Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Minor Stuff

Here's a little bit of the Extremely Minor Stuff that's been happening. I can't discuss the Major Stuff yet. Maybe later. Hopefully soon.

1. A customer thought she knew better than us how to do our jobs and if she didn't get her way she threatened to call a certain governmental agency that could cause us a lot of headaches. I checked with the regional manager, who confirmed that we were doing everything right, so if Miss Know-It-All wanted to call Big Bad Governmental Agency then let her. She wasn't getting her way. No matter what. No. And that's final. So far, no Big Scary Intimidating Official Visit. That's good.

2. We had both an ambulance and a full-sized fire truck show up in our parking lot. Crazy lady had been sitting in her car for so long that someone thought she was having a heart attack and called 911. Later she finally came in to shop, spending her normal three hours touching everything, moving things to where she thought they should be, and spending THIRTY MINUTES writing her check……I am NOT EXAGGERATING!!

3. We had a 3-page letter come in from a customer detailing how wonderful we are and how pleased she is by our service and how she will always shop with us from now on and never with Major Competitor because we're so much better. A copy went to our company president…..way to go us!

4. And finally, a strange bit…..specialty stores carry their specialty items. We are not a grocery store or a general store. We are a SPECIALTY store. People come in and ask for the STRANGEST things—duct tape, batteries, snacks, TV guides, band-aids……what do they think we are?!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Off Topic

Have you ever repeatedly translated a phrase from one language to another in one way and then met someone who translates it a different way and you think that while both translations make sense and are accurate, that knowing both translations adds something to the meaning of the phrase? Yeah, that happened to me today. Exciting. Thought I'd share.

Impatient and ???

Another impatient person today. There was a short line (2~3 people) for the one open register. The impatient woman wanted another register open and was being quite vocal about it. She acted like anyone can open any register at any time whatsoever. No. Employees can only open registers that they've been cleared for or assigned to. Sharing of registers is a big no-no.

I went to the customer service counter to open a register. The lady complained about having to walk 10 feet. I cleared some paperwork out of the way and took more time than required to open the register. I signed onto the main menu, signed off the main menu, went into the payroll menu to see who was working today, then into the register menu. She continued to mutter under her breath as I rang her items.

When I told her the total she couldn't find her money. She searched through her purse as the other cashier began checking out the final person in the other line. Finally she found her money and paid. When I returned her change her hand was like a limp rag and she dropped the coins. Then she stared at me like I was disrespecting her. I apologized and when I returned her bills I placed them in her hand more carefully yet she still held her hand so the money would fall right off. I applied pressure to the money until she grabbed it. She had a disgusted look on her face and told her daughter that she was never shopping with us again. ??? I am SO confused!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A "Return"

STUFF continues. For now, stories I've been saving up:

I was called to the front to process an exchange. The woman acted REALLY suspicious. She had no receipt and had already gathered the things she wanted to exchange for the item. She had figured it out nearly to the penny, already knowing that we don't give money back without a receipt, but also determined that she wasn't paying anything. At first she owed me a couple of dollars so she had me take off an item and then add another of her smaller items on until she ended up owing me 5 cents.

The item she "returned" was a bulky item with a medium-sized price. The cashier couldn't remember if the woman entered the store with the item or not. Usually I have people leave returns in the front and only THEN go and gather what they want instead. It would have been very easy for the woman to pick up the "return" as she was gathering the things she was "exchanging" it for. That cashier MUST pay better attention to the doors!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Post Coming Soon......

I've been busy with Stuff. Will be back soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Price Changes

Price changes are a PAIN. It seems they're constantly changing; I see inflation in action all the time.

  • Gas prices went up, so vendors charged fuel surcharge, so prices went up. Then gas prices went down (slightly) but vendors continued charging fuel surcharges so prices stayed level.
  • A popular item was constantly sold out, so the company got greedy and upped the price so much that demand decreased to practically nothing. So then they lowered the price considerably.

Each time prices change, something gets missed. Maybe we change the price on the shelf but miss it on a special display. Or perhaps it's an item that is priced individually so we re-price most of them but miss a few that are cross-merchandised in another section. Very few customers realize the pricing error until AFTER the transaction is finished or until they get home. Then there's the trouble of doing a return and reselling the item at the price listed on the shelf, then changing the shelf label.

My wish: change prices quarterly or better, twice yearly, as needed. Any more often than that, and it gets out of hand.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Confidential to George

Apparently you have never:

  • Had someone steal an expensive item, bring it back and demand a refund, then pitch a fit when the refund was refused. Then literally pitch the item itself AT YOUR HEAD for refusing the refund.
  • Had the power go off with only 2 cashiers in the building and a line that grows to more than 10 people in each line before the power (and cash registers) resume, and listen to the curses, threats, and blame the whole time, despite doing your best at getting prices for 20,000+ items and calculating by hand the whole time.
  • Had someone break into your store 10 minutes after you left for the night.
  • Had drunk, drugged, or mentally ill customers who tried to hurt you, sexually harass/assault you, steal merchandise, urinate in an aisle, run the cash register themselves, walk around the store yelling at their "friend," aggressively panhandle right outside your door and refuse to leave until the police arrived, ran full-tilt with a cart and shoved it into the plate-glass window, shattering the whole thing……….shall I go on?
  • Had counterfeit bills used (and deducted from your paycheck, as the office sees fit).
  • Had counterfeit traveler's checks used (see above).
  • Had stolen checks or credit cards attempted to be used, then getting yelled at because you asked for ID. Of course, people with non-stolen checks or credit cards yell at you for requesting ID, too.
  • Had people pitch a fit because their credit card was declined, "It can't be declined! I'm going to sue you! It's your fault! You made it be declined!"
  • Had forged coupons used, then when we found out and stopped accepting them, getting yelled at for that, too.

I'm glad you live in such a safe universe with such nice and non-violent customers. I don't. Forgive me if I'm a little cynical.

To respond to your comments:

1. I said I tried to extricate myself from the life story. The customer WOULD NOT ALLOW me to leave.

2. A person who has not bought anything from my store after 5+ interactions is unlikely to. They are not a customer. They are a time-waster and CHEAP.

3. Nowhere in my job description does it say that I have to laugh at stupid jokes. Do you expect me to laugh at racist jokes, too?

4. How many hours is your store open for? I bet mine has yours beat by a mile. Do you sleep at your store, too? So you can serve anyone who stops by and is "just looking, thanks" at any time, day or night?

The computers that I am required to use for EACH AND EVERY SALE take about 20 minutes to start up and a couple of minutes to count into and later about 10 minutes to count out of and 20 minutes to close. After they're closed for the night, I can not restart the system, NO MATTER WHAT.

So say I let someone in early--ignoring the security risk of having my safe open with someone in the store--what if they're ready to check out before 25 minutes has passed? Do you think they're going to wait patiently until the computer is ready? No….been there, done that. And an after-hours sale? Even if I broke the OWNER'S RULES and recorded a sale by hand to enter in the computer the next day, it's just entirely too dangerous to have someone in the store that late. There have been WAY too many robberies in the area lately from people who "just want one thing." They can wait until the next day to get that one thing. It's not worth the risk to the employees or the store.

Wow. I sure feel better. Because, you know, that's what this blog is for me......a way to release stress. You should see the comments and letters I get from customers praising the job that I do each and every day. The good customers don't need to be written about. They were pleasureable interactions but don't make for very good stories. The bad customers........the things I can't say to them, I write. Here. And thus relieve my stress and feel so much better. The bad customers, they make for good stories. That's why this blog is full of them. Make your own judgement about the job that I do or my suitability for my job. My boss, my boss's boss, my employees, and most importantly, I myself know the value of my work.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good vs. Bad: Auto Repairs

Recently I took my vehicle to get its oil changed. A day or two later someone pointed out a huge pool of liquid under the vehicle. I checked the oil, and it was low. I returned the vehicle to the dealership's service department and they corrected whatever they hadn't done before and replaced the oil. I was getting ready to leave on a 2500+ mile road trip. I don't notice things like pools of liquid under vehicles. If that friend hadn't pointed out the problem, I might have been a couple of hundred miles down the road, in the middle of nowhere and in unfamiliar territory, before the oil warning light came on. I could have been stuck in an area with no cellular service and/or had severe engine damage. I was NOT happy. Having to make TWO trips to the dealership in the final days before my trip does not make me want to visit them again anytime soon.

Another day, I was on the first leg of the extremely long road trip. My travel companion plugged one too many things into the cigarette lighter and blew a fuse. A fuse that controlled not only the cigarette lighter, but also the side mirrors and the RADIO/CD PLAYER. A long road trip with no music? Impossible! Luckily we knew where a {my vehicle dealership} was and stopped by, hoping for a quick fix but realizing that it might take a while.

The person I was traveling with *thought* he could fix the problem himself if he had the fuse. Well, fuses are harder to get to than you would think! An employee from the parts department came out to the vehicle to see if he could determine what size fuse was needed. It took him a couple of trips inside to consult his book before even he could find where the blown fuse was. With some difficulty he changed the fuse. No appointment, a busy service department, and the employee went above and beyond to help us, getting us in and out in half an hour. On top of all that, he refused any payment AT ALL. Then he wished us a good trip before returning to his official job. Impressive! They EXCEEDED my expectations. Unfortunately, this dealership is too far away for me to visit regularly. But not too far away to consider using when I need a new vehicle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good vs. Bad: Department Stores

I walked into a {mid-range department store} to return an item. Though it was in the store's bag and I had a receipt, I was hesitant to go into the store very far with the return. I walked to the unattended service desk, pushed the "help" button, and waited. And waited. I looked around, saw not a single person, and waited.

Finally I saw some sign of life from the far side of the store so walked toward the movement. I found two associates who were talking about their weekend plans. When I approached, they stopped talking and one offered to help. As she did the return she talked, and talked, and talked. She commented on my recent purchases. She asked about the store where I worked. She talked about the weather. I wasn't interested in talking. I had a long list of errands to do and then I had to go to my store and do a lot of things there. Yet she talked, and talked. I was not happy with the service because they fell far short of my expectations. I expected to have someone nearby when I entered the store, and I expected to get in and out quickly.

Another day I entered a {different mid-range department store} in need of a single item. I was out of town and the weather had changed unexpectedly and I was in desperate need of a warm jacket. The associates were visible, though helping customers. The jackets were conspicuously displayed and they had something I liked in my size. I very easily found a place to pay. In and out. While I didn't receive assistance from the employees, I could see where they were (and that they were busy) if I did need help. A satisfactory experience. Not great, but satisfactory.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Good Service vs. Bad Service

I've been on the receiving end of lots of customer service lately. Some was good, some was mediocre, while some was bad. Being at the receiving end reinforced what customers are looking for. I'll definitely keep these experiences in mind when I'm working. To make for manageable reading, I've broken it into three parts.

Hotels: of course you're going to get a better room when you pay more money. The difference between a $40 room and a $90 room is HUGE. (Hint: $40 rooms are a little scary!) But at the cheaper hotel the desk clerk said the room number aloud not once, but twice, with another person nearby. At the moderately priced hotel the clerk gave us directions to the room by drawing a line on the hotel map, circling the room number, and writing it on the bottom of the map. That's the way it's done. If I had been traveling by myself, at the first place I would have refused the room (even though it was the last of its type). With a companion, it was only slightly unsafe, and we were tired.

Restaurants: two nationally known chains, both moderately nice places. At the one with the better reputation, the waiter was overly attentive to the point of being annoying, and then argued over prices when the menu was unclear. The manager ended up revising the ticket, but will I be back? Probably not soon. The restaurant known more for family meals had a waiter who pointed out the specials, warned us that the kitchen was a little backed up, but if we were in a hurry he could speed our order through. No, we're on vacation. No hurry. Take your time. The food arrived just as fast as at the other place, with a clear menu/ticket. The restaurant had better lighting, better food, and was a better experience. The waiter was attentive, but let us have a nice conversation without interrupting every five minutes. I had never been there before, but if there's one in my area, I will definitely be back.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Life Story

Here's the situation: it was a busy day. No kidding. It's Saturday. Every Saturday is insanely busy with every type of customer imaginable, plus all the crazies who are kept locked up during the week. There were customers everywhere buying lots of stuff so there were lots of empty shelves to fill, things to clean up, etc. in between helping customers.

I was helping a woman, her problem was solved, and it was at the point in the sale where she should proceed to the registers and pay. However, she felt the need to tell me her life story.

Three times.

Every attempt by me to get her to the registers and out the door failed. Her story was so important that she must tell it to me.

Three times.

By the middle of the third time, I stopped responding and just stood there, waiting for her to finish and hoping she wouldn't start on a fourth time. When she finally noticed that I wasn't listening in rapt attention and instead was slouched over, yawning, and dying of boredom, she became angry and accused me of poor customer service. Yeah. Sure. The ten customers waiting for my assistance would probably love to receive ANY customer service if you'd stop WASTING MY TIME!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Blog

Several interesting things have happened lately. Now, you know what "interesting" means, right? They make for really good stories, but stories that are so specific to my particular store that I can't share them right now.

In the meantime, check out this blog for the behind-the-counter view from a Pizza Hut in the UK.