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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.

Paint-Ing-Yourself In A Bad Light

, , , , | Working | November 2, 2021

A paint-it-yourself ceramic studio near us frequently has deals throughout the week. My husband and I go in on a day that has a BOGO deal for studio fees if you paint with a friend. We walk in and are greeted by an employee. She asks us a few questions, like if we’ve painted there before, and sets us up before walking to the back. I am forty weeks pregnant and am not wearing my rings since my fingers are swollen.

Employee #1: “By the way, in case you weren’t aware, we have a BOGO deal for the studio fees today. Enjoy!”

We paint our pieces and go to pay for everything once we’re done. There’s now a new employee at the register. The total comes up and it’s about $10 more than we calculated.  

Husband: “Is that with the BOGO deal?”

Employee #2: “The BOGOs for friends. Not couples.”

Husband: “That’s not what the other employee told us. When we came in, she mentioned the deal to us.”

Employee #2: *Shrugs* “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s friends’ night, not date night.”

I grab my husband’s left hand and raise mine to show that he has rings on and I don’t.

Me: “Who says we’re a couple? Maybe we’re just friends who came in to paint tonight. “

The employee glares at me but waives the additional studio fee.

Employee #2: “I’ll do it this once, but don’t expect me to do this again in the future.”

Turning Entitlement Into An Artform

, , , | Right | August 31, 2021

The art gallery that I work for has some seriously upscale stuff. When looking for a nice painting for your living room, office, or whatever, know that if you want an original piece of art, and if that art is from us, you’re going to be paying a LOT for it.

Me: “Good afternoon, ma’am, how can I help you today?”

Customer: “Yes, I was wondering about the price of this piece over here.”

She leads me to a moderately-sized, original piece in a redwood frame.

Me: “This one is priced at $1,200, with taxes, of course.”

Customer: “Hmm…”

She takes a moment to study it.

Customer: “No, no, I think you can do it for $200.”

Me: “Uh, no, sorry, the lowest I could possibly go is $1,100, and that’s even a bit of a stretch, considering the artist is so well known around here.”

Customer: “No, no, no, that won’t do. I’ll take it for $200.”

From the tone of her voice, she isn’t asking or suggesting; she’s straight-up TELLING me that I WILL sell it to her for the price she quoted.

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I could never possibly take $1,000 off a painting for you. Usually, when someone offers a price $100 less than the asking price, I have to call the artist and ask them directly.”

Customer: “No, you don’t need to call them. I’ll just take it for $200.”

Me: “No, ma’am, you won’t. You need to pay the full $1,200 if you want this painting.”

Customer: “Listen here. I want that painting, but I’ll only pay $200 for it. So, what you’re going to do is walk your happy little butt over there, take it off the wall, carry it to the registers, and sell it to me for the price I am willing to pay.”

She crosses her arms and gives me a “so there” huff of breath and decisive nod.

Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but that’s not how this works. I’m afraid you’re going to have to pay the $1,200 or you don’t get the Upscale Stuff.”

The customer spent a good twenty minutes arguing with me before she finally stormed out. Whoever told her that SHE could set the prices for an art piece was an idiot and a liar, and I was powerfully tempted to say so. I’m honestly amazed that I kept myself as professional and polite as I did, as I was desperately trying NOT to burst into scornful laughter.

I told my manager, truthfully, what happened and — behind closed doors with me — he didn’t bother to hold back his laughter. He shook his head and told me that I had done a very good job and that I wasn’t going to get into trouble. He promised that he would handle any complaints.

I found out that she DID call to complain and was politely and professionally read the riot act about her behavior and unrealistic expectations about our business. She was informed, in polite, pompous speech, that we did not allow customers to set the price, and that if she wanted a piece, she was obligated to pay the asking price for it. Then, she was — just as politely and pompously — hung up on.

Oh, and I sold that very same piece of art for $1,200 later that same week to a gentleman who planned to make it a talking piece in his gallery.

A Picture Of Rule-Breaking

, , | Right | July 2, 2021

I work in a small art gallery that displays and sells the work of various local artists. One day, as I am patrolling the floor, I spot a woman examining a print and then lifting her phone as if to take a picture.

Me: “Ma’am, picture-taking is not allowed within the gallery.”

Woman: “Oh, but this would look so lovely in my parlour.”

Me: “Yes, and for just… [price], you can take home the print. We can even frame it for an extra amount.”

Woman: *Scoffs* “Why would I pay? I can just print it out myself.”

Me: “Which is why photographs are not allowed. If you want a copy of any of our art, you need to pay for it.”

The woman shook her head, then turned and raised her phone again, obviously hoping to just ignore me. I stuck my hand out between her phone and the portrait, ruining her shot. She turned, let out a frustrated shriek, and stomped off, raising her phone to take a photo of a different piece on her way out.

I followed this oversized toddler around for a good minute, continuing to tell her that photos are not allowed and using my hand to prevent her from taking an actual photo. Finally, she stormed out of the gallery entirely, flipping me off as she went. I then went and found our lazy security man, who had apparently been having a laugh watching me follow her around and act like a picture goalie.

“Kind Of” Seems Mild

, , , , , | Working | March 10, 2021

I work in a small art gallery. The owner is not who you’d expect to run an art gallery; he’s ex-police, very blunt, not very polite… Okay, he is kind of an a**hole. Also, as it turns out, he’s kind of sexist. I should have figured this out when, at my interview, he suggested I go talk to my husband about whether I should take the job.

One day, I’m at the front counter and my boss walks past me and gestures abruptly.

Boss: “Come here now.”

We go to a display of glass items.

Boss: “See all this? This is dust. It’s dusty. What have you been doing all day?”

Me: “Helping customers and then eating my lunch.”

Boss: “No, no, no. Cleaning comes before lunch. And see all this?”

He points to an imperceptibly “dusty” frame.

Boss: “Dust. Dust. Dust. Does your house look like this? Your husband lets you get away with this?”

Me: “Well, no, because he—”

I was going to say, “He does most of the cleaning, actually!” but my boss interrupts me.

Boss: “You’re a housewife; you know that things are supposed to be clean!”

Me: *Pauses* “Okay. I’ll get some paper towels.”

I had to walk away before I said something I’d regret. Later, the owner let me go the day before Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks later, for “not selling aggressively enough.” Good riddance, as I was about to quit anyway. I work at a much better art gallery now with bosses who are a thousand times nicer.