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If He Won’t Change His Attitude, He Won’t Get Change

, , , , , | Right | October 22, 2021

I’m an assistant manager in an off-license — basically, a liquor shop. We are part of a well-known chain and hence accept our own gift vouchers as well as a number of generic “high street” vouchers. Both brands of vouchers come in £5, £10, and £20 denominations, but corporate policy forbids us from giving more than £1 of change in cash. Most of our customers are understanding of that rule.

A customer approaches the counter and places several cheap bottles of wine and some crisps (chips) on the counter. I ring it up.

Me: “Your total is £16.”

He hands me two £10 high street vouchers.

Me: “I’m sorry, I can only give you £1 in cash as change. If you take the crisps off, I can give you a £5 gift voucher to use another time, or if you get some more things to round your total up to £19, I can give you £1 back as change. Or you could just use one of your vouchers today and pay the rest of the balance by card or cash.”

The customer gives me a funny look but doesn’t say anything before walking away briefly and coming back with a selection of more crisps and sweets which takes his total to just over £19. I thank him, take his vouchers and frank them, which means I rip them and put the date and store information on the back so that they can’t be reused. Before I can put them in the drawer, he asks me:

Customer: “So, is this your store policy or the voucher policy?”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “That you can’t give out change! Is that your policy or the voucher policy?!”

I’m not too familiar with the high street vouchers, as I haven’t taken many of them by this point.

Me: “Well, it’s definitely our company policy. I’m not sure if it’s the voucher company policy but I can check.”

Customer: “Oh, so you’re telling me that I should take my business elsewhere in future?”

I am looking away from him when he says this because I am in the middle of franking his vouchers and reading the terms and conditions. This very quick escalation and the fact he says this quietly leads me to think he isn’t serious at first, but when I look up and see an angry look on his face, I realise that he isn’t kidding.

Me: “Well, sir, I’m still checking the voucher’s terms, but in my experience, it’s rare to get change from vouchers in cash. That said, it’s entirely up to you if you would rather use them elsewhere in future.”

Customer: “Oh, it’s entirely up to me, is it? Then give me them back!”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “You heard me! If it’s entirely up to me, then give me the vouchers back so I can go spend them somewhere else.”

Me: “Well, I can give them back, sir, but they’ve already been franked so you would have a problem spending them anywhere else.”

Customer: “I’m not the one with the problem; you’ll be the one with the problem! Give me corporate’s phone number.”

I am a little flustered. I have only had to call corporate once at this point and I know their phone number is in a folder behind the counter. Unfortunately, someone hasn’t put it back in the right place, so it takes me a few minutes to find it as the customer stands there and scoffs. I eventually locate it and write down the number for him.

Customer: “What’s your name?”

Me: “It’s [My First Name].”

Customer: “Oh, so you don’t have a surname, do you? Give me your full name!”

Me: “No, sir, you have my first name. That’s all you need to identify me.”


Me: “Sir, there is only one [My First Name] working in this shop. You have all the information you need to identify me when you phone corporate. I am under no obligation to give you any more information about myself and I will not.”

Customer: *Scoffs* “This is obviously just a part-time job to you, isn’t it?!”

He then storms out, slamming the door open and closed as I try to understand the relevance of his last remark. I go to the back shop area to take a quick break and then resume work, foolishly believing that this is the end of it. About thirty minutes later, my coworker tells me that the guy is on the phone and demanding to speak to me.

Me: “Hello?”

Customer: “Hello, [MY FIRST NAME]! I want you to know that I’m phoning corporate tomorrow, but I demand that you post out the receipt you didn’t give me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but what receipt? You didn’t buy anything, so the sale was voided.”

Customer: “I know that your store has a record of the void sale! I demand that you send me that.”

Me: “We don’t normally do that, sir. Can I ask why?”

Customer: “Because I know you’re up to something!”

I’m getting a bit frustrated and anxious, so after this really vague accusation, I start to lose my temper a bit.

Me: “Sir, I have given you my information and the information to contact corporate. If you give me your details, I will pass them on to my manager tomorrow and she can send you the receipt.”

The customer gives me his address and then his full name before snidely saying:

Customer: “…because unlike you, [MY FIRST NAME], I actually have a full name.”

Me: “Sir, I have a full name. I am just not giving it to you.”

He continued to bicker at me and make a number of strange allegations before I told him that further discussion was clearly not going to achieve anything and that I needed to get back to work. He hung up.

I spoke to my manager the next day who couldn’t believe the story, but after phoning the customer and getting a twenty-minute rant from him, she realised I wasn’t exaggerating. She agreed to post the receipt to him, hoping that would get rid of him. Unfortunately, there was a minor fault with our machine and it chopped off the very bottom of the receipt, omitting some information like the date and time.

When he received the receipt, he phoned my manager and told him the fact that “I” had “deliberately” removed part of the receipt was proof I was stealing from her and the company. How he came to that conclusion was never made clear, but she told him in no uncertain terms that this was an outrageous accusation, that there was no money missing, and that I was a trusted member of staff. Furthermore, she told him that there was nothing else she could do for him and that he would need to take his complaint up with corporate.

He spent the next six days phoning corporate every day to complain but, much to my surprise, they phoned my manager to get an explanation from her. Corporate and my manager both agreed that I had followed policy and behaved appropriately despite the bizarre behaviour of the customer, so I didn’t get in any trouble.

They offered him two options: they would either replace or otherwise compensate him for the franked vouchers so he could spend them in our stores or one of our other local branches. A week later, I was told by my manager that he had sent his wife in with them, who spent their full balance without saying a thing, but apparently looked completely embarrassed the whole time she was in the shop.

A Busload Of Garbling

, , , | Right | October 20, 2021

I’m a community nurse who works with patients who live at home. I get a call from a patient who is due to attend a clinic in my office that day.

Patient: *Garble garble* “—make it—” *Garble* “—bus is—” *Garble*

I can’t hear most of what he is saying because he is obviously standing next to an idling bus that is making too much noise.

Me: “[Patient], I can’t hear you. Can you move away from the bus a bit?”

The patient remains standing next to the bus.

Patient: *Garble garble* “—TOO LOUD, I CA—” *GARBLE* “—YOU!”


I repeat this about four times at increasing volume.

Patient: *Mumble, mumble*

The bus sounds move away.

Patient: “What did you say? I was trying to say that I couldn’t hear you because of the bus.”

Me: *Face-palm*

When he arrived, he said he was trying to call to say he would be late because the bus had broken down.

Back In The Old Days, This Probably Happened A Lot

, , , , , | Right | October 18, 2021

Many moons ago, before the Internet, I was involved in telephone support helping end-users who are just learning about computers.

It was the Windows 95 era, most people were emerging from the DOS era of PC interfaces, and using a mouse and a GUI was very strange to them. One call involved a confused lady who was having some problem or other.

Me: “Please right-click on the desktop and tell me what comes up.”

I listened and heard a lot of strange scraping noises, and eventually, she said:

Caller: “Okay, I’ve written ‘CLICK’ on my desktop and nothing’s happened; what do I do next?”

Test Driving Away Your Customers

, , , , , , | Working | October 13, 2021

My partner and I found ourselves needing to buy a car at short notice. We narrowed down our choices of second-hand cars online and then arranged test drives for two cars in the same dealership, a branch of a national chain. I spoke to a salesman who offered us an appointment time. There was a little bit of confusion during the call over my first name, as it is a traditional Irish name that sounds a little like a Biblical name but is spelt completely differently.  

We arrived promptly, and then sat and waited for fifteen minutes until the salesman I had spoken to sauntered in with no apology or explanation for his lateness. After some small talk:

Salesman: “[My Name] is a bit funny, isn’t it?”

He laughs at his own insult.

Me: “Nope, it’s just Irish. It can sometimes be confusing over the phone, though.”

We did the necessary paperwork, gave him all the details of the cars we wanted to see, and waited a few more minutes for him to locate them in the lot, and then he took us out to look at them.

Salesman: “Do you have any pets?”

Partner: “Yes, a cat.”

Salesman: “Ugh, you don’t want a cat; they don’t love you. I have a puppy!”

Fortunately, at this point, we arrived at the right model and colour of car… except it was £2,000 more expensive than on the website and the license plate number — which we had provided the salesman twice at this point — didn’t match. He had taken us to the wrong car, either through incompetence or a clumsy attempt at an upsell. We finally got to the right vehicle.

We noticed that he hung the rear test drive licence plate from the windscreen wiper rather than the boot latch as we had seen at another dealership, but we didn’t think much of it. Then, we got in the car and found it was nearly out of petrol — not a great start — and completely out of windscreen fluid — even worse as this means the car was technically illegal to drive until the fluid was refilled. We had no way to tell whether the car had no fluid because of a leak or if it simply hadn’t been topped up. We spent five minutes in the car before my partner was too uncomfortable to keep driving and we returned to the dealership. While we waited for the salesman to notice us, we took the first chance we had been given to inspect the car and realised that the boot wouldn’t open. The guy came over to see how we were doing.

Partner: “The car is completely out of windscreen fluid and almost out of petrol.”

Salesman: “That’s all right!”

Partner: “Okay… And the boot doesn’t open.”

The salesman tugs theatrically at the boot handle.

Salesman: “Oh, the latch must just be broken.”

Well, yes, I thought, that’s the problem! And it explained why he hung the test plate as he did; clearly, he knew about the issue and was hoping we wouldn’t notice.

Me: “Right, well, can we look at the other one?”

Salesman: “Yeah, just let me get it.”

We waited another ten minutes for him to find the car.

Salesman: “Actually, it’s out of petrol, so I’m just going to nip across to the petrol station. Sit tight.”

After another twenty minutes of waiting, we had now been in the dealership for over an hour and we had spent maybe fifteen minutes in the presence of an actual vehicle. We explained the issues with the first car to the branch manager who had been lurking near us through most of our appointment, and he was just as dismissive as the salesman. We decided — in hindsight, far too late — to cut our losses and leave, but we first had to explain ourselves to another salesperson, the branch manager, and then the salesman himself, who returned with the car just as we were making our escape.

The whole thing was so weird and awkward that I left a negative review explaining how rude and strange the salesman was and saying that we didn’t feel we could trust cars from that dealership, so we would purchase elsewhere. We got a standard, “Sorry about your experience; we will investigate,” reply and thought that would be that. But a few weeks later, I happened to notice that the reply had been updated at some point:

Social Media Representative: “We’re pleased to hear you have been contacted and have accepted our apology.”

This was a complete lie; we hadn’t heard from them since we fled the dealership a month earlier. I added an edit to this effect to the review and have had no reply. We have since bought another car from somewhere completely different, and it is serving us very well, but the whole situation still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

The Special Of The Day Is Bad Service

, , , , | Working | October 7, 2021

One evening, about a dozen of us went to a specialty burger place to celebrate a friend’s birthday. This place offered a range of burgers but also had daily specials; it was a pork and chorizo burger that day. I quite liked the sound of that, so I ordered it and a side of cornbread while everybody else had the “standard” burgers.

About thirty minutes later, the food started arriving, but somehow the waitress ended up with an extra chicken burger, with no sign of my pork and chorizo burger in sight. Her response to this was to shout, “Chicken burger!” at the side of the table with growing frustration. When everyone else was plated except me, I talked to her.

Me: “Excuse me, but I haven’t got my burger or my cornbread.”

Waitress: “Ah, here’s your chicken burger.”

Me: “Sorry, but no, I ordered the pork and chorizo.”

Waitress: “I didn’t get an order for that!”

Me: “I definitely ordered it. And the cornbread.”

The friends sitting next to me confirmed that I did, in fact, order the specialty burger, so the waitress huffed back to the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with my cornbread, but no burger. I was told it would take a while to cook and asked if I was sure I didn’t want the chicken burger. Yes, I was sure. Some of my friends also complained at this point that their burgers hadn’t been plated correctly and arrived without the fries and sides meant to accompany them.

However, I waited and waited and waited. By the time everyone else was finished, my burger was put down in front of me.

I took one bite and it was raw inside — not medium, not rare, but raw and cold in the middle. 

We summoned the waitress, who took the burger back and offered to have the kitchen make it again, but by this point, literally everyone else had finished eating, so I declined and asked them to remove my meal from the bill.

So, this was the story of service so bad that I literally gave up on having dinner. I get that we were a large party, but the table was booked in advance and they knew the numbers, so I don’t see that as excusing the nonsense that went down.