Plain Bad Business
Dec 2003 Archive
Dear Etiquette Hell, I really enjoy your site, and
usually get a laugh, or a sympathetic grimace out of the stories of those
poor souls who post. Here's one of mine:
I was having lunch at a local eatery with a co-worker,
and was about halfway through my tuna salad sandwich when I noticed a long
(six inches or so) hair in the meal. Immediately I lost my appetite, and
took my plate up to the counter person. I should say here that I work at a
large university, so local businesses tend to be staffed with students,
some quite nice, others, well, less than ideal in their social training.
The young (long-haired) man in question looked at my plate, shrugged, then
snatched it from me and tossed it back onto the prep table behind him and
turned to the next customer in line to take her order. Thinking that the
manager would come over, or that I would be served a fresh, hair-free
sandwich, or made some other compensatory offer, I went back to my table,
only to sit there for 40 minutes with no further contact from the
employees of the business. I've never been back since.
I work at the front desk at a hotel in a tourist
community. We are close to a very popular national park, but 12
miles from the nearest town. When people stay at our hotel they
generally eat at the restaurant next door. (The building is owned by
the same owners but the restaurant is leased and ran separately.)
For the past two years, the exact amount of time I have worked there, I
have been told horror stories about the service at the restaurant.
Last year a couple called Frank and Lisa ran the
restaurant. Lisa cooked and stayed behind the scene, and Frank
worked the dining room. The dining area is never truly busy, as no
locals will eat there and any guest who has won't go back a second time.
Frank, however, had his own theory of busy and if more than 3 tables were
occupied became surly. One story that was told to me follows.
A family (hubby, wife, and 2 kids) went in for dinner. There were
only 3 other tables occupied at the time. Frank walked up to them as
they came in and told them very rudely, "Stay if you want, but you
won't get anything for at least an hour." The family did stay
and told me that it was at least an hour before they were given so much as
a drink of water.
The woman who leased the restaurant this year makes
Frank look like a paragon of etiquette. Betty has a rather exotic
menu with high prices. She offers a 10 percent discount to hotel
guests, but if they don't show her their room key before they order she
WILL NOT give them the discount. She won't hire any workers and she
and her family are there from 6 am to 11 pm. They nap when business
is slow, which it often is, so diners are subjected to an unmade military
cot that is in the DINING ROOM.
She won't let any person not eating there to use the
restrooms. On one occasion a British couple that were staying
in the hotel asked if they could sit outside and read the menu. She
was very suspicious of them and told them that they couldn't take it out
of the building. (Nothing but a black and white photo copy made on MY
copier.) They told her they weren't going to steal it, and they were
just going to sit on the chairs right outside the door. She did let
them and while they were out there a couple who were driving by with their
3 year old stopped because the little girl had to use the restroom.
She would NOT let them because they didn't have 2 dollars to pay her.
The British couple told the family that they could go to their room
and use the toilet. At that point Betty started yelling at the British
couple. She told them that, " You are in America and that is
not the way things are run in America." The British man told
her that in most of the places he has been in people treated each other
with kindness and courtesy. The argument escalated until she was
screaming at him, "When I tell the lady at the front desk she is
going to kick you out of the hotel" MEANING ME!! He said,
"I will go tell her myself." He immediately came over and
told me the story, I guess expecting to be thrown out for letting a 3 year
old use his hotel room bathroom. I listened to his story in
amazement, it lasted almost 15 minutes, and I think my exact words were,
"You could have let them take a shower and sleep in your bed and I
My absolute favorite story though happened just the
other night. A really nice couple who were from Georgia were staying
in the hotel and went over there for dinner. When their table was
set, Betty gave them 2 forks and 1 spoon. When their food was
brought, they asked for a second spoon. Betty told them that they
could SHARE. When they said no, they wanted their own utensils, she
argued with them!! Before you ask me why I just don't tell people
not to go there, I was told by the owner of the 2 properties that we
should encourage people to eat there. I tell people, however, that
the food is good and the service is horrible.
A few years ago my husband was very badly injured in a
car accident. He lay unconscious in intensive care with a brain injury. We
had an 8 month old baby at the time, and being in hospital everyday to sit
holding his hand while he lay there silent except for the respirator, then
coming home to the baby, was wearing me down. Nobody was telling me
anything, I had no idea of the long term prognosis. I finally cornered one
of the doctors who flippantly answered my queries with, "Oh, I'll be
surprised if he doesn't end up in a nursing home for the rest of his
life." (Luckily he was wrong.) If that wasn't bad enough, when I came
back into the room feeling lost and bereft, I was staring out into
"inner space" when a nurse stormed up to me and said,
"Would you mind not staring at the other patients? It's very
rude!" She slammed the curtain shut around us. I was glad she did,
after my shock had worn off I just had to bawl my eyes out!
Just went through your updated Business Etiquette
section, and can empathize with many of the stories, since I have some
similar ones of my own.
One particular issue I haven't seen much about is
interviewer or hiring manager problem. I had an interview for an internal
transfer at a previous employer that I definitely think belongs on your
site. I was working in Customer Service for a major online retailer, and
the position I was interviewing for was a Quality Assurance rep. The
manager interviewed me by phone (this was typical for many departments,
since the managers were frequently in offices in other parts of the
country), and it seemed to go well for the most part, with many of the
questions being typical of the management fads popular at the time.
One of the questions was "If you were in charge of
the QA department, what would you do differently." Some background is
needed here. About 6 months earlier, we had had a major meltdown in one of
our websites, to the point where it was offline for days (in the online
retail world, even being offline a few hours can be a serious setback, and
this was the beginning of the holiday buying season).
The meltdown was the result of several factors: we were
just launching an entirely new purchasing system; the new system had one
very well-known, very serious bug; and the existing website had another
serious bug in a related system. The entire department knew about both
bugs, as about half of us had beta-tested the new system, and we'd been
fielding customer complaints about the website bug for about a month. Both
had been repeatedly reported to the development team (as a matter of fact,
they told us to quit reporting them since they were already
Needless to say, when the new system launched, the
combination of the two bugs caused a complete failure in nearly all
systems, and a major rebuild that took days. We got a huge backlash from
our customers because of it, and lost many of them. Even had the meltdown
not happened, the payment system bug would have caused us some serious
issues and cost us customers. (Our testing procedures were a joke,
consisting almost exclusively of giving a handful of CS reps access to the
system to play with, a couple weeks before launch. We didn't even have a
dedicated bug-reporting system, we just sent email descriptions of our
experiences to our supervisors, who would collect them and pass them along
to the project manager.)
A lot of people got in serious trouble for that, and the
project managers and coordinators were handed their heads on platters, so
to speak. Some even got reassigned to different departments.
So when I was asked what I would do differently, I
referred to this incident, stated that I would like to see more stringent,
high-level testing, and ensure that known functionality bugs were resolved
prior to launch; in order to minimize the potential for future problems of
this nature. I also mentioned some of the communication problems endemic
to the company, particularly with regard to system testing and evaluation.
All this was said in the most professional manner I could possibly do; so
that I didn't sound like I was criticizing any of those involved.
The interviewer then informed me, rather coldly, that he
had been the senior project manager for that incident. The interview ended
shortly after that, with the interviewer asking me a couple more
standardized questions and ending the call with a very terse "we'll
get back to you" comment.
I never heard back when I was informed I would; so I
contacted the interviewer for a follow-up. I received an equally terse
response stating that I was not considered for the position, not because
of a lack of qualifications, but because I had "unreasonable
expectations" of the department.
My brother-in-law was in a serious car accident.
He was in a coma in ICU and we didn't know if he would make it. We
knew that even if he did make it that he would have a long recovery time
and spend several months in a rehabilitation hospital. So Dad called
and told the apartment manager what happened and that the apartment would
be cleared out before the end of the month so he could rent it out.
The apartment manager started to demand that Dad continue to pay rent for
the remainder of his son's rental contract. When Dad told him that
he would not pay, the apartment manager had the gall to say, "Oh
that's okay. We'll just get it from the estate."
I find it unspeakable that someone would make that sort
of comment to someone whose son's life is hanging in the balance, but I'm
happy to say that BIL survived (after a long recovery) and there was no
estate that the manager could go after.
Here is one for business etiquette. I was
working full time at McDonalds during summer while in High School and I
needed more money. My boss was sympathetic but couldn't give me a
raise and couldn't give me overtime so I decided to get a second part time
job. I applied at a local Burger King and I was hired. The
first day I was shown training slide shows and at the end of each training
session the second to last frame was a Happy Days Fonzi type
character that would be sitting on a bike in front of a McDonalds with a
frown, a down turned thumb and a voice over saying, "It's bad working
for a loser". The last frame was the same character in front of
a Burger King with a smile, a thumbs up and a voice over saying,
"It's cool working for a winner". I found this hilarious
since I was working for both places.
Now, my boss at McDonalds knew I was now working part
time at Burger King and she though it was real funny. My boss at
Burger King knew I had a full time job since I had given him a list of
days that I was not available but I hadn't thought to mention that my full
time employer was McDonalds. About three weeks go by and I get
a call from Burger King telling me that someone called out sick and they
really need me to come in. I had to be on shift at McDonalds in
about two hours so I told them I couldn't do it. While they were
trying to get me to call out sick at my "other" job I must have
mentioned the name McDonalds (remember...I wasn't trying to hide anything
since I didn't think it mattered. I just hadn't mentioned it
before). There was dead silence on the line for about thirty seconds
then I was given an ultimatum, quit McDonalds or you are fired! I
told them I would think about it and hung up the phone. I wrote out
a letter of resignation telling them exactly what I thought about them and
dropped it off along with my Burger King uniform on my way to my job at
McDonalds. To add a little insult I was wearing my McDonalds uniform
when I went in to Burger King to quit!
One December, my fiancé and I decided to get Chinese for
dinner, but the weather was quite bleak and threatened to get worse.
We decided to hurry up and order so I could go get it before the roads
turned to ice. My fiancé orders Sweet and Sour Chicken and I order
Cashew Chicken. No big deal- pretty simple orders. Well, I'm
allergic to mushrooms so my meal must be ordered without it.
However, the lady on the phone says it's an extra $.50. (I don't
understand why deleting a food item costs MORE money, but I go ahead and
pay the extra 50 cents.)
About 15 minutes later I got to the restaurant, picked
up my order, and brought it to my fiancé's house. We sat down and
started plating our food- when low and behold- there were no
mushrooms...however, there were also no cashews. I was a little
upset since that was the best part (and name of the dish) and the
only other crunchy thing in my meal was about a pound of celery.
I gave the restaurant a call, meanwhile the roads were
declared an emergency and only state vehicles were allowed on the
road. I nicely told the lady about my missing cashews and she
started laughing. She said, "Well, you could come back and we
can give you a replacement, but you have to bring the original order back
first." Her laugh just cut through me, and I immediately
became hot. I told her the roads were unfit to drive on and she said
that was too bad. After I hung up the phone, I had to throw away my
dinner, which was totally unfit to eat. (A ton of brown celery with
a side of mushy fried rice.) I was so disappointed.
My fiancé's only comment was that he was glad they didn't charge
another $.50 to leave the cashews off. (That didn't help!) I
went to bed hungry, and vowed never to eat there again.
My first year in college I move across country to attend
USC in LA. Not being a rich kid (partial scholarship, student loans,
etc.) the first thing I did was to look for a job. I had been a
manager trainee at McDonalds back home so I applied and was hired at the
local McD's working the closing shift and weekends. We closed
at 11PM and everyone stayed until all the clean up and prep for the next
day was finished. Even though I usually had my station done by 11:30
PM it was common that I wouldn't get out of work until after midnight.
One night I found out from a coworker that we
automatically get clocked out at midnight (it was about ten past at this
point) so I went and got my things and started to leave. The manager
asked me what I was doing, I asked her if it was true that I was clocked
out, she confirmed it and I told her I was leaving. She followed me
to the door screaming at me that if I walked out not to bother coming back
because I was fired. I showed up at my next shift a few days
later and the store manager (the manager that had "fired" me
wasn't working that day) asked, "What are you doing here?
Didn't so and so fire you?" I explained what had happened, that
my work was finished and that I didn't mind staying to help everyone else
out but, "If you're not paying me then I have no reason to keep
working". After a short discussion about the legality of
forcing someone to work when they were off the clock and potential
lawsuits for firing someone because they wouldn't work for free (all of
this in front of the other employees) the store manager decided that I was
not fired (but he would schedule me on nights the other manager wasn't
working) and there would be no more automatic clock outs at midnight for
anyone. Most of the other employees were Mexican immigrants
who spoke very little English (great people just the same). For the
next few months whenever I worked at some point during the night someone
would start chanting, "No Pay, No Work. No Pay, No Work".
It was great!
I love this site...every time I visit it I think of
something else that happened in my past. This one is more incomplete
training rather than bad etiquette. Several years ago I put
"See ID" on the signature strip of a new credit card.
Sure, it's more secure for someone to see your license with your signature
AND your picture but I did it more to see how many people actually looked
at the signature strip (about one in ten by my count). Anyway, I was
in a local supermarket chain and a very young cashier flipped my card to
look at the signature strip. I hadn't been given or signed the slip
yet but I had my license ready and I was giving the store points for
training when she said, "I can't accept this card it isn't
signed". I showed her my license (with the picture, the
signature and matching the name on the card) but she insisted she could
not accept the card without a signature. I explained that having her
check my ID was more secure than signing the card and the card said
"See ID" but she persisted and people behind me were grumbling
so I asked for a pencil and a pen. I signed the back of my card in
pencil and the slip in pen and handed both to her. She completed the
transaction (with a big smile...all was now right with the world) and I
erased my signature from the card. This was a clear and funny
case of someone who was doing exactly as they were told without having the
foggiest idea of why she was doing it!
I don't know what section, if any, this submission
should go into (is the police department considered a business?).
Many years ago my girlfriend and I went to an outdoor concert. We
were both 22 at the time but I had a "duplicate" license because
I had lost my original (in my state at the time if you lost your original
you got a copy that said "duplicate" until it was time for you
regular renewal (pardon my spelling I don't have spell check installed).
I stood in line at a concession stand for a beer but they refused to serve
me because I had a "duplicate" license. No problem I
walked to where my girlfriend was waiting, gave her the money and asked
her to buy a beer for me. Just as she handed me the beer an
undercover officer whipped out his badge and said, "You're both under
arrest!" Huh? We both looked at him with puzzled
expressions and I asked, "Under arrest for what?" He said,
"Don't play dumb with me, I saw you try to use your fake ID and
when they wouldn't take it you had your girlfriend buy for you.
You're under arrest for a minor in possession and she is under arrest for
buying for a minor." (If he thought I was trying to use a fake
ID why didn't he question me then?) I told him that while
the concession stand has every right to refuse service to anyone they
choose I didn't think it was a criminal act for one legal adult to buy
another legal adult an alcoholic beverage. After checking my ID he
asked that I stay in my seat the next time my girlfriend went to buy me a
beer so we wouldn't have the same problem with another officer. I
did not then, and do not now, blame him for jumping to the wrong
conclusion. Looking back on it I realize I should have asked him to
tell the concession stand to let me buy my own beer!
I have been a customer of Bank of America for many
years. They are typically unbearably rude, but I stay with them out
of habit and because I think they are a little more accurate and reliable
than other banks. Typically, they call out my bank balance loudly
enough for everyone in the lobby to hear it. Once, however, I called
to ask about first home mortgage financing. This would be for a
future purchase--after I graduate from college and have a good job.
The associate looked up my account and said, loudly enough for everyone to
hear it, "I don't know why you are asking about home mortgage.
You don't have any money!" All her co-workers laughed.
Only because I am accustomed to doing business with them was I not
mortified. By now, I'm used to it.
This true "Bad Business" story happened to me
many years ago, in the late 1970s.
A hair product that I used regularly was on sale at my
local drugstore (a branch of a nation-wide Canadian chain drugstore). I
went to the store, intending to buy as much of the product as I could. It
was a very good sale, so I took all the containers they had on the shelf,
and planned to ask the cashier if there was any more in stock. Then I
looked around a bit, noticed that lots of things that I used were on sale,
so loaded up my shopping basket with many more items.
Eventually, I went to the cashier to pay. I had many
small items - makeup, nail polish, lotions, shampoo, cleaning products,
tissue, etc. It took several minutes for the cashier to ring everything
up. (This was before the days of check out scanners.) Finally, the cashier
got to the bottom of my shopping basket, and the several (about eight)
containers of hair product.
Her face clouded over. "Have you taken all we had
on the shelf?" she asked me, frowning. Yes, I nodded, about to ask
her if they had any more in stock.
"You can't do that," she said. "No, no,
you'll have to put some back on the shelf. You can't take all of it. No,
no, you have to leave some for somebody else. It's not fair."
I didn't respond. I thought she was joking. I waited for
a few more seconds, sure she would break out into a big smile, and say,
"Ha-ha just joking!"
But she wasn't joking. She continued to frown and shake
her head "No." Finally, I said to her, "Are you telling me
I can't buy all these containers of hair product?"
"Oh, no, it's just not fair, you have to leave some
for somebody else," she repeated.
I was dumbfounded by her rudeness and attitude. I mean
it's a store, aren't they supposed to be selling you stuff?
I looked her straight in the eye, and said, "It
seems that (name of Canadian drugstore chain) isn't interested in having
me as a customer. I won't bother shopping here any more. Goodbye."
The drugstore chain is still in business. But I am not
one of their customers.
Hi Jeanne ~ Love the site ~ I've spent
many more hours in here reading that I probably should have since I was
given your URL.
The first one happened several years ago when I was a
young 20-something. I had my first "real" credit card with
a low limit. My system of paying bills was to pay them when they
arrived - I didn't keep track of what was received when, due dates, etc.
Knowing I was going to move in a couple of weeks, I dutifully filled out
the "has your address changed" section when paying my bill.
I then moved and a couple of weeks later received my credit card statement
- it had been forwarded from my old address. I sent my payment right
away, knowing I was close to the due date. I also filled out the
section again, thinking perhaps my first one hadn't been entered in time.
The next month I received my statement - again forwarded from my old
address - on the date payment was due. This one showed a late charge from
the prior month. I phoned and explained the situation but the person
on the phone wasn't helpful and indicated it was my responsibility to make sure they had my new address. I
indicated I had filled out the section on my payment coupon twice already
and sent that in with my payment, which they obviously got. Her
response? Oh we just throw those away - you have to call in any
address changes. Gee, that would have been nice to know (and I did
have to pay the late charges for two months also!).
And more recently - my husband and I received an offer
for a credit card from a major bank with 0% APR for two years and a rather
high limit. I don't normally like solicitations but this was a
major, reputable bank. I travel quite a bit on business and
sometimes do not get my reimbursement check in time to avoid finance
charges, so the 0% APR was attractive. Also, I like having a lot of
available credit when I travel - I had coworkers stranded in remote towns
on 9/11 and that taught me to always have money available.
I digress - so we got the card - with my husband as the
primary card holder and me as the secondary - no problem there. I
booked a couple of flights online, reserved a car - no problem. Then I
went to pay for a meal in a city about two states from home. I was
told my card was declined. I was paying for a $17 meal with a card
that had over $10K in available credit - so I told them to try again.
Nope, still declined. I had a "back-up" card on me that I
paid for the meal with.
When I returned home (this was in the airport prior to a
flight) I called the company. Even though I was on the account they
would only talk to my husband. They then called him at work.
He knew the situation and was happy to talk to them - except before they
would answer questions he had to verify the last five purchases. He
knows I buy travel related items, but he doesn't know the exact
amounts/dates/etc. So he called me on the other line and I relayed
the information to him. This apparently was preferred to talking to me
They then informed him that this major card could only
be used in the state in which we lived (errrr - I read the fine print -
that was not in my card agreement); however, if we wanted to call them
whenever we went on "vacation" they'd be happy to allow us to
use the card. My husband explained this was not vacation and that I traveled
on business 3-4 days per week, often visiting many states in one trip.
They indicated I should call before each trip and tell them what states I
would be in.
Does anyone but me find this unbelievable? This is a
major bank that just purchased another major bank - they don't want
frequent travelers to use their cards? I can see letting a credit
card company know if you will be out of the country or making major
purchases - but calling them every week to say you are going to be a
couple of states away? They couldn't just note in my file that
I often travel? I would have told them the area my territory
covers even. Incredible....
Thanks again for a great site!
This just happened and it's more of a question than a
story. I live in Arizona where it is illegal to refuse someone a
glass of water. How does this apply to door to door salespersons?
One just came to my door and when I said I wasn' t interested, asked for
water. Now if I give them water in a glass (we don't have disposable
cups) I have to wait for the glass back. While I'm waiting, they of
course try to sell me their product again, even though I have said I am
not interested. Should I stock disposable cups just for door to door
salespersons I don't want to talk to anyhow? Having a "no
solicitors" sign doesn't seem to stop these people - yet I don't want
to get in trouble for not supplying asked for water. I know it's hot
- but you'd think these folks would know they are going to be out knocking
on doors in 108 degree heat and bring their own darn water!
Thanks for letting me vent!
For many years, my mother has had significant hair loss.
A few years ago, she stopped buying wigs and began frequenting "hair
replacement" salons. Having gotten older, my mother
has a difficult time with anything other than local driving, so I began
driving her to a place in a large city about 20 miles away. The
owner of this salon, "Johnny", is the crudest man I have ever
met. He is also very loud. He talks about whatever he likes;
what a great lover he is, all the while his hands all over me. He
was forever telling me how beautiful I was, and how he would like to take
me away from my husband. He was kidding, of course, but it got
old fast. I should also mention that he had a fondness for racial
slurs. He was Italian, I am Jewish.
I began noticing my hair was getting a little thin on
top. Also, I was beginning to rethink the perming I had subjected my hair
to for so many years. He showed me a very nice human hair item, and
gave me a very fair price, citing that the woman who had ordered it had
changed her mind, forgoing a sizeable deposit. Why not?, I thought,
so I bought it. I wore it for several months and I loved it. I
felt very pretty in it. I have never had regrets. My mom
eventually went back to wearing conventional wigs and I was the one going
to Johnny's salon on my own, getting my hair colored to match the
hairpiece. I paid $30 for the color and $25 to have the hairpiece
shampooed and conditioned. Johnny counted on this amount from me at
each appointment. I shampooed and conditioned the
hairpiece myself because I was only going to the salon about once every 4
weeks. So when the stylist ( a very sweet lady) saw how nice it
looked, she suggested I just go with the color and forget working on the
hairpiece. She told me "Whatever you are doing, just keep doing
it. It looks beautiful." We were both happy.
During the appointment, Johnny burst in the room,
which he did constantly, to tell me how gorgeous I was. But I needed
to lose about fifty pounds. I am age 44, standing 5'4" and I
weigh about 180. Not as pretty as I was when I was younger and
thinner. The hairpiece did make me feel more attractive.
How do you suppose his very professional and appropriate comment made me
feel? I ended up staying twice as long because she was
having trouble getting my color right. When I went to pay for the
services, I was helped by another stylist. Johnny usually handled
payments but he was busy on the phone. I payed by credit card, and
told the stylist I had only the color done. On my way home I went
into a dress shop that sells clothing for fatties like me, where the sales
help is very kind and gracious. I began to realize it was nuts for
me to schlep all way out to this salon and be treated this way when there
was a glut of salons right near me.
When I got home, there was a message on my machine from
Johnny, asking him to call him, which I did. He was upset
because the stylist had spent twice as long on me and I was only charged
for the one service. I explained that it had taken twice as long to
get the color right, and we'd agreed the hairpiece needed no work.
He told me it was unfair for him, and that he told me that he had taken
the liberty of adding on the additional $30 to my charge. It was
clear that neither of us was happy at this point; I wasn't going to argue
with him, I considered it a small loss since I was very sure I'd never be
back and we agreed to cancel future appointments. I thought it odd
he considered it good business to charge me for a service I hadn't
received. This, after hearing him comment on how Jews were great at
squeezing every cent. What a prince of a fellow he was!
A few years ago I went to a home decor party at my
cousin's house. The items were lovely, very reasonably priced and the
demonstrator was very sweet. There were many people in attendance,
including my family members and they were all happy with the products as
well. So, I booked a party of my own.
A few weeks later my cousin called and said the delivery
of our items from her party would be delayed because a ship-load of
products were stuck off the coast of California and would be "let
into the country" as soon as possible. It took about a month to get
our orders and it sounded fishy but I let it slide.
My party was scheduled for November. The new Christmas
items were available and the demonstrator "Peggy" assured us
that my party was in plenty of time to get any Christmas items we wanted.
I had a large party and as a result had $700 worth of orders. We all paid
Peggy, some checks, some cash and sat back for the two week guaranteed
delivery date of the products.
2 weeks later and no word from Peggy I called her at
home. She assured me the order had been placed, should arrive any day,
would be delivered by UPS, was in 2-3 large boxes. I asked for a UPS
tracking number and Peggy stalled saying, "Oh I don't have that
handy, I'll call you back" Do I need to say that she didn't call me
back? And another week passed by. and another. It's now the beginning of
December and I am attending a party at my friend, "Jo"'s house.
Peggy is the demonstrator and she shows up late, out of breath, she's just
been Christmas shopping and her car is loaded with stuff. She again
assures me my order is on the way, she can't imagine what went wrong. And
again said the bit about the ship being stuck off the coast of California!
It's a Sunday so she says "call me tomorrow and we'll straighten this
out" Jo has a nice, large party and gets about $500 worth of sales.
Monday I call Peggy and get her machine. I leave
message. I proceed to call her daily and leave messages and get no
response and of course no order arrives. It is now December the 9th and
another cousin calls to talk to my Mom and Mom tells cousin about my woes
with my decor party and with Peggy. Well, guess what? My cousin knows
Peggy's boss and would be happy to call said boss and see what is going
on. When my cousin calls back the news is pretty grim. No order was placed
by Peggy for my party. I immediately call Peggy's boss and she assures me
she will help me straighten this out. Boss places the order for me, then
calls Peggy and demands my money. Peggy states that checks from a party
before mine bounced. This is a total lie. I know without a shadow of a
doubt that no one in my family would write a bad check. Boss tells Peggy
she will fix this mess right now. I call Peggy at 7:30 the next morning
and she actually answered the phone. I calmly tell her I will only deal
with Boss from now on and that I will not rest until Peggy is fired from
her position. Peggy offers a halfhearted apology that I flat out refuse to
accept. After hanging up with her I called my friend Jo and told her she
better check on her order as well. She does and lo and behold her order
hasn't been sent either! Now Boss is doing all she can do for myself and
Jo and we did get it straightened out in time for Christmas. People got
there orders and if something was unavailable then the got cash refunds
how ever Boss had to go to Peggy's house on several occasions to get money
from her. Jo called the head office in Texas and logged a formal complaint
and I'm happy to say that Peggy was fired from that job.
I come from a small rural redneck area so not much
surprises me or so I thought. I work as a cook in an
upscale restaurant & there are caterers & chefs in my family.
I recently joined a club...Moose, Elks, VFW type
club. (It's in the city with well to do members). They had a
Christmas party Sat. night & asked if I could help in the kitchen
which I agreed to. Being new to the club I volunteered to do dishes &
such until I saw how they did things there. Needless to say we are
screaming Health Dept. violations by the truck load. I've never seen an
outhouse that dirty. They copped an attitude because I used bleach in
the rinse water to sanitize dishes since they didn't have anything else.
They tried to put dishes in the wash water that weren't scraped let alone
rinsed. YUCK. 1 lady took a spoon & ran around tasting
everything with the same spoon, which she had dropped on the floor twice.
EEEWWWWW The grill wasn't cleaned from when it was used 2 weeks earlier.
Needless to say you couldn't pay me to eat there! They dubbed me "
Here's the corker....one lady was handling raw chicken
when she walked across the kitchen to get into a conversation with the
rest of us & had wet dripping raw chicken in her hands & talking
& splashing raw chicken juice on everything...including the cheese ball
& cracker platters ready to go out & clean dishes to be used. Can
we say Salmonella & E-coli? I about died. I politely asked her to hand
me the chicken & I would finish for her so she could talk, needless to
say she jumped on me 7 ways to Sunday & asked if I thought she was too
lazy to do her work. You could hear her all over the club. I just wanted
to crawl in a cabinet & hide. She carried on for 15 min. about it.
When she was done with the chicken she dipped & I do mean dipped her
hands in the wash water & dried them on the dish towel. ( Guess how
quick that went to the dirty towel container & water was changed)
Later when it was time to eat I said no thanks I wanted to get things
done. Actually I was cleaning & bleaching everything that didn't move.
They all got mad because I wouldn't eat. Finally 1 girl who wants to run
the kitchen full time that I get along good with got me aside &
asked why I wouldn't eat & I told her it was because it wasn't clean
enough. She did ask what to do to improve it & I told her. She's been
emailing me since for advice. Well needless to say the women aren't
talking to me & I won't have to worry about being asked to work in the
kitchen again...THANK GOD! Since they're gonna open the kitchen full time
the Health Dept. will be underfoot to make sure things are up to code.
I don't think they'll be seeing me there anymore unless
it's to see the girl taking over the kitchen. She wants me to come in 1
day next week to see the improvements.
I contract with a large, well known company which
provides computer and hosting support for a well known government agency.
The following email was sent to everyone. I was not the only one appalled
and rather insulted. I highly doubt that very many people will be
attending! (I cannot post to the forum, so please feel free to post).
"Company A" is planning on holding a
Holiday party on the weekend before Christmas. All of the folks working
on the contract and their spouses or significant others are invited. The
party will be at a "local" country club, and will include
dinner and a DJ.
"Company B" cannot contribute to the cost
of the party, so anyone from the team who attends will have to pay their
own way. The cost is $42 per person.
"Company A" is initiating plans for the
party and they need a count of who would be interested in attending.
Please pass this note along to your teams, and provide me with a count
of how many folks would attend.
Please let me know by close of business, Thursday,
Thanks for the invitation, but I think I'll
A few years ago, my (ex)husband and I were busy painting
our old apartment because we were searching for a new home, so we were in
rather "nasty" looking clothes (just paint spattered). We
got hungry and decided to drive to a local fast-food restaurant, but
passed a nice apartment/condo complex on the way. So we decided to
stop in to look at the homes. When we walked in, the sales
lady looked us up and down, and before she even said "welcome"
or "hello" or "fly a kite", she said (very snottily),
"You DO realize, these homes START at $800.00 per month, don't
you?" So hubby and I looked at each other and exclaimed,
"Wow, that's HALF of what we pay NOW! Wonderful!" (This
was not true, but even a few years ago $800 a month would've been easily
affordable for us), and we made her take us on a tour of the
homes. We proceeded to totally ABUSE the homes!
"Kitchen is TOO small for our entertaining, darling",
"Laundry room is too close to stairs", etc. etc. We
soon purchased a very nice home in an upscale neighborhood, and I regret
not taking my appraisal back to that sales woman and asking her how much
commission she lost on us simply because I didn't wear my pearls that
My friends and I went out to the pub for dinner, as we
sometimes do. When it came time to pay the bill, it was $32.17 for the
four of us. Being college students, we have to pinch pennies to be able to
afford treats like going to the pub, so we counted the money with which we
were paying three times to make sure we had the right amount, $32.17 in
one pile and $7 in the other (for tip). When the waitress came for the
money, she picked up all the bills on the table without counting them, and
exactly 17 cents, and carried it all to the cash register.
When she came back to say thanks for coming in, she
asked whose change was that on the table? We looked at each other, what
were we supposed to answer? and told her it was her tip. She told us we
could keep it, because an amount that small was just insulting.
We've found a new pub.
Hi Jeanne, I adore the site! I can't peel my
eyes off it! Here's my entry: A couple of years ago I was
attending a fairly large indoor rodeo. The cabaret was inside as well, and
spectators could walk through from the large hall to the arena and back.
When my friend and I went to have a drink at the cabaret we were asked for
ID by the greeters/bouncers. This is fine, and I certainly agree with
making an effort to prevent underage drinking (we were both of age at the
time, about 20. The legal age in our province is 18.) I presented my
driver's license to an older woman, about 50. The license
hadn't expired yet, but the photo on it was a couple of years old. I'd
grown my hair long again, and, sadly, was looking a little heavier at 20
than I did at 17 when the photo was taken (university bars catch up with
the best of us!) The woman peered at my photo for a solid 2 minutes. I
tried to make a joke of it - "Yup, it's me, I think I might have
put on a pound or two in the past three years!" This was in friendly
tones and my girlfriend waiting for me laughed at the joke. I was just
trying to be friendly to a complete stranger on a fun Saturday night, out
to mingle and have a good time, after all. The woman looked me
up and down and said, LOUDLY, "Yes, you certainly have put on a lot
of weight. You're a lot fatter than you are in this photo."
My jaw hit the ground. It's been 3 years and I'm still shocked that anyone
would speak that way to another person! I ended up going to the
supervisors of the building and demanding an apology from her - I must
have called four times a week before she finally admitted that her behavior
was completely unacceptable to ANYONE, never mind a guest who's planning
to spend money and support an event.
Oh my goodness, I found your site through a hot link in
a story on Snopes, and I can't stop reading it!
I have a number of experiences that immediately spring
to mind; here are just a couple. I guess these would fit into the
"business etiquette" section.
1. OK, we all know who the World's Largest Fast Food
Chain is, so I won't mention their name. ;o) I don't really care for their
food, but once in a while need something fast and cheap, and if nothing
else is nearby, well....any port in a storm. At the time of this incident
I lived in Hawaii. I ordered my meal, and it took several tries before the
server got it right. Finally, I picked up my tray and went to a table,
where I found the fries were ice cold, the frozen dessert had been so
adulterated that there was no flavor to it, and something else was badly
wrong - I don't recall now what it was. I vowed (as I often have) that I
would NEVER eat there again, but since this "dining" experience
was SO bad, I decided to send an email complaint to the company via their
So, I filled out the form which asked for the location
of the store. I typed in, "Kealakekua, HI." I wrote a brief
description of my very unsatisfactory experience, and sent it off.
The next day I had an email response that said,
"We're sorry, but at this time our website is only set up to deal
with customer comments from the United States." Say what?????
I immediately responded, with words to the effect of,
"I realize you're a great big, multinational corporation, and I'm
just a 'little guy,' so you're no doubt privy to a lot of information the
average person knows nothing about, but can you please tell me when Hawaii
ceased to become a part of the United States? I mean, I know a lot of
people here who pay taxes to the US Government, and they're going to be
VERY upset when they find out that they've been paying taxes they don't
Within 24 hours I had a call from the Main Corporate
Offices on the Mainland, a call from the District Head on Oahu, and two
calls from the local Senior Manager, all apologizing for their faux pas. I
received enough free coupons that I was able to eat there free for about a
You think that perhaps they're training their customer
service people a little bit better these days? :o)
2. When I got out of high school, I worked as a
secretary for a time. I had gone to a very good school which trained its
graduates for business, and one of the things I was taught was that it's
the height of rudeness to misspell someone's name. So, when my boss got a
phone call from a man with a very long, very European name, I politely
asked him if he would spell it. The caller - a VP, as I recall - said,
"Yeah. S - H - I - T." I calmly told him that perhaps that
WASN'T how it was spelled, but that it probably suited him better. I
related the conversation to my boss, who took the issue up with the
3. Same company, different boss - we'll call him
"Mr. Boss." I answered the phone, "Mr. Boss' office."
When I asked the caller to identify himself he said, "Mr. Boss."
I thought it was a joke (actually, I had a boyfriend who liked to call
sometimes and pretend to be different people), so I hung up on him. He
called back again; repeat the same conversation. I hung up again; I mean,
my "boyfriend" wasn't even doing a good job of disguising his
voice! He called yet again. Annoyed, I said, "Look you jerk, I'm at
work and it's not the time to be fooling around! What do you want?"
After a few seconds of frosty silence the called said, "Please tell
Mr. PETER Boss that his brother, Mr. JAMES boss, is on the phone!"
Oops! My bad! But...he should have been clearer in the first place!
4. Same place, same "Mr. Boss." Even though he
was a manager, he was - in a word - CHEAP! One Christmas Eve, a day
generally spent partying, several co-workers hunted me down and said,
"Peter is looking all over the place for you!" Thinking he
wanted to give me a gift (EVERY secretary got a gift from her boss), I
went to his office. He wanted to dictate a letter - no gift was
forthcoming! However, several weeks (months?) later he said he wanted to
take me to lunch to thank me for my hard work. We went to a place that
specialized in omelets - every kind you could think of, and some you'd
never imagined. I ordered one with chicken and white wine sauce; I forget
what he ordered. His omelet was put in front of him, and he immediately
covered it with a half bottle of catsup. I cut into mine, only to discover
that the server had gotten our ordered reversed. "No problem,"
said Mr. Boss; "We'll just switch!" Yuck! Don't EVER combine
catsup and white wine sauce!
5. So, I worked up to a more senior secretarial position
while I was still quite young. One day my boss got a call, and I informed
the caller that he was out, but I'd be happy to take a message. The
gentleman said, "I'll spell my name for you: T - I - T - E."
"Oh," I said, "Mr. Tithe." (I pronounced it to rhyme
with "Right." "No dear," he replied, "That's
pronounced TIT." I'm sure my face was very, very red!
6. One more. Back to the same company as "Mr.
Boss," but I was working for a different manager and my secretarial
services were used by a number of people on his team. I used to keep a
candy jar on my desk, and everyone who passed enjoyed a treat whenever
they wanted. Sometimes I would purchase the candy, but often others would
either buy a bag of candy for the jar, or give me a few dollars to help
defray the cost - after all, they were all eating it.
There was one man, we'll call him "John," who
ate more than everyone else put together....in fact, if the jar was empty
and I wasn't around, he'd actually go through my desk looking for candy!
Need I say, this man never, NOT ONCE, contributed any candy or cash - even
though his salary was easily twice or three times mine.
Well, one day John said, "I'd like to take you to
lunch." Oh, OK....I guess that was his way of paying something back;
I had no problem with that. To my amazement, he took me to the
(subsidized) company cafeteria! I couldn't believe it! They didn't have
anything I really wanted, so I ended up with just a small fruit salad. I
was behind him on the line and, assuming he had paid for me, began to
follow him to a table when the cashier called, "Miss, that will be 20
cents, please!" Mortified, I went back, and John called to me,
"If you don't have the money I'll loan it to you!"
Well, I didn't PLAN on any revenge...but sometimes,
opportunities just present themselves. I was browsing in the Gourmet
Department of a trendy NYC department store some days later, when the
PERFECT opportunity came knocking! At work the next day, I made sure the
candy jar was empty. True to form, John came along and said, "Do you
have any candy in your desk?" With a conspiratorial whisper I
beckoned him closer and said, "I bought some gourmet chocolates, but
they're too expensive to put out for just anyone! But you're special, so
here...." - and I held out a small box with four different colors of
foil-wrapped candies. Do I have to tell you, John didn't take ONE candy,
even though I stressed that they were VERY expensive....no, he took one of
EACH different color! (There were maybe 20 candies in the box.)
An hour or so later he returned to my desk and said,
"Those were sure good - can I have some more?" With a big smile
I replied, "Sure! Which do you want - the chocolate covered ants,
bees, grasshoppers or caterpillars?" John laughed, but his laughter
faded away as he saw the box I held out to him - this time with its cover
that identified the contents - and realized I wasn't joking! The
expression on his face was priceless - I didn't know if he was going to
cry or throw up! It was well worth the money I spent on the
I'd like to say that cured John of his cheapness, but,
sorry to say, in his case it's chronic. I sure hope he never got married!
A couple of months ago, my best friend and I went out to
a 5 star Italian restaurant. We went mainly because it was supposed
to be 5 stars. Anyway, the meal was delicious, our waiter and the
manager was extremely friendly and nice. They would lean in to the
table to talk to us as well as making excellent eye contact.
Everything was going along just fine. Until a
waitress / busgirl picks up my leftovers to box them up for me. She
comes back a few minutes later to inform me that she had put the plates of
food down and walked away. When she came back to wrap the remainders
up, the plate of half eaten food was gone.
Never once did she apologize nor did she even make eye
contact with me. In fact, she stood next to my friend (who was
sitting right across the table from me) and leaned back when she was
talking. She kept repeating that there was nothing she could.
I was like "Fine, okay, whatever." Mind
you that this is a fairly expensive restaurant and half of my meal has
just been thrown away. To say the least, I was irritated that I was
expected to pay for her mistake. She hadn't even talked to the
manager to see if I could be compensated (i.e. discount our dinner or
offer a free dessert).
So my friend and I decide to call the manager over and
explain the situation and placing the blame on her by saying that she
threw away my entrée. The manager was nice enough to figure out
that one of the other employees was kind enough and smart enough to
realize that whoever ordered the food probably wanted to take it home, so
s/he boxed up my dinner and even added extra smashed potatoes and
vegetables to compensate for having to wait longer.
Fortunately, everything turned out okay, but I don't
think my friend and I will be going back there again if the waitress is on
Page Last Updated May 18, 2007