You Can’t Have Your Cake And Your Refund, Too

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: Confusedperson000 | December 4, 2020

I start working at a big midwestern warehouse grocery store as soon as I graduate high school. I spend almost four years working in the bakery department. I work with the most amazing team. Corporate can suck a major d**k sometimes, but otherwise, we make do.

I am working the closing shift one night; only one of us stays behind after 5:00 pm to clean everything, put stuff away, get custom cakes for people who ordered them, write on cakes, yada, yada, yada. I have worked there long enough that I know the routine of regulars and I can usually see if people could be trouble. I have just cleaned the floors and am in the back, washing dishes and operating our very loud industrial dishwasher. When I’m in the back cleaning, I occasionally peek around the corner to see if customers are waiting for an employee and then get back to work.

I hear a real close throat-clearing noise; this always scares me. I turn around and see a male customer.

Customer #1: “I’m sorry, I know I’m not supposed to be back here, but I couldn’t get your attention.”

Me: “I understand. It’s hard to hear over that dishwasher!”

He goes and stands in front of the cake station. He gives me his name and a yellow receipt, and I happily oblige and go around the weird, angled wall back to our fridge to grab the ONLY CAKE FOR PICKUP with his name on an attached white receipt. I go back and set the cake down on the table we put the free cookies on and open it up for him to look at. He loves it and says his little girl will love it. He takes the cake, thanks me, and heads up front to pay for it.

I turn to head back to finish my dishes for the night. I am just about to turn the corner when I hear, “Excuse meeee!” I turn around and a VERY pregnant lady is trying to wave me down before I retreat to my hidey-hole.

Customer #2: “Excuse me. I have three cakes that I need to pick up; I’ve already paid for them.”

It’s common for people to pay for cakes before they’re made; they just have the receipt attached to the cake and the customer has a copy, as well. It’s our policy, especially for expensive or multiple cakes, to pay upfront before we make them so we don’t get stiffed at the last minute.

Me: “Oh, okay, ma’am. Give me a moment to check our fridge for your cakes. Could I get a name on that order?”

Customer #2: “It’s [Customer #2]. I was supposed to pick up at 6:30 pm?”

Me: “I’ll be right back.”

She smiles. I don’t remember seeing any other cakes in the fridge, but I walk back to our fridge and go in. Maybe they put her cakes in a different spot from the normal ones. I’m looking… looking… S***, where are the cakes?! I walk out and put on my calmest voice and softest customer service smile.

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, I couldn’t see any more cakes for pickup in our fridge. Do you have your receipt and/or order form?”

She gives me a dirty look.

Customer #2: “Why aren’t my cakes in your fridge?! I paid a lot of money for those special cakes! FINE!”

She starts furiously digging in her purse and hands me a yellow carbon copy of her order form. S***, she got the expensive tiered birthday cakes — three of them. Each cake is worth $50 a piece. Then I think, sometimes the decorators put the expensive cakes, especially the whipped icing ones, in the freezer, so the colored frosting doesn’t bleed onto the white icing.

Me: “Okay, these are bigger cakes. Sometimes they put them in the freezer so they stay looking perfect; let me go take a look in there.”

The lady gives me a smug smirk and red flags start going off. I walk into our freezer set at “I can see my breath” degrees, stand there in the cold in an average polo, dress pants, and apron looking through the backup cakes for the floor, and think, “This lady is going to go nuclear on me when I walk out with no cake.”

I stand in the freezer for five minutes so she thinks I’m doing an intense search of our freezer. Nope. I’m thinking of what to do when I walk out. “Tell her I’ll call my manager and ask where the cakes are. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. If I can get to the back doors, I can be free to panic and call my manager.” So that’s what I do: I walk out and tell her that her cakes are not in the freezer. Before I can say more:

Customer #2: “Are you guys that stupid you couldn’t even make my cakes on time?! I knew I shouldn’t have trusted that stupid decorator! She was incompetent, and I should have asked your master decorator to do it, instead! If you don’t have my cakes, you stupid idiot, I want to talk to the store manager and get a refund! I spent over $150 here and you don’t have my cakes!

DING-DING! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!

Me: “I’m so sorry about this inconvenience. Let me go call my manager and I’ll definitely find where they put your cakes. Sometimes with special orders like this, they put them in another location so they don’t get bumped into.”

Customer #2: “You’d better, or I’ll call your customer service and tell them you’re incompetent, too!”

Ooookay. I take a quick walk to the double doors in the back. Safe for now. I look up the phone number for our bakery manager. No answer. I call our second decorator. No answer. I call the master decorator.

She picks up, a little upset because I called her while she was having dinner with the family, and I hastily explain what’s going on.

Master Decorator: “I’m so sorry! I totally forgot to tell you that nutcase would probably be coming in today. This lady spent an hour with our second decorator, with me in the background, ordering three birthday cakes, each two tiers. We kept the white copy of the order with ‘Needs to pay’ written at the top, and we gave the customer the yellow copy and a bar code with ‘$150 bakery goods’ written at the top. She was told to take the bar code up front, pay, and ask for two receipts; she’d keep one and bring back the other receipt to attach to our copy saying it was paid for, and we’d have the green light to make her cakes. She never came back. That was over a week ago. You should page [Store Manager] to the back and put him on the phone ASAP.”

I do. [Master Decorator] tells me that while she’s talking to the manager, I should go ask the customer for the receipt that she SHOULD have. The store manager comes to the back, and I shortly explain the situation and hand the phone over.

Enter me, serious face and straight posture, ‘bout to throw down this customer professional-gentleman-style. She looks like she’s about to burst into a pregnant Hulk.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am. I just talked to a manager; he’ll be here shortly. Do you happen to have the receipt for your order?”

She gives me a very smug smirk, and I half-expect her to actually hand me a real receipt. She hands me the BAR CODE YOU SCAN TO PAY. Laughing internally, I tell the lady calmly that this is not a receipt; this is a bar code to pay for a product. She starts to yell at me once again that I am incompetent and an idiot.

I hear the double doors in the back loudly swing open. In steps in the store manager.

Store Manager: “Hello. Please don’t yell at my employee. Could you please tell me what’s going on?”

She flips from Hulk Customer to pure, innocent, pregnant customer.

Customer #2: “I was just trying to pick up my cakes for my baby cousin and my two other children. We are having a birthday party today and—” *sniffs* “—and I paid for my cakes and they never made them. I need those cakes… or you could just give me these cakes—” *points to the plain half-sheet cake in our decorator station* “—for free. I can’t spend any more money. I can’t work at the moment, since I’m pregnant.”

Store Manager: *With a blank stare* “Where is the receipt?”

Customer #2: “She has it in her hands; they should have it on their copy, too.”

The manager takes the bar code from my hands.

Store Manager: “Ma’am, this isn’t a receipt. Where is your receipt?”

Customer #2: “That’s it right there—”

Store Manager: *Cutting her off* “No, this is not a receipt. This is a bar code that you use to pay for something. If this is a receipt, where’s the name of the person that checked you out? The time? The date?”

She starts to stutter and slowly starts morphing back into Hulk Customer, yelling that she needs those cakes for her children, that she’s pregnant, and that she deserves those cakes NOW! She stomps her foot. She’s actually throwing a tantrum because she’s not getting free cake.

I look over at the manager after the woman finishes her stomping and he looks as amused as I am. She starts to demand a number for corporate customer service. The manager pulls out a card with his name and the numbers for both corporate and customer service for complaints. The woman takes it, still yelling that we all are idiots and thieves.

She turns around with her empty cart, still yelling how we all are stupid, and she does something I’ve never seen before. She gives us one more look over her shoulder, FLIPS her cart completely over, and SPRINTS for the front doors.

This woman, who looks eight months pregnant, is sprinting like an Olympic runner to the front doors. I’m stunned. The manager looks at me and sighs.

Store Manager: “I’ll be right back.”

He starts to jog down one of the aisles and calls for one of the boys doing carts outside to look for this lady and find out what kind of car she’s driving, along with the license plate. I’m left standing there and customers are looking at me like, “What the f***?” I just kind of give a, “Sorry about that,” to everyone in the vicinity.

I go back to do my dishes wondering if I imagined this whole scenario. Did the cleaning fumes finally get to my brain?

The store manager eventually comes back and asks if I’m okay; I am. He tells me that they have her face on camera and she’ll go on the board of customers to look out for or that are banned upfront, but she had no license plate on her old, beaten-up truck. He gives me a 15% off coupon employees for my trouble and says if there is any more news with her, he’ll let me know.

Sure enough, he comes back an hour later when I’m getting ready to leave, smiling.

Store Manager: “Guess who just called back?”

No way! Not ten minutes after she left, this woman called the manager back to yell at him. She claimed that she’d called customer service and they said he had to give her three free cakes AND a refund. His reply was that it was Saturday, and the call service is not open on the weekend. He said she screamed and hung up.

I’ve dealt with difficult people, but that was my first really entitled customer; what a ball of fun.

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