- Jun 2004 Archive
- Dec 2005 Archive
I worked in the pharmacy department of a well-known drug store
chain. As the pharmacist, I would sometimes have what are called externs -
college students fulfilling the "practical experience" part of their
education (essentially, a college course). I also sometimes had what we usually
called interns, mostly to differentiate them from students - these were
graduates of foreign universities who had come to the US to work. Interns must
fulfill specific requirements to be licensed to practice in the US; one of the
requirements is a period of internship under the supervision of a licensed
pharmacist for a specific period of time. Typically, the graduate is hired by
the company and works as an intern until he or she fulfills the requirements and
becomes licensed. Until then, he or she must work with a licensed pharmacist.
One of my interns was a young woman who had moved with her
husband from a Middle Eastern country to the US. She'd already worked, licensed,
in her own country, and was very smart, very elegant, and very gracious. She was
tri-lingual; one parent was Middle Eastern and one was from Spain, so she spoke
- fluently - Arabic, Spanish, and English. Her two native languages were Arabic
and Spanish and she'd learned British English in school. She spoke with enough
of an accent to identify her as a non-native speaker, although she was very easy
to understand. (All of us, including my intern, sometimes had fun with this, as
there are some amusing differences in the British and US versions of things such
as boots and Band-Aids.)
The intern's linguistic skills were also particularly welcome
because she could act as a translator for the very large population of
Spanish-only-speaking people who lived in that area. It was always so much
easier to help these people get the right OTC (over-the- counter) medications
for their children or themselves, or to explain their medications to them, if I
had someone who could translate for me. We did have an English-to-Spanish
translating program that would print the medication guides and prescription
labels in Spanish, but it was a direct word-to-word translation without taking
into consideration the grammatical differences, such as word order, of the two
languages. And that only covers written information, anyway. How do I help the
woman who is standing at my counter who can only tell me, "Baby sick"?
One semi-regular customer at this particular pharmacy was a
relatively young man with a lot of... material goods "presence."
Because he wore a lot of jewelry, among other things, he was fairly recognizable
to most of us. While in general he was very matter-of- fact - neither overly
pleasant nor unpleasant - he did have a temper and had been known to unleash it,
fairly nastily, on someone if he was displeased for whatever reason,
particularly if the person helping him was young and female (the majority of my
help in the pharmacy). His first name was a typical male name - we'll call him
"Andrew". His last name was a compound word, along the lines of
Greenpeace (which is what we'll call him), that could be split into two separate
One day, my intern was working at the "out window"
of the pharmacy - where people picked up their medications - when this man came
in. This particular job required that she get the customer's name, verify it to
make sure the right person was getting the right medication, and several other
steps such as signing the log to cover the "signature on file"
requirements of the third-party payers (insurance companies). Unfamiliar with
most common US names, particularly surnames, she misunderstood him and repeated,
in her accented English, "Green Peace? Peace is the last name, or
Green?" He flew into a rage and proceeded to give her an incredibly hard
time, speaking nastily and calling her stupid, and explaining loudly that ANDREW
was his first name and that his last name, GREENPEACE, was one word - upon
which, still nastily, he spelled it out . I intervened in order to calm him down
and rescue her from his wrath. After he'd left, I apologized for his behavior -
not my job; he should have been the one apologizing - because I wanted to make
sure she was okay.
Several weeks later, my intern was again working at the out
window when this man came in. She took one look at him and said, "Andrew
Greenpeace," and turned around, searched through the orders waiting to be
picked up, and presented him with his medication. Preening, he said, "Wow.
You remember my name, and you haven't even been working here for very
long." She proceeded to finish the transaction with her usual graciousness,
while he spoke to her as if it were a social occasion. But after he left, she
came over to me and said with a rueful smile, "He has no idea that I
remember him because he was so terrible to me the first time he came in."
After that day, he always joked and chatted with her as if they were the best of
friends, and I don't think to this day, if he remembers her at all, that he
realizes exactly WHY she remembered him.
One thing that used to bother me most about working in a
retail setting was the number of people who would either walk up to one of the
pharmacy counters with a cell phone to their ear, or who would answer a call
during a transaction at either the "drop-off" or "pick- up"
end of the pharmacy.
I won't even get into - other than how frustrating it is - the
potential problems with trying to discuss a customer's private medical
information with him or her while in a position where every protected piece of
information can be overheard by the person at the other end of the phone. It's
bad enough trying to talk to someone in a retail pharmacy anyway, with people
standing in line behind your patient or you having to talk through a speaker at
the drive-through window so that anyone in the car or even walking by can
overhear it all.
Anyway, I never felt like there was a good way to handle the
cell phone talkers - it's frustrating to try to help someone who is having a
conversation into a cell phone yet expects you to help them at the same time. I
would often wait a moment until I could catch the customer's eye, then say
pleasantly, "I'll be with you as soon as you finish your
conversation." It was amazing the number of people who would give me dirty
looks before muttering some version of "I'll call you back" into their
phones. Sometimes, the person would apologize - sincerely - after ending the
conversation, but more often than not, they viewed me as the rude one.
As has been mentioned over and over, there are many, many
examples of rudeness when one works in a retail environment. It certainly was
true during my years working as a pharmacist for a large, well-known chain
drugstore, which we'll call "Chain A".
This story, however, ends a little differently.
The state in which I worked had a "transfer law"
that allowed an individual to "transfer" their prescription from one
store to another, as long as authorized refills remained on it. One very common
occurrence was that, particularly on weekends, customers would come in and
request a refill of oral contraceptive pills (OCs). There had been a strong push
by drug manufacturers for a universal "Sunday Start" on new packages
of 28 tablets, so we tended to see more refill requests on Saturdays and
Sundays. In general, these were quick and easy to fill, as you simply had to
type the refill number into the computer, generate a label, and affix it to the
One Sunday, a young woman - maybe in her mid-twenties at the
most - came in and handed me a package with a prescription label indicating it
had been filled at a different pharmacy, "Chain B." I told her,
politely, that it would take me a little longer than usual to fill the
prescription, as I needed to call Chain B and get all of the information
required by the law - if, in fact, she did want me to transfer the prescription.
I've found it's always wise to ask first, just in case.
She was consistently friendly and polite (and no cell phone
glued to her ear!) during the entire encounter, just exactly the kind of
customer I enjoy the most. Yes, she did want me to transfer the prescription,
and no, she didn't mind waiting, she told me.
It wasn't until after I'd finished ringing her purchase up at
the end of the transaction that she added, "The last time I was in Chain B,
I made a big scene. I'm embarrassed to go back into the store, so I'd like to
get it filled here from now on."
I currently work in the field of Higher
Education/Student Affairs, which means I work at a university and help students
and families adjust to college in different ways. Some people within this field
work in Admissions, some in Financial Aid, some in Student Activities...etc. You
get the picture! One thing that we ALL have in common are
"Helicopter Parents", so aptly named because they hover over their
students and take care of everything FOR them. They are rude, abrupt,
condescending, and expect everything to be done with a snap of their fingers.
I've had parents call professors if their student fails a class, and I've even
had parents show up at my office to yell at me. One of the most common phrases
I've heard is "I'm going to sue you..."
For 2 years, I worked at a small private university that has a
very active Greek community (fraternities and sororities). Every January, the
sororities would have recruitment, and select their new members. Now, regardless
of your personal opinion about going Greek, many people have positive
experiences and it can be a great leadership opportunity when done correctly.
However, it's not for everyone. I had one student, we'll call her Sally, who
went through the recruitment process and was not matched with an organization.
It's really sad when that happens, and I knew that I'd be getting either a
tearful phone call from Sally or an angry phone call from Sally's mother/father.
I was right! Sally's mother called me that day and DEMANDED I place
her daughter in a sorority. According to her, I had ruined Sally's life, she was
miserable, she was dropping out of school and transferring to another school. I
was a horrible person, I didn't have any idea how hard it was to be a freshman
at ABC School and she was going to sue me for Sally's emotional trauma. When SHE
was a student at ABC School (in the 70's), she had been the most popular student
and she was determined the Sally be placed in her sorority. Right now.
I have never been yelled at like that, expect by my parents
when I was really in trouble. After letting her vent, I explained
the process to her, and told her that I would be happy to speak with Sally if
she would like to call me herself. I was then haughtily informed that Sally was
not going to call me, and she (the mother) would deal with me herself. I
repeated that I was sorry Sally was upset, but I could not do anything until
Sally spoke with me directly. Finally, she said that Sally would come to my
office the next day.
The next day, Sally comes to see me. I expected her to be
"emotionally traumatized" like her mom had said she was, but she
wasn't. Sally immediately apologized for her mom's behavior and said that she
never wanted to join a sorority, but just went through the recruitment process
to "shut her mom up." She was happy she didn't get matched and she
didn't want me to do anything about it. After sitting there for a second, I
asked her to please explain this situation to her mom because she would keep
calling me until Sally was placed. I would see Sally on campus after
that, and she was always polite. I can't imagine how a sweet girl like that put
up with her mother!
During college I was a manager at a chain coffee store we’ll
call Moonchange. During my time at Moonchange, I was a witness to many
acts of appalling and amazing bad customer etiquette; I think you might enjoy my
favorite story, though.
Moonchange, being the classy, expensive coffee place it is,
has created many customer service policies to achieve their mission statement of
providing the best customer service possible. One of these policies states
that if a customer complains that a drink was made incorrectly, that customer
should be made a correct drink, free of charge, while being able to keep the
incorrectly made drink.
About a month into working at Moonchange, I was allowed to
make drinks by myself without a supervisor watching over my shoulder. One
customer came in during a busy time in morning, and asked for an iced coffee
with decaf. I made the drink and was handing the cup to the customer when
I realized I had forgotten to make the drink decaf. Apologizing, I offered
to allow the customer to keep the regular drink, while remaking her drink
correctly, free of charge, of course. To cut to the chase, I made EIGHT,
count them eight, drinks in total for this woman! She kept changing her
drink order slightly every time I made it, e.g. “I wanted non-fat milk”;
“I need 2 ½ shots instead of 3”; “I want those shots half-decaf”;
Being the unsuspecting, naïve girl I am, I continued to make
her drink over and over again with varying details. My manager eventually
caught on to the situation, and had to ask the women to leave the store.
Before she left, though, she kindly asked if we had any empty boxes to carry her
EIGHT drinks in; after all, she was surprising her co-workers with a treat and
didn’t want the coffees spilled all over her car. Incredible!
Later that day, another woman came in and the same scenario
began again. After re-making her drink order three times (she has four
drinks in her hand at this point) my manager comes over to end the situation.
The customer complains that a co-worker of hers got 8 free drinks this morning,
and she didn’t understand why this was an inappropriate and rude, not to
mention probably against the law. Honestly, if someone wants to pull this
scam on his/her local Moonchange, please don’t mention that another customer
did it and it worked out fine for her!
It's hard to decide whether to laugh at the
hubris of such entitlement or bemoan the decline of honor, integrity and
character. I must admit to getting a rush of adrenaline when I get the
rare chance to witness that kind of audacity firsthand.
My husband worked as a retail manager for years, and had all
kinds of strange customers, but this lady really took the cake. A few years ago,
his store had a sort of pre-Christmas promotion going on in December, in which
customers who donated $1 to a local charity could receive a coupon for $10 off
their next purchase. The coupons weren't valid until January (to get people back
in the store!), and it clearly stated on the bottom of the coupon that only one
could be redeemed per purchase. Sounds pretty straightforward and logical,
Fast forward to January, and he gets a customer in the store
who wants to use 5 coupons to obtain a $50 item for her son, basically for free.
He attempts to tell her "no" in the nicest possible way--states that
he can't accept multiple coupons for a single purchase, points out the policy,
etc. At which point she launches into an obscenity-filled tirade about how
she's driven 60 miles to the mall specifically to redeem these coupons, and she
needs the stuff right away, and no one told her before that she couldn't
use them all at once, and hubby is a racist chauvinist pig, blah blah blah.
Finally she winds up with, "Well, I never would have given that money if I
had known that these stupid things weren't good all at once!" At which
point she ASKED FOR HER MONEY BACK. Yes folks, she wanted back her $5 from
the Boys and Girls Club because she couldn't get free stuff. My husband insisted
she hand over the coupons (which she wanted to keep for her
"trouble"), gave her $5 from the till, and she left muttering threats.
She proceeded to call the district manager and give him an earful
about how "rude, unhelpful and condescending" my husband
was, and how she'd never shop at the store again. When the DM called my
husband to see if this actually happened, he was laughing so hard he could
I just found it so unbelievable that someone would take back a
charitable donation because they couldn't make a profit from it. Way to get
into that whole holiday spirit, lady. At least your kid had the sense to be
embarrassed at the scene you were making.......
I work at a natural foods store near my house to earn some
spending money while I'm in college and for the most part, the customers are
very nice and polite. Regular customers know cashiers by name and ask
after them if they're not working that day. Because most people are so
nice, it's always surprising to get a rude customer.
I had just had an extraordinarily stressful morning and this
woman was my first customer at the register. Her order rings up and she
hands me her debit card so I can scan it. I scan it, put in the total and
turn the machine around (it swivels) so she can enter her pin number. When
she's done she turns the machine and I see that she only inputted three
characters (there were only *** on the screen) so I tell her that she inputted
her pin incorrectly (pin numbers have to be 4 or 6 digits). I clear the
wrong pin and when she inputs the pin a second time she only put in 1 digit.
I again tell her that her pin is incorrect and she'll have to input it again
(very politely). At this point she looks at the woman in line behind her
and gives her a "can you believe this idiot cashier?!" looks.
The 2nd woman says that she has the same card and wonders if it will work.
The 1st woman says that it probably won't because I'm too stupid to do it
correctly. At this point I see that the 1st woman has only entered 2
digits so I have to tell her that she put in the wrong pin again. She
sighs and tells me to do it as credit which I do and everything works fine.
I hand her the receipt and say "thank you, have a nice day" which is
what I always say. She gives me a dirty look and walks out.
It almost made me burst into tears at the register. It's
frustrating how often people assume we can't do our jobs just because we're
"only a cashier". Ugh.
When I was young I put myself through university by working
all-night shifts in a nightclub. Since I usually worked 11pm-11am, people were
usually worse-for-wear by the time I came on shift. I saw some charming
customers, but one guy in particular has always stayed in my memory. The place
was always packed, and the exceedingly long bar littered with drinks in various
stages of consumption. Using the crowd and profusion of glasses as cover, this
gentleman would order a pint of water (from some newbie unaware of his tricks),
pour it out, and then cruise the bar filling up his glass by tipping in the
dregs of everyone else's drinks. This was not a discriminating man. He'd often
mix wine, spirits, beer, and condiments together; when he had a full pint, he'd
sit and savor his cocktail of dregs and backwash. Management would usually get
him out, and I wish they had this one night before I was treated to the
This poor bloke looked short of a dollar or two, and some
kindhearted regular customers included him in their round of tequila shots. The
man in question insisted on the prized shot containing the worm (apparently the
worm absorbs a lot of alcohol so you'll get a kick. Don't know if it's true!).
Anyway, I happened to be watching to see if he was really going to swallow a
worm. He did-for a moment anyway. Down went the shot. The gentleman gazed at the
glass in deep thought for a moment-the puked up the shot again, in its
entirety....perfectly in the glass and -I kid you not- with the worm circling
lazily in the bottom of the glass. I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it
with my own eyes. I didn't know whether to puke or laugh hysterically. The good
news is, the incident was witnessed by so many amazed people that the gentleman
became a hit and had drinks bought for him from then on until I graduated and
quit. He never needed to trawl for 'cocktails' again. However, I don't know how
many of those people saw the sequel I saw-the gentleman regarding the puked-up
shot, shrugging his shoulders, and downing it-again. I guess old spendthrift
habits die hard. I personally have never touched tequila since.
I recently moved to Toronto, Ontario from a small town in
Arkansas to attended university. I started a job in ticket services for a rather
large opera company where I answered incoming phone calls and helped patrons
with ticket and subscription purchases, exchanges, etc. Needless to say, in a
customer service field where you assist people who give your company thousands
of dollars annually, you're going to run into some very pretentious, very rude
customers. However, this one tops the charts.
Now, I am fully aware that I have an accent. I'm from the
south! Having said this, it's not that bad of an accent, just a mild twang on
certain words. One day I answer a call from a woman who wants to exchange
tickets. I ask her for her name and account number, and upon accessing the
information, I discovered the account given wasn't under her name, and it didn't
have her listed as someone who could access the account. Due to privacy laws, we
can only speak to people explicitly listed on the account. Additionally, this
account had only purchased single tickets, which aren't eligible for exchanges.
(You can only exchange tickets that are part of a season subscription.)
I very nicely explained this information to the woman, who
instantly became belligerent, yelling and screaming about how inept I was at my
job, and how my company's policies are "insane". I tried my best to
calm her down, and told her if she had the account holder to call, we could see
what we could do for her. At this point, she stops yelling abruptly and says to
me: "Where are you located?" I gave her our business address. Again
she asks, "Where are you located?" Confused, I repeat the address.
This time she elaborates, " No, where are YOU located? You have an accent.
Does your company outsource?" Ok, I understand now. I explain to her that I
am located in Toronto, and that I'm from the states, here for school. Her
"Well, now that you're in Canada, you need to speak
proper English and stop talking like a redneck retard."
Wow. I know that I say my "I" sounds a little
longer, but I wasn't under the impression that I couldn't speak coherent
English. I don't think I've ever been so offended in my life.
Dear Jeanne: I was reading your
"Customers" section, and was reminded of the time I spent as a
paralegal in a Worker's Compensation law firm. In my state, WC is run by
private insurance companies, so lawyers have been very useful. However,
some clients needed something OTHER than an attorney...
1. One client I dealt with called to tell me that her
weekly compensation check was late. When I asked what the dates on the
last check indicated, she told me that it was for five days previous through the
next day. I suggested that her next check was to be issued two days from
then, and that she would receive it about four days later, to which her answer
was, "SO?" Apparently checks were due when SHE wanted them, not
when they were legally required. When I tried to explain things, she
demanded, "Whose attorney are you, anyway? You're sure not
representing MY interests!"
2. Another client felt that my cordiality was
inviting her to confidences, so she described--in gory detail--the side effects
of her medication on certain--ahem--appetites.
3. A doctor called me and asked me to contact a third
client about scheduling her elbow surgery. I did so, only to be informed
in a haughty tone that said client had no intention of "walking around in a
cast during the holidays." I suggested then that we could schedule it
for early January, to which she responded in an exasperated tone, "You
expect me to do my dance recital with an arm cast?" It turns out that
she had taken up tap dance while she continued to insist to her employer that
she was completely incapable of any work. Her recital was in February, and
she fully expected to be paid a weekly check while sitting around doing nothing
for three months! I informed her that, if an investigator happened to
catch her in her dance recital, the insurance company might decide to suspend
her benefits. Haughty tone again: "I want to speak with your
employer. Now." She got me in trouble over that, but
vindication came in February: she was, indeed, caught on tape by an
investigator, and wound up being sued for all the benefits she'd received, with
fraud allegations against her.
4. One gentleman whom I served got it into his head
that, just because I had talked him out of suicide, I had a thing for him.
He showed up at the office on Valentine's Day with a box of candy, a bouquet of
roses, and a large diamond ring--and then asked the receptionist for me.
He proceeded to offer me these gifts, and promised that I had been named in his
will, should he not survive his impending surgery. Now, I was twenty
years old at the time, so I was at a loss. I excused myself, went a good
distance back in the offices, and had a total and complete nervous breakdown.
My supervising attorney--a good lady!--went back to the reception area and
managed to get him to leave. I hate to thank God for someone being
diagnosed mentally ill, but for the remaining time I was there, the gent in
question went from his surgery into the psych ward. The next time
you wonder why your attorney charges so much, think of these examples!
It's the nutty and/or unreasonable clients who make hazard pay necessary.
I used to work in an upscale bridal salon. One of our regular
problems is that brides would want to us to fit/pin garments that were not
purchased in our store. They would also want us to do this for free. Our
written policies clearly state that we do not do that (and the reasons why,
which are both reasonable and logical). One Saturday, a bride comes
in with what seems to be every female member of her family, including a little
girl, for her bridal fitting. The fitter (me) does not appreciate having to deal
with a party in the room while she is trying to do her work, but my assistant
and I are dealing with it. Until… the little girl disappears, then reappears
now clad in flower girl costumes and the bride insists that I pin the hem and
not only to pin the hem but to make it match a flowergirl who is not even HERE
at the moment. My assistant and I politely decline the opportunity to do work
for free and point out the written policy that forbids us from doing us. The
bride and the rest of her family proceed to harangue us, getting louder and more
nasty with each passing moment. My assistant and I, I am proud to say, stay calm
but also continue to firmly but politely refuse to violate store policy. They
are livid with us. How livid we did not know until we went to clean out the room
when they had departed – sitting on the middle of the floor in the fitting
room was a Ziploc bag full of urine. To this day, we don’t know what lovely
lady in that fabulous group squatted in our boutique and peed into a Ziploc in a
room full of your family, but whoever you are you win the prize of nastiest
I work in tourism. Tour boats, to be specific. The
company I've worked at for several years is an institution; extremely
successful, but still family-owned. While I love my job and the company
(and even my bosses), the customers are just special sometimes. There are
days during peak season when I come home and burst into tears (not often, but
it's happened). I've come to the conclusion that tourists are just TENSE,
because they're trying to take a vacation but are torn between trying to relax
and realizing how much money the whole thing is costing them. That's the
only possible reason I can come up with for how some people act.
The stories I can tell, you would not believe. However,
this one, happening months ago, is fresh in my mind and has been for some time.
It's perhaps not as unbelievable as some of the rest, but it's the first time I
actually almost lost my cool in front of a customer.
My company only recently began selling tickets online.
We treat online tickets as advanced reservations, and since our boats tend to
fill up quickly, our policy is that all tickets can only be exchanged before the
ride. (Okay, the official policy is that tickets are non-exchangeable, but
that's only to cover our butts just in case. In almost every situation, we
will exchange tickets before the ride.) However, exchanging tickets after
the ride would just be unfair to others. The policy listed on the internet
is that we don't exchange at all, since, after people print their tickets at
home, it becomes near-impossible for our computer system to do a switcheroo.
It's possible, but it takes a lot of finagling that only a few of us know how to
do, and it's something that we just don't have time for on busy days.
At any rate, it was a rather slow day, and the boat had just
pulled off the dock for the X:00 tour. Two women came rushing onto the
dock, waving pieces of paper at the boat, frantically. I turned to my
co-worker and mimed slamming my head into my computer. This happens
sometimes, and people get PISSED when they miss their boat - like it's our fault
that the boats actually leave on time. The women walk up to my window,
shove their printed tickets in front of me, and look angered. The one
apparently in charge blinks at me and says, "Was that the X:00 tour?"
I tell her it was. "Well, we had TICKETS," she tells me, as
though I should have made the other 100 people on board wait for her to show.
"I apologize for that," I say, and take their tickets to look them
over. I punch their confirmation number into the computer bring up their
order. I tell them that strictly speaking, we don't do exchanges after the
boat leaves, but I ask if I can get them on a later tour. It's a slow day,
and I figure I can just make it all better.
Apparently, they have other plans All. Day. Long.
She insists that I put them on a tour tomorrow, which I could actually get in
trouble for. I tell her that it's impossible, but to fix the situation
(i.e. her own mistake), I'll put her on any other tour she wants tonight.
They talk it over, glaring at me the whole time, then pick a time that they
GUESS they could make. While I'm doing the aforementioned finagling, the
following exchange takes place:
"You guys don't leave a minute late, do you?" She
asks, smirking. For a second, I think maybe the situation has defused.
"No, ma'am," I say, and gesture to the huge clock on the wall,
"Always right on time."
"Well," she growls, "I guess we should have set
our clocks by YOUR time, then, because according to my watch, YOU left
early." Semi-distracted by what I'm doing on the computer, I reply,
"That's an atomic clock, set to atomic time. Like a cell phone."
"OH," she yells, "Set by YOUR cell phone, huh?
Oh, I guess we should have all set our watches by YOUR cell phone to make our
BOAT!" Taken aback, it takes a minute for me to realize she misheard
me, but by then she's too far gone to stop her. Keep in mind that I have
never been anything but polite to this woman, and have already implied that I'm
doing her a favor and making an exception for her. I meekly hand over
their new tickets, smile and tell them to have a nice day.
She smiles back at me, and asks for my manager's phone number.
I groan inwardly, but hand her a brochure with our number on it. She
insists that I write my manager's name above the number, along with my own, and
informs me that he'll be getting a call from her about me.
"I intend to get you in LOADS of trouble, little
girl," she informs me, "I've worked in customer service for YEARS, and
we NEVER treat customers this way." Stunned, I can only blink at her
as, once again, I've just done her a favor, even though the folly was hers.
She continues, "When I said YOU left early, you shouldn't have argued with
me. Never argue with a customer, EVER. I hope you learn that lesson
soon, because we are NEVER coming back here, and we'll tell our friends the same
thing." She storms off with her fresh, new tickets.
My co-worker and I gape at each other as we watch them leave,
and I place a call to my manager to warn him, explaining what happened. He
laughed it off.
And here I never thought I'd be writing to anything like this,
I'm still kind of in that obnoxious, semi-vulgar college student phase, I have
little to no right getting on someone else's manners. But this just irked me.
I work at a rather relaxed partial service restaurant. The
customers come up to the counter to place their orders and get their drinks then
we, the cashiers/servers bring them their food as soon as its ready. No one ever
tips, but I don't mind that, I make just fine money. That has nothing to do with
I have lettering tattooed around one wrist, ink which I am
very, very proud of and happy with, it has a lot of personal meaning to me, and
none of my managers or co-workers mind it at all. A lot of the time customers
will try to read it, and I'll angle myself so that they can, talk to them, etc.
Most of what I get is "how much did that hurt" "that's
lovely" and the like. Its a subject of conversation, both I and the
customers seem to be grateful for the interaction. Most of them are more
fascinated than anything else, and I'm not the only person at the restaurant who
looks like that.
But no, oh no, not this woman. Little miss high and mighty,
you know the kind, thinks they know better than anyone else and just has to give
her opinion, I had brought out her food and was just taking my hand away from
the plate when she GRABS my wrist, turns it over, and commences to give me the
lecture about how irresponsible it is to get a tattoo, how I'm never going to be
able to get a job looking like that, if God wanted us to have words on our
bodies we'd be born that way, she goes on (I'm very busy, and as much as I want
to walk away from her and get back to work, I get the feeling she'd go give my
manager a piece of her mind about my walking away, and I don't want to get him
involved) for give or take five minutes.
Think she'd like to have seen all my piercings and other ink?
Some days I really want a "We reserve the right to refuse service"
I worked in a shoe store for a few months, as an assistant
manager. A woman came in with her daughter, and the girl desperately wanted a
pair of white sandals for summer. But she had to wear leg braces, so she was
difficult to fit.
I tried every sandal in the store, and nothing worked with the
braces. I whispered to the mom that she might try another shoe store in the same
mall, because they carried different brands. This little 8-year-old was sad, but
so polite, and thanked me for trying. I wanted to cry.
The store manager chewed me out for spending 35 minutes with
one customer, and then the mom pulled her aside and told her how much she liked
the service in that store. (Then she came back an hour later and showed me the
white sandals that her daughter had found at the other shoe store. That was one
happy little kid!)
I used to work in a well-known chain craft store. It was a
pretty bad place (they once tried their hardest to avoid giving me a $100
paycheck and never did give me the promised 6-month raise or whatever it was - I
guess they thought the raise in minimum wage was good enough). However, I'll
limit my story to one particular customer.
We regularly had to deal with people complaining royally about
not being able to use coupons, but this guy was the worst. He approached my
register with two boxes of colored chalk and manufacturer's coupons, which the
store does not accept. I politely explained this to him. He was incensed, and
demanded to speak to a supervisor...and another supervisor...and a manager...all
of whom told him the same thing. He was actually yelling at this point, and
finally exclaimed, "Well if I can't have the discount, I don't want
them!" He then stormed out in a huff, leaving the items on my register.
Best part? He had forgotten something...as he was leaving, I
sweetly called out "Sir, you forgot your wallet!" It was a very
red-faced man indeed who returned to collect it.
When I was seventeen my Mom worked at Shoppers Drug Mart.
Around Christmas-time she came down with bronchitis so I came in to replace her.
I did such a good job that, even though they were not hiring at the time, I was
offered a permanent position as a cashier/merchandiser. I think that should say
enough about what I am like in a working environment. Which is one more reason I
was so very shocked at this one woman's behavior towards me on one very
memorable Seniors Day. Every last Thursday of the month is Seniors Day, where,
if you are 65 or older, you receive 15% off your purchases. We also run Bingo
games, serve tea and cakes, and offer free beauty make-overs. I was working the
extra cash when a serious looking thirty-some woman came to be rang through. She
ended up purchasing over $200 worth of beauty and body items. After her
transaction was complete, instead of moving ahead so the others in line could
come forwards she went over her receipt. Perfectly normal. Then she turned to
me; obviously with a problem. No worries, I had dealt with these situations
before. What I had not expected was the following transaction:
Her - You didn't give me my senior's discount! Me
- ...umm, M'am? You're not a senior. She then very angrily stormed
away, into the crowd of seniors who were gathered about playing bingo nearby.
She grabbed an elderly woman by the arm and literally dragged the poor woman
over to my cash. Quote, "Why do you think I brought her here?!" I was
aghast. What made things even worse was that the elderly woman was completely
spaced out. She must have been suffering from dementia or severe Alzheimer's.
She had no idea what was going on. The moment her daughter (?) let go of her
arm, she just kind of drifted back into the crowd. I had no idea what to do.
At first I tried to explain to the woman that I could not give
her 15% off, since she had also used her Shoppers Points to take an additional
$75 off her purchases, and that it was impossible for our machines to reverse
that transaction. Then I explained that for the seniors discount to work she
really should have had her mother (?) there with her so I would have known and
that I was really sorry but, she's not a senior. She. Freaking. Flipped. I
called my Manager really really fast. My Manager came, I explained, the woman
then took off and DRAGGED HER MOTHER OVER A SECOND TIME to show my Manager (!!!)
and THEN proceeded to take out her cell phone, call her husband, and cry. I
stood back while my Manager did some fancy math and figured out how much money
we should be giving back to this woman so that it would be as if she had been
given the discount. While I was there, I overheard the conversation she was
having with her husband. The snippets went something like this:
" F***ing Store screwing me again! - And I
went all the way out of my way to pick her up and bring her here today, now I
have to go all the way to drop her off too, and they weren't even going to give
me the discount, like, why else would I go all the way out of my way to bring
She spoke as if her mother were a piece of meat. She dragged
her around as if she were a two year old child. It became obvious during the
conversation that the elderly woman lived at a home, and that she did, indeed,
suffer from some kind of debilitating illness that left her mentally
incapacitated. After my Manager gave the woman the right amount of money back,
she disappeared into the crowd, grabbed her mother by the arm, pushed her
forwards with one hand and the cart full of oh so precious 15% off beauty care
products with the other and exited the store...still whining and crying on her
cell phone. She did not say thank you to my Manager.
My Manager told me to go into the back room and to stay there
until she came for me. I went back there and FREAKED! I nearly
started crying. My Mom, who had been working the cash opposite me while all of
this had been happening, came back and told me that everything was fine, but I
was going nuts. Eventually the whole staff had made it's way back there to tell
me I was ok, but I only calmed down once the Manager came back and started
swearing so vigorously about the customer from hell that I think I blushed.
Wanna hear the worst part? According to my Manager? She's seen this happen
before. People come in and treat their elderly like cattle. It's disgusting.
That woman, and all others like her, deserve to be shot.
Hi Jeanne!! As anybody who has worked in retail can tell you,
customers can be awful, awful people. I work as a cashier and one day, I had a
youngish man (probably in his late 20's or early 30's) come into our upscale
grocery store and spend over $500. Like I said, it's a somewhat fancy store, but
$500 is still a very rare amount for anybody to spend. He'd been sort of
annoying throughout the transaction--leaning over to scan things himself, for
example. I'd asked him to stop and explained his doing that could get me in
trouble. His response? "Nah, it can't." And he continued doing it.
When he handed me his credit card, I turned it over to check
his signature--though frankly, with that large a transaction I'd have checked
his ID anyway--and was surprised to see that he'd signed only an X. (How goofy
"May I see your ID?"
"Nope," he said, smiling.
I laughed, assuming he was kidding, but he didn't move.
"Um, seriously, can I see your ID?"
"No," he smirked.
I repeated the question. He told me he didn't have anything on
him, so no, I couldn't see his ID. Oh, and didn't I know he came in ALL the
I went to get my supervisor. He argued very loudly with her
while other customers turned to stare, about what a loyal customer he was and
how "X" WAS his signature and how we were giving him a hard time. He
had two women with him--presumably a mother and sister, or possibly a
girlfriend, who stood so silently throughout this entire mess that I almost
forgot they were there. I wonder what they thought of his behavior!
He had other cards with him, all of which were
"signed" with an X, so rather disappointingly, my supervisor allowed
the transaction. To her credit she was quite irritated with him and let it show,
and didn't make me look like an idiot who was just being difficult.
I work part-time for a major clothing retailer, who prides
itself on excellent customer service. I gladly strive uphold this standard
despite customers' attempts to have me respond otherwise. By far the worst
experience ever occurred when a one Ms. Bible (She seriously had a name
reflecting piousness) graced us with her patronage. This woman spent at
least 45 minutes in the store with her daughter and made time to select many
items but instantly became hasty at check out. She explained that she
needed to get to a cooking class that would take place in the store directly
across from ours (I estimate about a 13.4 second walk). Due to her
multiple complicated payment methods, we offered to hold her items until she was
able to return from her cooking class. She seemed pleased with this,
dropped her credit card on her pile of clothes, and rushed out before we could
Upon her return, she was welcomed and her transaction was
begun. She immediately became livid and began pounding her fist on the
counter and shouting disdain at the fact that her transaction had not been
completed in her absence. One small lady left the store and returned later
explaining that she had become fearful of the “nasty woman.” Despite
my attempts to explain to Ms. Bible that we had locked her credit card in our
safe and had been unable to sign the sales slip on her behalf, she became more
belligerent and obviously unappreciative of our attempt to protect her.
I responded by efforts to engage her in appropriate
interactions to hopefully model adult behavior and lessen the embarrassment she
was causing herself before the other customers and her poor daughter. I
completed the transaction, thanked her for her business, and expressed my desire
that she have a safe journey home. She walked away and was apparently not
pleased that she had failed to bring me down to her level of behavior, so she
stepped back in to say to me, “I can’t stand untrained humans!”
This was one of those times that I regretted being so well
“trained” in etiquette. I would have LOVED to inform her of the fact that I
have a Ph.D. and am a practicing licensed psychologist and additionally offer
her my professional services. Since then I have been affectionately
assigned the nickname “Dr. Untrained Human” by my fellow retail workers.
Page Last Updated September 15, 2008