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customers of status

Why do people feel the need to prove to me that they’ve been customers here for a long time?

You get the name droppers:
“Old Frank got the day off? I’ve been talking to him about motorcycles since before you were born.” (That last part irritates me on a different level, because they are always wrong about my age.)
“Chris still own this place? I ain’t seen that son of a gun round here in a while.” Because that son of a gun moved across the country and now just sits back in his mansion while we keep his investment running.

And you get the folks that assume you’re new (and thus don’t know what you’re talking about) because they’ve never personally seen you. Because everyone knows that in retail, we all work the exact same shifts, every week, and no doubt that customer only comes in at the exact same time of day, same day, as well.

These people don’t get any special discount for being long time customers, though many of them “jokingly” ask. They just feel like they can look down on you, even though they don’t realize that they are still coming to you for help.

It certainly doesn’t make me want to help them. I feel like if they were that important, they would deal with all their good buddies that are higher up than me. But since they aren’t…. yeah.



ps – are you following me on twitter? You get little one-liners that aren’t blog worthy, and a few random thought s that have nothing to do with this blog (or anything else).


Learn something new every day

A guy comes in and buys a single battery. Then he comes back in a few minutes later wanting a refund because it turns out his lamp is broken. I offer to test his old battery just to be sure, and he hands me two batteries.

I say, “you only bought one battery, did you need two?”

“Well I put the new one in but the lamp is still dead.”

“Sir, your device takes two batteries…. both of these are dead. You need to put in two new ones for the lamp to work.”

“Really? I thought the other one was just a spare, like a flashlight bulb! Well you learn something new every day.”

So I sold him another battery.

No, I won’t hold

Apparently I lost a customer (read:sales) by putting her on hold.

Now, sometimes there is a literal store full of people and four lines ringing at the same time. Sometimes there is only one employee to handle this rush. This was one of those times.

When we can’t assist the people on the phone right away, they get put on hold. Generally we finish up with the person that actually took the time to come into the store, then before helping the next guy in line, we answer the phone. (Otherwise the phone makes a really annoying beeping sound until we answer it.) Usually it works out ok, because phone questions are 95% a question of 1) where we are, 2) what time we close, or 3) do we have something in stock. And I’m not disparaging this practice at all – I’d rather take the 2 seconds to answer a phone question than hear “I drove all this way and you can’t help me!”

This time started out like any other. “Thank you for calling <the store>, can you hold please?” I always wait for the ok because sometimes they go ahead and ask their quick question now rather than wait. That is acceptable. So the person said ok and I put them on hold. Not 30 seconds later, the phone rang aggain. We have caller ID, so I saw that it was the same person calling back. So I did the same thing – answered and asked them to hold. I didn’t tell them this, but there was already another person ahead of them, since they got impatient and hung up only to immediately re-call. This time when asked if she could hold, she said “I don’t think so. And I won’t be shopping there.” And hung up.

Well, no skin off my back. If you’re that impatient, I don’t want to deal with you in person anyway. And as your reward, you’ll either end up paying more for your product, or getting a shoddy product that you order for cheap on the internet. Obviously we are busy enough that we don’t need you. (And chances are very high that you wouldn’t be spending a lot of money, since if you were really “in the market,” you’d know that we are the only specialized store of this nature for at least an hours’ drive in any direction.)

Wise customer

It was an abnormally busy day, and we were short handed to boot.

After being yelled at for several different reasons (all of which were out of my control), I had a resigned sigh and prepared to help the lady who had been nice enough to let all the angry people cut in front of her, and let me answer all the ringing phone lines.

“Something good happens every day, no matter how small. Just focus on that.” she said.

And I did. And it helped.


No wonder

So a lady was very cranky at me because her batteries were dead, but she wouldn’t tell me what they were for. Therefore I couldn’t help her. She had talked to someone else at the store and kept arguing that since I wasn’t him, I wouldn’t know anything. I was understandably offended at this, but I figured Fine, let my coworker have her. She’s very unpleasant anyway.

Turns out it was her vibrator that was not working.

Though why she felt more at ease talking to an awkward man than a fellow woman, I’ll never know. But at least I understood where her crankiness was coming from.

non-repeat customer

A guy brings an old battery in under our warranty policy, which is one year from the date of purchase. In order to satisfy the warranty, i.e. justify handing out brand new product without taking in brand new money, we have a series of tests that the battery must undergo. It usually takes about 24 hours.

When I walked in to work today, this guy called to check on the tests. I didn’t know how long it had been there, but the tests were still running so I told him it wasn’t done yet (true). I told him he can call again tomorrow, otherwise we’ll call him when it’s done. He didn’t say it was urgent, he didn’t sound mad, he just said he was “in the area” and thought he’d check on it.

He didn’t like my answer, so he called back to get our corporate phone number, which the store manager gave him. Not 20 minutes later, the battery finished testing. It was bad, so we prepared a new one for him to come pick up. However, he had already called corporate on us, and while the store manager was leaving a message for him, corporate was calling me. I explained the bad timing, and the message was relayed to him (twice). When he came in, he snatched the new battery away and said “Well you’re never getting any of MY money again!” Of course, he didn’t say that to my face – he said it as he was walking out the door. Maybe he thought the door was already closed behind him, I don’t know. But I gave my reply that I didn’t want any of his attitude either, and since the door still  wasn’t shut, I’m fairly sure he heard me.

product error

A guy comes into the store to return an emergency jump-start pack. It’s past our return policy time so I test it out. It works fine – it is putting out the exact amount of power that it’s supposed to.

“But it didn’t start my truck! Well ok, it worked once, but definitely not the second time! And I was told there was a year warranty!”

Yes there is a year warranty, through the manufacturer. See it says here in bold DO NOT RETURN TO THE PLACE OF PURCHASE.

But  maybe you do need a new battery, which would solve the problem of needing an emergency backup at all. So I go out to test his car battery. For you non-car types, we test what is called Cold Cranking Amps. This is basically the surge of power needed to give the car the initial “oomph” required to start. The battery in his car was supposed to supply 530 CCA. It was only giving 350. According to my computer, which is all-knowing, his particular car is recommended to have at least 675. So that’s why he couldn’t start his car, and probably why the emergency pack didn’t help the second time.

“You’re the second person to tell me that this battery is bad.” Hmm, maybe that’s saying something. Especially since I don’t work on commission or anything. I just do my job, and YOU SAW the battery test bad. Oh and your car doesn’t start.

But the guy didn’t want to spend money – he just wanted his money back from the pack. Which I didn’t give him because it wasn’t broken. But then when he couldn’t leave because his car wouldn’t start, well, he begrudgingly bought the new battery, muttering that he “still has his doubts that the battery was the issue.”

Funny, I didn’t hear him complain after that. Maybe because his car started up successfully and he drove away.

Intro / About this blog

Working retail is one of those jobs that everyone should have at some point in their lives. I’ve worked it for the majority of mine, in every setting from large department stores to small boutiques. I’ve learned that entering a store can make normal people turn from reasonable, polite human beings to mean, stupid apes with no explanation or warning, and vice versa. 

While dealing with customers is hardly life changing, and rarely even noteworthy at the end of the day, the situation creates many anecdotes that can serve as warning, entertainment, and / or lots of  “me too” moments. This is a place for me to record them.

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