How well did I handle this customer?

I read your OP and before reading the rest of the posts, I was trying to think of how I would try to respond and hopefully teach that woman. I couldn’t come up with anything. But I like some of the responses.

The first response by FCM is the best and is correct: you can’t fix stupid. More precisely, it’s hard to fix closed minds. Also from your description, sounds like she’s a miserable person, always looking at the negative.

FCM is right in the second part of her response. If it’s something directed at someone, then step in. I don’t care if the store loses a customer, you’d probably gain more than you’d lose. Heck, if I get fired for that, I don’t want to work there for that boss.

I really appreciate all the comments above.

You’re right, the customer did seem miserable. When I first approached her, she described what she needed, so I showed her a widget designed for exactly that need. She was unhappy with it because she felt it would quickly wear out, and had no replaceable components. This led her to less specialized widgets with replaceable components, which made her unhappy because she’d have to learn how to replace them, which made her unhappy because the instructions were not all in English.

Up to that point, I was feeling sorry for her. I think she deals with significant anxiety, which complicates her decisions. Then I heard her “Mexican” comment. Words like that really trigger me, because while I’m white, since age 8 I’ve had Hispanic friends, babysitters, crushes, teachers, and coworkers. They’ve all been great, and I felt like this woman was insulting people I love. I had fantasies in which I’d give her the widget and told her to never shop there again. Or I’d tell her I’d gladly trade her citizenship for 10 immigrants.

Now, having read the Doper comments above, and thought it over, I can see that my imagined responses wouldn’t have helped anyone. She has issues, and she blames others for her difficulties.

Asking where the English writing is because they can’t read the other languages, doesn’t make a person a racist, and being that you are in the USA, it’s the official language. But their comment about what they don’t like, calling the writing Mexican, just shows their ignorance. Just 'cause someone doesn’t like other languages written all over the packaging, doesn’t make them racist. A persons can dislike a language, just because they don’t know it to understand it. Anyone is like that. Just think what the Chinese think when they see English written in their manuals, and say they don’t like it because they don’t understand and think it shouldn’t be there. Hell, everyone I know, complains about stuff written in all these languages and you have to sort through all that crap to find your language to read. Does that make them all racist, including those who speak other languages and prefer to read the Chinese version, or Spanish version.

English is not the official language of the USA - the USA has no official language

Extra points if the “English Only version” is the very same can, just with chunks of the label cut off.

The OP could have done the Franklin Ajaye thing* and given helpful advice while making appropriate comments in his head.

“The company also sells the product to French and Spanish-speaking customers (you bigoted moron). We have no control over how it’s labeled (which even a dumbass like you could’ve figured out). The label has the company website address listed, so you could complain to them (and good luck with that, shit-for-brains).”

*he had a routine about working in men’s clothing and dealing with customers. “Uh, do you have any Pierre Cardin slacks?” “Yes, sir.” (but they won’t fit your fat ass).

I’m not.

Why would anyone dislike all the languages in the world that they don’t understand?

FWIW, I vote for the dead-eye stare, held just long enough to make it uncomfortable; followed by returning to assist the customer as if they hadn’t made the “Mexican” comment.

I suspect they actually hadn’t seen the English, were feeling stupid for not having seen it, and instead of saying ‘whoops, right in front of me’ and laughing it off reacted defensively by attacking the fact that there were other languages on the label.

Either that, or they’ve been listening to a whole lot of sources complaining about hearing any language other than English, and haven’t thought this through but are just taking this kind of thinking as “normal” because of their limited circle of acquaintance.

I’m never going to be Prime Minister.

But if I was, I would use all my clout to pass a law permitting people to carry ventriloquist puppets able to say the things regular people cannot.

True, but it’s not unreasonable for an anglophone to expect English-language instructions on a product sold in the US unless it’s an extremely specialized thing, or something produced for another country that was imported here through non-standard channels.

True, but there were English-language instructions on the product. The customer was complaining that there were also Spanish and French instructions.

Reminds me of a time when I was working at a fast food restaurant in a food court next to a restaurant that served halal food. A customer asked me if the food at our restaurant was also halal. I started to answer “Not necessarily, there are probably some vegetarian or fish options that might qualify…” but she cut me off. “I’m a Christian and that means I can’t eat halal food. I can only eat Christian food.”

I think I just stood there speechless until she ordered something.

Yeah, that’s just dumb. Have they bought any electronics lately? I’ve had to comb through a dozen languages to find the English. And most popular consumer goods at least have Spanish and English these days


I happen to like languages. I made it my profession. I like that some people do not, they pay me well.
BTW: Can I spot three mistakes in your English sentence? Maybe I am wrong, English is not my mother tongue. But it looks like your sentence can be improved.

No. Wrong. Just wrong.

Maybe, you know, the wrong people? (This sentence has a mistake too, methinks).

First part of the sentence: yes, a little bit. Second part of the sentence: non sequitur.

In your shoes I probably would have just stood there dumbfounded too, but here at home safe behind my keyboard the treppenwitz is strong with me. I think a good response to that is to say in a low voice, “You want to know a secret? The food they sell over there is just as christian as this food.”

<muttering sotto voce>Madre de Dios…

I shop at a local discount food store that sometimes gets batches of stuff that has English as a “small print” secondary (or later) choice, or even not at all. Not just the primary text in Spanish, but for instance Korean, Hebrew, and something using Arabic script. Sometimes I can tell what the item is, sometimes not. Not too long ago over with the drink mixes (Kool-Aide and such) they had large packets of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry drink mixes for 25 cents each, and I bought a few. I wasn’t happy when I figured out later they were for a drinkable cornmeal slurry.

WTF is “Christian food”? Seriously.

Judging from the church potlucks I’ve been to, tuna casserole (which I quite like, actually)

I see. Bland and gooky casseroles then. Might that include the one with green beans with wallpaper paste ( cream of mushroom soup ) poured over it?