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Bad Interpretation, Worse Management

, , , , , , , | Working | January 27, 2023

I work in a large grocery store deli, which is right next to the produce department. While I’ve had experience stocking dry food and other general merchandise, right now, I’m almost completely new to the fresh food section of the store.

Customer: “I’m looking for a certain brand of white grape, and I can’t seem to find it here. Do you know if there are any in the back?”

I don’t know the first thing about how the produce department stores their product or even where specific items may be. I’ve only been told that they need to keep track of everything that goes in and out of it in a very specific way that’s different from how I’m used to tracking product in the system. The produce employees have already left for the day, and since the deli is extremely busy, I decide it would be best to direct this customer to someone who already has an idea of what they’re doing.

Me: “I apologize, ma’am, but the usual produce employees have already left for the day. However, if you go to the front desk, someone there would be happy to call someone on the walkie who would be able to properly assist you!”

Customer: “Okay, thank you.”

I think nothing of this until about three or four days later when I’m called into the office.

Manager: “[My Name], do you remember a customer who asked you for some help getting some grapes in the produce department?”

Me: “Hmm? Oh, yes, I do. Why? Was there something wrong?”

Manager: “Yes, she came to me and specifically pointed you out. She told me that when she asked you about the grapes, you said, ‘Well, the produce people went home, so we can’t help you today. Go home and try again tomorrow.’”

Me: *Momentarily stunned* “That’s… not what I said at all.”

Manager: “Well, that’s what the customer perceived.”

Me: “I’m not really sure why she said that, because what I’d actually told her is that, while the produce associates had gone home, she could go to the front desk, the nearest place I knew that had a walkie, so that they could quickly get a hold of someone in the building who knew about the produce backroom.”

Manager: “Why didn’t you just go in the backroom and get her some grapes?”

Me: “I thought of that, but not only do I not know where anything is stored in the produce backroom, but I also know that they’re really strict about how they keep track of what goes in and out of it, and I didn’t want to accidentally foul up their inventory. Maybe I could have figured it out with some time in their backroom, but since the deli was extremely busy and had a ton of cleaning left to do on top of that, I didn’t feel like that was the best time to try to figure out an area I knew nothing about, so I thought it would probably be better to direct her to someone who would already know what they were doing.”

Manager: “So, you chose to clean instead of help the customer?”

Me: “No, that’s… not quite what I meant. I thought the best way to help her at that moment was to tell her where to get a hold of people that would be able to help her far quicker than I could.”

Manager: “Well, she told me that you told her to go home and try again tomorrow.”

Me: “I’m really not sure what I can say about that, because that’s absolutely not what I said.”

Manager: “But that’s what she heard! When you’re talking to someone, what matters is what they perceive. What do you think I should do with one of my employees who told a customer, ‘Can’t help you today; go home!’?”

Me: “I… I honestly don’t know how to answer that, because that’s not what I said.”

Manager: *Throwing his hands up* “What did I just say about perception? I’m going to have to write you up for this. Next time, just go get the grapes!”

I didn’t have much else to say that wouldn’t have come off as argumentative or disrespectful, so I more or less stayed quiet and just let the situation move on. To this day, it still feels rather bizarre that a manager found it reasonable to hold an employee responsible for whatever a random customer decided they’d heard rather than what the employee actually said.

Who’s Worse? The Impossible Customer Or The Enabler?

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Pepsimax88 | December 14, 2022

I work returns in an electronics store. The policy is that if it’s unopened and within twenty-eight days of purchase, that’s fine. If it’s opened or used and not faulty, we won’t accept the return.

One day, a young lady comes in trying to return a TV.

Me: “Did you open this?”

Customer: “No, I haven’t opened it. Everything should be in there.”

I have a look at the tape and it looks like it’s been resealed. I open it and can clearly see that it’s been out of the box and everything. Plastic is torn and everything is just a mess.

Me: “You told me you didn’t open it.”

Customer: “I didn’t.”

Me: “It’s been used. We can’t take it back if you opened it”


Me: “Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter. If anyone has opened it, we can’t return it.”

Customer: “You said if I hadn’t opened it, we could return it! GET ME A MANAGER!”

I happily went and got a manager to deal with her. He was so dumbfounded when she said again that she hadn’t opened it; her boyfriend had. I left them to it and dealt with another customer.

Five minutes later, I saw my manager moving the TV to the back, so I asked what was up.

He had f****** returned it.

I don’t miss that job and the spineless management.

The Manager Didn’t Need The Shovel To Dig That Hole Deeper

, , , , , | Right | November 26, 2022

I work at [Home Improvement Chain] in returns. An older woman comes in with a crumpled and aged receipt and the broken and dirty handle of what I think is a garden tool.

Customer: “I’d like to return this shovel, please!”

I examine the receipt before anything else happens. Most of it is pretty illegible and useless, with the ink worn and the barcode gone entirely, but the one part that isn’t faded is the date, which places the purchase at some seven years ago, well past the three-month return policy.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t return this. I have no way of confirming that you purchased this here, and even if you did, it’s well outside our return policy.”

Customer: “But it’s right here!” *Points to a faded sticker on the handle* “Just give me in-store credit or something!”

Me: *Pauses* “I can’t. I’m sorry, but I don’t even have a way to know if we sell this anymore!”

The customer swelled up and demanded to talk to the manager… who, unfortunately, decided to capitulate to her demand. I finished the transaction, knowing full well that now I’d be seeing her more often.

To Quote Many NAR Customers, “YOU SHOULD PUT UP A SIGN”

, , , , , | Working | November 11, 2022

This incident occurred on the day of one of the biggest sports games of the season. Since tickets to the final were so expensive, and the team I supported had the rare opportunity to win three trophies in one season, I went into the city to support my team.

I found a bar in the centre of the fan zone that had security and such checking IDs and making sure everything was orderly. Great! Should be a safe environment.

I nabbed a drink from the bar, headed up to the balcony, and started watching the pre-game coverage.

After about an hour of being up there undisturbed, people started filtering in at a rapid pace. I grabbed another few drinks and made my way back to the balcony. Ten minutes later, this rude guy approached me.

Rude Guy: “You shouldn’t be here! It’s private! You need to go somewhere else!”

I laughed. There was no signage that said this area was private, no other groups had said anything, and the security team nor the bar staff had mentioned it being private. As far as I was concerned, this guy had no grounds to demand I leave and no authority to make me leave.

Me: “Despite what you may think, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. If you genuinely believe I shouldn’t be here, it’s down to security to deal with, not you.”

Rude Guy: *Angry* “I’m going to get security to kick you out! I paid £500 for the balcony!”

Yeah, sure. I didn’t believe this blowhard any more than I believed that he “owned” the balcony.

Five minutes after this, I finished my first drink and went downstairs of my own accord, not feeling safe with that belligerent idiot being next to me. Ten minutes later, security approached me and asked me to step outside.

Security: “A gentleman on the balcony told us that you have been causing trouble and hanging around in places you’re not allowed to be in.”

Me: “Is there signage prohibiting access to the balcony?”

Security: “No.”

Me: “Have the staff told people it’s private?”

Security: “No.”

Me: “Is there any rule against me drinking on the balcony on my own, not disturbing anybody?”

Security: “No. But this gentleman did, in fact, pay for the seating and use of the balcony for the evening for himself and his work friends.”

Finally, he admitted:

Security: “You’re not allowed up there because it is private, but how were you meant to know?”

One of the rude guy’s friends, who was kind of on the fence about it, was nearby, now looking very sheepish about how badly his “friend” had treated me. He tried to make amends.

Rude Guy’s Friend: “If you’d like to join us up there for an evening, you can.”

Me: “Thanks, but I don’t feel safe up there with your friend acting how he did.”

The security officer made it clear that keeping patrons safe was his priority and that he would have a word with the guy about his conduct. The friend apologised for the whole situation and for how the guy had treated me. I was free to return and watch the match — from the packed ground floor — and later on, I noticed that the same security officer was now serving as a bouncer to the “VIP section” and looked very uncomfortable about it.

We didn’t win the match, but I had a good night with several other supporters who were decidedly more friendly.

When An Operating System Is An Operation

, , , , , , | Right | October 13, 2022

I have an old couple come in with a broken computer. It turns out to be a bad hard drive, so the hard drive is replaced and installed.

Me: “Would you like us to install your operating system on the new drive?”

Customer: “No, we will do that ourselves; we’ve done it many times.”

We almost believe them for a second, until they ask our tech whether that is easy to do, in a pleading sort of “please let it be easy” way. I document their refusal very well.

I am working the counter again the day they come back: the OS is on there, but they can’t get Internet access, and their primary drive is I:\ instead of C:\ (bizarre).

Customer: “Our neighbor who is good with computers spent two hours trying to fix it! It’s not working!”

Read: who the f*** knows what has been done to this computer, at this point? Fine, no problem, we’ll take it back, wipe the drive, and redo the OS install for them. That’ll be a set price, just like we offered earlier.

Customer: “No. You’re going to do it for free.”

Our entire team has just been yelled at by our department head that under no circumstances are we to give away free labor, so there is no way that is going to happen. I’d lose my job.

There is no higher supervisor for me to foist this couple on because they are all in their weekly meeting. I spend an entire hour with the couple attempting to explain that we cannot warranty work that we did not do, nor work that the couple has expressly forbidden us from doing.

This old couple ends up trying to do good cop, bad cop. The wife keeps repeating:

Wife: “We just want to be happy. Why won’t you make us happy?”

I have to honestly reply:

Me: “I don’t think I can make you happy.”

This sixty-plus-year-old husband had a vein in his forehead that was doing the tango. He was red, and he was gripping the counter he was holding on to so tightly that I kept offering to find him a chair because I was very worried he was going to have a cardiac event.

They finally chose the hardware diagnostic option — literally the worst choice possible. I ended up writing over a page of notes to document the encounter in an attempt to cover my a**, and I talked to my manager as soon as she was out of the meeting.

Naturally, after having a conversation over the phone with that couple, my manager not only offered them free a free OS installation but also gave them a free copy and installation of security software, as well.

Note that I was exceedingly polite throughout the whole process with this couple.

I was forced, by policy, to endure an hour of being yelled at by customers — and pissing off other customers as well, I’m sure — in order to keep my job, only to have it instantly reversed by my manager, with extra free goodies.

Adding insult to injury, after all of this stuff we did for them, the couple still gave us a 0% survey, prompting our store manager to go headhunting for “the customer service representative who did this.” It was a great week in retail.