Not Aiming For A Photo Finish

| IN, USA | Right | December 8, 2016

(I am a clerk in a small-town newspaper office.)

Customer: *on phone* “Hello, I’d like to purchase the photos of my daughter [Name] that ran on June 13, 14, and—”

Me: “Sir, I can’t place an order for you over the phone, but I can give you directions to order the photos through our website.”

Customer: “Well, that won’t work for me. I’m computer illiterate. And I can’t come in to your office because I’m in [Town more than an hour away]. Can’t I just give you my credit card and you can do it for me?”

Me: “I apologize, but the only way to order copies of our photos is through a third party on our website. Do you have an email address? I can email you directions for using the website. They’re very simple.”

(The customer grudgingly agrees to this and gives me his email address. He promises to call me back if he can’t understand the directions, and I tell him that as long as he is in front of a computer I will be happy to walk him through the process. Sure enough, a couple hours later, he calls back.)

Customer: “Well, all right, I’m at [University] library in front of a computer.”

Me: “All right. Did you receive the directions I emailed to you?”

Customer: “Yes, but they didn’t make sense. I told you, I’m computer illiterate.”

Me: “Can you open the Internet?”

Customer: “Well, now the computer’s restarting. The screen’s gone black. I’m pressing buttons.”

Me: “It might be best to get a librarian to help you.”

Customer: “There’s no one here! It’s just me!”

(I sit on the phone for almost ten minutes while he gets the computer to restart. Eventually he gets a browser open, and it becomes clear to me that he doesn’t understand how to enter a URL into the address bar, but he does recognize Google and knows how to enter search terms. I get him to google our website and walk him through the photo-ordering process. Everything is actually going smoothly until we hit a dead-end on our search for the pictures.)

Me: “Sir, it’s possible the pictures were submitted photos. We only have the right to sell photos that were taken by our staff photographers.”

Customer: “Well, can’t you just make a copy of it for me from your files?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t. If you send us a check to cover postage, I would be happy to send you some copies of the newspapers.”

Customer: “I don’t understand why you can’t just copy it and blow it up to an 8×10. I know you have the printing capabilities to do that at a newspaper!”

(We actually don’t have the capacity to print anything on photo-quality paper in my office, which is one of the reasons we contract with a third party to print and sell our photos online.)

Me: “Sir, I don’t feel comfortable identifying which photos you want if we aren’t able to look at them together. I would hate to send you the wrong photo or the wrong size. Like I said, I would be happy to send you some copies of the newspaper, and you can take them to Kinko’s and make whatever copy you would like.”

Customer: “Well, I’ll send you an envelope, but I don’t understand why I have so much trouble with your newspaper! I’ve left several messages over the last week trying to order these photos and everyone has been too cowardly to call me back! I don’t understand why I can’t just give you my credit card number and you can do this for me! I run a business, you know! I always pay people to do things for me! I demand retribution for the service I’ve received!”

(Yes, he did say “retribution.” I’ve always wondered how someone who runs a business in this day and age can be quite so computer illiterate. I also wonder why someone who runs a business was so eager to give his credit card information to someone who doesn’t work for the company that sells the photos and therefore isn’t authorized to handle credit card information for them.)

Improved Your Pun Ten-fold

| Essex, England, UK | Right | October 8, 2016

(I’m the deputy editor of a paid newspaper and I am answering phones whilst we have a competition where readers have to phone in with their best pun. I receive a call from a customer.)

Me: “Hello, [My Name] speaking; how can I help you?”

Caller: “I’m phoning about the competition in your newspaper.”

Me: “Certainly, sir, what do you wish to enquire?”

Caller: “I hate to say but I have a complaint.”

Me: “That’s perfectly all right, sir. What is your complaint?”

Caller: “Well, I entered your current competition and not expecting many other puns to be entered, I entered ten.”

Me: “Yes, what is the problem, sir?”

Caller: “Well I expected one to win but no pun in-ten did.”

Me: *speechless*

Caller: *maniacal laugh* *click*

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Sex Sells The News

| USA | Right | September 29, 2016

(I work at a local newspaper. A man comes in to discuss the online membership for the local news website I have built. He starts innocently enough by asking for the URL – some people are too scared to try a business name with a .com after it, so this is a common question.)

Me: “It’s WWW dot [City Name] news dot com.”

Customer: “Excuse me?”

Me: “[City Name] news dot com.”

Customer: “One more time?”

Me: “[City Name].”

Customer: “I got that.”

Me: “…news. Dot com.”

Customer: “Are you saying…” *he leans in to whisper* “Nudes? Like an adult website?”

Me: *holding up that morning’s paper, and pointing to the URL near the top of the front page* “NEWS. Do you recall walking into the building for the NEWS paper. We are [City Name] NEWS, so we own the website of the same name.”

Stop The Presses! For Five Months!

| PA, USA | Right | May 2, 2016

(I used to work in a small town newspaper. Most everyone would leave earlier in the afternoon and one person would be left to man the phones for an hour or so in the newsroom. This day, I’m the only staff member on hand, and there’s a guy using our microfilm for research. The phone rings.)

Me: “Hello, this is [Newspaper]. Can I help you?”

Lady: “Yes! I am very upset! I just read an article in your paper about the fire that destroyed our house and everything in it is wrong!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry about that… Can you tell me who wrote the article?”

Lady: “It’s [Name I’ve never heard].”

Me: “Uh… I’m not familiar with that name but…”

Lady: “No, wait, it’s [Reporter].”

Me: “Oh! Yes… he isn’t in the office today, but he should be in tomorrow about seven.”

Lady: “I want this taken care of now! You have no idea what we’ve been through! I just now got around to reading the article and I see all this wrong stuff and it’s like it happened all over again! I want him to rewrite the whole thing!”

Me: *thinking I’ll grab a copy of the paper and re-read the article* “Can you tell me when the article was written?”

Lady: “The fire happened in May!”

Me: “But it’s now October…”

Lady: “So?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry but that happened five months ago. We’re not going to be able to redo the story.”

Lady: “BUT WHY NOT?! He got EVERYTHING wrong!”

Me: “I understand that, but so much time has passed and—”

Lady: “YOU HAD BETTER D*** WELL REPRINT THIS ARTICLE OR I’M GOING TO SUE! Who’s your editor?”

Me: “It’s [Editor], but she’s going to tell you the same thing.”

(By now the guy at the microfilm machine is watching me with a “WTF?” expression.)

Lady: “I’m going to call her tomorrow! And you’re going to reprint this! You don’t know what I’ve been through!” *hangs up*

(I explain the conversation to the guy at the microfilm.)

Microfilm Guy: “If it was so important, why did she wait five months to read the article?”

Me: “I should have asked her that.”

(When I got to work the next morning my editor asked about the note I left her and then asked the same question. To our knowledge the woman never called back.)

Not Very Tourism-Friendly

| WA, USA | Working | April 6, 2016

(I’m a reporter with the local community newspaper, and with it being tourist season, I decide to write an article about the benefits and downsides to tourism in the city. Naturally, I call the Chamber of Commerce, with whom the paper has interacted with on multiple occasions for many different stories. The paper is also an affiliated business with the Chamber.)

Me: “Hi. My name is [My Name], a reporter with [Local Community Newspaper]. I’m writing an article about tourism in the city.”

Chamber of Commerce Rep: “Oh, tourism? Have you been here?”

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