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Bringing An End To Terrible Tuesdays

, , , , , , | Right | September 9, 2023

We have a customer who comes in every Tuesday and likes to leave complaints in our suggestion box. We know it’s her, as we’ve seen her leave one almost every week, and we usually only get one “suggestion” per week, usually a complaint.

The complaints are always directed to members of staff that she has shown a dislike for, and sadly, based on observation, she likes to target employees who are not white or do not appear to be Christian.

She would write things like: “The Black guy working the deli was rude to me!” or “The Arab-looking girl at the jewelry counter had a funny smell!”

Sadly, even though management knows these complaints are all ridiculous and are all from the same woman, policy is that every “suggestion” is recorded and evidence is shown that action, or at the very least, a discussion is made about it.

As a white woman I have — so far — been spared her ire, but not today. She approaches my cashier line (to note: I am the only white cashier today), but when she sees me she wrinkles her nose and walks away.

She comes back a few moments later with a manager. This is already a step up for her, as usually she would just leave a “suggestion” in the box, but maybe she was getting tired of not seeing any apparent action being taken.

Manager: “Which cashier did you say offended you, ma’am?

Customer: “I don’t want to be served by this cashier. She is obviously pregnant, but she isn’t wearing a wedding ring!”

Me: “Actually, ma’am, I am married, but my fingers swell during my pregnancy and the ring doesn’t fit.

Customer: “Oh… well, that’s okay, then.”

Manager: “Wait, you tried to get one of my cashiers in trouble because you thought she might be pregnant but unmarried?”

Customer: “It’s amoral!”

Manager: “It’s also amoral to try to get someone in trouble just because you disapprove.”

My manager then turns to me.

Manager: “[My Name], this customer tried to get you in trouble. Are you comfortable serving her?”

I look at the customer, who is beginning to realize that the manager might not be on her side.

Me: “I’m… okay with cashing her out as long as she doesn’t do it again.”

Manager: “Well, you’re far more merciful than I am.”

My manager then turns to the customer.

Manager: “I will allow you to finish your transaction here today. I will be aware of you from now on, and every complaint you send my way about an employee of this store will automatically become toilet paper.”

The customer opened her mouth like she was about to complain, but I let her know her total and then she remembered that she needed to finish her shopping. She sheepishly paid and walked out with her shopping.

It’s three Tuesdays later, and she hasn’t been back.

The Magic Words Mean That, Legally, You’re No Longer My Problem

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Rhewin | September 9, 2023

This happened back in 2012 at a now-dead big box chain that anchored malls. The company was in decline, but it was still the largest retailer in large home appliances. Our store was in a more affluent area, and out of all of the stores I worked in, this one had the most entitled customers. I was a commissioned salesperson, but I was senior enough that I had an approval card and would handle general customer service issues.

A customer and his wife buy a [Store Brand] side-by-side refrigerator for $1800. It arrives, and unfortunately, it’s a lemon. The compressor won’t engage at all. Normally in these cases, the delivery team would automatically set up a next-day delivery for a working one. NOPE. The customers refuse. [Store Brand] has insulted their very existence! They will never buy [Store Brand] again!

They come to the store and tell me their tragic tale. Their lives have been turned absolutely upside down by this horrible tragedy. They have picked out a new fridge, a [Name Brand], which retailed for $2,000. A friend recommended it to them, and all of the reviews and industry ratings look great. But here’s the catch: it’s the exact same fridge. [Name Brand] makes the [Store Brand] side-by-sides, and this happened to be the exact twin model.

I try to avoid taking a $200 hit.

Me: “Sure, we could do that exchange, but I wanted to make sure that you’re aware that [Name Brand] actually makes our [Store Brand] side-by-sides. They have the exact same compressor. You’d save $200 if you kept the [Store Brand], and you’d still end up with the same fridge.”

Customer: “I know that! I don’t care; I am never having another [Store Brand] in my home ever again. And we’re not paying that $200. It’s not our fault that you sent us a faulty product! Now we have to wait, and it’s frankly insulting that you’d even imply I should pay the difference.”

I know the [Name Brand] often goes on sale for $1,800, so I am safe to give it for the same price. As I’m double-checking that I have the margin to make the discount, I notice something: it’s backordered. It will be over two weeks before [Name Brand] can deliver.

Me: “While normally you would need to pay the price difference, I understand how upsetting this is. For your inconvenience, I can offer an even exchange. I did notice that [Name Brand] is currently out of stock on this model, so it will be another week or two before we can deliver. Does that work for you?”

You would think I had kicked their freaking dog. The wife gasps and covers her mouth. The customer turns an interesting shade of red.

Customer: “That… that is outrageous! That will absolutely not work! You expect us to live without a fridge for a week?”

I will point out now that they still have their old fridge, which is in working condition.

Me: “Sorry, but I really don’t have a way to get one faster. The manufacturer doesn’t have any at all until the next batch is ready.”

Customer’s Wife: “But [Customer], we neeeeeed it now!”

Customer: “Do you see that? My wife is about to cry. We need to find another solution.”

Me: “Well, we do have more fridges available across multiple brands. I’d be happy to show you other options in the same range.”

This is where I think they are trying to rip us off: they immediately go for [Other Brand]’s top-of-the-line French-door refrigerator. It’s not even in the same category. The thing is $3,500 ON SALE.

Customer: “I think this one got good reviews.”

In fact, it has some of the best reviews.

Customer: “Is it available?”

Me: “It looks like it is. We’re still early enough that I could have it delivered tomorrow. The difference comes to $1,700. Did you want to put that on your [Store] card?”

The wife’s jaw drops to the floor.

Customer’s Wife: “What do you mean, ‘the difference’?”

Customer: “You said you’d do an even exchange!”

Me: “Well, yes, on the [Name Brand] side-by-side. This is a completely different brand, and it’s not even the same type of fridge. I can’t do an even exchange, but we will waive the 15% restocking fee and refund the delivery fee for the trouble.”

Customer: “I want a manager now!”

I call the department manager, who is equally confused by the demand. He offers to take off the same $200 we would have for the [Name Brand]. Of course, that’s rejected with prejudice. He takes it up to 15%. That’s $525! But no, they demand an even exchange. He’s now at the point where he has to flat-out refuse.

Manager: “That’s not something I can do. You can get the [Store Brand] tomorrow, you can wait two weeks for the [Name Brand], or you can get the [Other Brand] tomorrow after paying the $1,175 difference. What works best for you?”

Customer’s Wife: *With tears in her eyes* “You… you… This is bait and switch! Bait and switch!

She literally screams this next bit to the point that it echoes into the mall entrance.

Customer’s Wife:BAIT AND SWITCH!

As she does this, the manager is calmly doing something on his tablet. I will never forget this: once she’s done screaming, he hands her the tablet with a dictionary definition of bait and switch.

Manager: “Ma’am, you seem confused. A bait and switch would be us advertising one product that isn’t actually available for us to sell, and then trying to get you to buy something else. I can get you that [Store Brand] any time you want.”

The woman is visibly confused for a second, and then she shoves the tablet back into the manager’s hands. She takes her phone out of her purse, hands shaking.

Customer’s Wife: “You know what? I’m calling my lawyer! I’m going to tell my lawyer about your bait and switch!”

Aaaaaand that is it. [Manager] and I look at each other. I swear he is holding back a smile.

Manager: “I’m sorry, but since you have decided to pursue legal channels, we can no longer assist you at the store level. I can get you the number for our corporate legal team. You’ll need to direct any further questions to them directly.”

Customer’s Wife: “No, you’re going to talk to my lawyer right now, and—”

Manager: “I can’t continue this conversation. I’ll notify the delivery team to cancel your order. You’ll get a refund on your original card. It might take three or four business days for your provider to show the refund.”

Customer: *Looking mildly concerned* “Now, hold on. My wife jumped the gun a little. We—”

Customer’s Wife: “No! I am calling our lawyer. We are not going to be taken advantage of.”

Manager: “I’m sorry, but we can’t keep interacting with you.”

Customer: “But—”

At this point, my manager and I walked away. The lady sat over in the mattress department, apparently waiting for her lawyer to answer, for a few minutes. Her lawyer must not have cared too much for her business because he apparently never answered. Her husband awkwardly paced small appliances before he walked back to her. He wildly gesticulated while yell-whispering at her until they left. The transaction was refunded, and I never saw them again.

Remember this, fellow retail travelers: a customer threatening legal action is always the fastest excuse to get out of an annoying situation.

The Great Resignation, Part 4

, , , , , , | Right | September 8, 2023

I take a call at our pizza place.

Customer: “My pizza is fifteen minutes late! I was told you might be taking longer, but this is ridiculous!”

Me: “Yes, sir, I am sorry. We are receiving a lot of orders tonight, and we’re short-staffed, so we’re trying our best with the backlog.”

The truth is that we’ve been short-staffed for a year, but it’s been difficult to retain staff and now the cracks are showing.

Customer: “Then hire more people! That’s not my problem! Get my pizza to me in five minutes or I’m demanding a refund!”

I hand the phone over to my manager, who apologizes and tries to explain the situation. As he’s listening to the customer rant and rave, something inside him snaps, and he decides he has had enough. This is the conversation as relayed to us:

Customer: “Ugh, it’s because no one wants to work anymore!”

Manager: “No, sir. At the moment, I am the longest-serving manager here, and I have been here for fifteen months. I am singlehandedly holding the store together, but I am overworked and tired of losing employees because Corporate won’t allow me to give out raises. Any raises.”

Customer: “Well, you’re fine! I was talking about—”

Manager: “My assistant manager is part-time because he found a better job and the only reason he’s sticking around at all is to help me out as some kind of favor, which I hate asking of him, but I have no other options. And I know he’s leaving soon. The other two assistant managers have said that when he leaves, they leave, as they know what a s***-storm is going to be coming our way when that happens, and we can’t retain staff because of s***ty wages.”

Customer: “Look, I didn’t mean to—”

Manager: “And as far as our drivers go, we have one closer and one other who is possibly sticking around but who also will need to leave if their current schedule isn’t honored after the mass exodus, which it won’t be because, again, I can’t hire anyone, and who expects them to prioritize this job over college?”

Customer: “I’m sorry, I was just ven—”

Manager: “You were just venting. Yes, well, so am I! The next time you walk into a place or call a place and say, ‘No one wants to work anymore,’ what you should be saying is, ‘No one wants to be a slave for minimum wage, but that’s all that Corporate is allowing us to offer, and those that are left are trying to keep going with fewer and fewer people.’ Unless you’d like to come and do twelve-hour shifts for $7.25 per hour?”

Customer: “I’ll… be sure to tip my driver when he gets here.”

Manager: “Thank you” *Click*

The mass exodus happened two weeks later. We all walked out, apart from one assistant manager who was desperately retained by Corporate with a raise, but he told us in our old chat group that, a month later, they still can’t reopen the store because they won’t budge on minimum wage.

The Great Resignation, Part 3
The Great Resignation, Part 2
The Great Resignation

Noted: Don’t Mess With This Human Resources Guy

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 8, 2023

Many years ago, I (female) was hired at a bookstore as my first job. On my first day, I was introduced to another woman [Coworker], who was hired at roughly the same time and was also on her first day. [Coworker]’s wrinkled face and gray hair said she was old enough to be my grandmother, but her posture, energy, and ability to lift a giant box of books said that she neither needed nor wanted to retire; I found myself thinking that I wanted to be like [Coworker] when I was in my old age.

By the end of the day, I had discovered that, no, I don’t want to be ANYTHING like [Coworker].

That first day alone, [Coworker] found no less than eight different things to insult about me. At this point, the only one I clearly remember was my multicolour dyed hair “making me look like a freak”. She proceeded to continue to insult me every time I was in earshot for the whole first work week. This being my first job, I vastly underestimated my rights as a worker, and started to think that maybe this was just what the working world is like.

Then, [Coworker] and I got called in to meet with Human Resources. [HR Guy] observed that other workers had mentioned [Coworker]’s harassment toward me. [Coworker] argued that, for instance, I “shouldn’t dye my hair like a freak if I don’t want to be treated like a freak” and other such comments along those lines.

She finished up by claiming:

Coworker: “I don’t have to be polite to people who act like trash.”

Once she’d finished, [HR Guy] opened up a file that had been sitting on his desk throughout this whole exchange.

HR Guy: “[Coworker], you’re single, right?”

Coworker: “Huh?”

HR Guy: “It says in your file that you’re not married or engaged, and you have no children. You’re living by yourself, you have no disability benefits, and you left the ’emergency contact’ field blank; a note here says that you don’t have any living relatives, so you have no one to contact?”

I recognized all of these fields as information we were asked to provide when we were hired, though I was confused about why he was bringing all this up with me in the room.

Coworker: “What does that have to do with anything?”

HR Guy: “I’m just curious why you seem so intent on making enemies when there’s no one to miss you.”

Chills ran down MY spine when he said that. I couldn’t even imagine how [Coworker] must have been feeling.

[HR Guy] proceeded to lecture [Coworker] about her needless hostility, and he informed her that [Bookstore] would not tolerate it before making it clear that if she continued in her behaviour, she would “never set foot in [Bookstore] again”, even as a customer.

[Coworker] stepped out of the room, and I took a moment to try and find my voice.

Me: “Did… you just threaten to…?”

HR Guy: “All I did was make some observations and then promise to ban her from the store if she kept behaving the way she does. How she chose to interpret those statements is up to her.”

The next day, I found that [Coworker] had quit. My other coworkers made a point that I should never let workplace hostility escalate to that point again, and I soon grew to love working at [Bookstore].

Deep In The Bowels Of Customer Service

, , , , , | Right | September 8, 2023

A customer is arguing with my manager about getting a refund.

Manager: “Where is the food you’d like to get refunded, sir?”

Customer: “I ate it!”

Manager: “I’m afraid we can’t refund food you already ate, sir.”

Customer: “Why?”

Manager: “We need the food back if we want to refund it.”

Customer: “Well, what if I can get it back?”

Manager: “Sir, I can think of two ways you could achieve that, but I am interested in neither. Next time, don’t eat the food if you want it refunded. Goodbye.”