I Work Customer Support, Not 1-800-Oracle

, , , | Right | June 25, 2020

I work at a factory that manufactures over a thousand products that are distributed throughout the country of South Africa to just about all the major and minor stores that are in the country.

We make it, it gets sold to distribution warehouses all over, the big stores order from them, and the small stores order from the big stores.

As you can guess, the variety of stock can vary in every store and branch, so it is impossible to know where one particular variant of a brand of product can be; we supply probably about 250,000 stores. This is a call we get regularly.

Customer: “Hi, I can’t find [specific variant] of this product; can you tell me where I can find it in [Very Small Suburb]?”

Me: “Hi, ma’am, we are sorry to hear that you are having difficulty finding this product. Can you tell me which stores you have looked at so far?”

Customer: “I only shop at [Small Mini Shop] that is down the road from me; it’s where I always shop. I haven’t looked elsewhere. Why can’t I find it?”

Me: *Pause* “All right, well, have you spoken to the store manager? They would be able to tell you if they have it listed, or if they have placed an order, or even if another branch has stock.”

Customer: “Oh, no, I haven’t taken it that far yet. I was at the shop today and I didn’t see it on the shelf, so I thought I’d call you and ask you, instead. So, where is it? Are you out of stock?”

Me: “Okay, I can see on our stock tracker that we have sufficient stock, so there shouldn’t be any shortage of stock on the shelf. Unfortunately, I cannot accurately advise on where [specific variant] is right now in your specific area. See, we don’t supply the stores directly; we supply the distribution warehouses in your region, and then the [Major Brand] head office places an order with them and that stock gets allocated to the majority of the [Major Brand] branches in your city. The variety of stock is dependent on their orders and it can vary from region to region. We would recommend looking at more than one store, or alternatively, speaking to the store manager, as they may be able to order the [specific variant] of the product that you are looking for.”

Customer: “Oh! So, you don’t just, have a list or something of where your stuff is sold? I guess I’ll speak to the store manager, then.”

I can’t understand how customers think we have a list of a thousand different products that are in all 250,000 stores in the country that we can just whip out.

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An MBA Doesn’t Mean You Know How To Work Smarter Rather Than Harder

, , , , , , | Working | June 10, 2020

This story was told to me by my father. In the 1990s, he worked for a machinery company in a supervisory position. One requirement of his job was to travel to different warehouses across the country to double-check on productivity. One such location was in Michigan, where the story takes place.

Our tale involves two specific workers. One, [Worker #1], did not graduate high school due to life circumstances and was a very efficient worker in his forties. The other, [Worker #2] was a recent MBA graduate who was rather… vocal about his accomplishments.

Part of the job was to pack order boxes with the specified machines or tools needed and then ship them off. These orders would come in large quantities at a time, all of them containing the same parts. Because of this, the company had a specific way of packing them. Each box had a pack list, and you were required to things in a certain order.

[Worker #1] would do the smart thing — having worked for the company for years — and load up his item cart with empty boxes, then march through the aisles and collect all of one item at once, per cartload. This way he only had to go to each product’s location in the warehouse once per cartload. 

[Worker #12] decided one day that this wasn’t effective. He thought that because he “had an MBA” that he knew better than the guy who’d worked there for years, never mind that [Worker #2] also thought that [Worker #1]’s way was the slower to get more orders out at a time. [Worker #2] seemed to think that it would be faster to grab the items needed per one box at a time. 

After a week of hearing [Worker #2] talk out his backside, Dad decided he’d had enough and made a bet with [Worker #2]. They would finally see who was faster, [Worker #2] or [Worker #1], and the loser would buy everyone on the shift the meal for the day. [Worker #1] was hesitant, because he couldn’t afford to buy that much food. My dad, knowing how this would turn out, told [Worker #1] he’d spot him if they were wrong.

There was no specific number decided on, just that the one who did the most would win and that the end time was lunch. They were each given a cart and a list of orders that needed to be fulfilled by the end of day, and the timer started.

[Worker #1] went off as he always did, cart full of twenty-five empty boxes, and went down the list of items per box. [Worker #2] went out with one box on his cart, loading it with the list before coming in and sending it down the line to be shipped. An hour passed, and [Worker #2] was running around like a headless chicken while [Worker #1] is just calm as can be with the second cart load completed. 

For those keeping score, after the first hour, [Worker #1] had fifty done. [Worker #2] had five. By now, a few of the nearby workers had noticed and were keeping track, as well, taking part in snarking at [Worker #2] as he ran around and in general making fun of his pace, mostly as a means of payback for all the hassle he’d put on [Worker #1].

The lunch bell rang, and as everyone expected, [Worker #1] had beaten [Worker #2] handily. The ninety-eight he did were far better and prepped than the twenty-five [Worker #2] had completed. 

Properly contrite, [Worker #2] was true to his word and paid for lunch for everyone on shift. Dad claims it’s the best meal he’s ever had.


This story has been included in our June 2020 roundup as one of that month’s most memorable stories!

Want to read the next story? Click here!

Want to see the roundup? Click here!

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The Hiring And Firing Of Captain Literal

, , , , | Working | June 10, 2020

This story is about getting fired before even starting. We have a production plant with several production lines and work 24/7 in three shifts a day. Every team consists of ten regulars and, when needed, we get some temporary employment to cover.

Because of the nature of our product, everything is always dirty and dusty. Our work environment is quite rough; therefore, the kind of people working as temps are not the most educated. We don’t care as long as they do their jobs.

We have an afternoon shift, and at the start of the shift, our supervisor comes to greet everybody, give instructions, and drink a cup of coffee together. The whole team is there with the new temp. 

Hands are shaken and introductions being made. Then, the supervisor asks the new guy, “Where are you from?”

Immediately, the new guy, who is probably about eighteen, answers, “My mother’s c***.”

The supervisor looks at him and tells him there’s nothing to be done today and he can go home. The supervisor signs off his timesheet for one hour and we never see him again.

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Gas Problems Are The Worst

, , , | Working | May 24, 2020

This happens in the pre-cellphone era. Our company routinely performs jobs at a refinery located 230 kilometres away — that is, an hour-and-a-half drive. At 9:00 am, the foreman at the refinery realizes they will need special equipment to complete the job, so he calls the company and they send another worker with a van to deliver it.

At 10:30, the foreman is waiting outside the refinery. At 11:00, he’s annoyed and at 11:30, he starts to worry. The van finally shows up at 12.

Foreman: “At last! What took you so long?”

Driver: *Stalling* “Ehh, I had trouble.”

Foreman: “What trouble? I’ve been listening to the radio; the traffic was fine!”

Driver: “I had trouble… getting gas!”

Foreman: “Getting gas, eh? We’ll talk about that later. Where are you going now? We need to unload the van!”

Driver: “Why, I’m going to lunch before there’s a queue!”

Twenty years later, “I had trouble getting gas” is still the blanket reply whenever someone’s punctuality is questioned!

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Unfiltered Story #189019

, , | Unfiltered | March 10, 2020

I work in a food factory and products that are not up to standard are sent to a staff shop where employees can buy them really cheap.

Cashier: That’s £3 please

I gave him a £10 note.

Cashier: We don’t have any change.

Me: This is all I have

Cashier: That’s OK you bring me the money tomorrow

I returned the next night with £3 change and I was surprised how shocked he was to see me return with the money (says a lot about the people I work with), he offered me free stuff.