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.


Neal said...

Anyone who has worked in the retail/services industry knows the things you put up with.

Although I cannot say I share every experience you have blogged about, I can relate to almost every situation. And I'm sure most of the people who are reading your blog relate as well, and see the humor.

I rarely blogged about the good customers (back when I worked in retail) not because there weren't any, but because (like you said) it doesn't make for good reading... That doesn't mean that they're not there, but what would you rather read about: A man who pulls into a gas station with a flaming car? or the woman who tipped me well for helping he put air in her tires?

I think your stories are humorous, and I believe neurotic customers get the service they deserve.

caramaena said...

what neal said!

George said...

Hi again.

With all those situations you mentioned, people generally being very nasty and crazy and violent, you are quite correct. I have not had such experiences.

Believe it or not, we live in the same universe. I'm in Melbourne. Melbourne has the lowest per capita crime rate of all major cities in Australia, which probably has a relatively lower crime rate than the U.S. So yes, it's quite safe, and generally pleasant.

And you are most sincerely welcome to come over here and start up a retail business. Why don't you? I think you would like it.

You most probably would not take my last suggestion seriously, but herein lies the issue: You feel you are trapped, powerless, and a victim to all the nastiness that unfolds. This is not so! You could quit that job and find a better one. I would if I was surrounded by such relentless unpleasantness as you describe.

To respond to your responses:

1) With regards to the life story issue, you say she "WOULD NOT ALLOW" you to leave. I don't really know what this means. Did she physically restrain you? Did she have a gun? If not, then just simply turn your back and walk away. She won't be any more pissed off than she ultimately ended up, and you would have avoided making other customers wait. The net effect would have been better than just standing there. You may be thinking that you couldn't possible be "that rude", but standing there bubbling with impotent impatience, yawning and the like amounts to the same thing, just a less honest and more cowardly way to show it.

2) A store where the sales people have the attitude that people are cheap time-wasters if they don't make a purchase of a particular amount in a particular time-frame, well, that's going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy more often than not.

3) Nowhere in your job description does it say you have to be a miserable sod that treats customers with utter contempt. I'm a little surprised, from all the whackos you describe I'd imagine that a person who simply cracks a lame joke would be welcome in comparison.

4) Sure, I'll say it: Yours is bigger than mine ;) But you've just given two very good reasons WHY you can't tend to late customers - a horrendous computer system and store rules that you don't decide. (I had assumed you could make the rules, being the manager). So what's the problem? As in, why are you getting peeved at people coming late? You just explain to them what you've explained to me.

Do you think people should already know about all security procedures and bizarre computer systems? If so then you're labouring under a misconception. Can you simply not be bothered to explain it to them? You're in retail, you must have worked out by now that it entails say the same things over and over again.

I have made my own judgement about your suitability for your job, and that is you're clearly unhappy and carrying far too much of a chip on your shoulder to handle customer interactions in a positive way. I'm surprised that you continue, since you don't like it, and it's made you so cynical.

Venting is one thing, but creating a collossal blog full of bitterness, bile, resentment and frustration is in indicator that you should stop.

Seriously, think about the move to Melbourne. It's a really nice place. As a matter of fact an american lady has just started a bookshop in my street. She's really nice and I chat with her frequently. She brought her husband and three kids over with her from Iowa a few years back, and used to be a lawyer. Perhaps she escaped from a high-pressure job filled with unpleasantness....? So can you.