With Managers Like These, Who Needs Customers?

, , , , | Working | September 12, 2018

I am sixteen, working my first job in a grocery store as a cashier, mere months after being hired. I am working in our express lane, which is attached to our deli and hot foods department, to make it easier for customers to purchase hot meals.

A rather gruff-looking older woman comes to my lane with a handful of items, including one of our ready-made sandwiches, made with meat, cheese, and typically lettuce and tomato. I am immediately on edge as the woman responds rather rudely to my greeting; however, I continue checking her out until we get to the sandwich.

She tells me she called earlier in the day and the woman at our customer service center told her she could get a new, replacement sandwich for free. The story is that she purchased a sandwich yesterday for her mother, and the lettuce in the sandwich was soggy and limp like it had gone bad. She provides no specific name of a customer service worker, though we always answer our phones with our names. When I ask her if she has her receipt, she gets ornery and says the woman at customer service told her she wouldn’t need it. This is not true; receipts are required on returns. When I mention to her that returns and exchanges are handled at our customer service desk, she gets blustery and tells me I can set the sandwich aside, as she isn’t going to get it.

As she leaves with her other products, she mutters about how she is never going to come back to this store again… because we enforce our very simple rules? Good riddance.

My boss comes to talk to me later. Apparently, the woman has called to complain about me, and my boss says, “Sometimes it’s just better to give the customers what they want.”

What is even the point of us having rules at all if we’re going to allow customers to break them whenever they want?

I’ve been working at the store for eight years now — and I’m a heck of a lot tougher about our policies now than I was then — and the way my boss said that still grates on me. She’s no longer working with us, thankfully.

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The Race Card Is Not A Form Of ID

, , , | Right | September 12, 2018

(I work at a gas station, and our policy is that if a person looks under 35 we have to ID them for alcohol before we can even ring them up. A customer brings up a 24-case of beer.)

Me: “Can I see your ID, please?”

(The customer searches his pants.)

Customer: “Sorry, I must have forgot it. But you remember me.”

Me: “Sorry, I don’t, and I can’t sell it to you without ID.”

Customer: “Let me check in my car.”

(He walks out; a few minutes later he comes back.)

Customer: “I don’t have it, but come on! I am old enough!”

Me: “I am sorry, but if you look under 35, we are not allowed to sell this unless you have ID.”

Customer: “It’s because I’m white, huh? That’s why you won’t sell it to me. You have a thing against white people!”

Me: “Sir, if I did, then that would mean that I hated my family, who—”

Customer: “No, no, no, it’s all white people you hate.”

(Walking outside, I see him stop a young white couple who are my regulars. They come in laughing.)

Young Couple: “Wow, that guy out there is nuts. Did you know he is telling everyone who will listen that you are a racist and that you hate white people?”

Me: *shaking my head* “Yep, that’s me! I hate white people. I hate myself, my mom, and my sister.”

(We had a good laugh at that.)

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Listen Here, Sugar…

, , , | Learning | September 10, 2018

(This happens during training for Customer Service Representatives at a large online store.)

Trainer: “For this exercise, I’m going to need five people.”

(I raise my hand, as do another four people.)

Trainer: “Your challenge is to make me a hot tea with the things in this kitchen. You only get ten seconds to discuss how and ten seconds to do it.”

(We discuss and quickly decide each of us gets one task. I get putting the sugar in. [Person #1] grabs a cup. [Person #2] asks about the flavor and runs for the tea. I see him go for the tea, so in the meantime I pour the sugar in. [Person #2] comes back and puts the tea bag in. [Person #3] pours the hot water. [Person #4] walks the cup over to the trainer while mixing in the sugar.)

Trainer: *looks at the rest of the class and points to me* “What did she do wrong?”

Everyone: “She put the sugar in before the tea.”

Trainer: “Exactly. That is not how you do it.”

Me: “Why? That’s how I do it at home.”

Trainer: *taken by surprise* “Because… you don’t.”

Me: “Did it not mix?”

Trainer: *smug look* “Class, what is she doing wrong now?” *no answer* “Here in [Online Store], we always do things like the customer wants it.”

Me: “So, if a customer wants his small purchase to be put in giant box with packing peanuts, but the peanuts have to be put in last… can we actually do that?”

(I know I got a little defensive, but I don’t like being singled out. And much less for something so irrational.)

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My Business Lunch Is None Of Your Business

, , , , , | Related | September 10, 2018

(One of my first jobs is as a secretary and receptionist. I am angling for a promotion, so I make myself as indispensable to my boss as possible, and I persuade him to allow me to accompany him on a business lunch with our marketing reps. I am talking to my mum about it.)

Me: “I’m pretty excited about this. It’ll be my first business lunch.”

Mum: “Who are you meeting with?”

Me: “Our marketing team: [Employee #1] and [Employee #2].”

Mum: “[Employee #2]? No kidding! I know her! She’s really nice.”

Me: “Cool! Good to know.”

(I go to the lunch and conduct myself with as much poise and professionalism as a 22-year-old is capable of. I am quite nervous, but I pretend that I do this sort of thing every day. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. Later, when talking to my mum again…)

Mum: “How’d the lunch go?”

Me: “Great! I think my boss was impressed. I saw [Employee #2] talking to him afterwards and pointing at me; she was smiling.”

Mum: “That’s probably because I called [Employee #2] beforehand.”

Me: “Uh… You did?”

Mum: “Yes! I told her it was your very first business lunch, and that you were really excited and nervous. I also told her that since you’re just a kid, she should be nice to you.”

Me: “MUM! HOW COULD YOU?!”

Mum: *bewildered* “What? What did I do?”

(Sigh. I love my mum, and I know she only had the best of intentions. I might have gotten that promotion after all, despite or because of Mum’s “help,” but another job opportunity came my way first. I jumped at it.)

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Centering On The Wrong Thing

, , , , , | Learning | September 8, 2018

(I’m in year two of primary school. My teacher has basically said my work is rubbish — all because I spelt “centre” with an “er” instead of an “re” — and has called my parents in.)

Teacher: “We can’t have this sort of mistake. If we don’t pull him up on it now, then he won’t learn.”

Mum: “Is that all? Two letters the wrong way round from a seven-year-old? Considering using ‘er’ is actually a correct way of spelling ‘centre’…”

Teacher: “Not in this country.”

Mum: “No wonder everyone calls you a dragon if you get so picky over something so minor, even if it’s correct to begin with.”

(Thankfully I moved up to year three soon after and never had that trouble again.)

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