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“Daddy? This Rude Salesman Wants To Talk To You.”

A number of years ago, the owner of our company hired his daughter to work as our receptionist. She had recently completed an advanced graduate degree, but was having serious second thoughts about entering the field she had studied for. Even though she was way over-educated for the receptionist job, he offered it to her so that she’d have some money coming in and some time to think about her future.

We were located in an industrial park area and had numerous solicitors drop in trying to sell anything from real estate to meat to office supplies. One day a business equipment salesman approached the receptionist desk and demanded to speak with the owner of the company. The owner of our company does not deal with such purchases himself, does not meet with visitors without appointments and was in a closed door meeting at the time. The receptionist advised the salesman that the owner would not be available to him.

The salesman accused her of lying to him because she did not announce his presence to the owner and ask if he would come out to meet him. She told him that she was following protocol and would not be disturbing the owner. The salesman then said, “Listen missy, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll announce my visit. You’re just the receptionist, so who do you think you are, messing with business that doesn’t concern you? I’m here to talk to the owner about a major deal and you have no business shutting me out.”

The receptionist sighed, said she’d call the owner, picked up the phone and said very audibly into it, “Daddy….” 0209-09

{ 76 comments… add one }
  • Giles September 10, 2010, 8:39 am

    My great-uncle owns a very successful business which two of his sons and several of his grandchildren also work in. He’s made it very clear that he wants his second-youngest granddaughter to take it over one day (she’s twenty currently and one of the smartest and most driven young women I’ve ever met).

    She works there in the summer, inside with the secretaries when she’s not in the field because there are no offices open currently and she doesn’t mind. When rude customers or merchants get on her case about her “only being a secretary”, she apparently has no problem letting them have it.

    I’m pretty appalled when people treat staff perceived as “lowly” poorly. I’ve seen the berating nurses take daily, and it’s worse when it comes from doctors. People don’t know how hard nurses work or how skilled they are.

  • smallonion September 10, 2010, 9:27 am

    During the summer when I was in college, I was a secretary to a company president. The tricks salesmen used to try to get him on the phone were sometimes appalling! I was supposed to screen his calls very well, and put *nothing* through when he was in important meetings. When I was new, someone called while he was in a meeting. I said, “he is in a meeting, may I take a message?” and he said no, that it was important. When I still refused, he said, “Well, if you must know, this is his doctor and I have some life-altering test results to give him. Do you want to be the one who doesn’t let him get this information on time?” so of course, I interrupted the meeting. My boss was very angry, not at me, at the salesman. As if he would give him any business after pulling a stunt like that!

  • Xtina September 10, 2010, 10:01 am

    Loving all these stories! Cooler Becky, you are correct that it works both ways; there are plenty of assistants and receptionists out there who are just as rude, although I must say that the ones who are must have a pretty liberal boss, as that’s basically part of my job description, to remain cool and under control and present a professional front even when people are barking in my face.

    As an executive assistant to a very high-ranking executive, I used to work on a floor where the other assistants and I would fill in at the front desk when the receptionist took her lunch or was out sick. It was also appalling how much people perceive “rank” and adjust their etiquette according to what they think that person can do for them. I can’t tell you how many times that callers would bend over backwards to be nice to me when it came to being the assistant to the executive, yet when they did not realize it was me–the same person–answering the desk phone on those days that I sat in for the receptionist , would be rude and condescending. I took great pleasure in telling them who I was and that I was sitting in for the receptionist…now how could I help them? Listening to them try to backpedal at that point was priceless.

  • ladycrim September 10, 2010, 12:29 pm

    In a similar vein to Comment #41:

    I was working the front desk when someone called asking to speak to our director, Sascha. “I’ve been working with her on this project and need to talk to her!” I took great pleasure in replying that HE wasn’t available.

  • Michelle September 10, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Hahahahahahaha!!! Oh, I am dying laughing! 🙂

    I can only say, good for her! I have been a Corporate Receptionist (I know; fancy job title, eh? 😉 read: Chief Babysitter) for 17 years now, and I have been treated like this more times than I can remember. Our Owner/CEO/President/Chairman of the Board (yep…same person) also does not deal with purchases, but for some reason vendors (who are seen by appointment only–we have a sign on the front door) both in person AND on the phone seem to think they need to speak ONLY to him, never the mind the fact that we have an actual Purchasing Department.
    Yes, I have actually been called a liar–and worse–both to my face and over the phone for hindering these people while they are “…just trying to do their job!” Well, darlin’, MY job is to keep people like you from harassing my people. Sigh…. 😉

  • kim September 10, 2010, 3:27 pm

    The salesman might not have gotten what he wanted, but she didn’t do her job if she did interupt the closed door meeting.
    but it’s still a funny story

  • Cooler Becky September 10, 2010, 5:46 pm

    Xtina: I’ve been there and done that, so I’m usually nice to them all the way up.

    I did notice, however, that the rudest secretaries are usually (not always) working for extremely nice executives and the nicest ones work for the rudest, most unfriendly executives.

    Probably a weird observation on my part.

  • Fanboy Wife September 10, 2010, 6:50 pm

    I was a secretary in college, and I learned to be very nice to other secretaries and office assistants because they have a very difficult job. They also have all the power!

  • DocCAC September 11, 2010, 1:36 am

    When I was fresh out of my residency, I was in practice with two other family practice docs. since family practice encompasses alot of different things, we had LOTS of drug reps coming through the doors. We would see them, but they were scheduled appoinments. when Zantac first came out, the drug rep for SKF (the company that made Tagamet, the first drug of this type–Zantac was the second) started getting pretty pushy. We knew the day after the Zantac rep came we would see the SKF guy and he would badmouth the other drug rather than try to tell us why his was better. One day the receptionist said that the SKF rep had just called and rather nastily insisted he WOULD be seen that day, which was the day before his scheduled appointment. He was on his way over and she was pretty upset that he ignored her when she kept telling him his appointment was the next day. When he came, she showed him to the back, where I walked past him like he didn’t exist for over an hour while doing tests or getting things for patients like samples and going between patient rooms. He finally asked when he was going to be able to see him, and I asked if his appointment was for the next day. he admitted it was, and I told him that I would not see him then or ever again because I would not tolerate anyone treating my front office people like he did.

    I always tried to treat my office employees (front and back office) politely, including please and thank you, and the same with hospital staff from the operators on down. I have fired patients for treating my employees badly. I ALWAYS try hard to treat nurses well, because I was raised by an RN and I know how they get treated. And a good nurse can save your butt as well as the patients.

    My personal belief is rude people have unrealistic entitlement issues and I try very hard not to be rude unless I am treated rudely and not always even then.

  • Toni September 11, 2010, 7:29 pm

    These pushy people are morons. I am usually the person trying to make a sales appointment with the boss, and I know who really holds the power–the gatekeepers! Most bosses know their secretaries and receptionists well, and they will find out if their staff is treated rudely.

  • Michelle P September 11, 2010, 9:48 pm

    Priceless! Love the way she handled it.

  • Julie September 11, 2010, 11:28 pm

    I agree that the salesman was beyond rude but the secretary might want to learn how to deal with people like this rather than relying on “Daddy”.

  • Pretty Pink Post-its September 12, 2010, 10:31 am

    I worked as a teller in the lobby at a bank during college. This rude man in his 60s came in and demanded to see the CEO about “something very important.” The problem was that the CEO wasn’t in. The CEO’s secretary was at lunch, and the front tellers covered her duties during her lunch break. The man demanded to be seen right that very second. The fact that the CEO wasn’t in the building didn’t seem to concern the customer. We had several loan officers (one of which was the CEO’s son) who all had different loan specialties. I asked the customer what his business was concerning so that I might be able to direct him to another loan officer who could help him right then.
    The man became irate and informed me that he would not tell a TELLER what his Very Important Business was. He turned around and stormed out.
    I never saw him again, so it must not have been that important.

  • Calliope September 12, 2010, 5:46 pm

    @Julie, the receptionist wasn’t relying on her father at all! She did exactly what she was supposed to do, and when the salesman refused to back off and spoke down to her–calling someone “missy” isn’t exactly respectful–she made the salesman feel sheepish. Well, I hope he felt sheepish.

  • Mike September 12, 2010, 10:15 pm

    The owners of the company I work for started the business about 15 years ago. Becuase they were at the time working for a certain Fortune 500 company in a similar field they worked under pseudonyms. They soon left the Fortune 500 company but continued under the false names for another year then switched to using their real names. Several years after that our office got a call looking for one of the fake names, claiming to have gone to school with the man repeating his fake name over and over again as if he really knew him. Sure you did, mister!

  • Julie September 13, 2010, 2:40 pm

    @Calliope She never should have interrupted a closed-door meeting then. She should have sent the sales man packing, without bothering the CEO. Had the CEO not been her father, I doubt she would have interrupted him. She knew bringing up “Daddy” would put him in his place, so yes she kind of is relying on her dad.

  • Calliope September 13, 2010, 9:21 pm

    @Julie, we don’t even know if she actually called her father; the story just says that she picked up the phone and said, “Daddy.” At any rate, as a receptionist I will tell you that at a certain point, pushy people–be they salespeople or customers–usually get what they want. Believe it or not, there are people in the world who simply will not take “no” for an answer, especially from a lowly receptionist or service industry worker. Most people I’ve worked for would rather deal with a brief interruption than have some entitled person ranting and raving, making a scene in the reception area. I’m trusted to use my judgment, and when my judgment tells me that if I don’t interrupt my boss I’m going to have a major incident on my hands, I interrupt my boss. I suppose all bosses are different, but I don’t think you’re right to assume the receptionist in this story did anything wrong.

  • Jillybean September 14, 2010, 4:24 pm

    Queenofallthings – maybe they are just assuming that anyone answering the phone is the receptionist – not assuming that the boss couldn’t possibly be female. I actually have the opposite problem. A few days per week at my job I cover the phones at lunch time for our (amazingly great) receptionist. The people who call seem to always assume that they have reached the exact right person despite our being one bureau in a large government agency and having 9 programs and 150 employees within our bureau. They never seem to think to say, “Can I speak to the person who…” rather they launch into a 20 minute explanation of their problem that they’ll just have to repeat again anyway, and then complain about being passed around.

  • Enna September 15, 2010, 3:40 pm

    I’m an intern at a recruitment agency and when the consultants visit companies to drop of company mugs and other marketing things they are ALWAYS polite to receptionsists – they want business and know the only way to go about it is to be professional an treat people in a professional way. Although sometimes receptionsists/secutatries look lowly on them – everyone does it!

    Personally I’d never talk down to someone – this story is amusing. Doesn’t matter who the person is or what they do you always be professional if want business/custom. Everyone has a part to play in a business – doesn’t matter if it is the CEO or a cleaner: cleaners are important otherwise the CEO wouldn’t be able to work in a dirty office!

  • Lexy September 20, 2010, 10:41 pm

    While in college I got an award for one of my graphic arts projects that my professor had submitted on my behalf. I got to attend the ceremony and related trade show. My father and I planned on starting a business together after I graduated so I was checking out the vendors of the equipment we were going to buy. One vendor was very solicitous, telling me all about the product, but then asked what company I was from. I said that I was from XYZ College and he literally turned around without another word and walked away.
    A few months later when my father and I were meeting with sales reps from the different companies guess who was our rep?? I wasn’t bold enough at that time to say anything (I sure would now) but needless to say, he didn’t end up getting our business.

  • Norsecats September 25, 2010, 9:41 am

    I worked as an office manager for a small company, and I was also the receptionist. I’m male, which always threw people (“May I speak with Mr. Boss’s secretary?” “You’re speaking to him. How may I help you?”). I also had carte blanche from my boss to deflect salespeople, and the tricks they’d try to get around me just got to be amusing after awhile. I had one guy say, “It’s my job to convince your boss that what I sell is important,” to which I replied “First off, you have to convince me first, and second, it’s my job to make sure his time isn’t wasted by sales calls. Goodbye.” [click]

  • Iceweasel October 7, 2010, 6:58 am

    It never hurts to be considerate but it can hurt a lot to be rude. We had an incident were half the office went down with gastro, including the receptionist. When the phone of one of my absent (male) colleagues rang, another (female) colleague picked up. The calller proceeded to try to bully “Sweetie” into giving out my colleague’s home number, getting progressively “tougher”. She finally determined he he was scouting for business, and told him he wouldn’t have to talk to my absent colleague about that – he was already talking to his boss.

  • Mabel November 6, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Oh boy, do I know this one. I’m a receptionist and our facility is in an industrial park also. I get lots of callers but the worst are the walk-in salespeople. I’m hip to their tricks.

    I love it when they try to trick me into telling them my facility manager’s (or someone else’s) name. I like to put on a really dumb face and pretend I don’t know squat and say “Gee, I really don’t know who handles that. If you’d like to leave a brochure, I guess I could ask around and give it to the right person.” I usually give it to that person and it goes right in the trash.

  • Setsunaela November 19, 2010, 1:35 pm

    I’ve encountered similar more times than you can imagine. From the time I was 16 to the time I was 21 I worked in a family-owned plumbing company, owned and run by my uncle and grandmother, where my mother worked directly below my grandmother, and I worked below them as acting receptionist. Many times salesmen would call and demand to speak to the owner, and many times would be shut down.
    A few memorables were when salesmen claimed to be the owner’s brother, and I’d go “Uncle P, do you have a cold? You sound awfully different.” Or one time when a customer was so foul and loudly abusive that everyone in the (very small) office could hear her ranting and raving at me, while I remained as calm as possible trying to interject with “I’m sorry you feel that way”s and such.. However she started demanding to speak to the owner of the company, as she was going to get me fired for being so utterly incompetent and uncaring as to her plight. Said owner picked up the phone, listened quietly for a moment, and said “ma’am, I’ll have you know that that ‘awful c**t on the phone’ is my niece, and not only will you not be getting (things she wanted) done, but I will be calling (her home warranty) to inform them of your verbal abuse of my employees. Have a wonderful day!” and he hung up. We were later called by her home warranty, and informed that this was the FOURTH company she had been basically blacklisted from for such verbal abuses, and she was having her home warranty cancelled because of both that and repeated verbal abuse of the warranty customer service representatives.

  • Amy December 29, 2010, 11:28 pm

    I have just found this blog and am very much enjoying working my way backwards through the posts. 🙂 This one reminded me of something that happened when I was a kid. When I was ten or twelve, my parents trained me on how they expected me to answer the phone. Be polite, moderate your volume, smile because people can hear it in your voice, and follow this script; never pass on a call if you don’t know who it is or why they are calling. Usually this was not a problem at all; usually people volunteer this type of information. One Saturday morning when the phone rang, I picked it up and answered as per instructions:
    Me: Hello, Smith residence.
    Caller: Hello, I’m calling for Rick Smith.
    Me: Who is calling, please, and what is the call regarding?
    Caller: Excuse me?
    Me: (a little louder) Who is calling, please, and what is the call regarding?
    Caller: I… you… no one has ever presumed to ask me who I am or what I am calling about! Who do you think you are?
    Me: His daughter, and I am asking the questions he told me to ask before I take a call to him.
    Caller: Well! I am calling for your father, not you, and I don’t have to answer to a rude little b****! You take the phone to him right now!
    Yes, I should have hung up, but I was young. Instead I took the phone to my father and before I handed it over, I audibly said “Daddy, there is a lady on the phone for you, and she is very angry because I asked who she is and what she is calling about.”
    Daddy: She’s angry over that?
    Me: Yes. She called me a rude little b*****.
    Daddy: Oh Reeeally?! Give me the phone! (to the caller) Who is this? (pause) Well, that’s just great. Don’t you ever talk to my daughter like that again. I will be making a note when I get to work that we will not be doing business with your company in the future, and I will make very sure your supervisor knows why not!

    Go Daddy! I think it is little events like this that gave me my self esteem. 🙂
    Turns out she was a sales representative from a company that wanted a contract to supply raw materials to the manufacturing plant where he worked as a materials purchaser, inappropriately calling him at home, on the weekend, and knowingly making the enormous mistake of calling his daughter a nasty name. I have always wondered, what did she *think* would happen?

  • Dan February 8, 2012, 6:17 pm

    I am so glad I found this place! I work with my family in a small local business, and I nearly always answer the phone. I have used every trick in the book for dealing with these bozos, but I have one in particular I would love to share.

    A particularly noxious solicitor had been calling us repeatedly for weeks in spite of multiple requests for them to stop calling us. I had finally had enough and the next time he called (asking for my mother/boss), I said, “Please hold.” I let him sit on hold for about a minute before picking back up and saying, “I’m sorry, she’s on the phone with her lawyer in regards to a phone solicitor who has been harassing us. Can I take a message, please?”


    “Hello? Are you still there?”


    On a side note, I have noticed that many of these phone solicitors (and oh how they hate to be called phone solicitors!) claim that there policy dictates that they can only speak to the owner. I love explaining to them that their company’s policies are keeping them from making sales, then I tell them that I would be glad to explain this to their company president. 🙂

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