Wiping This Customer Away

, , , , | Right | February 16, 2018

(Most of our customers are regulars and are really nice, understanding, and patient. I am serving one of those nice, patient regulars when a customer I have never seen comes up and is served by our brand-new employee. We have two slicers for meat and two for cheese. They are fully washed every four hours, and quickly wiped down in between customers if we have the time. We have a line, and three employees working on the deli section.)

Customer: *demanding* “I want one pound of [Brand] turkey.”

Coworker: *on her first day* “Sure!”

(She looks at her trainer to ask where that brand is and her trainer points to the right sliding door.)

Customer: *shouts* “No! Excuse me!”

(She gets the attention of the new coworker and her trainer, who haven’t even turned their backs to her yet.)

Customer: “You will wash that slicer!”

Trainer: *very cheerful* “Yes, we can wipe that down for you.”

Customer: “NO! YOU. WILL. WASH. IT!”

Trainer: *slightly confused* “You want us to take it apart and wash it down?”

Customer: *rolls her eye and glares* “YES!”

(The trainer looks slightly confused, but starts instructing the new girl to take it apart, pointing to the steps, and telling her what she’ll need to clean it. Once the girl is off to wash the pieces at the back sink and getting what she needs, the trainer turns back to talk to the lady.)

Trainer: *back to cheerful as she always is, giving her a big smile* “This will take about 20 to 25 minutes, but if you are willing to wait, we are willing to do it for you.”

Customer: *suddenly angry* “It shouldn’t take that long!”

Trainer: *taken aback, but keeping her helpful attitude* “Well, you see, she’s a new employee, and it usually takes just about that long, anyway.”

Customer: “Well! It shouldn’t take that long! And you should have more people back here; you have a line!*that she was holding up* “I have a deli in [Big Town two hours away], and I have six meat slicers and four cheese slicers, all going all day, and they are washed between each meat change!”

Trainer: *skeptical* “Well, we really don’t have the manpower or the space back here for that, ma’am, but you know what? I think you’re right that we do need to wipe them down more. I’ll ask the manager about changing that. In fact—” *she turns to the other deli workers who all respect her very highly* “Start wiping down the machines between each kind of meat.”

Customer: *scoffs* “You should have more people back here; your service is slow.”

Trainer: “I’m sorry.”

(The lady looks down her nose at the employee the entire time she cleans the slicer, the trainer pointing out anything she missed then giving it a once-over herself. They then cut all the customer’s meat, wiping it down after each kind of meat she orders. She complains to everyone who comes to the line, and tells them to come to her deli if they’re ever in the area, because her girls are so much better. After she has everything she wants, the trainer asks her if she wants to talk to a manager about the changes she wants to see, and she shouts, “NO!” and storms off. She comes back a couple weeks later. The trainer sees her coming, has a girl start cleaning a slicer, and greets her with a smile.)

Trainer: “We saw you coming, and we are already getting a slicer ready for you! And you know what? We also started doing better cleans between meats!”

(We did, because we all agreed it was a good idea to keep cross-contamination down.)

Customer: *gives a sour face and crosses her arms* “Well, I haven’t seen it!”

(The trainer has lost her patience with this lady and doesn’t try to convince her, but keeps her cheerful demeanour, as the customer demands her food the way she wants it. The woman continues her previous rants to the other customers. She leaves again. By this time we have dubbed her “Crazy Deli Lady.” A couple weeks later, she comes again. This time, the trainer turns to have them clean the slicer and calls the manager for our section, to whom we have been reporting every time this customer has come in. She peers through the back door the way she does when she spies on us, and watches this time. The woman goes through her normal scowls and complaining and being rude to the other customers, yelling at the younger employee serving her, and telling everyone within ten feet of her how horrible our service is and how slow and incompetent we are. After watching her, our manager comes out to talk to her. The woman spends ten minutes right there in front of everyone telling her how bad our service is. Our manager then tells her that she’s been watching.)

Customer: “Maybe I will take my business elsewhere!”

Manager: “Good, please do so. Thank you. We won’t be missing you.”

(The manager goes back to her post. The customer turns to our trainer as they finish her order and asks her about her baby, nicely. The trainer has had enough, and gives her short, polite answers, very irritated that she tried to have us all in trouble or fired and then suddenly became nice. I later talk to the manager.)

Me: “So, how did you like ‘Crazy Deli Lady’?”

Manager: “She said she wasn’t coming back. Call me if she does; I’ll have her thrown out. You guys don’t deserve that. I’ve had regular customers call in about her, asking us to ban her. I won’t have her battering my girls again.”

(Before that, I thought she was a pretty strict and mean manager, but I have found a new love for her.)

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