The “Bigotry” Tag Is Exhausted

, , , | Right | December 1, 2019

(I work for a well-known computer and electronics manufacturer in one of their stores that sells all the products and offers technical support to users, as well. I am currently the only female working in all of the three [Brand] stores in our city. While all of my colleagues at our branch have very good knowledge of our products, software, and sales, only one senior coworker and I are knowledgeable enough in hardware to provide simple services and upgrades that customers sometimes need, like upgrading memory chips, replacing batteries, and connecting foreign products to [Brand] ones. Therefore, we usually try to schedule shifts in a way that will put either me or my coworker in the store so customers won’t be left without technical support. It is a slow weekday morning so only my male manager and I are in, and he is doing paperwork in the back office. A middle-aged male customer comes in.)

Me: “Hi, welcome to the [Brand] store. Do you have any questions I can help you with?”

Customer: “I don’t think so. I have one of your [Brand] laptops and it doesn’t work with my external hard drive. Is there someone who knows about those things?”

(I instantly recognize the issue, which is quite common among people who just recently switched from PC to [Brand].)

Me: “Okay, let me ask you some questions to make sure of what we’re dealing with here. Do you have your devices with you so we can test some things?”

Customer: “What can you know about that?! Go get a man to help me!”

Me: “I assure you that I’m more than capable to help. It should be an easy fix if it’s [technical issue] like I suspect.”

Customer: “Yeah, I bet you’re just going to waste my time here. Is there any man in this store?! I need a technician, not some girl.”

Me: “There’s my manager in the back, but he’s busy with paperwork and I can easily help you if you just let me…”

Customer: “Get me that manager, then!” 

(I give up and go to the back to get [Manager]. I briefly explain that [Customer] doesn’t want to talk to me because I’m a woman and demands a male to help him. I also explain the suspected issue and a fix for it as we both walk back to the floor.)

Manager: “Hi, my colleague told me you have some problems?”

Customer: *perfectly calm and polite now* “Yeah, it’s my external hard drive. It doesn’t show up when I connect it to [Brand] laptop. Can you help me?”

Manager: “Well, I wish I could, but I’m not familiar with this issue. But you’re lucky! [My Name] is our most senior technician and I’m sure she knows what to do.”

(The customer’s face went beet-red and I could see him bite his tongue when I came back to where they were standing and smiled with my best customer-service smile. My manager — perfectly capable of helping [Customer], as well, mind you — stood beside us, grinning cheerfully and playing clueless the whole time I troubleshooted the issue and explained the fix. In the end, what should have taken no more than ten minutes took almost half an hour, only due to [Customer]’s misogyny and stubbornness. But how my manager handled things cheered me up for the rest of the week!)

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