Dealing With The Schoolmom-Three

, , , , | Right | June 17, 2021

I work in a bookstore in a state where parents have to buy some books and workbooks for school themselves; in other states, schools supply at least the books for free. They can either order them online or buy them in a local bookstore. This year, it’s a more difficult time because of the global health crisis. Our suppliers are having trouble shipping our orders on time, our customers are annoyed because they have to wear masks in our store, etc.

Customer #1: “You didn’t call me to tell me that my school books arrived!”

Me: “You didn’t leave a number to call with your order.”

Customer #1: “You could have sent an email!”

Me: “I did.”

Customer #1: “I didn’t get one.”

Me: “Maybe it’s in your spam file?”

Customer #1: *Checks* “Oh…”

Next customer:

Customer #2: “Why are school books so expensive?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I have no control over the prices of books.”

Customer #2: “But you sell them! You make the prices!”

Me: “No, I really don’t.”

[Customer #3] had ordered school books via our webshop and comes to collect them.

Customer #3: “There is a book missing.”

I check the books against the order she made online.

Me: “It looks to me as if all the books you ordered are here.”

Customer #3: “Yes, but I needed another one. It wasn’t available, so the homepage told me to send an extra order, to let you know that I need that book, too.”

Me: “I’m so sorry, I didn’t receive that order form.”

Customer #3: “Oh, I didn’t send it.”

Me: “You didn’t send the order?”

Customer #3: “No, I didn’t. You should have known that I needed this book, too. Why didn’t you order it?”

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Nursing A Dealing-With-Customers Hangover

, , , , | Working | June 17, 2021

During the health crisis, I receive a request through [Booking Platform] to book my house for one person, for three nights.

Booker: “Hi. We would like to book your lovely accommodation for one of our Filipino nurses coming over on Monday for three nights. She is coming over for some training at [nearby location]. Let me know if it is available!”

This is unusual because, normally, the guest makes the booking themselves.

Me: “Hi. Can you ask the nurse to make the booking directly?”

Booker: “She is already very stressed about the training. Normally, we book on their behalf.”

Me: “I’m going to need more details about how this works, please.”

She explains that she works for a recruitment agency. They hire nurses in the Philippines and hire them to hospitals in the UK. Seems legitimate.

Me: “Thank you. I need to speak to the nurse directly to vet her.”

Booker: “She is called [Guest]; you can reach her on [number]. She flew in yesterday from Manila.”

I phone her. She confirms the details of her stay and is grateful for somewhere within walking distance. A nurse travelling on work seems low risk, so I authorise the booking.

Then, I do more research. I discover that this is called a “third-party booking” and, in short, it is inviting a lot of trouble. It’s against the booking platform’s rules, for good reason. Neither party is protected. If she sets my house on fire, tough. If I kick her out at 3:00 am, tough luck for her.  

However, there seems to be a way to increase my protection: amend the booking to list the additional guests, so it says, “[Booker] and [Guest]”. Since this should be easy to do, I backtrack on the already confirmed booking. Meanwhile, I get a text.

Guest: “I’m bringing my husband, too.”

Me: “The booking is only for one person.”

Guest: “But I’ve read your profile! You have two guest bedrooms. I need him to show me where shops are. Also, I told [Recruitment Agency] I would bring my husband.”

Me: “Right, but I charge extra for additional guests. Anyway, these details need to be included in the original booking. I am also not responsible for communication between you and [Recruitment Agency].”

Guest: “I’ll pay you the extra in cash.”

Me: “Payment has to go through [Booking Platform] to protect both parties. I will amend the booking now to list you and your partner and send it to [Booker] to approve.”

Guest: “But [Booker] is on annual leave!”

Why on earth would someone start a project like this right before they go on leave?

Me: “There will be someone covering for her in the office. I will sort it out quickly and let you know. Just text me when you’re coming, so I can meet you at my house and let you in, okay?”

I amend the booking and send it [Booker] to be approved. There is no reply. I message her on a separate app and state that I won’t let the guest check in unless the amendments are approved. She finally gives me the email address of a director at [Recruitment Agency] based in the Philippines. The director is a doctor and has an MBA. I ask her to contact me immediately. At 2:00 am, my phone rings.

Me: “I need the booking amended for two reasons. First, so the actual guests are listed on the booking. Second, to include my extra fee for [Guest’s Husband] for three nights.”

Director: “I don’t understand what the problem is. We’ve booked thousands of nurses like this and had no problem.”

Me: “That is not how [Booking Platform] works; the guest has to make the booking. In any case, you agreed to those terms when you set up an [Booking Platform] account. It will literally take you twenty seconds to approve this.”

Director: “This higher fee is going to screw up my accounting books! Questions are going to be asked about this. Can’t you just take it in cash? And [Guest’s Husband] is only coming for the first night.”

Me: “Fine, I’ll take it cash and send you a new booking amendment for the same price, with the guests listed.”

I send a new booking, which she finally approves.

Director: “I still don’t see what the problem is!”

Me: “There is no way I’m letting an uninsured guest into my house. It’s pretty important that you understand this, because it affects every single host who you deal with. Would you like me to put it in an email?”

Director: “Yes, please.”

I email her and explain how [Booking Platform] works: the guest makes the booking and lists everyone in their party, only those people are insured, and third-party bookings are bad for the guest and the host. I felt disrespected when they asked me to host an uninsured guest. It’s also really confusing for me. I need a consistent point of contact, and bookings shouldn’t be made the day before someone goes on annual leave.

Finally, check-in day comes. [Guest] doesn’t arrive. She doesn’t contact me or reply to my many calls and messages. In my years of hosting, this has never happened. By 21:00, I’m concerned for her safety. A young, female migrant worker who has just arrived in my country seems like a vulnerable person. I know she is probably sitting in a hotel room somewhere, but I would rather overreact than take the chance that she has come to harm. I call the police and report her missing.

The next morning, I receive an email.

Director: “Please call off the police. [Guest] is safe at training. She is commuting from elsewhere, instead. Since she hasn’t availed of the booking, please refund us in full.”

You have got to be kidding. I am furious.

Me: “Do you mean to say that I spent the entire weekend cleaning my home and waited all of yesterday for [Guest]? She could not find ten seconds to tell me she wasn’t coming? Here is my policy on refunds: cancellation up to five days before check-in. You are one day after check-in, so you are not eligible for a refund. In any case, I am not a hotel. You cannot expect to no-show at a [Booking Platform] accommodation and still get a refund, especially where the house is shared with the host. You’ve been disrespectful to me from the get-go and your attitude has been appalling. Never contact me again.”

I have since amended my house rules. I do not reply to requests for third-party bookings. Any unauthorised overnight guests will result in everyone being removed from the property and the booking cancelled. I learned a hard lesson about reading the warning signs early on.

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Also Represented In This Equation: How Much I Care

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: 0010-encoded | June 17, 2021

I am working the till at quite a large supermarket. I’m fed up with this job and I handed in my two-weeks’ notice earlier this week.

We have this loyalty point card that many people use. You get one point per two bucks spent in the store (excluding alcohol and tobacco, among other things) and one point is worth something around a cent.

I have this lady at my register buying a pack of candy or something like that. She insists on me scanning her loyalty card, which I do.

Lady: “How many points did I get for that?”

Me: “Zero points, sorry. You get one point for every two bucks spent.”

Lady: “Scan my loyalty card again!”

Me: “Okay.” *Scans the card* “Would you look at that!”

Lady: “What is it? How many points did I get?”

Me: “Zero points.”

Lady: “I want my points!”

She does not move an inch away from my register. A queue of people behind her are waiting, and of course, we’re short-staffed.

Me: “Okay, look. It’s kind of a secret, but I can multiply your points on this purchase by ten.”

Lady: “Nice. How many points do I get, then?”

Me: “Zero points. Zero times ten is zero. Please leave.”

I really love the time when you’ve handed in your two-weeks’ notice and don’t have to be nice anymore. What’s the store going to do? Fire me?

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Pot Calling The Kettle An Idiot

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: IrrelevantQuantity | June 17, 2021

I’m working at a branch of a large up-market department store chain in south London. A bloke comes in with a friend, wanting to buy a kettle and asking what the options are for him to pick it up later. I explain that he can pick it up right away as we have them in stock. If he wants to, he can pick it up later in the day from click-and-collect, or for a fee, we can deliver it to his address, provided the address is in the UK or Ireland. He chooses the delivery option.

I put the details of what he wants to buy into the computer and come to the section where I have to put in delivery details. That is where the fun begins.

Me: “Could I ask your address, please?”

Customer: “Why do you want to know my address?”

Me: “Because you said you want it delivered.”

Customer: “But why do you need to know my address?”

Me: “That is how we know where to deliver your package. Otherwise, we won’t know where to deliver it.”

Customer: “But it’s your job to know these things.”

Me: “It’s my job to ask you. I’m not a psychic and I don’t automatically know your address.”

Customer: “But I don’t feel comfortable giving my address out. I don’t know you and I want to preserve my privacy.”

Me: “I understand that, sir, but if you won’t give me your address, then I can’t have your kettle delivered to you. There are twenty million addresses in the UK, and if I pick one at random, chances are it won’t be yours. Now, either you can tell me your address, or you can pick it up at click-and-collect, or you can take it with you now.”

Customer: “You’re an idiot.”

At that point, I’d had enough, and his insult was a good enough pretext to end the conversation. I informed him that I was not going to be taking personal abuse and that I would not be serving him further. He muttered something to his friend and moved away. Thankfully, I never saw him again, and no doubt he went to annoy some other underpaid customer service guy with his tomfoolery until he got his kettle.

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Prosecco-No-No, Part 2

, , , | Right | June 16, 2021

The restaurant I work in prides itself on locally sourced food, e.g. meat from local farms, local dairies, seafood directly from fishermen down the coast, and we grow all of our own veg. Because of this, we also have sourced a British sparkling wine to serve rather than prosecco.

One afternoon, a lady walks up to the bar where I am serving and asks for a glass of prosecco.

Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t actually sell prosecco, but we do have a locally sourced, British sparkling wine that’s very similar! I actually prefer it to prosecco. Would you like to try that, instead?”

Customer: *Stares at me blankly* “No, I’ll have prosecco, thanks.”

Me: “I understand, ma’am, but we don’t sell prosecco. We have this British sparkling wine, instead!”

I take the bottle out of the fridge to show her in the hope that she’ll understand. She looks back and forth between me and the bottle for a moment before saying anything.

Customer: “So, you don’t have any prosecco?”

Me: “No, unfortunately not, ma’am. Just this. Unless you would prefer champagne—”

She cuts me off before I can finish the question.

Customer: “What’s the difference?”

Our training for working in the restaurant enforces a high level of product knowledge on everything we sell, including its history, so I explain that prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine, whereas this is a British sparkling wine so the grapes are grown in the UK and the wine is made and bottled here, too. I emphasize the importance of locally sourced products and why we’re excited to sell it.

The customer, however, begins to look more and more confused and just sighs in exasperation.

Customer: *Whines* “I just want prosecco! Why is that so difficult to understand?”

She turns to her boyfriend.

Customer: “Can you believe this? Does she not know what prosecco is?!”

At this point, my manager, who has been watching the whole thing, intervenes.

Manager: “Don’t worry, miss. I’ll sort you out a glass of prosecco. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll bring it over to you?”

She beams at him and sits down with her boyfriend at the table closest to the bar. My manager turns around so his back is to her, takes the bottle of sparkling wine off me, gets a glass, and pours it. He walks over to her and waits for her to take a sip to make sure she’s happy with it before leaving them.

Customer: “Oh, that’s perfect! Just what I wanted! And it’s not that British s***, is it?”

Manager: *Knowing that it’s illegal to mis-sell alcohol* “It is, in fact, our house sparkling wine; it’s made right here in the UK, just outside of London!”

Customer: “Wow! I didn’t know England made wine!”

You could probably hear how hard I rolled my eyes. 


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