The Line Is Busy, Both Phone And Checkout

, , , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(Customer service desk cashiers have to answer every incoming phone call to the store. It’s frustrating because we have a constant flow of customers that we have to still ring out or assist while on the phone with another customer.

On this particular day, our tech department is being run by two guys, both with customers, and a line ten-deep of customers waiting to be helped. There is absolutely no point in patching a call through to them at this point, so either I’ve been taking messages or people have decided to call back later. In-store customers always take precedence over people on the phone.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Store] in [Town]. This is [My Name] speaking; how can I help you?”

Caller: “Can I speak to someone in the tech department?”

Me: “I’m sorry, they’re both tied up right now. May I take a message?”

Caller: “No, I’ll call back.”

(I never recommend this, as the tech department tends to be backed up with customers. Each customer takes several minutes to service even if it’s a simple task, some taking far longer, and they are still expected to somehow help customers shopping on the floor. The setup is pretty stupid, honestly.

About an hour later, my manager on duty is standing on the side of my L-shaped service desk looking at paperwork, about two feet away from me when the phone rings. I answer it, delivering my standard speech.

The same lady from the earlier phone call has called back; however, the tech department is still about ten people deep — different people, but still.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but they’re still very busy over there.”

(The lady starts screaming into the phone.)

Caller: “This is ridiculous! Every time I call here I get the same bulls*** about them being too busy to answer the phone! And then no one ever calls back! I am getting sick and tired of calling and calling and calling and never getting an answer!”

Me: “I’m sorry. They are doing their best to help the customers in the store; they can’t answer the phone while—”

Caller: “That’s the same old story! Why can’t they take the time to answer my call?! I’m a customer, too! I deserve help!”

(My manager glances up at this point, making a face like, “What the h*** is all that yelling about?” I reply to the caller calmly but firmly.)

Me: “You don’t need to scream at me, ma’am. I cannot force them to answer the phone, and as I have stated, they are servicing a long line of customers in the store as fast as they can.”


(After a bit of a pause, suddenly much quieter.)

Caller: “I’ll just come in after work.”

(She hangs up.)

Manager: “What the h*** was her problem? Doesn’t she know what busy means?”

(I could have gotten in a lot of trouble with the general manager for talking to a customer like that, but it took me a few years in retail to develop the attitude that I am not a child and I will not be treated like one by management, and I am not a punching bag for customers. The cashier is literally the last person you should yell at when you’re angry about something they have no control over.)

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