You Used Your Exterior Voice

, , , , , | Right | February 19, 2021

I work for a pest control company in an area with a large seasonal and retiree population. As such, it’s not uncommon for homes we service to sit empty for months or even years. One such example was a mobile home that our customer inherited from his father and has not visited once in the years that he has been contracted with us.

Despite the fact that this customer has never used — or even rented — this home, he insists on having the interior checked and treated each and every service. Our protocol only requires one annual interior check on our quarterly service plan. No problem! We have locked key boxes for such requests.

Oh, no, that won’t do at all. The customer has a digital lock installed onto the door — which the technician describes as being worth more than the mobile it is attached to — and insists that we personally email him in advance of each and every service so that he can assign a uniquely generated twelve-plus-digit code that will only function for the short window in which the service is confirmed. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, as both the tech and I have to coordinate each service to tell me when to email the customer, wait for the reply, and then make sure the tech has the code before going out. This in and of itself is just a small annoyance to deal with four times a year.

The real fun comes with the customer’s personality. Every time he calls in to pay his bill — and I always seem to end up the lucky one to pick up when he does — he begins the conversation by stating his name and then describing whatever location he is calling from with an air of utmost arrogance.

Customer: “This is [Customer] calling from my vacation home in Maui/Washington/the Bahamas/etc.”

He then goes on to describe some idle complaints for a bit while expecting me to remain completely silent until he deems me worthy to receive his credit card information and be released from the call.

This is the functional system until, one fateful day, the customer doesn’t reply to my code-request email before his service is due so the technician is only able to complete the standard exterior protocol.

Nothing much happens after this until the following quarterly service comes due and the tech and I realize that the customer has found himself on our past-due list with an outstanding balance for the last service. This is strange, as he is normally quite prompt with payments, but I tell the tech I’ll take care of it, as attempting to collect on outstanding accounts is part of my job. I give the customer a call.

The customer answers with his usual level of arrogance and I explain the reason for my call. Oh, what’s that? You’re aware of the balance but refusing to pay because we didn’t treat the interior? Yes, sir, I emailed you on [date]. You were out of the country and couldn’t check your email? No, that doesn’t exempt you from paying, since we completed the base service and special requests aren’t charged any additional fees.

After going back and forth for several minutes, I’ve finally exhausted all my options and ask the customer what he would like me to do to fix this situation. His response?

Customer: “I wanted you to treat the inside of my home!”

I’m not sure what snaps in me with this statement — years of frustration at this road-bump of a customer interrupting my workflow every few months coming to the surface perhaps. Regardless, my usually pleasant customer service voice drops, and I answer him in a fierce monotone.

Me: “Well, sir, seeing as I’m not in possession of a time machine, we can only proceed forward in this situation. We rendered service for you in [Month] per our protocol and contract with you. Your inability to follow through with us concerning your access code does not invalidate the work we did on the exterior and we expect to be paid as such.”

There’s a bit of tense silence on the line before the customer responds, surprisingly meekly.

Customer: “Here is my credit card. My next service is [date], correct? I’ll just pay for both now.”

Interestingly enough, a couple of services later he removed the interior service request from his account and has been entirely pleasant on the phone when he calls ever since. Sometimes a stern talking-to is all it takes to reach people, I suppose.

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Someone’s Gonna Catch It

, , , , , , | Working | February 19, 2021

It’s a really busy Saturday, but we’re in a slow period at the moment. Five of my staff have headsets on, including me, a new cashier, and our security guard.

Cashier: “Hey, [My Name], I have a question for you.”

Me: “Go for it.”

Cashier: “Is your refrigerator running?”

Me: *Pauses* “If you have enough time up there to be making jokes, then you’re not busy enough, and I can fix that for you.”

There’s a moment of silence as this is pondered.

Security: “Nope, we’re good. He’s got lots of stuff to do up here.”

He doesn’t release the talk button in time and I hear his last sentence.

Security: “You’re an idiot. I told you that wouldn’t work on her.”

I couldn’t stop laughing and I got a bunch of weird looks from the customers.

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The Lights Are On, But We Wish No One Was Home

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 19, 2021

It’s autumn and the nights are creeping in. I’ve just finished shopping in a not-too-busy retail park. As I pull out of the parking space, I figure it couldn’t hurt to put my lights on.

Literally as my hand is on the switch, a car behind me starts flashing its lights and honking its horn. I didn’t cut them off — it isn’t even close — so I figure it must be about the lights. 

I switch them on (as I was about to do) and give a friendly wave and carry on. This is when the driver cuts the wrong way round the car park to get past me and stops in front of me.

She steps one foot out of her car and shouts at me.

Woman: “Lights on, idiot! It’s getting dark.”

I’m normally a confrontational person and I’m happy to say my piece, but she is being so overdramatic that it’s too surreal to take seriously.

Me: “Okay, love. Thank you. You’re so sweet.”

This pisses her off to no end.

Woman: “I am not your love!”

Me: “Okay, love, the streetlights aren’t even on yet. On you go.”

She huffed and puffed and seemed to think about approaching me, but she thought better of it. She got in her car, slammed her door, put her foot down… and drove straight into the kerbstone. I couldn’t see the damage, but by the noise, her car was certainly missing the corner of the bumper.

She jumped out, shouted at me, shouted at the car, and shouted seemingly at the world in general. As I decided to make a hastily retreat, she even tried to get in front of my car.

I don’t know what made her day so bad that she had to try to take it out on someone, but I know she made it a whole lot worse.

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Sadly, It’s That Same Old Yarn

, , , | Right | February 18, 2021

I run a small yarn shop. While I have my store listed on Google, it’s mostly for people to get information about my store. Reviews are nice, but they’re not my focus. I’m in the back when I hear a customer yelling at my coworker.

Customer: “What do you mean, you don’t have [cheap yarn]?! 

Coworker: “Ma’am, we—”

Customer: “Don’t ‘ma’am’ me!”

I come out of the back. I’ve worked retail long enough to know what kind of person I’m dealing with.

Me: “Ma’am, leave.”

Customer: “Who the f*** do you think you are?!”

Me: “I’m the owner. Leave.”

Customer: “Yeah, right! Just give me some f****** [cheap yarn]!”

Me: “We don’t carry that brand. We stock higher-end yarns that chain craft stores don’t. The closest we have is [wool blend].”

Customer: “Good luck staying in business, then! Nobody wants to buy your s***!”

Me: “I’m asking you one more time to leave.”

Customer: “Fine! But I’m gonna leave you bad reviews! I’ll have my friends do the same!”

Me: “Cool. I can mark them as fraud since, if they’re that willing to do that, they haven’t shopped here. And I can tell you now, if any of my regulars saw that, they’d tell you to f*** off.”

The customer glared at me and left. A couple of hours later, I got an angry review on my Facebook page. By the time I saw it, several other people had replied, telling the woman to go shop at [Chain Craft Store] if she wanted cheap yarn.

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Show Your Employees What They Mean To You

, , , , , | Working | February 18, 2021

It’s the summer of 2005 and I have been at my job for ten years. Three other guys and I rotate twenty-four-seven, immediately supervising six engineers maintaining machinery within a factory. In addition, when no senior management are on site — weekends and nights — we are regarded as the senior people. I am happy in my job, and I know I am well respected by all in the factory for what I do. We all report directly to the engineering manager, [Boss].

I go into work for my first night shift after some rostered time off, to handover from my colleague [Coworker], who is also a good friend. He seems happy and quite excited.

Me: “Hi, [Coworker], you’re looking in fine form. I assume you’re looking forward to some time off?”

Coworker: “Hey, [My Name], I am. But I also have some great news. I’m starting next month as engineering manager. Big jump in pay. No more shift work. Weekends to myself.”

Me: “That is excellent news. Where are you moving to?”

I am genuinely pleased for him as I was considering a similar career move, also.

Coworker: *Looking a bit bewildered* “I’m staying here. [Boss] has created a new position as he’s getting more group responsibility, and he offered me the job.”

Me: “Well, congratulations, anyway.”

We finish the handover and I wish him well once more. As the night shift wears on, I become more and more annoyed that I was not given the opportunity to apply for the job also. I hold no grudge against [Coworker] at all but am seriously pissed off. The next opportunity, when I am in on a day shift, I go to [Boss] to explain how I feel.

Boss: “Hi, [My Name]. I know that both you and [Coworker] would be ideal for the position, but you are so good at what you do that I cannot afford to lose you from the shift pattern.”

Me: *Baffled* “So, [Boss], you’re saying that I have no chance to advance my career from my current position because I’m so good at what I do?”

Boss: “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Me: “If that’s the case, how about a pay rise to reflect how important you feel I am to the company?”

Boss: “Well, ordinarily, that might be easy to do. The problem I have is that there is no more budget for rises as the money has gone to the salary for [Coworker]’s new position.”

[Boss] could not understand why I was so disappointed as he thought I was so happy in my job. The next time I saw [Boss] was to hand in my months’ notice. He seemed genuinely surprised that I was leaving and asked what he could do to make me stay. I suggested giving me the job that he had given [Coworker] or a pay rise. He could do neither.

I left four weeks later and took a very similar job to [Coworker]’s but for £5,000 per year more. Today marks fifteen years in my present job, where my career has moved onward considerably, and I now hold a very responsible position in a company that has a Europe-wide presence and still have a huge amount of respect from everyone here for the work that I do.

The irony is that, had I been given the opportunity to interview for the position in 2005, and not gotten the job, I almost certainly would have stayed for another couple of years at least.

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