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I’ve moved!

Since I no longer work in the wacky world of retail, I invite you to follow my different, but strangely familiar, blog over at Salon Chair Shares. I promise the same snarkiness and general disdain for people that you have grown to love.

It’s a trap!

As a store that only sells batteries, we also have many different battery testers for store use, so when someone walks in and says “This is not working, can you test it?” we can. We also have some scruples, so if their battery is working just fine, we don’t sell them a new one.

A man walks in with his car key fob (the little button that locks & unlocks power doors) and says “can you test this?” I say sure, get the battery out, and test it.

“This here’s a dead battery.”

“Really? Because it still locks my car.” He said it as a challenge, like I was calling him a liar.

He wanted me to test a new battery, so he could get all up in my space and see the result, clearly convinced that our battery tester is rigged to fail everything. Well no, the  new one tested good. Like new, even. So he wanted to test both batteries himself, in case I was using some sort of battery-fail magic. Nope, he got the same results I did. I guess his battery wasn’t working well enough for him (which is what brought him in here in the first place, I assume) so he bought a new one.

Ha ha ha! It was all a scam! I got your $4, sucker!

Flattery will get you everywhere (warning: adult language)

I feel like a lot of my posts on this blog are starting to sound the same. But you know, if the same things didn’t keep happening, I wouldn’t keep writing about them.

A guy comes into the store, and I recognize him as having been here a few times but never very pleasant. He is complaining that his phone charger and battery are “pieces of shit” and he wants new ones. No, of course he doesn’t have his receipt, even though posted multiple places around the store, on the product packaging, on the receipt itself, and coming out of the cashier’s mouth whenever an item is sold, the return policy states that you must have a receipt. Yes some of the bigger stores can look it up by your debit card information, but we don’t even have a debit machine here. (All debit transactions must be run as credit.) We, as a small store employing 6 people, just do not have the means to process any returns without the individual transaction number that is printed on every receipt.

“So what you’re telling me is that I’m fucked.”

“Well sir, I can’t do anything without the receipt. I need it to make sure you are still within the return period or the warranty period.”

“I have been working retail 15 motherfucking years, and I’ve never heard of a goddamn policy like that! How long have you worked in retail?”

“I’m not anwering that question.”

“Fuck this! This is bullshit! Get me the goddamn manager!”

“Sir there’s no manager here right now.”

“Well call him up at home then!”

“Sir, I’m not calling my store manager at home. And frankly, even if there was something I could do to help you (which there isn’t), I’m not sure that I would want to because of the language and the tone you’re using while speaking to me.”

“I’m not doing it to be mean! I just hate getting fucked!” (I filed that one away for some later time, to snicker when I wasn’t being yelled at.)

He continued telling me his problem, and I offered to test both the battery and the charger. Sure enough, they both test as good. I tell him he may need to go talk to his phone company, because that’s something I can’t fix even with a receipt. He cusses me out one more time and storms out. By this time there was another customer in the store, so I turned to him with an exasperated smile and offered to help him.

More warranty grief

All warranties, no matter where from or what they are regarding, have a clause that says something to the effect of “warranty does not cover owner misuse or neglect.” This is to prevent people from abusing the system and getting things for free that they don’t deserve.

A guy came into the store claiming that his battery did not start his motorcycle. At first I thought he meant that we had sold him the wrong battery, so I looked it up and there were no alternatives. When I told him that, he said. “no, it used to work, but then I haven’t used the bike all winter, and now it doesn’t work at all.”

Here’s a technical sidenote that is important to this story: All batteries lose power over time. It may not be much, but depending on the conditions the battery is stored under (i.e. freezing temperatures like those that are found over a winter of non-use), the battery can lose enough power that it can no longer be recharged and thus, used.

So. Knowing this, the first question I ask when I hear a motorcycle battery no longer works after winter is if the owner has been using any sort of battery maintainer. This is a device you can buy that keeps the tiniest charge on the battery over long periods of sitting idly. It’s not enough to overcharge and cause damage, just enough to keep the battery “awake.” No, this guy hasn’t been using one of those. But dag nabbit, his battery doesn’t work and there’s supposed to be a warranty! In fact, since we never told him he needed to use a maintainer, it’s our fault his battery is dead and he should get a new one for free. You know, because of the warranty. The warranty that specifically says that it only covers manufacturer defects and NOT owner neglect. When I point this out to him on his copy of the receipt that he brought with him, he demands to know specific examples of what constitutes owner neglect. So I pull out one of the many thick books that contain our training information (remember that training to work in this store took about 2 months because of all the technical knowledge) and begin to look up the numbers. He storms off in a huff claiming that “he doesn’t have time for this.”

I go ahead and test his battery, since I’ll need the test results for the warranty anyway. Hmmm… the battery tests good. It tests better than new. But of course since he left, I can’t tell him that a warranty won’t replace a perfectly good battery and that just maybe there’s a problem with his bike that he has apparently no idea how to take care of. But something tells me he wouldn’t want to hear that anyway.


Part of selling new batteries and lightbulbs is that we also dispose of the old ones properly. You’re not supposed to just throw any of that in the trash because it contaminate ground water, cause fires, etc. So we gather them up and ship them off safely to a recycling facility.

Generally when someone brings us the old battery to show us what they are looking for, we ask if they want us to recycle the old one for them. Really the only reason to hold on to it would be that it still works. But some people get apprehensive at the word recycle. “Do whatever you want with it, I don’t care!” is the most common response, followed by “Yeah, you can throw it away.” Because I’m me, I always correct them and let them know it’s getting recycled, even if they’re not into “that hippie bullshit.”

Sometimes people will ask us to dispose of them, and that’s no problem. The only catch is that one certain kind of battery has to be shipped in an extra-special way which costs the store money. So we in turn charge the customer. It’s a small amount (normally less than a dollar), and we’re not making profit from it, but many people don’t want topay us for something they could just do at home. I repeat to them that we’re actually not throwing them away, and that’s technically illegal, but all they hear is “this will cost money.”

On the flip side, some folks are upset that we don’t pay them for bringing in their recyclables. Since we don’t make money off the service, we can’t afford to give money out for it. However, these people are of the mindset that if there’s no financial incentive in it, it’s not worth doing. Nevermind the contaminated ground water or explosions I mentioned before. But these people will spend time and energy hunting for a place that will reward them for not poisoning the earth. rather than just bringing them to us to dispose of properly.

Now don’t take this as me preaching the Gospel of Mother Earth and how we have limited resources and all that. It’s just that I spend my days around battery acid. I’ve seen what it does to clothes, skin, and various other materials. I don’t want that stuff anywhere near my food or water. Or my as yet unborn children. But sadly I’m not like most people, who have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude.


Sometimes I am the horrible customer. Obviously I don’t mean to be, but here’s an example:


I dropped my car off at the oil change place at 4:30pm. I told the guy that I would “be back in a coupla hours” rather than hang around watching Fox News in the waiting area. What he didn’t tell me that “in a coupla hours” they would be closed – they close at 6. Honestly, I didn’t think to ask. I just thought I was letting them take their time rather than do a rush job.

So I’m out to eat with a friend, and this place keeps calling me. I can’t hear the messages they leave because their phone keeps breaking up. When I finally answer the phone, the lady on the other end is very upset. Apparently they closed at 6, and it is now almost 7. They need me to come get my car so they can go home (and so I can transport myself around). I apologize and tell her I’m on the way back right now. I pay my bill and walk out the door. Over the course of the 6-mile drive, the lady calls me three more times. I explain to her that I am in fact on my way, and there’s no way I can be there any faster. I apologize again.

When I get there, the lady is understandably upset. I apologize again and explain that I didn’t know what time they closed and nobody told me. It was an honest mistake. She yells at me about how I’m making her family wait for her and blah blah blah and THE HOURS ARE POSTED ON THE DOOR. She says it’s not her responsibility to tell me when they close. I can see her logic, but if someone tells me they’ll be back in a coupla hours and I’ll be closing soon, I make it a point to let them know. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I didn’t remember seeing the hours posted on the door, so I went over to look. Nope. Not a word (or number). Because the lady was being ever so pleasant, I took the trouble to show her that no, her argument against me was invalid. Yes, I should have asked when they closed, but there also needs to be some way of me getting that information without having to ask. I apologized yet again but I took a secret satisfaction in her being wrong.

too bad, so sad

A man brought in a motorcycle battery for an exchange because he bought the wrong one. He didn’t have his receipt, but luckily on the bigger sale items like that, we list it under the customer’s phone number. He didn’t even have the box it came in, but it was our store brand and on motorcyle batteries the box isn’t important.

When I looked up his receipt I had to check the calendar because he had come in exactly 14 days after he purchased it, meaning today was the last possible day to do that. When I mentioned it, he told me that the man that had originally helped him said he had 30 days.

“No he didn’t.” I said, pointing to the numerous places in the store (and on the receipt itself, which he didn’t have) where the return policy is stated in bold – 14 days. “Oh, well, I didn’t see those signs. But he definitely said 30 days.” I asked who had helped him, but of course he didn’t know. (“I didn’t ask for his name or anything!”) No. Why would you.

It turns out that the correct battery he needed hadn’t been filled and charged yet, and I told him so. He said “I can fill it at home” and I said “No, I really can’t sell you something that hasn’t been filled and charged, for warranty purposes.” He didn’t care about the warranty – he’s never had to bring anything back to this store (well, before today, of course) and can’t he just sign a waiver or something? Nope, sorry. The world doesn’t work like that.

Well if he didn’t just throw a fit. “This is already my second trip back here, and I live 30 minutes away! I called last week and they said they had this battery, so I said I’d be down that afternoon!”

So let me get this straight: You have to make a third trip down here because initially you bought the wrong thing. Then you waited until the last possible day to come back and return it, but you didn’t have the receipt or even the box it came in. You say you called last week to check stock. These less common batteries we don’t fill until they are paid for, so just seeing if we have it does not mean that it’s filled (and I know you would have been told it needed to be filled). Then, you said you would be by that day, which you weren’t. For all I know, they did prime a battery for you, but since you waited so long to come get it (and it hadn’t been paid for) they sold it to someone else. And I’m sorry that you live 30 minutes away. The next closest store of this type is an hour in either direction, so depending on  where your 30 minutes is, it might be 3 times that. But yes, you should probably demand to speak to my manager. Who isn’t here because it’s after 5pm.

When that didn’t work, he turned to one of my coworkers for help. That guy has been here less time than me, but he’s a man, so he probably knows best. But guess what? he said the exact same thing, because neither of us has the authority to change store policy, and to be honest, I wouldn’t anyway because you’re a jerk.

He eventually decided that he needed the new battery badly enough to warrant another trip (le sigh). I told him it would be ready tomorrow and his retort was that he “might swing by and get it next time he’s in town.” Dude, you’re the one that needed it soooo bad AND paid for it. Doesn’t affect me in the slighteset when you come back for it.

When I gave him his new receipt, he asked me to write my name on there “since we’re so interested in who helped him before.” I circled where my name is printed on the receipt, and reminded him that if he had his old receipt he would have seen who helped him then, too. “Oh and the reason I wanted to know who helped you before is that it seems they have given you some misinformation. If we know who it is, we can correct them so this doesn’t happen again.”

“Oh sure, because I’m just a big fat liar! I’m the biggest liar in the world!” In my head, I agreed with him, because he is. Out loud, well I didn’t actually say anything – just raised my eyebrows.


When I vented to my coworker about the encounter later, he said “some customers just need to be pampered.”
But I don’t WANT to pamper him! I want him to know he can’t always get his way!

listening skills

I understand that not all customers are going to listen to every word I say. Sometimes I’ll say “good morning” and I get a “good, thanks” in reply. That’s fine. Inconsequential. But some of the things I say to them are things they actually need to listen to, be it warranty information or how not to blow themselves up. Since I say many of the same things to every customer, it’s so ingrained in my speech that I can’t help BUT say it. So later when they complain I never told them that, I am confident that no sir, I really did tell you.

A man was buying motorcycle batteries. One of them we had just gotten in stock, so it was not filled or charged yet. This is a process that can take several hours so we usually have the customer come back the next day. I mentioned this fact to him 3 separate times throughout the transaction (which lasted probably 7-10 minutes).  I never really got a defintie response from him regarding this pertinent information, so that’s why I kept mentioning it. When he went to leave, he started to take the empty battery with him. I said “sir, you can’t take that yet. We need to fill and charge it in order for it to work.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me that?”

“I actually did. Three separate times.” My coworker nodded in agreement.

“Oh, I thought you meant that I needed to charge it.”

So he returned the battery and got his money back. The thing is, I still wonder what the heck he was paying attention to during the entire conversation. Sure, he had his young daughter with him, but she was running amok unsupervised. She was literally running through the store knocking lightbulbs off shelves, and opening various doors repeatedly (such as the door to the stock room which is not where customers are allowed, and the front door, which makes a chiming noise every time it’s opened). So I know he wasn’t distracted by the feat of wrangling his brat. And I was the only person talking to him, the only customer in the store. Yet somehow he missed me telling him multiple times that he would have to come back for his purchase.


Damn this feeble feminine brain!

The phone rings, so I answer it.  A man is on the line.

‎”I need to ask someone about batteries.”

Ok, go ahead.

“Oh, YOU’RE going to answer them? I thought ladies were only hired to look pretty and answer phones.”

I said “no, I actually work here. What’s your question?” Normally I would be more polite, but for some reason I wasn’t really feeling it this time.

He proceeded to ask some pretty run of the mill questions, and I easily answered them. I even threw in extra jargon and technical terms that I normally leave out so the customer can understand what I’m talking about. Call me petty, but I didn’t want this guy to be able to understand me. (Of course he would never admit that he had no idea what those words meant since as a woman, I am obviously inferior somehow.)

Eventually we got to prices, and when he didn’t like my answer to those questions, he just hung up on me. Good. Didn’t want his business anyway. (Not that I would have been able to help him, right?)

Communication is key

“Do you install watch batteries?”

“Yes, they’re $8.99.”

“But do you install them?”

“Yes, that’s what the $8.99 is for…”

“But how do you know what kind you need?”

“When I take the old one out, I’ll see what type it is.”

“And then you’ll put a new one in?”

“Yes, that’s the definition of install – to put a new one in.”

“And it will be the right one?”

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