A Transformative Incident

, , , , , | Right | June 5, 2018

(We’re performing spring maintenance on one of our outdoor lighting systems. This involves cleaning fixtures, changing lamps, and a general tidy-up of the system. One of our new hires accidentally breaks a fixture that we don’t have parts to repair.)

Me: “I’m sorry about the damaged fixture. At the moment, we don’t have the proper parts to repair it. But I can make a note of it on the invoice and we can send someone back as soon as possible to fix it.”

Client: “Oh, that’s no problem. I’ll have my electrician look at it. I guess someone forgot to mention to you that those fixtures aren’t part of your system; you don’t have to worry about servicing them today.”

(We finish up, and as she said, we don’t do the other fixtures. I still make note of the broken one on our paperwork just to have record of it, along with what she said about having her electrician fix it. Fast forward a couple weeks, and I’m working a day with our service tech. He has a work order for the place with the broken fixture, saying the system isn’t working at all now, along with a bunch of accusations about our shoddy work. We arrive and I notice the fixture we broke has been repaired. I take it out of the ground and immediately see the problem.)

Me: “Hey, [Tech], I found the problem. Remember how she said her electrician would fix this? Well, whoever fixed it crossed the wires and shorted the system.”

Tech: *laughing* “Yeah, that’ll do it. Let’s find the transformer so we can reset it.”

(I fixed the wiring and we reset the system. Everything worked perfectly. The tech made a note on the invoice for this visit that it was not our work that was faulty and therefore wasn’t under warranty. She later called to complain that she had to pay and claimed nobody else works on the system besides us, despite the four of us that were there that day stating she told us her electrician would fix it. The office ended up crediting her account just to shut her up. From now on, I plan to get this sort of thing in writing.)

Price Is Going Down, I’m Yelling Timber!

, , , , | Working | June 4, 2018

(I order Venetian blinds online for my house, through a company that has a store in my city. Normally, I go to stores to support local employment, but the store is in the middle of the city with a large building site close by, which limits traffic and parking, and it’s just before Christmas. I also have a back injury, so I am happy to have the heavy boxes delivered to my door. There is a very good online-only sale, and the store quite often does not have what I need in stock. I check their return policy, and it says that returns and exchanges are available through its stores, which is fortunate, because they send me the wrong blinds. I take them in and explain to the cashier that I have ordered timber blinds online and they have sent me the — cheaper and lower quality — faux timber blinds. She checks the invoice and the blinds and tells me that I have received what I paid for.)

Me: “No, I ordered timber blinds, and these are faux timber.”

(She checks again.)

Cashier: “This is a very low price for timber blinds.” *gives me suspicious look over glasses*

Me: “I know; that’s why I bought them.”

Cashier: “We don’t sell timber blinds for this price.”

Me: “Yes, you do, because I bought them, and that’s what I paid. It’s on the invoice.”

(The conversation follows same circle for about five minutes.)

Cashier: “All right, I can give you a refund.”

Me: “I don’t want a refund; I just want to exchange them for the blinds that I was supposed to get.”

Cashier: “This is just how we process exchanges.”

Me: “Oh, okay, then.”

(The cashier processes the refund, then enters the timber blinds into the register.)

Cashier: “That will be [several hundred dollars].”

Me: “No, I am exchanging them, not buying them. I’m not paying anything extra.”

Cashier: “You paid for faux timber blinds; timber blinds are more expensive.”

(My head almost explodes as we repeat the conversation from earlier.)

Me: “Please get your manager.”

(The cashier goes to get the manager and must explain the situation while they are on the way back to the register.)

Manager: “The timber blinds are more expensive than the faux timber blinds, so that is why there is a price difference.”

Me: “Look at my invoice; it says, ‘timber blinds.’ Your company sent me faux timber blinds. I have paid for timber blinds and I just want to exchange the ones that were sent to me by mistake for the ones that I actually ordered.”

Manager: *looks at invoice* “That’s a very low price for timber blinds.” *gives me suspicious look over glasses*

Me: *losing it and raising my voice* “Yes, it is. That’s why I bought them. This is not hard. You have my invoice. You can see that I bought timber blinds. I just want the product that I paid for.”

(The manager gives the cashier the signal to process the sale at the lower price, and the rest of the transaction proceeds as it should have done at the start. It’s very quiet, except for the one statement the manager directs at me.)

Manager: “I don’t know why you didn’t just come into the store in the first place.”

Pre-Packaged Discounts

, , , | | Right | June 3, 2018

(I work in a clearance home improvement store. The bed linen we stock is a mix of current catalogue stock and dribs and drabs of discontinued linen at heavily reduced prices. The older stock tends to end up looking a little battered, because customers often rip open the packaging carelessly to look at the bed linen inside. On this occasion a woman approaches the counter with a quilt cover reduced to from $150 down to $20. The plastic packaging is quite shabby, and torn in a couple of places, but the bed linen inside is undamaged.)

Customer: “What’s wrong with this quilt cover?”

Me: “Nothing, ma’am, it’s just discontinued stock.”

Customer: “But why is it so cheap?”

Me: “This quilt cover isn’t being made anymore, so any stock we have left is the very last stock available ever in this design. In order to sell the last of it, we’ve marked it down. Lucky for you, hey?”

Customer: “The packaging is torn.”

Me: “Yeah, that happens sometimes. Nothing to worry about, though; let me just tape it up for you.”

(I go about taping up the otherwise useless plastic packaging so that it’s now completely sealed.)

Customer: “Can I get a discount?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “Because the packaging is so torn. Can I get a discount?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t discount an item that isn’t faulty.”

Customer: “But the packaging is torn.”

Me: “I understand, but you’re not buying the packaging. You’re buying the quilt cover, which is undamaged.”

Customer: “But the packaging is torn! Can’t you give me a discount?”

Me: “This quilt cover was $150 at full price. I really can’t discount it any further. But I tell you what: if you get it home and the cover is faulty, just bring it back in with your receipt and we can give you a full refund. You’re still getting a pretty good deal!”

Customer: *huffs* “Fine. But I don’t understand why you can’t give me a discount for the packaging.”

If It’s Tinted Like A Scam… It’s A Scam

, , , , , | Right | June 1, 2018

(I have worked for this company for about seven years. In that time many things have changed, including the style of sticker we use on our paint cans to show what type of tint has been used in it and how much. When I first started in 2006, the stickers were square, but they changed — I think in 2009 — to round ones, and this situation takes place in 2013. A woman walks up to the returns counter with two five-gallon buckets of deck and fence stain — totaling about $200 — that have clearly been tinted — which we don’t take back, anyway, unless we made a mistake with the color. They have square labels.)

Me: “Welcome to [Store]. How may I help you?”

Customer: “I bought this stain, but I got too much and I need to return it.”

Me: “When did you purchase it?”

Customer: “Oh, a couple of months ago. I know I won’t be able to get cash, but could I get store credit?”

(Big red scam flag.)

Me: “Well, ma’am, since we haven’t used square stickers since about 2009, it’s extremely improbable that you bought it a couple of months ago. Also, I’m terribly sorry, but we don’t take back tinted products, anyway, unless there’s something wrong with the color.”

Customer: “The color was wrong; I just didn’t have time to come back in until today.”

(HUGE red scam flag.)

Me: *after checking the stickers* “Ma’am, the date on this sticker is from 2008; that was five years ago. Even if we did make a mistake back then, it’s not possible for us to refund you or replace it now.”

Customer: “Well, can’t you just take it from me and sell it to someone, or give it away, or dispose of it? I just need to get rid of it.”

(There isn’t a flag big enough or red enough to convey that she’s attempting to pull some sort of scam, so I think, “Yeah, right, and open ourselves up to you being able to accuse us of ‘stealing’ your stain? No, thank you.” But what I actually say is:)

Me: “Unfortunately, ma’am, we can’t sell it or give it away to anyone, because we have no idea what the chemical composition would be like by now. We also can’t dispose of it for you because stain is classified as a hazardous material, and we can’t accept anything hazmat that isn’t already considered part of our inventory.”

(This wasn’t exactly the truth, since we constantly accepted things like burnt-out fluorescent bulbs or empty spray paint cans from customers — we’d much rather pay to dispose of it for them than get fined if the EPA finds those things in our dumpster — but at least she left without any fuss! We made sure she had help loading her car back up, too, because we also didn’t want her abandoning the stain in the parking lot and using that as a method to accuse us of “stealing” it from her.)

What Fun Your Yonder Ignorance Breaks

, , , , , , | | Right | May 18, 2018

(I was born in the southern US and raised there all my life, so I have a THICK southern accent. I also have two degrees, one in archaeology, the other in anthropology. At the time this takes place, I am working on my archaeology thesis, and have taken a job at a local “big box” home improvement store just to make ends meet. I’m about to get off work for the day, and I’m walking back in the direction of the customer service desk to clock out, when a customer approaches me.)

Customer: *with a thick Jersey, or New York City accent*  “Could you tell me where plumbing is located?”

Me: “Just down yonder, ma’am. Under the sign that says plumbing.”

Customer: “’Yonder’? ‘Yonder’? God, that’s why I hate coming to the south: all these d*** uneducated rednecks. ‘Yonder’ isn’t even a word! I’ve taught English all my life and I’ve never heard it. Can’t you use proper English, or is that beyond your eighth-grade education?”

Me: “’Yonder,’ as you might be interested to know, is an old English word that was first recorded as being used in the 1400s, though historians agree that it likely was in popular use prior to that. Specifically, it refers to an instance when the person making use of the term does not know the cardinal direction in which they are directing. Furthermore, when used as a measure of distance, it must be a distance that is greater than a few feet, but shorter than a full mile. Thus, when Romeo makes the famous statement, ‘But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? ‘Tis the east, and Juliet is the sun,’ Romeo is noting that he does not know what direction Juliet is from him in relation to the cardinal directions, and that while she is some distance from him, she is well within the standard of being less than a mile away, but more than a few dozen feet away. In the southern United States, due to the majority of early settlers coming from poorer regions of the United Kingdom, the term ‘yonder’ was retained; whereas in more urban environments, where settlers came from more wealthy locations, the saying fell out of favor, due in no small part to persons not wanting to sound poor.”

Customer: “I… What… I… How do you know that?”

Me: “Studied English in college. It was a requirement.”

Customer: *a bit huffy* “Well what are you studying? Liberal arts? Fat load of good that will do you.”

Me: “Actually, I’ve my masters in anthropology, and I’m finishing up my doctoral thesis in archaeology. I just work here to make some extra cash.”

(The customer gets VERY quiet, and then finally says:)

Customer: “Ah, so, under the plumbing sign?”

(I just nodded while she tottered off. I do believe I rather destroyed her prejudiced idea about all “rednecks” being ignorant.)

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