Spamming You With Complaints

, , , , , | Right | June 3, 2019

(I am working at a supermarket deli counter. It is quiet, so my supervisor is taking time to finish some paperwork just behind me while I keep an eye out for customers. A man comes up to the counter.)

Me: “Hi there. Can I get you anything or do you need some time to decide?”

Customer: “Oh. I’d like some spam, please.”

Me: “Sorry, we don’t sell spam here. We do have corned beef which is similar but with beef, or luncheon meat is pretty similar, too. Otherwise, the spam is in aisle ten with the tinned meats. I can help you find it if you like.”

Customer: “No. You have spam. There.” *points to one of the many ham joints we have* “It’s all spam because it’s not real ham; it’s all reformed so it’s spam.”

Me: “Which one would you like?”

Customer: “It’s spam. Not ham.”

(My supervisor looks up and gives me a funny look before turning back to her paperwork.)

Me: “Okay. Which would you like? We have some smoked ones here, dry ones over here, and we have some with crumb coatings here. If you’re not sure, you can sample as many as you like.”

Customer: “This one.” *jabs his finger, pointing to one, scowling at me as he does so*

Me: “The Wiltshire?” *points to it*

Customer: “Yeah. That’s spam.”

Me: “Is this the one you want or would you like to try some first?”

Customer: “Yeah, can I get three slices of that spam?”

Me: “Do you want it sliced thick or thin?”

Customer: “I don’t know. How thick should spam be cut? Because it’s spam, not ham.”

Me: “It depends. If you’re using it for sandwiches, you can have it thick or thin depending on what you prefer. But if you’re using it in a salad, thicker is usually better.”

Customer: “I’ll have the spam cut thick.”

(I cut him the first slice, showing it to him to see if that’s thick enough. He’s happy with it so I slice the other two, weigh it, and tell him the price.)

Me: “Can I get you anything else?”

Customer: “Yeah, what’s that spam?” *points to another ham joint*

Me: “That’s honey roast. It’s really nice. Would you like to try some?”

Customer: “No. I’ll just take what I’ve got.” *reaches up to the counter and takes his ham* “But you shouldn’t call it ham. It’s spam. It’s illegal to call food something it’s not. You’re breaking the law.”

Me: “I can get you a manager so you can tell him about your concerns, if you like?”

(The man mutters something under his breath and shakes his head.)

Me: “Can I help you with anything else?”

Customer: “No.”

(The man wanders off. A few minutes later, the manager on duty comes over.)

Manager #1: “I have a complaint from a customer.”

Supervisor: “Let me guess. It’s spam man.”

Manager #1: “I… There’s a customer claiming you argued with him about the ham and were very rude.”

Me: “I didn’t argue with him at all. He tried to say our ham was actually spam because it was reformed and so, legally, we shouldn’t call it spam, so I left out the word ‘ham’ and called it by its name, like ‘Wiltshire’ or ‘honey roast.’”

Supervisor: “That’s true. The customer kept going on and on about it being spam, not ham, but there was no argument.”

Manager #1: “You’re sure? Because that’s not what he’s saying.”

Supervisor: “I was here the whole time doing paperwork. I can guarantee you [My Name] did not argue with him whatsoever. It’s obvious he was trying to start an argument, but [My Name] didn’t rise to it. In fact, when he kept insisting about the spam, she offered to go and get you so he could speak to you about it and he said no.”

Manager #1: “Okay, I’ll go and talk to him. I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”

(As soon as the manager leaves, my supervisor turns to me.)

Supervisor: “Misunderstanding, my a**.”

(The rest of the shift went by and we didn’t hear anything. The customer didn’t come back, and the manager didn’t say anything. The next day, however, I came in and I was called into the office by [Manager #2], the manager on duty that day. It turned out the customer came in that morning and complained about me again, saying I had been rude and abusive. [Manager #2] said I would have to be written up because she’d had to give him a £20 voucher to keep him happy because of my behaviour. I tried to explain what happened but she wouldn’t hear it. I told my supervisor and she was furious and headed to [Manager #2]’s office. [Manager #2] ignored her, too. It was only when [Manager #1] came back into work later that week and explained what had actually happened that [Manager #2] dropped the write-up, but she still warned me to “watch my attitude” around customers and not to argue with them in future.)

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