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Outsourcing To A Third Party Often Ends In Disaster

, , , , , | Working | November 25, 2022

I am a personal shopper at a chain grocery store. My company offers “delivery,” but instead of using their own associates to deliver the groceries, they use a third party “choose your own hours”-type company. The drivers in our town choose not to drive in the evenings. Ever. If a customer places an order for delivery for an 8:00 or 9:00 pm timeslot, they are not getting their groceries.

This is annoying for everyone involved because customers don’t get their items and call us to complain, but there is nothing we can do except submit a request for a driver, suggest they come to pick up their items themselves, or cancel the order. Naturally, we are the ones that bear the brunt of their anger. I 100% believe that these customers have the right to be angry and definitely should find the right channel to complain to. Again, I really do empathize with them.

Most customers eventually accept a corporate number they can call and make a formal complaint, but this story takes the cake. It is the day after Thanksgiving at around 3:00 pm.

Customer: “Hello. I am calling about an order that was placed on Wednesday for 9:00 pm. I never received it. This is the third time I’ve called.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. I talked to you on Wednesday night. I was not able to schedule a driver for your order.”

Customer: “I know. I told you I couldn’t come to get it because my truck is broken down, and you said you would keep requesting a driver until 10:30. I stayed up all that time waiting for my groceries and they never came. I am very unhappy about this, as you can understand, so I called earlier today and talked to somebody who said she was the manager. She told me she could cancel the order and I’d get a refund. The money is not on my account yet and I’m calling to find out why.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. It takes three to five days for the money to get processed.”

Customer: “Well, that is entirely unacceptable. I can only afford to buy groceries one day at a time, so I have had no food in my house for two days because of this. I need that refund right now because I have no money to buy food. I want my $98 back on my account right now.”

I’ve pulled the customer’s order up on the computer. It was for $49.

Me: “I am so sorry about that. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything to speed up that process. I have a phone number for customer service I can give you. They might be able to authorize a faster refund.”

Customer: “I don’t want to call a different number. I want you to do it. Give me back my $98!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m looking at your order. I can see you purchased a turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls, a pumpkin pie, and a few sodas. It says your total was $49. Where are you getting the $98 from?”

Customer: “The rest is for my pain and suffering because you ruined my Thanksgiving!”

Me: “I think you’d better call the customer service line. They have the authority to offer you some additional compensation.”

Customer: “You know what? You’re an idiot. Your whole department is made up of idiots. You completely ruined my Thanksgiving and won’t help me. I will never shop there again and will tell all my friends never to shop there. You’re all a bunch of motherf*****s!”

She hung up. Part of us did really feel bad for her. We understand she had financial hardship, and this is the kind of thing that makes us wish we could do deliveries ourselves. Most of her order had been substituted anyway, since it was placed the night before Thanksgiving — ham instead of turkey, sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin, etc.

But any food would have been better than none, and if we’d have been allowed, we’d have been glad to take it to her. Still, there wasn’t any more we could do. We do not have the authority to offer her more than what she paid. I hope she called and complained to someone who actually could help her.

Reading Notes Isn’t In Their Skillet-Skillset

, , , , , , , | Working | November 1, 2022

I am a personal shopper. Customers who have an issue with their orders call a customer support center to get help. The support center is supposed to be all-powerful. They are able to access all the details from the customer’s order, and they have the authority to issue refunds, offer credits, and resolve all issues without involving us.

The only time they should ever call our department is if a customer has lodged a major complaint against a staff member and the support center needs to hear both sides of the story in order to resolve the issue correctly. This rarely happens.

This time, I’ve gotten a call from the support center that doesn’t make sense to me as the representative should have been able to see the issue on her end.

Representative: “Hello, am I speaking to Online, Pickup, and Delivery at [Store Location]?”

Me: “Yes. This is [My Name] speaking.”

Representative: “I have a customer, [Customer], on the line and she has an issue with her order. She picked up an order from your store an hour ago and is missing an item. I need to know if you’ll replace it for her.”

Me: “Let me look up her order. What is the item she’s missing?”

Representative: “It’s a [Brand] non-stick skillet for $19.95. Since you left it out of her order, I will remove the charge, but I need you to replace it. As soon as you confirm that she did, in fact, order one, I’ll tell her to drive back to pick it up.”

Me: “Yes, I see the skillet listed on the order. Look, her entire order is listed as pick-up except for the skillet, which is listed as three-to-five-day shipping, so no, she wouldn’t have gotten her skillet from us today.”

Representative: “What does that mean?”

The representative should be able to see that the item was listed as shipped on her end and should be able to see an expected arrival date. The whole point of the support center is that they have more access to customer information than we do so they can better help with major issues.

Me: “That means she ordered it along with the other items, but our store doesn’t have it in stock so it’s being shipped from a different store. A delivery driver will be bringing it to her house.”

Representative: “No, she only ordered pick-up, not delivery. Just go get one off the sales floor and I’ll send her to pick it up, free of charge, since your department messed up and inconvenienced her.”

I do not recognize the brand name, so I click on it. It takes me to a webpage for a different store location entirely. I send a coworker to check our kitchen appliance section to verify that we don’t actually have it, and they return saying there is nothing of that brand at all.

Me: “Ma’am, I can’t go get one. We do not carry that brand here.”

Representative: *Taking on a snarky tone* “You work at a [Store]. [Store] carries those skillets.”

Me: “Ma’am, we are a neighborhood market location, not a supercenter. We almost exclusively carry groceries. Our kitchen section is only four feet long and only contains the store brand, no name brands.”

Representative: “Oh. So, what store is her skillet coming from?”

Me: “I can’t be 100% sure, as there are four supercenters in this county, but the website is showing that [Store twenty miles away] has it in stock currently, so my guess would be from there.”

Representative: “What is that store number?”

I had to Google that, but the representative should have been able to look it up on her end. I don’t know why she didn’t, and I don’t know why she decided to be rude. I can’t help that I work at a market, which she should have been able to see on her end. I gave her the store number and she hung up on me without saying another word.

The customer called us directly the next day to let us know that a very nice delivery driver had brought her skillet from the store twenty miles away and that she was sorry for complaining about us. She just hadn’t realized she had chosen a skillet we didn’t carry.

Their Excuse Went Up In Smoker

, , , , , | Right | October 11, 2022

I work in a retail pharmacy that also sells cigarettes, so we get people coming in for a pack of smokes frequently.

Our store policy requires us to check a physical and valid photo ID for everyone wanting to buy cigarettes, alcohol, or certain over-the-counter medications. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 121; no ID means no sale.

One evening, a man comes in and immediately asks for a pack of cigarettes. I get him his cigarettes.

Me: “May I see your ID?”

He shows me, and I see that it has expired.

Me: “Sorry, but since your ID has expired, I can’t sell these cigarettes to you.”

Customer: *Very angry* “Other places have accepted it before, and they always tell me to just scan it and get it over with! There’s a two-month grace period after the expiration date.”

Me: “I can’t take an expired ID. If I sold you cigarettes with it, I could lose my job.”

He tries to convince me some more, but I hold firm in my refusal, and he storms out, yelling at me to talk to my manager about it and that “this is all bulls***.”

Later on, I ask my manager on duty about it.

Manager: “He’s completely wrong; the entire ‘grace period’ excuse might apply to a traffic stop with the police but not a cigarette sale at a pharmacy.”

Also, his ID expired on March 24th and this happened on May 25th, so even if there was a two-month window, it still would have been expired!

Shopping For Yourself: There Is No Substitution

, , , , | Right | October 7, 2022

I am a personal shopper at a grocery store. When a customer places an order, if there are any items they are particular about, they can flag them for no substitutions. Unless a customer has specifically requested no substitutes, we are absolutely required to offer something if the item they want is out of stock.

After the order is picked, they receive an email containing the list of substituted items and out-of-stock items. After they pick up their order, they are sent an email with the receipt that lists the items they did receive and what the final cost was. This is also stored under their order history on our app. If there’s any confusion about what a customer received and was charged for, the receipt should be the first thing they check.

One day, I am assigned a frozen walk. One of the customers I am shopping for has ordered seven large boxes of hamburger patties. We only have two on the shelf. After confirming there are no more in the back, I scan the two we do have and click “item not found” on my handheld device for the other five boxes. We do carry the same type of burger in a smaller count package, which is in stock at the time, so my plan is to grab about ten of those packages to equal the five boxes. Unfortunately, the burgers are flagged for no substitutes, so the customer does not get the rest of her burgers.

The next day at work, our department phone rings, and I happen to be the one to answer. The customer is already irritable when I pick up.

Me: “Online grocery. This is [My Name] speaking. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I picked up groceries yesterday and just went through them now. You shorted me. I am missing five boxes of hamburgers!”

Me: “I am sorry about that. I am the one who picked your frozen items yesterday. You ordered seven boxes, but we only had two in stock.”

Customer: “I needed those burgers for a cookout tonight! I can’t believe you shorted me on the burgers. Now I’m out all that money!”

Me: “Ma’am, you were not charged for the five boxes of hamburgers. If you check the receipt sent to your email, you will see you only paid for the two boxes.”

Customer: “Well, that doesn’t help me now, does it? How can [Store] be out of f****** hamburgers?”

Me: “We had other burgers, just not in the big box that you ordered. I did check the back just to make sure. If the system had allowed me to make a substitute, I would have gladly gotten you other burgers.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous. I hope you know you ruined my family’s dinner.”

She hung up before I could respond to that.

Going To Town On That Mistake

, , , , | Right | September 26, 2022

I work in the online grocery department. We are in a major tourist destination along the Gulf Coast, and there are two towns along the beach here. The town in the east has only been popular with tourists for the last ten years or so while the town in the west has been popular since the 1950s.

First-time tourists don’t always realize the towns are separate and tend to call the whole area by the western town’s name. Both towns have a [Store], and sometimes customers aren’t sure which one they placed their order with. In the summer, my coworkers and I will have this conversation at least once per day. We are at the less popular eastern store.

Customer: “Hello, I’m here to pick up my order.”

Me: “Sure! What’s the name on the order?”

Customer: “It’s [Customer].”

Me: “I’m not seeing that. Could you spell it for me, please?”

Customer: “Okay.” *Spells their name*

Me: “I’m still not seeing it. Could it be under an alternate name? Your maiden name, your spouse’s name, or something else?”

Customer: “No, just my name.”

Me: “Okay, are you certain your order is for this store?”

Customer: “Yes! I placed the order for [Western Town Store].”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but this is [Eastern Town Store].”

Customer: “No, this is [Western Town]!”

Me: “It’s actually not. We are in [Eastern Town]. We don’t have your order. I bet [Western Town] does. Would you like me to give you directions to their location?”

Customer: “Well, I guess, but if they don’t have it, I’ll call and complain!”

So far, no one has called back to say that the other store didn’t have their order, either. For the most part, these customers are actually staying in the eastern town. One would think if the address of their condo or hotel has the eastern town’s name they’d realize which town they are in.