General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Rude Customer Service: Should this interfere with business decisions?UPDATED

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This isn't so much a "was this rude" question, as I know the behavior was rude.  Fortunately, it wasn't on my end. :) (This time.)  This is more of a "is this rational" question.

I travel around the country doing workshops at various stores, libraries, community centers, etc.  A store in the major US city where my parents live contacted me about the possibility of doing a workshop there. My mom happened to be visiting at the time and agreed to take my usual information packet to the store's manager the next day when she went home.  Normally, I wouldn't involve my mom in this "loop" but it was the equivalent of free overnight shipping and it's hard to pass that up. I told the manager I had an acquaintance in the area who would deliver the information to her.  She said great. All was good.

Mom called the next day to tell me that she'd delivered the packet to the store, but that the experience had been "weird."  She took the packet to the store and went to the customer service desk.  There were two employees standing behind the desk, literally four feet from where mom was standing, facing her, and they ignored her for several minutes while they had a personal conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with the store.  Mom waited... and waited, until she finally said, "Excuse me, is there someone who could help me?" Employee 1 held up his hand, without looking at her, and said, "Just a minute." then continued his conversation!

Mom stood there, a little shocked, for several minutes, until Employee 1 decided it was time to talk to her.  He asked her what she wanted.  She explained that she needed to drop off an info packet for the manager.  Employee 2 pointed to another staff member across the store and said, "Maybe she can help you."

Mom walked across the store, talked to the other employee, who was more helpful, and left the information.  She walked out of the store and smiled at the employees behind the customer service desk.  Employee 2 rolled his eyes at her.

Now, my mom does not lie or exaggerate when it comes to this sort of thing.  If anything, she would avoid telling me this story, because she would want me to set up the workshop so I could come to her city and visit.  So for her to tell me about it, it must have been pretty bad.  I asked around my Facebook friends in this geographic area and a few of them had been to this store and had similar unfriendly experiences with the staff.

So now, I'm a little torn on whether I want to agree to do an event in this location.  Would it be irrational to try to withdraw from any sort of interactions with the management and suddenly become "unavailable" to them because they were rude to my mom?  For the record, I haven't agreed to a date or any concrete details for the workshop.  This is very much in the initial stages.  So it would just be a matter of "not being able" to find a mutual date that worked.

Sure, maybe the staff was just having a bad day.  And it may be a little unfair to judge them based on an interaction with my mother.  Because I love my mom and my hackles tend to rise when someone treats her badly.  But at the same time, other people I know had similar experiences. And I don't want to send people to a business where they will be treated rudely.  I think that reflects badly on me.

Any thoughts on this?

Outdoor Girl:
I don't think you are being irrational at all.  I certainly wouldn't want to do business with a store that would allow their staff to treat customers so rudely.  And the fact that you have other friends who've had similar experiences confirms your mother's experience.

Honestly, I don't think you should just be unavailable.  I'd tell the store manager why you were no longer interested in doing business with him.

Are your workshops for the employees or the public?

If they are for the public, you need to consider this. They were rude to your Mom. Your friends that have been to this store have had similar experiences with being treated badly - so there seems to be a pattern. Do you want these employees, who have a pattern of being rude to the general public, to be dealing with your customers?

If this is something that requires registration - they are going to be your representative to your customers signing them up. Even if it is an open we are doing this at X time Y location come event, they will be fielding questions about your event and will be your public face at this location?

I know it isn't rational, but I would be less inclined to go or recommend your workshop to my friends if the venue staff treated me rudely.

It's for the public, so those are good points all around.

I would not be providing my services to anyone(business or person) who is rude to my mother.

I would call the manager and tell him about my mothers experience.


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