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Customers Are Taxing

, , , , | Right | May 23, 2022

In the US, some entities are tax-exempt, like federal or state government locations. As such, for a long time, the company I worked for used to set up government accounts as tax-exempt without asking for documentation first.

Following a nightmare incident with some top-notch bureaucratic stupidity, my company made the change that all new customers would default to taxable, no exception, and would only be changed to tax-exempt after providing the necessary tax form/certificate/whatever. It was a mild annoyance for entities that weren’t used to giving us documentation up front, but usually, the government-related ones understood when we’d say, “We just need to have the paperwork on file.”

Customer: “You all charged tax on [invoice], even though we’re a state government facility, which I would figure was obvious enough to anyone with a brain, but I got an email saying you need our tax certificate before you’d refund it.”

Me: “Sure, if you have the proper documentation, I can take care of that for you and get that information on file.”

While pulling up the necessary documents and screens, he continues complaining.

Customer: “I don’t see why this is necessary. It says, ‘State of [State],’ right in the name. Or are you all too stupid to know that the government is tax-exempt?”

Me: *Trying the line that has worked countless times before* “I apologize for the inconvenience, but you know how it is when you just need the paperwork on file.”

Customer: “No, in fact, this is absolutely pointless. It should be fairly obvious to anyone with half a working brain, though it’s clear now that anyone who works here must not qualify for that.”

It’s early morning, this jerk has called me stupid several times for the sake of seventy-four cents on an invoice, and I’m running out of patience. I see the department he works for called out on the invoice, and say in my absolute sweetest voice:

Me: “Yes, I’m certain that when the state of [State] distributes unemployment benefits, you take their word on it and don’t require backup documentation?”

He gave me the fiercest glare I’d ever endured and gave one-word answers for the rest of the transaction. I am certain my supervisor overheard and, thankfully, just let it go. Would’ve been worth the write-up, though.

Future Me, Can You Come Back And Lend A Hand?

, , | Right | May 23, 2022

Client: “We love the work you did for us in the past, and we have a new project we would like you to work on.”

Me: “Sounds great! When can we meet to discuss your new project?”

Client: “We’ll meet in a few weeks to explain what we want, but we need you to provide a complete price quote for us to include in our budget today.”

Me: “But…”

Client: “Also, your quote must include costs for anything you can think of that we may ask you to do related to this project in the future.”

Customers Have A Very Particular Set Of Skills… They Will Find You…

, , , | Right | May 22, 2022

I took a job working as a buyers’ assistant at the corporate offices of a major retail chain. We have stores all over the US, Canada, and Europe under six or seven names, and our stores sell mainly clothing and/or home products. My buyers all buy for the stores that only carry home products.

I normally have no contact with customers. I don’t work in the retail division of the chain, I’m not in customer service or support, and customers generally shouldn’t know about me at all. And yet…

One of my buyers forwarded me an email from one of the vendors she buys furniture from. The vendor had forwarded an email from a customer, who was complaining about a set of the vendor’s chairs that she had bought from one of the other stores in our chain.

My buyer just wanted me to find our branch’s customer service phone number and send it to the vendor, asking her to instruct the customer to contact them. I did this and expected it to be the end of it.

I found out a few days later that after not being satisfactorily helped by our customer service — maybe because she didn’t buy the product at our store and it wasn’t one of our purchase orders but another division’s? — the vendor gave the customer my contact information. You can guess that I wasn’t happy about that.

The customer emailed me and wanted me to refund her money. I informed her that I could only direct her to customer service or the manager of the store where she bought the items, as I am not the customer service department, have nothing to do with money or store operations, and frankly, have no real authority within the company.

She replied that if she could just get the chairs that were damaged replaced, she’d be on her merry way. So, she said, I should look up what other stores were carrying these chairs, and if that didn’t work, I should get the vendor to send her some.

I let her know that I was unable to do this and, again, referred her to customer service or the store manager.

She left a very angry voicemail informing me that I needed to fix this and asking why there wasn’t a warranty. I called her back and (thankfully) reached her voicemail. I left a responding message, letting her know that we cannot offer warranties because we do not make the furniture, and we often buy closeouts, meaning we buy a very limited stock from our vendors. And because it’s closeout, not only is it limited stock, but often, the vendor won’t be making more.

Again, I referred her to customer service and/or the store manager, explaining that because I was not in the customer service division myself, I was unable to assist in any other way with this matter. Per my supervisor’s advice, I suggested she try to get her money back, as we do have a generous return policy at our stores, especially for defective merchandise, or possibly contact the vendor again, requesting replacement parts. She didn’t call me back (again, thankfully).

I was nothing but polite during these exchanges, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I’m not supposed to have contact with customers at all, and again, these chairs didn’t even come from the store division I am employed in. Frankly, I was still unhappy that the vendor gave the customer my contact information.

What did I receive a few days later?

An email forwarded from the vendor, from the customer. It read that we had all been very rude to her and that there was no reason we shouldn’t have been able to help her. We gave her terrible customer service, the chairs were shoddy, and — ready for this? — she was going to sue both the vendor and my company.

I guess we’ll see what happens with that.

That Deescalated Quickly

, , , | Right | CREDIT: TylPlas26 | May 22, 2022

This customer has quite an attitude. He used to run his own business, and if other businesses he was buying from weren’t up to his standards, he’d think it was poor service.

This customer phones me one day wondering about getting a part for his BBQ. I contact the company who made the BBQ, get pricing, and tell him how much it would cost.

Customer: “Okay. Let me think it over. I’ll let you know if I want to order it.”

He ends the call, and I write down in my notes about everything that happened.

Maybe two weeks later, the phone rings and my coworker answers it. I hear him saying stuff like, “I’m not aware of any order,” and asking who he is dealing with. He then looks at me and hands me the phone.

Coworker: “It’s [Customer]; he wants to talk to you.”

I pick up the phone, and the customer goes off.

Customer: “I talked to you about that part. I’m extremely pissed that you didn’t follow through on my order! I’m incredibly unhappy with your service.”

He keeps ranting until I finally interrupt him.

Me: “Listen. The last time we spoke, you said you would let me know what you wanted to do. You didn’t tell me to order it or anything. That was the last I heard from you.”

He sputters for a moment.

Customer: “Oh… Well… Ummm…”

He is silent for a moment, and then in a much more meek voice, says:

Customer: “How long will it take you to get it in?”

Me: “[Timeframe].”

Customer: “Go ahead and order it.”

That was the end of it. Ever since then, whenever he comes in, he doesn’t give me any attitude. He has become much more bearable to deal with.

That Pronunciation Seems Fishy

, , , , , | Related | May 22, 2022

I had a coworker who showed me her son’s school essay; the assignment was to write about their families. Her son mentioned something about his grandmother making “simon crocketts” for dinner.

Me: “What are simon crocketts?”

Coworker: “They’re fried patties made from canned fish.”

I looked at her for a moment.

Me: “You mean salmon croquettes?”

She stared at me blankly. 

Coworker: “My family has always called them simon crocketts.”