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What Do You Mean?

, , , | Right | April 19, 2018

(I manage a very popular athletic shoe store. A lady in her mid to late fifties comes in with her two grown sons, one of whom I recognize from the summer camp for autistic individuals where I volunteer.)

Customer: “Can you help my son?”

Me: “Yes, of course. What can I do for you?”

Customer: “He needs these in a size 9.5 wide.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we only carry standard width. But this style runs a little wide; would he like to try them, anyway, just in case?”

Customer: “[Son], do you really want them?”

Son: “Uh-huh.”

Customer: “No, I don’t think he wants them. We will try a size 9.5, though. And a 13 in this one for my other son.”

(I go in back and find the shoes, and when I come out I set both boxes on the bench.)

Me: “Here is the size 13, but unfortunately I didn’t have a 9.5 in the other one. I brought out a 10, though; would you like to give it a shot?”

Customer: “Where is the 13?”

Me: “Right here, ma’am.”

Customer: “Don’t be rude! Let my son get this one in 9.5, instead.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s the same shoe. I only had 10, remember?”

Customer: “That is not the same shoe; open your eyes. This one is a little higher.”

(I take both shoes from the shelf and hold them side by side.)

Me: “No, I’m afraid they are the exact same. I can maybe check to see if we have 9.5 in the other color, though?”

Customer: “Son, do you really want the size 10?”

Son: “Uh-huh!”

Customer: “Okay. I will take the 13 and the 10.”

(I take the shoes to the register and ring her up. After she pays…)

Customer: “Why were you so mean to me?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “You were so mean to me. You are just like my husband. He is so mean to me, and then when I get angry, he says that I am the one being mean. Why would you be so mean to me? I am a customer. I spend thousands of dollars here; I am in here every week. You shouldn’t be mean to me.”

(This is the first time I’ve ever seen her, and she has only let her sons look at clearance shoes.)

Me: “I apologize if I came across as mean, ma’am. I am suffering from really terrible allergies, so my voice is a little harsh.”

Customer: “No, you are just a mean-spirited girl. I don’t think my son wants these after all. I want to return them.”

Me: “Okay, I just need to take some information to do a return. Can I get your first and last name, and your phone number?”

Customer: “So you can call me and Goggle me and keep being mean? I don’t think so! Just give me my money back!”

(Yes, she did say, “Goggle.” I did the return, just for the sake of getting her out of my store. My district manager called later to say that he received a complaint about me, but never found out what the complaint was because the caller started accusing him of being mean to her.)

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