A Big Screen Fail

, , , | Right | April 1, 2019

(I am working electronics and a man comes in asking about our TVs.)

Customer: “So, which one is your biggest?”

Me: “Which type did you want? We’ve got LCD—“

Customer: “Just the biggest.”

Me: *takes him over* “Well, this RCA is a bit clunky for a flat-screen, but it’s definitely the biggest one we have.”

Customer: “Great, I’ll take it.”

Me: “Okay, just give me a moment and I’ll have someone from maintenance to help get a boxed one from the back for you.”

(The guy working maintenance and I go to get the TV loaded onto a flat-bed trolley and he wheels it out for the customer.)

Customer: “Great! I’ve got some other stuff I want to get, so I’ll just bring that with me while I shop.” *goes to take the trolley*

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but you have to pay for that here. We can’t allow electronics items out of the department without being paid for.”

Customer: “But I have other things I have to get!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir. You have to either pay for it now or leave it here while you go get your other items and then we can have it brought to you at the front check-outs, but I can’t allow you to wheel it out without paying for it.”

(He instantly gets in my face, yelling about how this is terrible customer service, pointing at me threateningly, and telling me he’ll go elsewhere unless I let him wheel it out. This is setting off so many red flags for me, I stick to my guns.)

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way, sir, but that is our policy and I can’t change it.”

Customer: “Fine! Then I’m never coming back!”

(He stares at me for a moment, as though hoping I’ll cave, but I just stare back, and then he turns and leaves. I don’t think he is out of earshot, but he keeps walking after I immediately turn to the maintenance guy and say:)

Me: “How much you want to bet he was going to try to steal it? Go get [Floor Manager].”

(While waiting for [Floor Manager], I immediately wrote down everything about the encounter, including a description of the guy, as best I could. I also phoned our other location across the river, as well as other stores in town that sell TVs, giving them a heads-up. In the end, I found out that the guy tried at another chain which I hadn’t thought of, because I didn’t know they sold TVs. He wasn’t successful there, either.)

Booked Yourself Into An Impossible Situation

, , , | Right | March 13, 2019

(I work the front desk at a hotel in a small but popular tourist city. About a fourth of our customers book through online sites which require payment up front and are almost always non-cancellable and non-refundable. While we can add special requests to the reservations — first floor requested, needs a cot, etc. — any changes must be made through the online site — change of date, change of room type, etc. One night I am working and we are sold out. All my check-ins have arrived and I’ve been turning away walk-ins all night. Just after 9:30, a couple walks in dragging a great deal of luggage, something that walk-in clients don’t normally do, and when they come to the front desk holding out a printed reservation confirmation I know things aren’t going to go smoothly.)

Me: “Hello! Welcome to [Hotel]. Do you all have a reservation tonight?”

Customer #1: “Yes, we do! And we can’t wait to get in; we’ve been driving for nine hours. The name is [Customer #1].”

(I look her up in my arrivals list, but not only is she not there but, as I mentioned already, all my guests have arrived.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t seem to have a reservation for you tonight, and unfortunately, we are fully booked.”

Customer #1: “No… I have my reservation confirmation right here.”

(She hands me her printed confirmation and I see that she is booked for this day NEXT MONTH. I check the system for upcoming reservations and, sure enough, hers pops up for that date.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m terribly sorry, but your reservation if for this date next month.”

Customer #1: *feigning surprise* “Whaaat? How could that be? I’m sure I chose tonight’s date…”

(I look at the date the reservation was made; it was booked last night, long after we sold out for the weekend and closed down the room sales for online sites. I know at this point that she booked whatever date came up available and just figured we would check her in when she got here. Were not been sold out, I might have been able to help her, but this simply isn’t an option tonight.)

Me: “Well, I am sympathetic to your situation, but all of my rooms are sold for the next three days, and there are people currently in each of our rooms, so I have literally no wiggle room here.”

Customer #2: *the husband or boyfriend* “I can’t believe this; we’ve been driving for nine hours to get here and we have to be up early for a wedding. Do you have an out of order room or a dirty room or something we could just crash in?”

Me: “Sadly, no, but I wouldn’t be able to give you an out of order room even if there was one. I could lose my job.”

Customer #1: “I can’t believe you messed up our reservation like this! How do you intend to compensate us?”

Customer #2: “Babe, don’t worry about it. Look, I’m sure we can find another hotel nearby.”

Me: “Actually, sir, every hotel in the area is sold out. The closest hotel with vacancies is in [City], which is about four hours from here.”

Customer #1: “Are you serious?! I’m not driving another four hours because you people screwed up!”

Customer #2: “Babe, stop this…”

Me: “Look, how about I call [Website] for you to see if there is anything they can do?”

Customer: “Oh, do you guys have a special hotel number to call for hotel staff?”

Me: “Yes, we do. They may have to speak with you, just the same, but they usually answer quicker than on the customer line.”

Customer #1: “Oh, good, because when we tried to call to change the date nobody answered… uh, I mean…”

Me: “So, you were aware that your reservation wasn’t for today and you drove out here, anyway?”

Customer #1: “Oh, for goodness’ sake, just get us a room! It’s not my fault your website wasn’t working. I tried booking for today, but it wouldn’t let me! I had to keep changing the date until it worked! Your website was broken or something, and that’s not my fault!”

Me: “Ma’am, you couldn’t book for those dates because we were sold out. There were no more rooms to sell. If you booked for [date], then your reservation will be for that date, not any other night.”

(She starts crying and screaming at me, but the husband/boyfriend gets her to quiet down in under a minute and they go outside to their truck. A few minutes later the guy comes in alone.)

Customer #2: “Hey. Um, first of all, I wanted to apologize for her. This is actually the third time she’s done this, and the last two times they were able to get the date changed and check us in. I don’t think she fully understands how this business works.”

Me: “I understand. I’m really sorry there isn’t anything I can do, but you’re welcome to stay in the parking lot overnight, and you are free to use our guest bathroom overnight and the pool shower to freshen up in the morning.”

Customer #2: “I appreciate that, but we’re just going to head back home, I think. I simply can’t handle her public outbursts and crying. She is nearly thirty years old and yet acts like a spoiled child who always has to get her own way, you know? It’s gotten to the point that I don’t like taking her out in public because I know I’m probably going to have to come back in and apologize like I’m doing right now. I think it’s time to end things and move on. Thanks for your patience!”

(He then calmly shook my hand and walked out. I couldn’t believe he’d divulged so much personal information to a complete stranger, but I figured he must have been at his breaking point and just needed to talk. What an unusual night for me.)

Day Rate Berate

, , , | Right | March 13, 2019

(I am the front-desk manager at a hotel that is located across the street from the bus station and train station. I have been gone on maternity for just over a year and during that time we gained a new regular customer. This customer has been staying with us every six weeks during our down time — fall, winter, and spring — when we have very few bookings and can make special price arrangements to get people into the rooms. We are now in the middle of summer and we are sold out or close to it every night. I take a call from a customer. This conversation takes place in French.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Hotel]; this is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Yes, this is Mr. [Caller]. I’m going to need a room this Friday. I will be arriving around ten am on the bus and will be using the room only until around ten pm when my train comes in. They do this for me all the time and give me a discounted rate.”

Me: “Okay, Mr. [Caller], that’s not a problem. I can book that for you.”

(I get the information in the system, thank the customer for his business, and send off the confirmation. During our down time we can book a customer for zero days, which will automatically generate a price of about 50% off the down season rate, referred to as a day rate. In the summertime, our rates are about $20 more per night and the day rate is disabled. If a customer wants a room, they have to pay for the whole night regardless what time they leave. Since he is a regular, I do give him a significant discount, making the rate about $25 more than he normally would pay, and about $30 less than the normal rate. Within minutes I get another call.)

Me: “Thank you for calling—“

Caller: “It’s Mr. [Caller]. I just booked a room for the day, and the confirmation you sent is for a whole night.”

Me: “Oh! Mr. [Caller], hello! I apologize for the confusion. It will show in the system that you have the room for the night because during the summer we can’t do day rates. But I have noted that you will be leaving the room by ten pm and you have been booked at a discounted rate—“

Caller: “Argh! I wanted the room for the day, and I always pay [price $25 less], AND I WANT A F****** MANAGER NOW! MANAGER NOOOOW!”

Me: “Sir, I am a manager and I understand that—“

Caller: *literally screaming into the phone to the point that I can barely understand him* “I HAVE A COMPLAINT; I WANT A MANAGER!” *garbled speech* “F****** RATE!” *garbled speech* “WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU OR YOUR HOTEL!” *more garbled speech followed by a string of French swear words, and then he hangs up*

(While he is rambling on and on I change the reservation to reflect that he isn’t staying the night and resend the confirmation. Within about thirty seconds of hanging up he calls again.)

Caller: “You just sent me a new confirmation, but it’s still the wrong rate and I want NOTHING to do with your f****** hotel! Cancel it NOW!”

(Then, he hangs up again. I decide to give in and manually change the price to LESS than what he expected to pay, to try to avoid losing a regular. I call him back to try to smooth things over.)

Me: “Hello, Mr. [Caller]. This is [My Name] calling from [Hotel]. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve changed the rate to [price lower than he requested], and I will also give you a free upgrade to the jacuzzi suite so you can relax while you wait for your train. Again, I apologize for the confusion; our prices and policies are different during the summer and—“

Caller: “Argh, I want NOTHING to do with you or your f****** hotel! CANCEL IT, YOU B****! I AM DONE WITH YOU PEOPLE!” *followed by a string of French swear words and insults and other garbled speech*

Me: “Sir, SIR! I am cancelling your reservation. You are no longer welcome to stay here. Have a good night. I am ending this call now.”

(I hang up and immediately send out a note to all the staff, filling them in on the situation and advising them not to book him a room. About an hour later, just as I’m getting ready to leave, my colleague stops me:)

Colleague: “We’ve gotten an email from our online booking department regarding the customer in question. You have to see it.”

(I can’t help but laugh as I read it. It should be noted that there are only four hotels in our little town, and as we are the only hotel within walking distance to the bus and train stations, we are also the only hotel to offer day rates for bus and train passengers. This is a special arrangement that is made by the general manager and is only valid during slow times. This rate CANNOT be applied online and must be done directly through the hotel. Based on the email, the customer has tried unsuccessfully to book at the three other hotels, only to find that they not only are fully booked but would charge the full rate which is more than our full rate. He then tried to book online, only to find that he would have to pay the full rate. The end of the email reads as follows:)

Email: “The guest would like to apologize for the way he spoke to your staff and would like to know if he can still take the room and if it will still be the discounted rate you offered. He said he loves your hotel, despite what he said. Can you please contact the client by email or phone?”

(I laughed, called the customer — who didn’t answer — and left him a voicemail. I told him if he wanted the room he would have to call the hotel directly. He never did call, and on the day he’d planned to come stay with us, we saw him sitting outside the train station on a bench in the sweltering heat for most of the day. I would have gladly let him come in, if only he had asked. I guess he realized what an a** he had been and was too embarrassed to show his face. We never saw him at our hotel again, but we have seen him walking around the parking lot of the train station from time to time. Good for him.)

Your Body Needs To Literally Eat Itself Before You Can Take A Break

, , , , , | Healthy Working | January 8, 2019

(I have Dermatomyositis. It’s a rather rare autoimmune disease, best simplified as: without medication, my immune system eats my muscle tissue. When the more worrying symptoms appear, my doctor has me go in for a rushed blood test — ten vials — first thing in the morning, and then tries to call me at work that afternoon after she gets the results. I am working at a store, on cash, ringing through customers, and I hear the service desk page the cash supervisor several times over the course of maybe a half-hour, telling her she has a call waiting on the line. I notice the frequency of the pages.)

Me: *thinking* “Wow, I hope she doesn’t have a family emergency.”

(At one point, the cash supervisor comes up to me while I’m in the middle of a transaction and tells me to turn my light off, then stands in front of my counter behind the customer to make sure no one else comes up to my till. Once the customer is rung through and out the door, she hands me a piece of paper with my doctor’s phone number and says I need to call her. My doctor wants to see me right away, which I explain to my supervisor, and she lets me go. I cab down to my doctor, and she tells me I most likely have Dermatomyositis — later confirmed by a muscle biopsy — gives me a prescription, and puts me on sick leave for six weeks, because she wants me to take it easy so that the damaged muscles can heal. All those times I had heard paging for my supervisor to pick up the phone over the course of a half-hour? That had been my doctor trying to get a hold of me, and it took a long time before my supervisor finally answered. Here’s roughly how the conversation went, according to my doctor:)

Doctor: “This is [Doctor], and I need to speak to [My Name].”

Supervisor: “Is this an emergency?”

Doctor: “I am a doctor wanting to speak to my patient. YES, it’s an emergency!”

Failed The Credit Check

, , , , , | Working | January 2, 2019

(Our store has its own credit card. Every cashier has a target of getting one person to sign up for the credit card each shift. The cash supervisor gets on us if we go too long without getting any, and often uses a certain coworker as an example because she always gets multiple sign-ups per shift. I try everything, even paying close attention to the things this coworker says, and parroting them to my customers. And yet, I can never hit my company-mandated target of one per shift, let alone get the amount my coworker gets. One day, I am discussing this with another coworker, who has been “moved up” to working at the returns desk.)

Coworker: *rolling her eyes* “Oh, I know how she does it.”

Me: “Oh?”

Coworker: “I have had so many people come up to me wanting to cancel their credit cards because they thought she was signing them up for the points card. She offers them the credit card, and when they say no, offers the points card. If they say yes to that, then she uses the credit card form, instead.”

(I doubt this was legal, but the store was due to close in less than a year at that point, anyway. Makes me wonder if the supervisor knew but didn’t care, because it kept our numbers up.)

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