I am currently a veterinary student, but on the long road to my goals I have worked in every animal-related job I could get. At the time of this story, I was working at a dog hotel and daycare (take your dog in to stay while you’re on vacation or play for the day) at the front desk. This job combined customer service and animal handling skills, and around holiday weekends got VERY busy. One day, after a particular summer holiday weekend, a man came in to collect a dog. This was his friend’s dog, and I checked his I.D. against the dog’s file and verified that this person was authorized to collect the dog. Our notes stated that this friend would be making payment for the dog’s stay upon pickup. I rang up the final bill and gave him the total amount due.
Now, understand that billing at this (and all similar) establishment worked much like a hotel: there was a daily check-out time, and if a “guest” left after the check-out time the owner was to be charged for an extra day, as that room would need to be cleaned and disinfected a second time and we would most likely not be able to book that room for that night. This policy was outlined in our estimates, which each customer signed upon booking the reservation, again when dropping off the dog, and they got a verbal reminder as we were going through the reservation and the paperwork at drop-off. A total of four opportunities to fully understand the checkout policy, right?
So I give the guy his total, and he asks me why so much for only three nights? I inform him that he is almost two hours past the checkout time and the account has been billed for an extra night. He asks me, “Didn’t he (the dog’s owner) call you?” I said no, we don’t have any record of speaking with the customer after he dropped the dog off. (All phone conversations and contact with customers were logged on our computers.) The guy says to me, “He was supposed to call you and explain that I was going to be just a few minutes late! Can’t you just pretend he called?” I tell the gentleman that I am sorry his friend did not make the call, but even if he had I would have informed him that our checkout time is firm, and we cannot make exceptions for anyone, as everyone would want them. He says, “So even if he had called, you would have just told him ‘tough luck, sucker!’ and billed ME for another whole night?!?!” I gently remind him that this is not what I said, and offered to show him the estimate that his friend had signed, indicating that he fully understood the check-out time policy.
This whole time he’s leaning over my counter, holding his wallet (very aggressive body language) and just wants to go over the same points over and over, louder and louder; friend was supposed to call, he’s only a little late, I’m being unfair… not once did I point out to him that he was almost two hours past the checkout time. (And I never said “late” – I’m sure that would have sent him over the edge!) I even offered to have a manager come over and explain the policy to him. Bear in mind that he’s agreed that he will pass this bill on to his friend and recoup all his money; he’s just being an ass about it. He finally tosses some cash at me, and I notice as I’m sorting through it that it happens to be the *exact* amount of the bill… he’d already slipped these bills out of his wallet before I gave him the total, and the fact that it’s the right amount seems odd…
I finish the invoice, give him a copy and highlight the section with the extra day, our pickup policy, and the total so that he can more easily explain it to his friend. I then call back to the rooms to have the dog brought up to go home and the guy steps away for a moment. I’m sorting paperwork (really just an excuse to avoid eye contact… this guy was scaring me) when the dog comes up and greets his friend, then comes over to me with his happy tail wagging. I crouched down to give the dog (such a sweet puppy) a goodbye hug and when I stand up, the guy is right on top of me. He leans right into my ear and says, “Sorry I was being such an ass, but I promised my friend I would give you a hard time and see if I could reduce the bill.” Then he WINKED at me!
In the time it took me to deal with this ONE customer, my coworker next to me checked out THREE dogs! In-between giving me sympathetic looks! I had been planning on going to my manager as soon as this guy left to let him/them know that we might be receiving a call on this issue, though I was confident that I had handled it correctly. And now he’s telling me it was all just a GAME!!!!!!!
I did go to the managers’ office. I did report what had happened right away. I was always very good with the customers, so there was never any question from them that I handled this incident exactly as they would have wanted me to. We never did get a call from the dog’s owner about the bill… but a note was put in the account about this incident and from now until the end of time whenever he calls in and his account is pulled up, employees will see what he and his friend tried to pull and will not stand for it again. I wonder if he notices how many times we emphasize the checkout time for him NOW…
And for the record, frightening employees is not funny. It just proves how small YOU are. 04-09-09
There is a special place in Ehell for customers who put employees through the ringer trying to weasel their way of out paying their just and fair charges for services rendered.