A Spectacle Of A Robbery

, , , , | Legal | April 5, 2019

(I work at an opticians with my mum, who’s the manager. In the middle of the shop is a large rack of sunglasses. The dummy lenses in the frames are tinted like sunglasses for people to try on, but there’s a price sticker on each of them, as well as the words, “Suitable for prescription lenses,” embossed in white font. Because of the embossing, they’re not normally a target for thieves because you can’t wear them with the text there… or so we thought. It’s the middle of the day and the store is quite busy; a coworker is stood in front of the rack acting as a greeter when a heavily pregnant woman comes in.)

Coworker: “Good morning! Is there anything I can help you with today?”

Customer: “Yes. I was wondering if you could tell me about these glasses…”

(She leads him to a different display only a few feet away. There are about five others of us on the shop floor, mostly busy with people, and two more of us are approached by customers almost immediately after my coworker. The man who speaks to me is very skinny and looks kind of nervous.)

Customer: “Hey, yeah, I’m looking for my mum’s glasses; her name’s [Woman’s Full Name].”

Me: “Um, I can’t see any ready to collect for a Ms. [Last Name].”

Customer: “It might be under [Different Last Name].”

Me: *still rummaging in drawers* “I can’t see anything for a Ms. [Different Last Name], either. Hang on, let me check the order list. Can I have her date of birth?”

Customer: “Actually, don’t worry. I’ll just leave it.”

Me: “I’m sure I can find them, just—“

(With that he turns and hurries out, and it’s right then I realise the entire rack of about fifty pairs of sunglasses has been emptied. It takes a few seconds for me to link the theft with a man who has been talking to me the entire time, and I realise he was a distraction. I run out of the shop but it’s too late. When we check the CCTV, there are four people clearly involved. They came in within a few minutes of each other, three made beelines for member of staff, and the other waited briefly before emptying the display into a backpack before they all left at almost the same time. It was amazingly well coordinated, and we still don’t know why they’d want sunglasses with white writing in the way of your vision. We report it to the police and take their photos from the CCTV, and we think that’s all we can do, until a few weeks later when my mum and I are at a car-boot sale.)

Mum: *whispering* “Do you see those?”

Me: “The sunglasses? Yeah, why?”

Mum: “They’re from the shop.”

Me: “They’re just black frame sunglasses, Mum; they all look the same.”

Mum: *to the people at the stall* “Oh! Look at these! How lovely! Let me just try them on!”

(She makes a big pantomime out of trying on these sunglasses and really looking at them.)

Mum: “I’ll think about it.”

Me: *as we move away* “So, they weren’t ours?”

Mum: “No, they are. I’m calling the police.”

(I still didn’t really believe her because there were only a few pairs out and they’re mostly black and brown, generic-looking sunglasses, but when the police turned up they found dozens more pairs in their car. When they had a closer look, they found that the white lettering had been carefully filed off of each pair. They were arrested and eventually found guilty of the theft, though they were only fined. What most surprised me was that they’d gone to all that effort to steal and file down the sunglasses only to end up selling them for £5 each at a car-boot sale!)

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Her “Side” Of The Story Is Very Colorful

, , , | Right | April 3, 2019

(I’m about two weeks into a new job at a well-known chain of opticians when I answer the phone to a customer. The call goes a bit like this.)

Me: “Good morning. Thank you for calling [Opticians]. How can I help?”

Customer: “I am very disappointed with these glasses you made me!”

Me: “I’m very sorry. What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “My daughter is a hairdresser! She dyed my hair the other day and now there is hair dye on the sides of the glasses and I can’t get it off! I’ve never had it happen with any of my old glasses. There must be something wrong with the material you make them out of!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, but unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do about it. We would advise you not to wear your specs when having hair dyed to avoid damaging the frames.”

Customer: “Well, this is stupid! You should have told me that when I bought the glasses! I want a refund!”

Me: “I will just need to check a few things on the system first. Could I take your name, please?”

(I look up the customer on our database and notice that she has had the glasses for over three months. Our store has a no-quibble-no-fuss return policy, but it is only valid for three months after purchase.)

Me: “I’m afraid we are unable to refund you as you have owned the spectacles for over three months. However, if you would like, you can purchase a new frame at half price and we will gladly swap your lenses into it.”

Customer: “I don’t want to pay for a whole new frame! Can’t you just put new sides onto my glasses?”

(We can’t order in spare parts for frames, and I’m not taking apart a brand-new frame, but we do keep a box of spare sides from broken frames where the sides are still functional. We usually use these when people come in with broken glasses.)

Me: “We don’t have any spare parts for your frame, I’m afraid, but we do have a box of temporary sides we keep for people who break their glasses. You’re welcome to come in and we can see if we can find any to fit. There is no guarantee anything will fit, though, and they almost certainly won’t match.”

Customer: “I don’t see why you can’t just refund me! These are obviously not fit for purpose and my daughter is a hairdresser! She dyes people’s hair every day and has never had this problem! There is obviously something wrong with the material they are made out of!”

Me: “Glasses aren’t designed specifically so that hair dye doesn’t stain them! They aren’t advertised as anti-hair-dye-staining, and I’m pretty sure the factory that makes them doesn’t test for ‘stain-ability.’ Put simply, it is not our fault that the hair dye is on them; it is yours for wearing them whilst having your hair dyed.”

Customer: “Fine. Can you just tell me how to get this hair dye out, then?”

(Many of my colleagues are standing across our small store looking at me with bemused expressions. I cover the phone and ask if any of them know how to get hair dye out of plastic. One colleague suggests nail polish remover.)

Me: “Well, you could try nail polish remover, but it would be at your own risk and I can’t guarantee it would work.”

Customer: “Okay, I will try that. Bye.”

(The customer hung up. This was my first time working in such a customer-facing job. It opened my eyes to how weird people can be! I know that she got the hair dye out with nail polish remover because about half a year later she came into the store, recounting the hair dye story and saying that “the girl on the phone” — me — had told her we would put new sides on for her because she didn’t like these ones anymore. We told her we couldn’t change the sides simply because she didn’t like them anymore.)

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Can’t See Why Some People Become Parents

, , , , , | Healthy | February 24, 2019

(Ophthalmologist’s offices in Germany have a rotating system of which office has to stay open for emergencies on the weekends. Today, it’s our office’s turn and I’m manning the front desk. A couple comes in with their five-year-old daughter. She has a very red eye and says it hurts a lot. I take their info and ask how long she’s had those symptoms.)

Mother: “I think since this afternoon — a couple of hours, maybe.”

Me: “Okay. Did something happen? Did she get something in her eye?”

Mother: “I don’t think so; I was watching her all the time.”

(The mother looks a little annoyed at my questioning and the father just nods, apathetic. I give some numbing eye drops to the girl to ease the pain and send her right to the doctor. My coworker follows in, only to come back out some minutes later looking rather angry.)

Coworker: “Guess what? This girl has a metal splinter burnt into her cornea.”

Me: “She has what?”

Coworker: “Yes, her father let her watch him using the angle grinder without safety goggles.”

Me: “And he didn’t think that might be kind of… dangerous?”

Coworker: “Apparently not. I’m getting the instruments to get the splinter out.”

(My coworker goes back in to the doctor and they start trying to get the metal out. After a while, the couple and the girl storm past me out of the door, the mother looking angry, the girl rather relieved with a patch on her eye, and the father pouting. My coworker and the doctor come out right behind, looking exhausted.)

Coworker: “WOOOOOW!”

Me: “What happened?”

Doctor: “The girl was wriggling all. The. Time. [Coworker] couldn’t hold her by herself, so I asked the mother to hold the girl, too. When I was just about to pick the splinter out, the mother let her wiggling daughter go and said, ‘Oh, no, I almost got a cramp in my hand,’ and I was thinking, ‘Oh, no, I almost impaled your daughter’s eye, but good for you that you didn’t get a cramp!’”

Me: “What caring parents this girl has…”

This story is part of the World Sight Day roundup!

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The Clarity Of A New Glasses Proves Nothing When Compared To The Precision Of A Child’s Logic

, , , , | Related | November 16, 2018

(I’ve been helping a little boy, who’s about three or four, to look at glasses before he goes in for his eye test. He’s more excited by the glasses case, which is quite a cool one that you can open all the way out until the two pieces roll back on themselves 180 degrees and close. We put the case to one side until after his test, but when he comes out, the optician says he doesn’t need glasses.)

Me: “Great news! You’ve got really good eyes; you can see perfectly, so you don’t even need glasses.”

Boy: “Okay!”

(He seems quite happy with the praise, and finishing up goes smoothly, until he spots the case on the side.)

Boy: “Oh!” *points* “My toy!”

Mum: “You don’t need it; you’re not getting glasses.”

Boy: *starts to cry* “Want it.”

Mum: “You can’t have it unless you have glasses; it’s a glasses case and you don’t have glasses to go in it. You can have it next time if the optician gives you glasses then.”

(He slumps down in his pushchair and starts to cry, but his mum says to just ignore him while he calms down and we finish up the paperwork. I don’t think anything else of it until about an hour later when the same mum marches her son back into the opticians.)

Mum: “Right, tell the lady what you did. Show her! [Boy], right now.

(From under his jacket he pulls out the same glasses case, and looks up at me sadly. He must have grabbed the same type of case from the display when we weren’t looking.)

Me: “Oh, but Mummy told you that you couldn’t have it. You don’t need glasses. You shouldn’t take things when people say no; it’s naughty.”

Mum: “No, open it up and show the lady.”

(He opens the case; inside are a pair of sample frames from the display.)

Boy: “You said I needed glasses, so I got glasses…”

(It took everything I had to keep a straight face and explain to him what we had meant. His mum was so angry — mostly out of embarrassment — but it seemed a classic case of kid logic to me!)

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, , , , , | Right | October 10, 2018

(I work as an optician at a doctor’s office. This woman comes up to me asking about an update on her prescription. She tells me that she wants to keep her frames and just get new lenses. It’s no problem; we do that all the time. I explain to her that we will need to send her frames to our lab off site, since she did not get her old pair from us and we need to install new lenses directly. I then tell her the total. Problems ensue.)

Customer: “What do you mean, you need to install new lenses? Why is it so expensive?”

Me: “In order to update your prescription, we have to send your frame to our lab. There’s a small fee for using your old frame, but the lenses themselves are bringing up the price.” *shows her the price list*

Customer: “Yes, I understand that, but why do you have to put in new lenses?”

Me: “Um… In order to update your prescription, we have to create new lenses.”

Customer: “But I already paid for these!” *pointing at her glasses*

Me: *considering the possibility that she was updating her prescription on the same order, which would be free IF she got them from us* “When did you get them?”

Customer: “Three years ago! I paid over $800 for these, and now you’re telling me I have to pay more to get them changed?”

Me: “Well, if you got them from us and let us know that the prescription was wrong, we would have redone them for you right away, but even that is a 90-day grace period.”

Customer: “You’re not making any sense! Why would it cost me an additional $300 to just get my prescription updated?”

Me: “Well, the materials cost—”


Me: “I… That is not possible, in order to get a new prescription in these frames, the lenses would have to be changed entirely. We can’t just add or take away prescription to your old lenses.”

Customer: “Well, why not?”

Me: *at a loss* “I… Have you gotten glasses other than your previous pair before?”

Customer: “No! They are my first pair! I am not going to pay more to just add a prescription to my glasses!”

Me: “Okay, let me put it this way. When you were a baby, you wore smaller clothes, right? And as you grew older and taller, you needed to buy new clothes that were the correct size. That’s kind of like how prescriptions work. We can’t just… add strength to your lenses without making new ones.”

Customer: “But I already have the glasses!” *shakes her glasses at my face* “JUST ADD THE PRESCRIPTION!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry; I can’t do that.”

Customer: “You can’t or won’t?! You’re just trying to weasel more money out of me! You’re a crook! I want a manager!”

Me: “I don’t know how else to explain to you how this works. To get an updated prescription you need to get new lenses entirely. There’s no possible feasible way to add a prescription to lenses that are already made. Also, okay, my manager is at a different location, but I am happy to give you his card.”

(The woman continues to argue for about twenty minutes about how I am just trying to steal her money, that I should be able to just add the prescription to her old lenses, etc. Eventually, I ask her to wait a moment and I go and grab her doctor. The doctors don’t usually get involved with the glasses, but he makes an exception. The woman then proceeds to scream at him as well as me, making a huge scene.)


Me: “I would be happy to! But you’re getting new lenses one way or the other!”

Doctor: “Ma’am, she’s really the expert here. You can ask anyone wearing glasses in this waiting room, and they will all tell you the same thing!”

Me: “I’m wearing glasses right now! Whenever there’s a change in my prescription I have to buy new ones!”


Doctor: *sees I am close to tears* “Go ahead, ma’am. Good luck with that. But you need to leave now.”


Doctor: “Take it somewhere else.”


(She storms out, tries to slam the door, and cusses loudly when she realizes it’s a door that cannot be slammed.)

Doctor: “I’m sorry; I knew she’d be a problem when I was testing her eyes.”

Random Customer: “Dear, go take a break.”

Other Random Customer: “No one should be around that much stupid; I almost smacked her with my cane!”

(The woman did eventually come back — a lot more quietly — after a couple of weeks, since most other optical shops did not take her insurance AND she’d gotten the same response from literally everyone. She even had the guts to complain about how some of them laughed her out of the stores. I kept my best customer service face and just put her order through with a smile. She never apologized for her prior outburst, and still complained about the price, even though I offered her a healthy discount on TOP of her insurance benefits. Some people.)

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