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No Good Deed Goes Well With Corporate

, , , , , , | Working | July 27, 2022

In my early twenties, I worked in a cell phone store in a strip mall. The store was an authorized dealer for a national, growing cellular provider. As an authorized dealer, my store could not do all the same things as a “corporate” store of the cellular provider, despite most of our branding looking identical.

As employees of the authorized dealer, we were sales agents, and our main focus was on selling phones, service, and accessories. Anything beyond that — warranty claims or exchanges, in-depth troubleshooting, most account maintenance, etc. — had to be handled at a corporate store. This often resulted in confused and/or frustrated customers.

One day, an elderly woman came in with an old flip phone that was no longer working properly. She needed it fixed or replaced. Upon looking up the woman’s account information, we discovered that she had obtained this phone several years ago, and as such, it was out of warranty. However, she wasn’t eligible for an upgrade, either; this was back in the days of two-year contracts, and she always gave her upgrades to the other family members on her account.

Unfortunately, this meant that she didn’t have many options apart from adding a new line of service to her account (which would significantly impact her monthly bill) or purchasing a phone “outright” at full retail price. She couldn’t afford (and didn’t want) anything fancy, and although smartphones weren’t around yet, most of the phones we carried were “feature phones” with things like QWERTY keyboards or fancy cameras. We only had a couple of “basic” models, and even then, the full retail price for those was at least $200.

I’ve always been service-oriented more than anything else, and the rest of the employees in my store — and even many of those from other stores in the region — knew me to be a very honest person who hated taking advantage of anyone just to make a sale. I really wanted to do everything I could to help this woman, so I grabbed a cheap pre-paid flip phone out of our stock room and explained to the customer that although it was marked for pre-paid service, we had a workaround that would allow us to activate it on her post-paid plan.

Technically, this wasn’t allowed under the authorized dealer contract we had with the cellular carrier, but it was a common tactic that we somehow managed to get away with for quite some time. An important caveat of selling a customer a pre-paid phone is that the sales representative doing the sale got virtually no commission from it unless they convinced the customer to purchase some additional accessories. I wasn’t invested in this particular transaction for the money.

The customer seemed a bit confused about the whole process — she wasn’t very tech-savvy or even fully understanding of how her service was set up in the first place — but decided to purchase the pre-paid phone and a phone case on clearance. (Read: still little commission for me.) My assistant manager helped me activate the phone in the system, and the elderly woman left the store with a working phone.

Alas, that didn’t last.

The woman came back the next day, complaining that the phone was dropping calls, failing to connect when she tried to place calls, etc. A coworker and I did some basic troubleshooting but to no avail. Pre-paid phones were often older post-paid phones that had been refurbished (poorly), and I suspected that this was the case with this phone, although I didn’t voice that concern to the customer. We encouraged her to visit the corporate store about three miles away, and this only furthered her confusion about the whole situation. Eventually, she conceded and left for the corporate store.

A bit later that day, we got a call from a representative at the corporate store, who asked us a number of questions about the phone and how and why it had been sold to this poor, frustrated woman. Despite my assistant manager’s explanations, the other store’s rep seemed convinced that we had sold the customer the pre-paid phone illegitimately in order to scam her out of her money, and they hung up.

I don’t know what the corporate store did to assist the woman, apart from somehow getting her a (different) working phone and sending her back to my store to return the pre-paid phone and case.

When she walked in the door, she was visibly angry, although calm, and she marched up to the sales counter and spoke to my assistant manager, who happened to be standing right next to me. She politely asked to return the phone and the case, and my assistant manager complied. Neither of them said much during the short transaction. Once the return was complete and the customer was assured that her money had been refunded to her debit card, she thanked the assistant manager and then turned to me and looked me in the eye.

Customer: “And you, young man. Shame on you, taking advantage of naive customers like me. You shouldn’t be allowed to keep working here with your unscrupulous sales tactics. I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

Keep in mind that I had made next to nothing on the sale.

While she was speaking, I maintained eye contact with her and waited a moment to be sure she was done. I then simply nodded my head and said, “Okay.”

This seemed to fluster the woman, whose expression passed through confusion and then further anger before she huffed and quickly left the store.

As soon as the door had shut behind the customer, my assistant manager burst out laughing at a customer telling me — who would rather take a punch to the face than be unkind to anyone, ever — “I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

To this day, I still appreciate him for recognizing how ludicrous that was and for making me feel better about myself.

That’s A Whole Lotta Cake, That’s A Whole Lotta Trouble

, , , , , | Right | June 19, 2022

I work in a corporate call center for a big chain grocery store. Today is Father’s Day. It’s my first call of the day and I can tell immediately that it’s gonna be one of those calls by her tone when she says:

Customer: “I need to make a complaint. I don’t usually like to complain, but this is unacceptable.”

She called her store’s bakery for a same-day cake pickup of a simple cake, lemon filling. It didn’t even need writing on it. The employee she spoke to said that she couldn’t take the order today because she was the only cake decorator in today and she was already very busy.

Because it’s Father’s Day.

Customer: “I’ve never felt so disrespected! She turned my order down! How dare you not take an order?! Do you not want my money? I decided to call the bakery back and tell the employee that I was gonna call corporate because I didn’t like that they weren’t able to do my order. The employee got her manager, and the manager said they could have the cake ready after three, but then they checked the inventory and there wasn’t any lemon filling. I’ve never been denied a cake before! It was inappropriate and disrespectful for them to be out of lemon filling and for them to tell me that they couldn’t take my cake order!”

They were understaffed, and it was Father’s Day, and she wanted a same-day order. I so wished I could’ve reached through the phone and smacked some sense into her.

A Blitz On The Ritz

, , , , , | Right | May 30, 2022

I used [Travel Company] to book a flight and hotel. When I arrived at the hotel, I was told I needed my credit card to pay a deposit; cash would not be accepted. As my luck had it, my credit card declined the charge. Unbeknownst to me, my bank in Germany had blocked the card from being used overseas after someone made a copy of it a year earlier and went on a $4,000 shopping spree.

As I was haggling on the phone with my bank and then [Travel Company], a man who was clearly homeless as indicated by the state of his clothing and hygiene sauntered into the hotel with three backpacks. He plopped them in the middle of the floor and approached the desk.

Homeless Man: “Hey, I reserved a room for three weeks; here’s my ID. Everything is paid for.”

Clerk: “Hmmm… I’m not seeing anything under that name.”

Homeless Man: “Probably a system glitch. A power outage deleted it or something. Just give me the room. I already paid online.”

Clerk: “There is nothing under this name. I’m looking. There isn’t even a reservation for three weeks!”

This was a hotel plaza where the cheapest room was $180 a night.


Clerk: “There is no reservation for this name! Please leave the property before we call the police.”


Clerk: “You can call your credit card company and reverse the charge if you did book something; we clearly won’t dispute it. You need to leave the premises.”


Security was summoned and they promptly booted the guy out. He returned about two minutes later, standing outside at an adjacent window, holding up his identification card and occasionally saying, “Look under [Homeless Man]! It’s not my fault your system f***ed up!”

Meanwhile, [Travel Company] found me another hotel that would be willing to accept cash as a deposit — my bank refused to lift the international block from my credit card — and shifted my credit over to that booking. I took a rideshare to the new hotel.

After a nice long steaming bath and a delivered dinner, I went down to the front desk to ask a question. Imagine my shock at seeing three familiar backpacks dumped in the middle of the floor and the same guy at the counter.

Homeless Man: “GIVE ME MY ROOM!”

Clerk: “You didn’t book a room with us. You pull this crap every other week, and no one is buying it! Get off our property!”


This continued for a moment until security — again! — put him out. And again, he stood in the window outside holding up his ID card.

I understand falling on hard times and needing shelter. But it’s hard to garner sympathy if you are pulling pathetically transparent scams and then threatening employees who won’t play along.

Because Women Can’t Read Cards?

, , , , , , | Right | November 11, 2021

I work in a call center for a large chain grocery company. When a customer calls in, we need to verify two pieces of information minimum to access an account, unless it’s a new club card, where we just need the card number. From the start, I get a feeling with this customer.

Customer: “I got a new club card and I wanna get the information updated.”

Me: “I can help out with that, not a problem. What’s the number?”

I get the number and see it’s already filled out.

Me: “What’s the name on the card?”

The customer gives me a name that isn’t on the card.

Me: “Any other names?”

Customer: “Nope, no others. Just me.”

Me: “What’s the phone number?”

Customer: “It’s probably a really old phone number. Haven’t used it in years. It’s [number that isn’t on the card].”

Me: “I’m sorry, this club card already has information filled out and it doesn’t match any of the information you provided me.”

Customer: *Suddenly very frustrated* “Get me a supervisor. I’m not gonna have no female playing me like this and telling me that this ain’t my card and giving me this runaround.”

Me: “A supervisor will say the same thing.”

Customer: “I don’t care. Get me a supervisor. I want to speak to a man. Ain’t no woman messing with me this way!”

Me: *Gritting my teeth* “Please hold.”

I don’t give him a chance to respond and dial the line to get a supervisor. This is my first ever openly sexist call and I’m shaking with anger. Somehow, I keep my voice somewhat pleasant when a supervisor picks up. Unfortunately, it’s a guy; fortunately, he’s at least on my team.

Supervisor: “This is [Supervisor].”

I give the supervisor a brief rundown of what happened, including the comment saying that the customer said that he specifically didn’t want a woman helping him.

Supervisor: “And did he say how he got this card?”

Me: “He did not provide it. He just said he needed the information updated.”

Supervisor: “Hmm. All right, send him over.”

I transferred the call. I have no idea how it ended up, but I took a restroom break because I still was annoyed. Reflecting back, I guess that the card was stolen or found somewhere.

Still, what was that guy’s problem?

I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 36

, , , , , | Right | September 7, 2021

My grandma tells me a story that happened many, many years ago.

 As she’s browsing the aisles, she notices a woman following her and giving her a stink eye. She shrugs it off, doesn’t think much of it, and continues on.

At one point, the woman gives her such a glare that she can FEEL the line of her gaze on the logo on the front of the shirt of my grandma’s work. It’s nothing too big but the red-on-denim does stand out slightly.

Grandma: “Oh! I forgot this had a logo.”

She laughs it off, a silly mistake kind of thing.

Woman: *Snarky* “You shouldn’t be wearing the competitor’s brand here! I’ll have you fired!” *Turns and huffs off*

Grandma: “But I don’t wo— Ooookay?”

After that, she made a note to either wear a light jacket over her clothes or just go the couple extra miles out of the way to the company’s store to avoid more crazies.

I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 35
I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 34
I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 33
I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 32
I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 31