You’d Think They Were Toying With You

, , | Right | December 25, 2017

(It’s Christmastime at a toy store. I’ve just left my register after a long and tiring nine hours to clock out in the back, and my dad is waiting outside for me. On my way there, I pass by an aisle with an older lady in it who suddenly gasps when I walk by.)

Customer #1: *claps hands together* “Oh, goody! A worker who isn’t busy at all and has time to help me find everything I need!”

(I swear to goodness, that is verbatim what she said.)

Me: *stops* “Uh… did you need help finding something?”

Customer #1: “Yes! I need to know if you have any of these four items?” *shows me the items on her phone* “I need those exact items and I can’t seem to find them anywhere!”

Me: “We should have the first two, and actually you’re standing rather close to them, but I’m not sure about the last two. Could you show me those again?”

(She shows me the two items again, and they are on a competitor’s website and of a brand I’ve never heard of.)

Me: “Oh, I’m pretty certain we don’t have those, but [Competitor] might. In any case, let me show you the first two items.”

(I bring her to the items and we’re out of one, but we do have the other. Instead of being annoyed, she bursts into praises for me for helping her so well. Kind of shocked, I smile and nod, but I’m anxious to leave as I’ve now been helping her for fifteen minutes or so past my leaving time. I try to politely excuse myself.)

Me: *while backing away* “Glad to have been of service! If there’s nothing else you’re looking for…?”

Customer #1: “Oh, wait! I wanted to find these two items as well!”

(She holds up her phone and shows me the pictures of the two items we don’t carry, but in different colors than before. One of them is a robot toy, the other we just don’t carry at all.)

Me: “We don’t have those either; we don’t carry that brand. But I can show you what brand robot toys we do carry and maybe something similar would suffice?”

(I bring her across the store to the aisle, which has similar toys, and find a robot that is almost identical save for a few cosmetic differences; it’s even the same price. I smile, hoping this will satisfy her so I can leave.)

Customer #1: “No, no, no, that won’t do! It’s not popular!”

Me: *confused* “It’s quite popular for the price range, and pretty much the same thing. Anything more complicated rises in price dramatically.”

Customer #1: “But it’s not the MOST popular! Look!” *she shows me her phone* “I typed in ‘most popular toys for boys’ and it pulled this list up!”

(I groan internally, as this list is from the year before and has a LOT of competitor exclusive, unpopular, or just plain discontinued toys on it. I explain as much to the customer.)

Customer #1: *cheerfully* “Well, how about we just go through the list until we find toys that you DO have!”

(We end up standing in the middle of the aisle, looking through the out-dated list of popular toys for a good ten minutes, with her physically writing down a list of which ones I know we carry and which ones I know aren’t ours and where they are located so she can go back to them later. During that time, another customer pops up behind me and politely interrupts to ask a question about where an item is.)

Customer #1: “Oh, go ahead, you can show him where the [items] are! Just hurry back; you’re my little assistant!”

(I rush with [Customer #2] to show him where the items he wants are, and he laughs and wishes me luck. Before I can even debate about ‘accidentally forgetting’ the first customer, I turn around and find that she has followed me into my current aisle.)

Customer #1: “Well, I couldn’t let you escape, now, could I?! I’d be lost in here without you!”

(This goes on for another thirty minutes. I show her where items are, tell her if we have items she has randomly found on the Internet, and answer whether or not the item she has picked up is popular or not. Honestly she’s quite cheerful and nice, but when we end up back where we started I notice that it has been an hour since I was supposed to leave and she is still asking questions. I excuse myself with the guise of looking up an item I know we don’t have and promise to return immediately. While gone I grab a coupon, then hurry back.)

Me: “We don’t have that item either, but because you’ve been such an awesome customer, I did happen to find a coupon for [amount] off your most expensive item! But because my boss saw me up there, and since I was supposed to have left an hour ago, I’m being forced to clock out now.”

Customer #1: “Oh you’ve been such a wonderful help! I’m so sorry to have kept you here past your leaving time, but how am I supposed to finish shopping? What if there’s an issue with the coupon? What if I want to know if you have a toy?”

Me: “If you have any other questions, or if there are any issues with the coupon, check out at the service desk and they can help you, I’ve already explained your situation. Also, fill out the survey on your receipt and mention my name and I’ll have a chance to win Christmas Eve off! Have a great day!”

(I ran to the clock out machine, punched out, hid in the break room for a few minutes, then made a curvy beeline for the exit door. My dad, in total, had been waiting an hour and ten minutes for me to leave. Also, I usually don’t ask customers to fill out surveys but I thought this one deserved it. She never did take the survey, though, and I worked Christmas Eve. The lady was nice but she really didn’t know how to take the hint that I needed to leave.)

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