The Customer Is The Defective Blower

, , , , , | | Right | May 14, 2019

Two days ago, an elderly customer came into the farm store I work for. He approached the information desk and explained that he had bought an inexpensive, single-stage snow blower from us the previous fall — it’s September now. By all indications, it had worked well for him last winter, but when he brought it out of summer storage a few days ago, he claimed it wouldn’t start for him. In spite of the fact that it never snows in lower Michigan until at least late November, he seemed stressed to be left without a functional snow blower in early September. He even made reference to the fact that it probably wouldn’t snow for “a couple more weeks” but he wanted to be prepared.

I never make assumptions about anyone’s mechanical ability, so I started with the basics, making sure he knew how to start it. He seemed a bit foggy on how to use the key start. I made a few suggestions, and he thanked me and left to give them a try. A couple of hours later he was back, rolling the blower in question through the store to the information desk. He said he still couldn’t get it started and wanted to have us run it through service.

Our store doesn’t have an in-house service department, but I assured him I’d happily run it over to the local dealer we use for this type of thing the following day. He quizzed me extensively on what I thought the problem might be. People always try to get a down-to-the-dollar quote on repairs before the item goes in for service. I told him I couldn’t be sure until we got an estimate from the service center, but that we would call before going ahead with the repair.

I took down his information and promised I’d be in contact as soon as the unit came back from service. Later that same afternoon, I was in the back room with the blower. Call it being soft, but I really wondered if it wasn’t just a simple starting issue. I got the impression the guy didn’t have a lot of money, and I would have felt bad if he got charged a shop labor rate of $70 an hour for not knowing which switch to flip, knob to turn, or something simple like that. I primed the machine a few times, grabbed the starter rope, and pulled.

To my shock, it fired right up and ran perfectly. I shut it off and repeated the procedure… several times. Each instance, it started on the first tug. Happy for him, I called the man and said his blower was all ready to go. Inexplicably, he wasn’t thrilled. He said it never started for him, and wanted me to still take it to the service center for a “checkup.” I didn’t argue; it was his money. I was just trying to save him a few bucks. I did, however, explain that since the unit was running perfectly, there really wasn’t anything to fix. He still expressed his desire to have it looked at. I told him I would.

I went to lunch after that, and upon returning a half hour later, I found him standing at the desk waiting for me. He wasn’t very direct with what he was saying, so it took me a minute to figure out that he was having second thoughts about having it taken in for service. I took him in the back room and, to put his mind at ease if he decided to take the unit back home, demonstrated how easy it started.

Again, instead of being happy that his blower was running like the proverbial fine Swiss watch at zero cost to him, he mumbled something about giving us some money back so “it would be worthwhile to us.” I didn’t follow and asked him to elaborate. To put it simply, he now wanted to return the blower and get his money back!

Store policy states that gasoline-powered sales are final. We will stand behind the unit 100% for warranty service, but once a customer has used an item, we can’t take it back. To make matters worse, even if I had the authority to override this, the blower was covered in mud and barn dust and looked as though it’d had a few foreign objects run through it. There was no way this thing was re-saleable.

I explained this, and he threw a fit, telling me what “poor business” it was, and that he wanted to speak to my boss. I told him the policy wasn’t mine; it was mandated by the owners of our chain. After telling me several times that “the other guy who works here” would have given him his money back, he changed tactics. He told me to sell the unit for him and just give him the money. I explained that we’re not a consignment shop. I recommended Craigslist or even our store message board.

He was furious, explaining again what “poor business” we were conducting. I kept trying to steer him around to the fact that there was nothing wrong with the blower, but he avoided the facts and continued to rant about how unjustly he was being treated. Eventually, I was forced to pose a question: What store would allow a customer to return a year-old, dirty, used unit that still functioned perfectly, for full credit?

After getting nowhere with the guy, I gave him the store phone number and told him when the store manager would be in. He walked away, grumbling under his breath. I promptly dialed the store manager’s cell number and explained what had happened. To my relief, he posed the same question I had to the customer and told me there was no way we could take the unit back.

Every time I try to do someone a favor, it ends up like this. Maybe someday I’ll learn!

Might Need To Hold Their Hand

, , , | | Right | May 13, 2019

(I’m trying to check a customer out in the lobby when the phone rings. I answer it to place them on hold while I get the customer his change so he can leave.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Pizza Place]; could you please hold?”

Caller: “Yes, I would like to order some pizzas.”

Me: “Yes, but could you please hold for a moment?”

Caller: “I’m sorry, what?”

Me: “Could you please hold?”

Caller: “Um…”

Me: “Could you please hold…”

Caller: “You want my address?”

Me: “No, can you hold, please?”

Caller: “My address is—“

Me: “No, ma’am, I really need you to hold.”

Caller: “Oh, okay, I guess…”

(I place her on hold and grab another customer’s pizza and the first one’s change.)

Customer In Lobby: “She really didn’t want to hold, did she?”

Me: “Not the first person like that today.”

(The guy gave me a nice tip even though he had to wait several minutes longer than he should have.)

Getting It All Twisted

, , , , | | Right | May 9, 2019

(When I am 15 years old, I work at a frozen yogurt store. One day, a lady with two young kids comes to order ice cream.)

Lady: “Can I get two twists with sprinkles in the ice cream?”

(I always make sure to clarify so I won’t mess up too many orders.)

Me: “I’m so sorry, but we can’t put sprinkles inside of the ice cream.”

Lady: “No, no, I mean like in the blizzards.”

Me: *wondering how it will look like a twist if it’s blended together* “Oh, okay, my apologies. Just to be absolutely sure, so I don’t mess up your order, you are okay with the twist not being visible?”

Lady: “Yes, just give me my ice cream already. Do you need to clarify that I want to pay for my ice cream?”

Me: *biting my tongue* “No, I’m so sorry. It’ll be [amount].”

(Some time passes while I make the blizzards and give them to the lady.)

Me: “Here’s your ice cream. Have a nice day!”

Lady: “Finally! That took you so long. Next time, I expect someone older to handle my order.”

Me: “Hopefully, we can make that happen.”

(It starts to get busy because it’s about seven o’clock at night. I’m rushing to take orders and make them when the lady comes up to the window and starts banging on it so loud I can’t even hear myself walking on the tile.)

Me: “How can I help you, ma’am?”

Lady: “My kids’ ice cream does not look like a twist.”

(She shows me each container, each of which has about half the ice cream left.)

Me: “I’m so sorry, but I can’t return ice cream that has been eaten that much.”

Lady: “What do you mean?! My kids have barely eaten anything! I demand a refund!”

Me: *wanting to diffuse the situation* “Ma’am, I am unable to give you a refund, but perhaps I could make you an ice cream that reaches your expectations.” *smiling*

(The lady begins to shove the food into the window to give it back to me, but I repeatedly tell her that I can make her something else and that I can’t take the ice cream back in, due to food contamination rules. She eventually throws the cups in the parlor. I’m visibly shaking because I have to close down the shop for a while to clean up the mess. The lady keeps on yelling at me about how I’m such an unqualified worker and might as well be fired, until a different customer comes up.)

Customer: “Ma’am! You cannot throw ice cream into the store! She told you that several times, and not only that, but I was behind you in line when she took your order. She made sure to clarify with you to make sure she got your order right and you dismissed her with annoyance.”

Lady: “But—“

Customer: “No, I have been here several times and I have a severe peanut allergy. Before she makes my ice cream she wipes down the machines, and she washes her hands before and after touching anything for my order. She is very qualified and you need to leave.”

(She leaves, and while I am cleaning up, the man knocks on the window.)

Me: “Thank you so much for that.”

Customer: “No biggie. Thank you for being so calm-headed in that situation; I sure wouldn’t have been.”

(We had a short conversation and he ended up giving me a $20 tip. The next day, the lady came back and turned around immediately with a shocked face once she saw me. I couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day.)

Will You Can It!

, , , | | Right | May 9, 2019

(In Michigan, cans and bottles can be turned in to a recycling center for a credit of $0.10 each. As customers, we pay a deposit to cover this credit — i.e. a 12-pack of pop would cost an extra $1.20 when you buy it — so it highly encourages you to recycle to get your money back. However, it’s a great way to make some quick money if you can get ahold of someone else’s cans and bottles. As such, our youth group is knocking on doors asking for people’s cans and bottles to raise money for an overseas trip. I have to leave early to go to work at a grocery store, and most recycling centers are inside of grocery stores. Part of my job is to fix these machines when they break and to empty the big bins in the back when they fill up. When a bin gets full, the sorting machines stop running, and we have a doorbell customers press that rings a buzzer up front as our center is in the back of the store. Since they know I’m working that day, the youth group brings all that they’ve collected from hours of knocking on doors to my store during my shift. There are about 20 kids and adult leaders, and each of them has a cart — some two carts — full of cans and bottles as they come into my store. This happens a few minutes later. Buzzer rings.)

Supervisor: *to me* “Can you get that? Those people brought in so many carts. You might just want to stay back there. They might fill up the aluminum bin by themselves.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure they just want to see me in my uniform. I’ll probably be back.”

(I go back and say hey. I check the bins and they’re all fairly empty, so I go back up front. However, the buzzer rings again, and this time they lay on it and it won’t stop buzzing, annoying cashiers and customers alike up front.)

Supervisor: *yelling on the loudspeaker heard throughout the store* “To the customers in the bottle return room, we hear you and are sending help. Please stop pressing the doorbell! It is very annoying and we’re trying to work here.”

(They still rang it a bunch of times until I got back there and scolded them for embarrassing me. They did have a jammed machine, but that was a bit much. To top it all off, it was one of the adult leaders pressing the button so much, not another teenager.)

Being A Senior Does Not Give You Seniority

, , , | | Right | May 1, 2019

(I work at a senior assisted living home. We have a schedule for our residents every day, with certain events at certain times.)

Resident: “So, is [event] at the front desk, then?”

Me: “It’s in the front lobby, at 9:30, near the front desk.”

Resident: “So, it’s now, then? Everybody’s ready.”

(No one else is around.)

Me: *looks up at the huge clock behind desk* “No, it’s only twenty after eight. You have an hour and ten minutes until it starts! You could go have some coffee in the dining room or—“

Resident: *cuts me off* “No, we’re ready now.”

Me: “That’s great, but it doesn’t start for an hour and ten minutes yet.”

Resident: “Well, it should start now, because we’re ready.”

(She continued on that way for a good ten minutes. It’s great that you’re excited for the event, but entitled much?! And no one else ever did show up to be part of the “we” that was supposedly ready.)

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