time ago, my girlfriend and I (now my wife of more than fifteen years) moved in together and had to set up everything: cable, Internet, phone, etc. We got our home phone number, our two cell phones, and we were off to the races.

Almost immediately, we started getting calls for an establishment that does custom framing and various other art-related things. Of course, we had caller ID, and we had friends that would call us, but inevitably, if we didn’t recognize the number, it was someone wanting to find out if their order was complete, or their frame was done, or what their hours were, or any of a thousand other questions.

I’m sure anyone else who has had this happen will recognize this exchange.

Us: “Sorry, that’s no longer their number. This is a residence.”

Us: “Yes, I’m sure.”

Us: “No, I’m not giving you my address.”

Us: “No, I don’t know their new number.”

Us: “Yes, I have a phone book, but so do you.”

After a thousand of these, we changed the message on our answering machine to say, “This is not, I repeat not, [Art Shop]. If you are trying to reach [Art Shop], please hang up, look up their number, and try that, because we aren’t them.”

Eventually, I got my gazillionth call.

Me: “Where do people keep getting this number?”

Caller #1: “It’s printed on my receipt. I guess I’ll just call this other number.”

Me: “Any chance you can give me that number? Thanks!”

I called the other number.

Owner: “Hello, [Art Shop].”

Me: “You guys are still giving out my home phone number on your receipts.”

Owner: “Yeah. So?”

Me: “Well, f****** stop it. It’s been at least a year since you haven’t had that number. At least cross it out or something.”

Owner: “That’s a pain in the a**. I’m not making my employees do that.”

Me: “So, you’re the manager?”

Owner: “I’m the owner.”

Me: “So, let me see if I have this right. You, what was your name again?”

Owner: “[Owner].”

Me: “You, [Owner], have decided that it’s too inconvenient to cross my home phone number off of your receipts, so you’re just going to keep giving it out?”

Owner: “What are you gonna do? Sue me?”

Me: “Maybe.”

Owner: “Whatever. I’ve got s*** to do. Bye.”

I called a lawyer, but I didn’t really have a leg to stand on.

I went to the store and asked for the owner.

Employee: “[Owner]’s not here. He’s hardly ever here, really. You want me to call him?”

Me: “No, I’m fine. I know this is going to sound odd, but is there any chance I can see one of your receipts?”

She picked up a receipt book and showed it to me. Sure enough, it had my phone number at the top, above another one.

Me: “I thought so. I couldn’t get you at the other number, some guy yelled at me, and I didn’t have my old receipt, so I had to come down here.”

Employee: “We’ve been having that happen a lot, ever since [Owner] decided we didn’t need two phone lines. But he had just bought like twenty boxes of these receipt books and business cards, and he’s too cheap to buy more until they run out. I’d hate to be that guy.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s gotta suck.”

I went home and hatched my evil plan. The next time I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize:

Me: “Hello, [Art Shop].”

Caller #2: “Hi, this is [Caller #2]. I dropped off [item] last week to be framed. Is it ready?”

Me: “Let me check. Yup. We finished it this morning. I hope you don’t mind, but we decided to upgrade the matting because of the weight of the piece. It’s the same color, and we won’t be charging you for it, since it was my decision.”

Caller #2: “Oh, thank you. I’ll be down to pick it up later today. What time do you close?”

I look down at the business card, with my number and the hours clearly marked 11:00 to 4:00.

Me: “Take your time; we’ll be here until 7:00.”

Caller #2: “Thank you so much. Can you tell me how much that was?”

Me: “$19.99, ma’am, plus tax, so $21.39.”

Caller #2: “Wow, that’s cheap. Are you sure?”

Me: “Of course. If anyone has a problem, tell them you talked to [Owner].”

Caller #2: “Okay, see you around 6:00.”

Me: “See you then. Thank you for calling [Art Shop].”

For WEEKS I kept giving out completely random information.

“How much is a 36″x48″ matted frame?” “Let’s say $24.99.” “Wow, that’s cheap. How much to have it done custom, how I want it?” “Custom is an extra $10, so $34.99.” “Wow, that’s cheap. I’ll be right down. What was your name?” “[Owner].” “See you in ten, [Owner].”

“How much to have the entire front page of the New York Times from 9/11 mounted and framed?” “$33.99, unless you want our special, proprietary newspaper frame and mat service, only $49.99 and guaranteed for life, only at [Art Shop]. Tell them [Owner] sent you.”

I can only imagine the number of pissed-off people who showed up to pick up orders that weren’t ready, and when they finally were, they were given a price WAAAAY higher than what “[Owner]” had told them over the phone.

Eventually, someone let slip that “they called the number on the receipt, and that’s what [Owner] had told them.” [Owner] was NOT happy.

Me: “Hello, thank you for calling [Art Shop]. This is [Owner].”

Owner: “YOU’RE NOT [OWNER]! I’M [OWNER]! ARE YOU TRYING TO PUT ME OUT OF BUSINESS?!”

Me: “Why, [Owner], whatever do you mean?”

Owner: “Someone has been giving prices to my customers and telling them their orders are in when they’re not due for weeks.”

Me: “Well, [Owner], who called them?”

Owner: “Nobody called them; they called us.”

Me: “Then what’s the problem? If someone called you and got pricing information, that would seem to be your problem.”

Owner: “They didn’t call me; they called you.”

Me: “Well, how would that happen?”

Owner: “Your number is on my receipts and business cards.”

Me: “My, my. It seems to me there’s a very simple solution here. Take my number off your receipts and business cards.”

Owner: “Do you have any idea how much promotional materials cost?”

Me: “Is it more than it costs to do these jobs for the prices you’re quoting? Is it more than it costs to lose customers, or less than that?”

Owner: “This is extortion!”

Me: “Call it what you want, [Owner]. The choices, and consequences, are entirely up to you.”

A week later:

Me: “Hello, [Art Shop]. This is [Owner].”

Owner: “I’VE ORDERED NEW RECEIPT BOOKS AND CARDS! CAN YOU PLEASE STOP THIS BULLS***!”

Me: “Sure. Bye, [Owner]!”

I didn’t let him off the hook until the calls stopped, but it was only a week or so after he called me back. He must have paid for expedited shipping.


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