Small Talk, Big Problem

, , , , | Right | February 8, 2018

(I work for a car rental agency as a sales representative. Part of my job is to make small talk with customers about their plans for our vehicle and their trip to ascertain if they would like certain services. A woman walks up to me.)

Me: “Hello. How are you today?”

Customer: “Uh, fine.” *strange look*

Me: “Do you have a reservation already?”

(She does, so I take her information and begin entering it in the computer.)

Me: “So, are you going anywhere fun?”

Customer: “What?”

Me: “Are you headed out on vacation?”

Customer: “What? No, I just need a car. It’s local.”

Me: “Oh, all right. Any particular reason? Did your car break down?” *a fairly common reason local residents might want to rent a car*

Customer: *in a sharp tone of voice* “It’s private.”

(I raise an eyebrow and complete the rental in silence. I do not offer her any services. She takes the keys and leaves. I go to lunch. I return. The phone rings.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Agency]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “Were you the one that helped me?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am?”

Customer: “I was just in there and this blonde guy helped me. Was that you?”

(I’m the only blonde male working today.)

Me: “Most likely, ma’am. What can I do for you today?”

Customer: “I want to speak to your supervisor.”

Me: “I’m afraid there isn’t one on duty today.”

(It’s Saturday, we are painfully slow, and managers go home early.)

Customer: “Well, I just want to lodge a complaint with somebody. You were very rude, asking me about my business with the car. It made me uncomfortable.”

Me: “I apologize, but small talk is part of the job.”

Customer: “No, it isn’t! You were prying into my personal life! I shouldn’t have to tell you anything! You have no right!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but asking small questions is how I find out what other services you might require. For instance, if you had never visited this city before, I would offer navigation. If you were renting to go on a bachelor party, I would offer something flashy like a convertible or a Cadillac. It’s part of my job.”

Customer: “You were rude, and you asked too many questions! When does the supervisor return?!”

Me: “He will be in the office tomorrow from 5:00 am until 4:00 pm.”

Customer: “We will see what he says about this!”

Me: “Drive safe, ma’am.” *click*

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