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Started A Chain Reaction

, , , , | Right | November 5, 2021

I start my own business as a bike mechanic at home. I’m still learning how to deal with clients and set their expectations. I list clear prices on my website, plus a message that “bikes must be paid for before they are released.”

I live in an affluent town where most people think alike, so I have few problems with locals. A client is collecting his bike. He is about seventy years old and a member of a cycling club.

Me: “Hi, Mr. [Client]. Per my message earlier, your total is $220.”

Client: “Yeah, the money will be in tomorrow.”

That comment confuses me somewhat, and I don’t respond.

Me: “Let me talk you through what I have done.”

I run through his invoice.

Client: “What about my chain?”

Me: “I degreased and lubricated it; it is listed here. So, like I said, $220, please.”

Client: “The money will be in tomorrow.”

Normally, bank transfers are instant. Is he referring to when he receives his salary, or before he can pay?

Me: “I don’t follow?”

Client: “Yeah, maybe you weren’t listening.”

Later, I put the pieces together. He was telling me he had already paid by bank transfer. I didn’t understand, because I actually couldn’t believe that he expected to take his bike away before payment cleared. I should have told him to come back after it had cleared. I’m anxious for the rest of the day, but his payment later arrives. He texts me two days later.

Client: “You said I needed a new chain!”

I check back in my texts. He is right; I said he needed a new chain but I didn’t install it.

Me: “Hi, Mr. [Client]. I’m sorry, that seems to have slipped my mind. If you come round later, I can install one for [cost].”

Client: “I asked about needing a new chain when I collected!”

I’ve had enough of his attitude.

Me: “No. No, Mr. [Client], you asked about the chain, but not about a new one, and I explained that I lubricated it. Had you asked about a new chain, I would have installed one. I am sorry about having missed that, but we are both at fault on that one. You have still got your money’s worth because a new chain was not included in your itemised quote. If you would like one installed, you are welcome to make an appointment. Please bring cash. Payment must clear before the bike is released. I am sure you are aware of that after many years of cycling.”

He didn’t reply. I have since obtained a card machine. My transaction costs, 1.7%, is well worth it for the convenience and avoiding these awkward conversations with clients.

Mom Loves To Trash Talk

, , , , , | Related | October 1, 2021

My mom has always been nosy. Very nosy. She is a certified Window Monitor and comments on everyone and everything, family member or not. She loves putting her nose in other people’s business. And she is always right — per her saying.

I bought a house and she came for a visit. She had to pick on something. She had to find something.

Mom: “You know, [My Name], you have this large dark green container in your workshop, full of stuff, all mangled up. It doesn’t look nice.”

I frowned, and then I realized she was actually referring to a trash container. My dad looked puzzled as he was trying to figure out what the heck she was talking about, obviously trying to locate, in his mind, a green container with mangled stuff.

Me: “Mom, that’s a trash can. Of course, it’s full of mangled things. It’s trash.”

Mom: “Well, you should tidy it up a little. It doesn’t look nice.”

My dad opened his mouth to say something, but he knew it was a lost cause and simply shrugged.

You Catch More Flies With Honey… Or Spilled Salt

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

I like to shop at a certain fashion retailer that started offering non-perishable food products from local producers. I order a cheese-making kit online. The outer box has a white crystalline powder on it when I open it. I open the inner box to find a tear in a baggie of salt. I can easily replace this, but a loose, unknown white powder isn’t great! I phone the store’s toll-free number for feedback.

Customer Service Representative: “Hello, thank you for calling [Company].”

Me: “Hi, I ordered a product online. It’s a bit damaged. I don’t want a return; I just want to give some feedback.”

Customer Service Representative: “We don’t want you to keep a damaged product. You can return or exchange it for free, however.”

Me: “It was a cheese-making kit. I opened the outer box and found a spill that looked like a silica gel packet. When I opened the inner box, I found it was salt. I don’t want to return it just for that, but I did want to pass on that it should be packaged better.”

Customer Service Representative: “Thank you. Did you have the order number?”

Me: “Yes, it was [number].”

Customer Service Representative: “Thank you. We’d like to offer you a $10 gift card for this problem. May I put you on hold while I set that up?”

Me: “Sure!”

Customer Service Representative: *Thirty seconds later* “Thank you for waiting. You’ll receive an email with your gift card right away. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Me: “No, thank you!”

This is what good customer service looks like. Now to go shopping again.

Technology Makes Everything Easier!

, , , , , | Working | June 30, 2021

I go to a fast food chain location I’m not familiar with to wait to meet somebody. There’s a small queue but I see self-ordering machines. I’ve never seen one before, so I go to have a look. All I want is a coffee.

I go through the ordering process, and when it’s time for payment information, I have the choice of credit, debit, or cash. Again, it’s only for a coffee, and I have loose change in my pocket, so I select cash.

The receipt prints out, and as I turn around, I see my order number appearing on the screen.

Then I wait… and wait… and notice that other order numbers, higher than mine, are going over. Mine doesn’t move down. I get in line and wait, and when I finally reach the cashier, I hand her my receipt.

Me: “Silly, but my order isn’t coming down. Is there a problem with the self-ordering machines?”

Cashier: “No, sir. Since you select cash, you have to pay before we make it. All you have to do is take your place in the queue and we’ll make it after you pay.”

Me: “Oh… then what’s the use of the cash option on the self-ordering terminals if we have to make the queue and then wait for our order to be made anyway?”

Cashier: *Blinks a few times* “I… I don’t know, sir. They’ve just been installed. That’s what we were told to do.”

I don’t know if that was really the rule sent by corporate or something misunderstood by the employees and manager, but I’ve never used the self-ordering machines for a cash order since.

Putting The Pain Into Pain Au Chocolat

, , , , | Right | June 16, 2021

It’s my first day in a bakery. I am given a tour and a quick brush over everything and then the manager teaching me decides I am to try to serve the next customer. Great! Let’s get started, right?

My first-ever customer is the most snobbish and stuck-up man you can imagine; he orders from the tips of his lips with great disdain, looking down his nose, turning his body away. I keep smiling and remain friendly because he’s my first customer — let’s be positive!

I pack his order: one pain au chocolat. I make the receipt and try to escort the customer back to the till, carrying their purchase, which is the routine I have been taught.

The customer is ignoring me.

Me: “Sir, it’s this way; please follow me.”

I am speaking increasingly louder, thinking maybe he’s hard of hearing. I’m fully extending my free open hand in the right direction. I have to repeat myself three times before he finally decides to move, without a word, and he gets ahead of me, leading the way himself.

I drop off his pain au chocolat bag and let the cashier know it’s for this customer. He acknowledges me with a nod and a thumbs-up. All good. I turn back to the customer:

Me: “All right, sir, your purchase is with our cashier right there.”

I extend my arm, with my hand fully open to point the way, two metres away only. The man is now looking at me with eyes wide and mouth slacked, and he still won’t say a word. I don’t know if he’s confused, shocked by something, or just not understanding me, but it’s awkward.

Me: “Whenever you are ready, we are.”

He still won’t move or say a word.

Me: “So, thank you for shopping with [Bakery], and have a nice day!”

I took a few steps back, turned around, and left, not knowing what else I should have done. From the corner of my eyes, I saw the customer go, “Hmmpft!” and stomp out. I figured he’d bought his things and just could not suffer us any longer and had to make a show of going. 

I didn’t think about this anymore until a good thirty minutes later. I was in the back, about to leave, when a coworker brought back a bag asking, “What’s this?!” acting all confused. I recognized it; it was the pain au chocolat of my first customer!

He had no idea whose it was or who’d made the bag — despite the receipt on it having my name — nor how long it had been there. All other employees were gathering and going, “I don’t know.” I tried to interject to say it was me and ask what happened but, again, no one seemed to see or hear me.  

I went home, seriously questioning if I had suddenly become invisible.