It All Comes Down To The Wire

, , , , | Right | February 16, 2021

When customers order large dollar amounts from our store or website, they tend to wire the money directly to us. Wiring the money can take anywhere from one to five business days before it shows up in our system.

A customer calls us because she has a pending order of $45,000. She keeps asking us to release her order. After explaining that we can do nothing until the money arrives, she claims that she spoke to someone in sales who told her the order could be released on credit terms. This means she has thirty days to pay. This is something we only offer our corporate, education, or government customers.

My coworker, who believes the best in everyone, tries to track down every employee this customer could have spoken to about releasing her order. She spends maybe half an hour trying to figure out who told the customer her stuff would be released and overnighted. After finally giving up and asking another coworker to look into it, she tells me what’s been happening.

I am much more cynical and ask my coworker if she ever considered that the customer probably lied to her about speaking to anyone else. It has never even crossed my coworker’s mind!

Considering how no one in our company would tell her something that goes against every policy, especially on such a large dollar order, my coworker eventually begrudgingly admits that it is possible that the customer probably was hoping that if she claimed someone in another department told her we could ship her stuff, we would bend policy for her. 

When I reach out to the customer the next day to get the bank receipt for her wire transfer, she says she sent the wire two hours before her first phone call! There’s no way it would have shown up in our system in that time!

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Don’t Mess With Donna Reed

, , , , , , | Working | February 3, 2021

I’ve been working here for almost two years, but due to her work schedule conflicting with any of our social events, no one has met my wife outside of her popping into the store to drop off my lunch or swap cars. My wife runs a side business making vintage-style dresses — which is almost successful enough to become her full-time job now! — which she started because she loves to wear those 1950s swing dresses anyway. Because of this, my coworkers have only met my wife fleetingly, dressed like a 1950s housewife and being her sweet, polite self as she’s a little bit shy.

Our local council has put together a fun sports event where local businesses can put together a team of their employees and their families, and everyone can compete to both raise money for charity and win the donated prizes. Our store has signed up for two teams: cricket and field hockey. The cricket team immediately fills up as our boss is from India and has a large family filled with people who are absolutely mad for cricket. I quietly sign up my wife and myself for the field hockey after confirming with her, which my coworkers laugh about.

Coworker #1: “Is she going to play in one of her pretty dresses?”

Coworker #2: “I dunno if shin guards will go with those fluffy petticoats!”

The only coworker I have who knows my wife socially grins at me and we stay silent.

The day of the competition arrives. My wife has to work up until twenty minutes before we start, and she shows up at the last minute in leggings and a hoodie. My coworkers greet her and say something about her being dressed differently than usual. She just smiles; again, she’s a little shy. Our friend-coworker and I smirk and giggle when my other coworker offers her a stick and to go over the rules. She looks at the stick in his hand for a second.

Wife: “No, thanks. I brought my own.”

She pulled off her hoodie to reveal her T-shirt, which was from when her hockey team went to the state finals the previous year. She pulled her custom stick out of her bag, popped in her mouthguard, and walked onto the field with the rest of us.

It took about five minutes for my coworkers to realise that my shy, quiet wife is the most competitive person I know and is better at hockey than the rest of us put together. She actually wound up in a fight in the last quarter because one of the jerks from the air conditioning place on the other team tried to grab her butt as she ran past. She won the fight AND the game. During after-game drinks, she beat everyone at darts by a huge margin and wound up singing karaoke with my boss. 

I think my coworkers were more confused when she showed up on Monday to drop off my lunch again in one of her pretty swirly dresses and was as quiet as ever. No one ever considered her anything less than a total bad-a** ever again. The council said they’re bringing back the contest next year. My coworkers found out that she also does netball and volleyball and are fighting over which sports to sign up for so she can be our ringer again!

This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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Needs To Learn To Say, “None Of Your Business”

, , , , , | Right | January 23, 2021

I work at a store in the Bible belt. I am an eighteen-year-old female. The customer I am helping to purchase a computer is a sour-faced, very conservative- and old-fashioned looking woman of around fifty. She begins telling me that she has just started to try to date again after her husband passed.

Customer: “I don’t know where to meet good men. I never dated except my husband. All these men on the dating websites want to go to bed with me right away. I am not that kind of woman and they don’t understand that.”

Me: “I understand. I haven’t tried online dating, but my friends talk about how awful people are on there.”

Customer: “I am a good Christian woman. I have only been with my husband, and I don’t plan on being with anyone until I have my next husband. The Lord doesn’t want you going to bed with a bunch of people. These men say they are Christian, but they’re sinners.”

I am nodding along in agreement, because all I can do is try to get through the interaction.

Customer: “You aren’t married, are you?”

Me: “No.”

Customer: “Are you a virgin?”

Me: *Honestly, but awkwardly* “Yes.”

Customer: “Good girl! You are living a good Christian lifestyle. You will be rewarded with a good husband. I was.”

I am not religious, but I know it’s better to play along than say anything. I’m whoever I need to be on the clock. I have had pamphlets about churches shoved in my hand, I’ve been tipped with fake money with proverbs on it, and I’ve had several different people ask me if I’d found Jesus and if He was in my heart, all while I was just trying to do my job, but she is the only one to question my chastity and purity.

I have no issue with people’s beliefs, but please don’t put service people on the spot. They are being paid to give good customer service and this puts them in a very awkward spot.

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Of Mice And Technologically-Compromised Men

, , , | Right | January 17, 2021

We have an older fellow in his eighties who’s been coming to us for computer service for several years — usually to deal with spyware or for help putting ink in his printer.

This time, he brings in his all-in-one and mouse.

Customer: “The mouse stopped working.”

I test it.

Me: “It just needs batteries.”

Customer: “I didn’t think it needed batteries.”

Since they don’t make fusion-powered mice, I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion, unless someone gave him the mouse with batteries already in it.

Customer: “Also, my Facebook has disappeared.”

I check, and I don’t know what he’s talking about because it is working fine. Maybe the mouse was acting up when he tried to access the web page?

He’s also VERY impatient. He double- or triple-clicks EVERYTHING. When his email page doesn’t load in one second, he keeps clicking on it over and over.

Me: “Please give it a couple of seconds for the page to load.”

His all-in-one is fair at best and doesn’t load pages as quickly as something that has an SSD and more RAM. I usually try to get people to break themselves of that habit, especially if they make purchases online.

A half-hour after he takes the computer home, he calls us.

Customer: “It won’t turn on.”

Me: “Is everything plugged in tight?”

Customer: “Everything is plugged in tight.”

Me: “Do you have a power strip?”

Customer: “I do and it’s turned on.”

I was out of ideas. I sent my tech the next day to check it out. The old guy only lived five minutes away. 

The technician came back after fifteen minutes. As I suspected, it was user error. The old guy had a power strip but only his printer was plugged into it. He never plugged the computer’s power cord into the power strip.

The tech also told me that once the computer was turned on and operational, he was using the mouse upside-down, which is odd because he had been using it the correct way the day before.

I’ll give the guy credit for trying to keep up with technology and being online with Facebook, but man… it gets frustrating working with people sometimes.

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Desperate Times Call For Scammy Measures

, , , , | Working | January 1, 2021

I am working at a major electronic retailer as a loss prevention agent. This mostly consists of standing at the front of the store, watching the cameras, and checking receipts.

It is late October when my manager pulls me into the back office.

Manager: “I’m concerned. Corporate is being flooded with calls from people complaining about fraudulent credit card purchases and I need you to investigate. You will get additional hours to work in the office. I need this done ASAP.”

The holidays are coming up, sales to be made, yadda yadda.

Well, I do like a challenge. I start looking at the complaints and the transactions associated with them. It turns out the complaints are all the same.

A few months ago, around July, the company was pushing magazine subscriptions at the register. You’d come up with your Item Of Choice, and during the checkout, you’d receive a high-pressure sales pitch for three free months of a magazine, or magazines, of your choice.

At the end of every pay period, the associate with the most signups would get a $25 gift card to the store. If the same associate won three weeks in a row, they’d earn a pizza party.

Of course, being a retail environment, this was a catch-twenty-two for employees. The store was pushing these hard. It wasn’t enough that they merely tried to upsell these magazines. They HAD to sell the subscriptions!

We had meetings for cashiers where managers would parade back and forth, trying to claim that it was vital to the future of the company! And they kept shoving it down our throats how any good, loyal, employee would be able to sell these easily! And then, it was not-so-subtly “implied” that simply doing the minimum wasn’t good enough. If you didn’t sell enough, your hours would get docked. And at the end of the year, the lowest sellers would simply be let go and replaced by any of the holiday hires that did better. “No” was not an acceptable answer from a customer. If they said no, then you were doing it wrong. Cashiers had to turn the no into a yes. It didn’t matter how. I’m sure you can already see where this is going.

So, naturally, each and every one of these fraudulent charges revolved around the magazine subscriptions. People were saying they said no and then were charged three months later for magazines, even though they never actually received anything. As the months went by, more and more people had complaints.

One Golden Associate was responsible for the first month. She was the weekly winner and won three pizza parties in a row. Eventually, every other front-end associate started doing it, as well. One week, they’d have ten subscriptions; the next, they’d have between fifty to sixty. Each.

In the beginning, the managers were ecstatic. We were the number one store in the country for subscriptions. Our store was killing it! How could this be a bad thing? Well, it wasn’t… right up until complaints of fraud started pouring in.

We start monitoring the front end with cameras and catch several employees on camera doing it. On top of that, corporate discovers that one of the geniuses is just sending the magazines to her house on someone else’s dime. Apparently, no one on the magazine’s end noticed or cared that dozens of the same magazine were going to the same address but were paid for by multiple different cards. We use that as leverage to get that particular employee to talk. We have all the proof we need for corporate.

I also discover another nice little tidbit of evidence that I hand over to the store manager. The Grinch’s smile is far less terrifying than the smile the store manager gets on her face when she sees it.

Here’s where this catch-twenty-two causes even more trouble for our store: my investigation concludes, evidence is sent in, and the brown stuff hits the fan. I get pulled into the office again with the entire management team.

Store Manager: “Corporate has reviewed the evidence you gathered along with corporate loss prevention. The entire front end staff is getting fired. Today. Only one associate wasn’t involved with this scam; some new kid who started about two weeks ago. Everyone else is getting fired immediately, in order to avoid lawsuits.”

The entire management team is aghast. Black Friday is ten days away. Training newbies and throwing them into the Black Friday crucible would mean that the management team would be running around putting out more fires than usual. The front end management starts protesting until [Store Manager] drops my little bombshell.

You see, the ENTIRE management team is guilty of time theft. Instead of walking the floor and doing the tasks they were supposed to be doing, they have been sitting in the break room all day, every day. They only come out when they are explicitly called, and even then, it sometimes takes two or three calls before they come shuffling out of the break room, handle the problem, and then shuffle right back in.

I think the management is going to be fired, too, but the store manager has a different sort of punishment in mind. After making it clear that she knows they are guilty of time theft, she also tells them that they are also partially at fault for not paying attention.

Store Manager: “If our associates were that successful, you all should have found out why and been using it to teach other stores. You should have caught the fraud. So! Because you all committed time theft and allowed the store to come under fire for fraud, you now owe time to the company. Because we are losing cashiers and need to hire more, management will now work doubles this weekend: one regular shift and one shift strictly for hiring. Oh, and instead of ten-hour shifts for everyone on Black Friday, the entire staff must work sixteen hours: eight in your departments, eight on register. Anyone who refuses will be fired.”

It’s dead silent.

[Store Manager] thanked me for my work and asked me to stay late to help escort people out. I was kind of stuck there anyway, so I might as well. Every cashier we had was called in and fired. Word got out and some of them just didn’t come in until they were threatened with police involvement. There were tears and curses, and one person was physically restrained. It wasn’t pretty.

The management was scrambling to hire people and train them with less than a week of training.

Black Friday was the biggest fiasco I’d ever seen. Untrained employees were on registers, making mistakes. Old employees were simply leaving after their shifts in their departments and skipping the shifts on the registers; they weren’t part of the fraud AND they were more than willing to walk away from the job rather than be punished for the sins of employees who were already gone. Lines circled the store and took an hour or more to get to the cashiers themselves. Management was running around like the sky was falling. It was glorious to watch, in a way. 

Luckily, loss prevention wasn’t allowed to touch money unless directly involved in an investigation, so none of my team got saddled with register duty.

I got to watch the fiasco and shake my head. If ONLY certain decisions involving magazines had NOT been made by management… Oh, well.

This story is part of our Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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Read the Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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