Obligatory Retail Drone Whine (long)

Yes, I’m working in retail now. My experience so far: Most customers are decent. Some are awesome. A couple are uniquely dreadful. This week, we’ve had three of the latter.
Customer 1**: Actually came in for the first time a few weeks ago. He bought a laptop computer at one of our other locations and now it’s developed a fault. We arrange a repair for him, all the time trying to fend off his repeated demands for a new replacement laptop. He claims the salesman lied to him about how the extended warranty works. As it wasn’t even purchased in our store, there’s not a lot we can do for him. We offer to take his complaint down separately and send it to the store he purchased from so they can follow it up, but it’s not within our power to do anything about that ourselves, and we can’t honour what he thinks the salesman told him. We call the manufacturer for him and he speaks to them on our phone. He’s told by them that repairs will take about 2 weeks, and we take the laptop and arrange to have a courier pick it up to return it to the manufacturer for a warranty repair. Less than 10 days later he’s back in the store demanding to know why he doesn’t have his laptop back yet. We try to calm him but he leaves in a huff, threatening that he will “take this further”. Today we got a call from the other store - apparently they’ve received something from his solicitor and wanted to find out what happened on our end because he’s named some of the employees of our store, including me… despite the fact that my entire involvement in the mess was to fill in the repair authorisation form so the laptop could be sent away - I guess my name was on the paperwork, so he gave that to his solicitor. I haven’t been informed of the full nature of the communication from his solicitors so I don’t know what I’m supposed to have done, or what resolution he’s seeking.

Customer 2: Walks up to me, points to the 19" monitor at the end of the display and says “I want that one”. I know we’ve been selling them quickly - it’s on sale, and is the same price as a 17" monitor, so it’s been hugely popular - so I say “Oooh… I’ll just check to see if we have any left. I think we may be out of stock”. Customer snaps “You’d better have it. That’s the one my son chose for his birthday”. I excuse myself, slip away and check the computer. Sure enough, we’re out. The little sign that was under it saying “We are currently out of stock” has disappeared but this isn’t uncommon - some customers, for reasons best known to themselves, like to remove the signs (perhaps it’s some cargo-cultish thing; they think taking the sign away will make the stock appear?). I relay the news to my customer who loses his temper and starts yelling at me that it’s false advertising to have a monitor on display if you’re out of stock and how dare we, and don’t we know it’s his son’s 18th birthday in two days and we’d better bloody well get him that monitor because it’s the one the boy picked earlier in the day. I try to ask if he asked for one to be put aside, but I get yelled at and he demands to speak to my manager. I hand him over gladly and the manager orders a monitor to be couriered from another store - something I was trying to suggest to the gentleman, but he wouldn’t stop blustering long enough to listen to me. I’m bewildered that anyone would go absolutely insane because a store sold out of an item that was on sale - especially when we can still get it in at the same advertised price.

Customer 3: Mr Customer is actually the one who placed the call. He asks what we’re asking for a particular Canon printer and the sales manager quoted the price to him. He asked if we do price-matching because our competitor is offering it for $50 less. She says yes, mentioning the price-match policy depends on the competitor’s price being their advertised price (not a special “mates rates” type price) and that they have to have it in stock, and that we’ll need to check those two things if we do price-match it for them. End of conversation. Now, I was only standing nearby so I only heard her responses, not the customer’s questions, but it was pretty easy to follow the gist of what was being asked.

Five minutes later, Mrs Customer and daughter are in the store asking for the printer. I send the other part-timer out the back to look for it while I call the other store to confirm the price-match details - yes they have it for the price she told us, and yes they have it in stock. The other guy’s not back yet but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach so I check the computer and find out we’re completely out of stock. I’m embarrassed to tell them this, knowing they phoned ahead and weren’t told this. From what I overheard it was obvious they didn’t ask about availability on the phone and apparently the sales manager didn’t think to check for them because she went no where near the computer that we use for checking inventory. I apologetically let them know we have run out. Mrs Customer folds her arms in front of her chest and tells me she finds it highly suspicious that we don’t have it when just five minutes ago we did. I try to explain that, no, the sales manager didn’t check the stock and we’ve been out of the printers since at least the previous day but she doesn’t believe me, and accuses us all of trying to wriggle out of price-matching the other store. I assure her that isn’t the case, but she and her daughter won’t let me speak, keep cutting me off and insist that the sales manager said we had them in stock. I know this isn’t true because I overheard the conversation, but I don’t want to accuse them of lying. I try again and again to tell them she didn’t check the system but they just become irate and demand to speak to someone else. I fetch the duty manager (the sales manager having stepped out for five minutes) and explain the situation to her while the customer and her daughter glare suspiciously at us from a distance. She also speaks to them and tries to resolve their complaint but they merely yell and demand we hand over a printer to them now.

Finally the sales manager comes back. The duty manager explains the situation to her and she goes out to speak to the customers who erupt in fury at the “secret conversations” we’re having and accuse us of trying to wiggle out of our own price-matching policy and demand we hand over a printer. The sales manager said she wasn’t asked if the printer was in stock and didn’t say that it was, but she was shouted down by the woman and her daughter who informed her that the call made by Mr Customer was on speaker phone and that 12 witnesses in the room heard her say “Yes we have it in stock”. :rolleyes: (12 people? Wow, parties at my house rarely include calling retail outlets and pricing printers, but perhaps I’m not quite the hostess that Mrs Customer & family are). Had they ever stopped yelling long enough for us to speak, we had been trying to offer to order the printer in from one of our other stores for them, at the discounted price, but they weren’t interested in compromise. Eventually, they left with the phone number of our head office, the sales manager’s name and threats that we’ll soon be losing our jobs and that they’re going to take this to the current affairs TV program. Today I learned that they did call Head Office, and HO offered to let them have the display model (never used, just sitting on a shelf out of it’s box) but they declined, saying they preferred to pursue us through Consumer Affairs. I make no excuses for the sales manager, she should have checked the stock for them while they were on the phone and saved them a wasted trip down to the store - they have every right to be annoyed about that but their reaction was insanely over-the-top, especially their conspiracy theories that we were withholding the printer in order to get out of a lousy $50 discount. $50! It’s worth far more than $50 to our store to stop that kind of ill-will and poor word-of-mouth being spread around.

The weirdest thing? Before all hell broke loose, Mrs Customer was singing the praises of the salesman at the other store - how wonderful he was, how she’d go to him again next time she needed something, how honest and helpful and simply perfect he was. Listening to her I couldn’t help thinking “Why didn’t you buy it from him?”. I mean… we were matching their price exactly, they had it in stock and they are located probably a mile from us - literally just down the road. So… why not buy it from the super-nice guy who works on commission at the other store? None of us can understand that.

Anyhow, I can’t work up any enthusiasm to be furious at these people. I’m just astounded by how some people think, and how they think the world works. Laptops sometimes break down, stores run out of stock and people make mistakes WITHOUT it being a grand conspiracy. Going all Little Boy on the retail drone who’s trying to help you does not make things better, unless yelling at folks who have to try to be polite to you makes you feel better. Plus, sometimes if you listen to what the retail drone is trying to tell you, they may actually have a solution to your problem that you’re not hearing through the shrieking and the spittle and the rapidly rising blood pressure.

I got to have a giggle and a natter with two lovely ladies this afternoon who were looking at printers, and that was a great antidote to the disappointment I felt about the unhappy experiences of the cluster of irate customers we’ve had this week. Contrary to what they might believe, I try hard to give people a good customer service experience. and I feel bad when people walk out disappointed. The ladies this afternoon seemed to enjoy themselves, and I felt all the better for seeing them happy.

Better you than me. I did this work half a lifetime ago, and I don’t think I could ever go back. I have enough difficulty with some of my own clients, but it is nothing compared with that small subsection of batshit-crazy retail clients. That said, I’d guess that about a third to half of the yellers are scam artists, so keep on your guard.

At my work we deal with a lot of customers who won’t stop yelling long enough to hear the answer to their question. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people just enjoy being angry and yelling at someone. It’s not even about solving their original problem. They just like to yell at people.

My experience as a Walgreens cashier is that the vast–the vast–majority of customers are at least civil, but that there’s going to be an asshole every so often.

And yeah, I’ve encountered a few who just seem to like yelling. I assume that it’s because they have such tiny little lives, such a narrow existence, that they find yelling at the Walgreens cashier over a sale item to be empowering in its own perverse way, and thus I can muster up a bit of pity for the poor, benighted souls.

But only a bit.

Cazzle, I think you’re in the wrong about customer #3. Had you not done the price matching, a printer would have suddenly materialized.

I’m on to you.

I tried to post this earlier, but the boards crashed when I clicked on Submit Reply.

Anywho, I notice that there are more and more customers/callers turning feral these days. it’s becoming the rule rather than the exception.

I believe that it’s due to a delusional sense of self-entitlement.

And I blame teh Intrawebs.

I just got a phone call from a guy that sent me an e-mail earlier this morning. I’d already replied to his e-mail, but a fucking follow-up phone call?!? So that I can be sure to remember to reply to his response regarding my first reply?!?

I mean, WTF is next? Should I answer his soon-to-come fax? What if he sends a telegram? I swear to Christ, if I see a midget bellhop at the front desk, I’m outta here.

Good luck with this. There’s a violent, classist hostility on this board toward retail workers who have the audacity to complain about their jobs…and that’s when posters aren’t just referring to them as “pimply-faced,” “retarded,” “subhuman,” “mouth-breathing,” etc.

Yeah, Cazzle, can’t you tell already by all the vitriol being sent your way? You’d best just smash your modem and cut your cable/telephone line rather than risk returning to this thread. Natives are out for blood.

Just in case you take VCO3 seriously (and if you do, you should really see someone about that), there are one or two dopers, whose names elude me, who are generally dicks in these types of threads. Most dopers, however, recognize that assholes can occur on both sides of the counter. In the pit, we can vent about either one. It’s only when the asshole comes to vent about a normal customer or clerk that their ass gets handed to them. Go on and guess who that happened to…

Not me. Cazzle, you have my sympathy. I used to work retail and also worked customer support for a major internet company. I’ve had my share of over-the-top customers, and realize it’s necessary to vent and I don’t think “How dare you?” one little bit. It’s clear to me from the way you ended your post with an upbeat customer experience that you care about treating your customers fairly and you do appreciate the nice ones.

No, skippy–there’s a violent, classist hostility to pimply-faced, retarded, subhuman mouth-breathers who like fucking with cutomers’ food. Make a note of it.

I can tell you’re new. Your surprise will eventually wear off – 8 and a half years ago, when I started my retail life, I was surprised every single day. Now, I’m incapable of being shocked.

Yeah, the surprise factor goes away pretty quickly. I’ve worked for Walgreens for 6 years, and mainly it was the stealling and the pettiness that used to always get to me. And stupid people thinking they’re being sneaky (Uh… no, that was on sale free after rebate last month, so you can’t return it without a receipt. Yes, I totally believe that your dog ate the receipt, but unfortunately that’s the policy.)

The customer service thing is a big issue for me too – I literally have people tell the managers how wonderful I am several times a week, and I actually care quite a lot about making peoples’ shopping trips as smooth and convenient as possible, but I see 250-350 customers a week. Do the math. Sometimes shit goes wrong, and some people are just dicks. But I think the fact that I do care so much makes it all the more frustrating when assholes think that I am “out to get them” or some such shit. Oh well. Shrug. Get back to my day.

Dude, we just want you to not pee in our cornflakes, mm’kay?

Not that it’s worth yelling over this shit, but have you never noticed how suspiciously often electronics stores run out of the things they have on sale? It’s not hard to imagine that it absolutely is deliberate.

Ok, here your sales mamanger screwed the pooch. Not the customer. Arguing over whether or not the sales manager confirmed you dudes had it is stock was silly. You dudes fucked up- the sales mgr should have checked- you dudes shoudl not have argued here at all, just apologized and made it right.

As to #1, this sounds like a high level management problem, if all the stores have a common owner, I-as a customer- can’t see why I have to physically drive to the store where I bought it. All the stores should be able to help me. Bad policy making and maybe a lawsuit is what is needed to shake things up.

Customer #2 was a dickhead. :smiley:

Actually, it is. Employees often don’t know items are sold out, and low-priced electronics are often being sold to get rid of the last few items to clear the shelves. And they can go fast.

Oh the hell that is consumer electronics retail management.
I’m lucky I got out after 10+ years.
It’s a perfect recipe for self inflicted torture.

Side A consists of cheap customers who want the cheapest unit featured in the ad, want it to perform like the premium unit, want it replaced immediately when it breaks, want it repaired in 24 hours, want a loaner, want a free upgrade, etc.

Side B consists of manufacturers who build substandard crap, change models on a weekly basis, take 2+ months to fullfill a rebate or lose it, won’t take back defective units, demand to fix them instead, take 2+ months to fix them.

Side C consists of corporate braindead who decide it’s a good idea to put “el cheapo buy of the week” on the front page of an ad to be distributed to an entire metro area with 5 units per store, want you to control your return/exchange rate while making all customers happy, want you to sell the stuff at a loss and make up for it by selling overpriced accessories and extended warranties, etc.

The retail manager gets tossed into the middle of this as the mediator and trys not to get killed by insane customers, get scolded by corporate for not controlling your numbers and/or not making your customers happy, or take your own life from being too stressed out.

It’s not a happy place to be.

Uh, no, it’s generally not deliberate, and that’s just a tad paranoid for my taste, although YMMV. :wink:

Perfect case in point: the Virgin mobile phone is extremely popular. We get two (2) Virgin phones once a month, in amongst the weekly truck order. We put them out, they get sold–lo and behold we’re out of stock on Virgin phones until two more should happen to fall off the truck.

So when you come into my store and together we discover that we don’t have any more Virgin phones, and I point to the Tracfone or Verizon phone and say halfheartedly, “Well, we do have these…”, that’s not because it’s all part of some evil global bait-and-switch conspiracy to lure prospective Virgin customers into the store and then fob them off with Tracfones–it’s because some doof in a Suit doesn’t realize that we could sell more Virgin phones, if we had 'em.

Also, are you perhaps not aware of the institution of the “rain check”? Legally, according to various consumer laws, any store that offers something on sale but which suddenly turns out to be out of stock of that item, has to give you a rain check for that item for the sale price, so that you can come in and get it at the sale price the next week, or whenever.

But you gotta ask. Only the finer shopping establishments–such as Walgreens :smiley: – will offer you a raincheck without you asking.

Me, too. I had a lady who wanted two packs of GPC Ultra Light 100s Box, but all I had in the rack was Softpack. So I said, “Wait a minute, lemme check down here,” and I looked down in Overstock, and sure enough there was a carton of Box down there. So I popped it open, got her two packs out, and she goes, “Wow, thanks! That’s great customer service!”

And I was completely taken aback, because I’ve never had anyone compliment me for taking two seconds to glance down and see if I’ve got their desired smokes in Overstock. So I shrugged, “Well, that’s what I’m here for, to sell you stuff…” and she said, “Well, most people wouldn’t even look.”

So now I have to wonder where she’s been shopping at, that they wouldn’t even look. I mean, how hard is it, to look?

Not if they put a disclaimer in the ad. With the simple small print “quantities limited, no rainchecks” they are off the hook.

Also, most rainchecks read “raincheck guarantees price, not availability” so if they decide to discontinue that model before they ever get any more, your out of luck again.

I worked at K-Mart for 3 1/2 years in high school. My view of humanity did a flaming death spiral for the first few years, and when it hit the ground it started digging. I saw some amazing crap in that place. Some guy screaming red faced that we’re all assholes because it’s 10:30 on Christmas Eve, every single checkout line is stacked 15 deep, and he wants to go home. Kids shooting each other with rubber bb guns they pulled off the shelf and opened, and their mother yelling at me for taking their toys away from them. A guy going through checkout with a blender box stuffed with CDs trying to intimidate the young female checkout worker into letting him past.