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Wish You Could Bury Your Head In The Sand

, , , | Right | September 3, 2019

(I work in a major Australian hardware store chain. We have a hire shop where customers can hire out large tools or machinery they wouldn’t want to purchase, or only need to use once, like panel lifts and wallpaper steamers. I have only been trained to hire the machines out and don’t have the knowledge yet to tell people how to use them. Most of the time, there is another person in the store who can advise them, or the customer already knows how to use it. In this instance, however, I am alone with no one on-site to help me.)

Customer: “I would like to hire the parquetry sander.”

(Parquetry sanders are used for detailed sanding, usually on parquetry floors.)

Me: “All right. Just so you know, there’s no one here who can advise you on how to use it. What are you looking to sand?”

Customer: “I’m using it to sand back the old floorboards in my spare room.”

Me: “So, it’s not a parquetry floor and you’re just stripping it back?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “I think you should hire one of our basic floor sanders, then; they’re easier to use and cheaper.”

Customer: “No, I know how to use the parquetry sander.”

Me: “Okay.”

(A coworker passes by who knows a lot about flooring.)

Coworker #1: “Hey, why are you hiring out the parquetry sander?”

Customer: “I want to sand back some old floorboards in my spare room.”

Coworker #1: “I think it would be better if you used the basic sander for that.”

Customer: “No, I want to use the parquetry sander, and I know how to use it.”

Coworker #1: “Okay, but just so you know, there’s no one here who can show you how to work it.”

(My coworker leaves, and I start to put the hire paperwork together. Any sander needs sandpaper, and there are a few more bits that need to go with the parquetry sander, and I’m not sure what is best for the job. I decide to ring another store in our chain and check in with their hire shop person there for advice.)

Coworker #2: *on the phone* “So, what does she want to sand?”

Me: “She wants to strip back some old floorboards in her spare room.”

Coworker #2: “Sounds like she needs the basic sander. Like, she could do it with the parquetry one but it will take much longer and be a lot harder.”

Me: *to customer* “He says you should consider using the basic sander. It will be easier.”

Customer: “No, I want the parquetry sander, and I know how to use it.”

Me: “Okay.”

(Over the phone, the coworker tells me all the bits and bobs I need to give her along with the parquetry sander itself. He tells me how to attach the sanding pads and paper to the machine, a basic rundown of how to use it — nowhere near enough to teach someone else how to use it though. I thank him and hang up. I relay all the information he gave me to the customer, and even attach the sandpaper and pads to the sander for her.)

Me: “Okay, so, just one more time, before I take your deposit, are you sure you don’t want the basic sander? It will be quicker, and once again, no one here can help you use the parquetry sander.”

Customer: “No, it’s fine.”

Me: “Okay.”

(I take her deposit, her payment, and her personal details and log them. All up, it comes to well over a hundred dollars.)

Me: “All right, I’ll just get a coworker to help you take this down to your car and load it in, and then you can get started!”

Customer: “Yes, just, before we do that… is there anyone here who can show me how to use it?”

(I stare at her and consider calling the other store back. Then, I give up.)

Me: “Yeah, he’ll be on his shift in about half an hour. Excuse me, I have to help another customer now.”

(I did think the next person came in then for the mid-shift, but it turns out he was on the close that day and didn’t come in for three hours. Hope her floors ended up okay!)

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