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It’s All Your Fault I Lost My Bag

I work in a pretty nice new car dealership. I work as as a receptionist and cashier for car services. I had just started in this establishment when I was helping a very nice lady in her later twenties. She paid her bill and left in a hurry.

About 30 minutes after this women left, she called back saying that she left a bag full of hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise (around 30 passes to an amusement park for some children). I told her I could not leave my desk (because I must answer the phones) but I would look around the waiting room. It was nowhere to be found. I called her back and told her I couldn’t find it. She asked if it was on the bench. Being that I only worked there for a few weeks after I started, I had no idea what bench she was talking about. I went and asked some co-workers if there was a bag on the “bench.” They looked at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about. Thinking that my statement was quite clear, I assumed that there wasn’t any bag anywhere. I told her we still could find it.

I would like to add while all of this is happening I had to continue doing my job by answering phone calls and helping customers.

Finally, after about a half hour of looking, she said she was coming to look herself. I was actually rooting for this lady to find her bag.

Ten minutes later, she comes walking through the door with bag in hand. I smiled at her with enthusiasm and said, “You found it!.” She frowned and asked if I was the girl on the phone. I reluctantly said “yes.” She went off into a tangent about how I didn’t take the matter very seriously being that there was so much value involved, that I should have told a manager to start looking for her bag, and that she was not pleased to have come all the way from home to find her bag on the bench. 1.) The bench was outside in a picnic area in a parking lot. 2.) She lived in the same area I did, fifteen minutes away.   3.) Wouldn’t she of had to come back for her bag anyway?  I told her I was sorry over and over again. But she just kept looking at me with disgust. The whole department witnessed my first “mistake” because of the uncontrollable emotions of this woman.
Maybe you should be more responsible with such “valuable” items and perhaps be happy about finding something YOU lost.  1114-09

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Name required December 14, 2009, 1:36 pm

    You should have told the manager- I agree with this women. You answer the phone at a car dealership, not a hospital. Had you been more attentive, the matter could have been resolved in minutes. I am often amazed how thoughtless people in customer service can be. Yes, she accidently left the bag behind, but that happens. You could have been the hero in this situation and instead the entire company got to witness your bad service.

  • Alexis December 14, 2009, 4:53 pm

    I hardly think this is bad service. How was she supposed to know what to do? If she had more experience, she may have told the manger, yes. On the other hand, the woman may have been just as vague with the manager as well. This woman should have simply gotten in her car and driven back to look-problem solved.

  • Merrilee December 14, 2009, 5:08 pm

    I have to say I disagree with the poster above – the poster was new at her job and needs to be cut some slack.

    She did try, within the confines of staying within range of the phones, to search for the bag. Perhaps there was no one else to cover the phones for her, and she would get in trouble if she left them with no coverage. Yes, she should have asked for the manager or made him aware of it and now she knows that.

    I don’t think it did her any good to be berated in public like that, though. If the customer had an issue with the service she received over the lost bag, SHE should have asked for the manager.
    It is never good manners, in my mind, to berate ANYBODY in the public eye.

  • HonorH December 14, 2009, 8:44 pm

    Yeah, cut the girl some slack. When you’re a new employee and it’s been drilled into you 1) never, ever leave your desk, and 2) don’t disturb the manager unless it’s an emergency, your first thought in this situation is not going to be to ignore your work orders because someone got careless with her bag. The woman should’ve come back herself to search for it first, not hounded the employees, and it was unspeakably rude of her to attack the poor receptionist.

  • Yarnspinner December 14, 2009, 9:45 pm

    How about THIS: the customer is kind of responsible for the items she carries with her and she chose to leave it on a picnic table bench OUTSIDE the dealership in a parking lot. She described it to the receptionist as a bench, NOT a picnic table in a parking lot. The receptionist did ask other employees where the bench was and they stared at her as if they couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. Exactly what was she supposed to do after that? She could have looked around the dealership, sure, but given that the infamous bench was outside (which it appears the customer did not indicate) howas she supposed to figure that out? Nope, this is the customer’s fail, not the receptionist’s.

  • Jordan December 14, 2009, 11:58 pm

    If I accidentally leave something at a place of business, I think it is a reasonable expectation that I could call that place of business and some employee at that place of business would make a decent effort to find it for me. If I had to come all the way back there and then found it sitting where I described, I would be pretty upset.

    Obviously, what they had here was a failure to communicate, because oddly enough, the customer could not make it clear to the receptionist where she should look, and the fault there could lie with the receptionist or the customer. But considering the customer had to come back, and did indeed find the item on the bench, it is clear that the receptionist did not exactly inspire the customer’s confidence.

  • Alexis December 15, 2009, 12:09 pm

    The thing is, the receptionist DID make a reasonable effort to find it. The problem was, the customer did NOT make a reasonable effort to describe its possible location. How is that the receptionist’s fault?

  • Mechtilde December 16, 2009, 8:16 am

    I’m with the receptionist here as well. The owner of the bag should have taken more care with it in the first place and should have been much more accurate in her description to the receptionist. If the bag was so important then unless there was a very good reason not to do so, she should have come back and looked for it herself.

    The receptionist did what she could to find the bag. I don’t think it was necessary to call a manager, merely for her to do what was reasonable in the circumstances- wich in her case was the look around reception and ask her colleagues if they had seen it or knew where “The bench” was.

    I really can’t see what the receptionist did wrong here.

  • Kitty December 16, 2009, 9:34 pm

    I think what the receptionist did was reasonable enough. She was new, had probably been told not to leave her post and not to bother her manager. The customer was vague about where she left her bag- a nearby picnic area is NOT in the store- and the receptionist did ask her co-workers if they had any idea what this woman was talking about. The woman shouldn’t be so careless with her bag, particularly if it has lots of expensive stuff in it.

  • Brenda December 17, 2009, 8:56 pm

    This was definitely the customer’s fault. She left valuable merchandise lying on a bench. It’s not the receptionist’s responsibility. It sounds as though the “bench” was not even on the car dealership’s property. If I had been the person who so carelessly left my property I would not have expected the car dealership to find it, and they were certainly not responsible for it. I would have called and asked if there was someone who could check for me, and I would have been clear about where the bag was. I also would have been in my car on the way back to the bench to get it myself.

    Anyone who has ever worked with the public will easily recognize this woman. She is the customer who shows up on Christmas Eve and can’t understand why the most popular toy is sold out; it’s certainly not her fault that she couldn’t be bothered to go shopping before then. She’s the customer banging on the door at 9:10 pm, after the store closed at 9:00 pm, who just needs one item; if they let her in, that one item turns out to be a full shopping cart and she can’t understand why the staff is unhappy to serve her highness.

    Every mistake is someone else’s responsibility. If those tickets were taken by someone else, she would have threatened to sue the dealership, had an incredible entitlement fit in the middle of the lobby, and horribly abused and threatened the receptionist.

    The receptionist is there to answer phones and direct people about the dealership. She is not a nanny, babysitter, body servant, or personal slave.

  • Claire January 7, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Why should the customer expect the receptionist to place more value on her (the customer’s) bag than she herself has placed on it? And why would she expect the receptionist to search outside the premises? And when is it EVER appropriate to publicly berate someone for not doing a favor to one’s specifications? It sounds like she offered perfectly fine customer service.

  • Fanboy Wife January 25, 2010, 6:41 pm

    It sucks having a job when customers yell at the employees for their own irresponsibility or ignorance. I feel bad for the receptionist. It seems she did the best she could. She looked around without abandoning her regular duties. She also asked for help from her colleagues. How could she be responsible for the customer misplacing her bag outside of the business? The receptionist even apologized. It was completely unnecessary for the customer to berate her publicly.

  • Izzy February 7, 2010, 2:05 am

    I can’t believe anyone is on the customer’s side. If you lost an item somewhere, and found it later, you should be GRATEFUL that it wasn’t stolen/broken. Not screaming at the receptionist.
    Blaming the receptionist is like an overweight person blaming a fast food chain for his/her obesity. Sure makes you feel better, but at the end of the day you’re still fat, or still a clumsy rude person who doesn’t look after her own posessions.
    The receptionist is paid to do her job. Not search for lost property in nearby parks. Hell, if I was at a new job where I was told I couldn’t leave my desk or disturb the manager, I’d say on the phone “I’m sorry I can’t leave my desk, I’ll alert my coworkers and we’ll all keep an eye out for your bag”. Still reasonable, not rude, but I have to do my job!
    And why the fuss over having to make a trip back? she would have had to come back to pick up the bag anyways (eventually).
    Actually no, people like this probably expect the receptionist to mail it over because the customer is always right
    Ah well, submitter, at least now you have a funny crazy-customer story to tell the new recruits on their first day
    Or if a psycho blasts one of your coworkers you could pat them on the shoulder and say “Least she wasn’t complaining about a bag on a park bench”

  • Justcause February 9, 2010, 6:13 pm

    Amongst the people who commented, it’s quite simple to tell those who has never worked in customer service before. The receptionist was new at it too, i think she performed well.
    But i guess there are always two sides to each story. Even though I don’t think the yelling was deserved, I would want to hear why the customer thought it was necessary.

  • Lara February 11, 2010, 2:41 am

    I agree with Brenda and Claire. It sounds like the customer left her bag on a bench outside the premises of the car dealership, which means it’s not the receptionist’s job to find it. I can understand how she would have been upset if the bag was left somewhere inside the car dealership and it wasn’t found, but expecting the staff of the last place you visited to look for your bag that is somewhere in the area and not on their premises is just unreasonable.

  • roseyv February 18, 2010, 4:59 pm

    A few weeks ago I left a small shopping bag in the shopping cart I had used in a discount chain store. It didn’t even have merchandise in it — just some papers I was using it to carry. Unfortunately, I had tossed my checkbook into the bag as well, which was pretty stupid. Anyway, I got home, realized I must have left the bag at the store and raced right back to see if anyone had turned it in. The store was just about to close, but they let me in, and it turned out that the night manager had in fact taken the bag from the cart and locked it up in administrative office. He asked me to identify what was in the bag, asked me a couple of general questions just to make sure it was really mine, and then took me back to the office to return the bag to me.

    I was so blown away with gratitude and relief that he was so profession and so protective of my stuff, let alone that anyone had even bothered to check to see if there was anything of value in this kind of battered, paper department store bag. It was MY stuff, and I lost track of it. I was the dope. I was the one who had left the bag behind. Which is why I physically went back to the store to look for it, rather than just calling them and asking them to look for me.

    It amazes me to think that anyone would ever think that returning their carelessly misplaced belongings to them is somebody else’s responsibility.

  • missy March 8, 2010, 11:49 am

    i don’t know about anyone else, but when I am carrying a bag with ANYTHING valuable in it, I make sure it is with me at all times. When I stand up, I look around to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind.

    A lot of the previous posters here seem to be of the opinion that the service rep didn’t do her job. I assume she is not paid to keep track of customers belongings. If the bag had been picked up and taken by someone else, AFTER being left OUTSIDE by the customer, would that have been her fault? Would etiquette require her to reimburse this customer for the “valuables” inside the bag?

  • phoenix March 15, 2010, 2:01 pm

    Customer service does not entail being everyone who walks in the door’s personnel assistant. So many people think “receptionist” equals “my personal slave.” The most dangerous idea in the world is “the customer is always right = do whatever i want NOW”

  • livvy April 27, 2010, 2:31 pm

    While I think the OP could have, and arguably should have made more of an effort to find the woman’s belongings (thereby providing Spectacular customer service and making the woman a very loyal customer), the woman went over the top in criticizing the receptionist, especially in the face of repeated apologies.

  • carwashguy May 25, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Hindsight is 20/20, but if she asked about the bench, and your coworkers looked at you like you they didn’t know what you were talking about, you might’ve investigated more. You might’ve explained to your coworkers how she thinks she left a bag on a bench, but you needed to stay and man the fort. You’re allowed to delegate if you have no other options, and it’s in the interest of keeping customers happy.

    Other than that, I’d say good job and don’t let these things get the better of you.

  • Jane July 10, 2010, 10:04 am

    I really see both sides to this story.

    On one hand, I agree that it would have been better service to get the manager or someone who could put more effort into looking for the bag if she couldn’t do it herself. Also, that asking if anyone has happened to see it, isn’t the same asking someone to look for it, so it was premature to tell her that they couldn’t it. This is one of those cases when someone has a brain, but just forgets to use it. This is a surprisingly easy thing to do when starting a new job. If you’re being trained or just completed training you’ve got “do it this way” and “don’t do this” drilled into your head. They teach you how they do things, not how to operate within the rules for special situations (like this one), so it’s easy in the beginning to get trapped in trying to make sure you do everything as you’ve been told to. So I do agree that she should be cut some slack.

    However, when hundreds of dollars are on the line it’s hard to cut someone some slack. This woman may have actually bought that merchandise as part of her work. I doubt she personally has 30 children, so it’s possible that if the bag were missing she’d have a lot of people to answer to. No, it still isn’t anyone’s fault but her own that she lost it, but if I called the place and they said they couldn’t find it, so I decided to come look for it myself and spent the entire time thinking that it was gone, that I’d lost all that money (and possibly was going to be in huge trouble for it), and then arrived at the dealership only to find it in 2 seconds, I might lose my temper and take it out on the wrong person too.

  • RP July 22, 2010, 11:56 am

    I’m going to disagree with the pack and say that no, it was not the receptionist’s job to go looking for it beyond the half an hour that they did search for it. Nor was it their job to leave their desk and find the manager so that they can tell their boss to go looking for it. No, it’s not a hospital but that wouldn’t make the OP any less fired had they left their desk instead of manning the phone.

    The bottom line is that the woman didn’t leave the bag at the dealership. No amount of delegation would have mattered because the bag wasn’t there. The OP did nothing wrong by searching, asking for help, and doing what they could without abandoning their primary responsibilities. The woman’s bag should not be more important to the OP than their own job. That’s just stupid.

    The only person who needed to use their brain here was the forgetful woman. It’s just an insane amount of entitlement that someone would expect someone to leave their job and search a nearby picnic area for their stuff.

  • essie August 21, 2010, 2:20 pm

    Maybe my parents raised me weirdly (talk to my schoolmates and some would say YES!), but I was taught that if you lose something, it’s YOUR responsibility to find or replace it. Yes, I’ve lost items, important ones, but I AM the one who goes back to look for it and when I get there, after looking for the item I lost, then I ask if anyone had turned in such an item.

    The only exception is if I’m hours away. Then I’ll call and ask if anyone’s seen it or turned it in, but when I do this, I understand that MY emergency is not anyone else’s and I don’t expect the staff to go into “lockdown” mode and search the premises, inside and out, inch by inch.

    The receptionist looked around and asked around, as much as possible without neglecting the duties which she IS being paid to do. Being new and “low on the totem pole”, it wasn’t her prerogative to ask the other employees to search for it.

  • rifish November 11, 2010, 4:56 am

    Essie, you’re not alone. I’ve lost many an item in public and never once considered it anyone else’s problem but my own. The only reason I would call the place of business would be to possibly prevent the object from being stolen while I’m on my way to pick it up.

    Why was this woman not coming herself immediately? Did she really expect the receptionist to abandon her post, go searching off-property, and then mail it back to the woman? This is not her job. Customer service only applies to services that the company provides. I’m really confused why people actually think the receptionist is at fault here.

  • Christina January 6, 2013, 11:12 pm

    As I was reading through the comments, I was kind of disturbed that other comments were berating the receptionist for “not making more of an effort”. 1. If something belongs to you and you lose it, it is not anyone else’s fault or responsibility to look for it. 2. I understand the woman may have been frustrated and or embarrassed by leaving her bag, she had no right to take it out on the receptionist. 3. It appears to me that the customer believed her time was more valuable than the receptionist’s, and the other customers because she couldn’t be bothered to come look for it herself but the receptionist who was “on the clock” should stop providing customer service to other customers to find something, when the customer was at fault for leaving it

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