To the customer who made me cry today

I hope you’re proud of yourself. It must make you feel very superior to make a grown woman cry. But then again, you probably don’t even know you made me cry as you wouldn’t shut up long enough to listen.

So, just to get this off my chest:

I can handle customers who yell. I can handle customers with a God complex. But, even the most obnoxious customer generally has some valid gripes. You are just making shit up as you go along. You didn’t have one valid gripe. You yelled at me for 10 ninutes straight. A lesser person would have hung up on you. All my coworkers admitted they wouldn’t have listend to you as long as I did. They were all amazed that when you were done ranting, I calmly told you that I was passing you off to someone with more experience with the subject which set you off in the first place.

What they didn’t all see was how as soon as the phone was out of my hands, I rushed back to the managers office and burst into tears.

**A note for those of you who might say that I shouldn’t be working in retail if I can’t take this kind of shit without crying…I was an innocent bystander. One who just had the worst vacation of her life. One who suffers from insomnia and hasn’t had a good nights sleep in 3 months. One who has been caring for her boyfriend for over a week while he unsuccessfully battles a severe eye infection. I am stressed to the point of cracking. Despite this, I have had 9 customers over the last 3 days, tell me that I am the best retail associate they have ever met. They tell me that I’m friendly, calm, knowledgable, and able to multitask. They tell me that I should be running my department. They tell me that they want to only work with me in the future. Some have openly marvelled at my relaxed and professional nature even when faced with insanity. Today, a customer who was present for this wonderful phone call, told me that he was amazed that I didn’t hang up on the bitch (he could hear her harpy-like shrieking). So, try to keep in mind that this isn’t a common occurance, hence my annoyance and embarrassment. **

I understand that my problems are not your problems. I understand that you are not even aware of my problems. BUT, when I met your husband, I knew he was not my customer. Even though his designated specialist was working, I did not make your husband wait for him. I took care of him to the best of my abilities. Because I am aware of the scope of my abilities, I know I took care of your husband as well as, if not better than his designated specialist would have. I caught a potential big problem and made sure it wasn’t a problem before I let you pay for the install. I followed up as soon as I could. Any one of the other specialists would have passed off the job as soon as your husband was out of sight, which would have resulted in delays - possibly pushing your call back time out til Monday. I realize the hassle of explaining the problem to a third party so I did not do this. I enjoy my job and take pride in a job well done, so I went out of my way to try to make this as painless as possible. I was calm and polite while talking to you, despite the fact that you are one of the most abrasive people I have ever met in my life. I sat quietly and let you vent for 10 minutes. Instead of realizing that you were being unfair to me and apologizing like a normal person would after a good vent, you proceeded to get pissed that I was being quiet because you couldn’t tell if I was actually recieving your verbal bashing.

The least you could have done was given me the respect you would give to the fungus in your asscrack. But, apparently, I am beneath you. I do not deserve respect. You are She Who Must Be Obeyed and Feared and I am the lowly retail peon. In the future, I will remember my station in life and I will not pretend that I have enough IQ points to be able to breathe and blink at the same time.

I have since talked to 3 coworkers about you. None of them have ever met you face to face. But, all agree that you are a Psycho Bitch from Hell and that your husband is either a saint or a masochist. Apparently the have all dealt with you but forced the encounter out of memory before having the chance to warn me about you. I have customers whom I remember even if they don’t come in for 6 months. I stop to chat with them. I remember what projects they are working on. I remember what their family is up to. But you? All I will remember is that you are crazy, rude, arrogant, and completely unbalanced. At least 3 other people remember you this way as well. It must be nice to make your mark on society. :rolleyes:

I was bitching and moaning to a phone service operator once, you know, wanting them to admit how useless their business is. He said to me, “I will do what I can to help you but if you don’t want to solve the problem, just complain about it, I won’t be able to invest any time in that.”

I immediately came to my senses and went about fixing things up with him. He ended up achieving exactly what I wanted.

Yeah, that sucks. Here’s some unsolicited advice from my time in retail:

One of your job duties is to deal with customers. One of your manager’s job duties is to deal with irate customers.

When someone is being irate - you disengage and get them to a manager. If they won’t stop yelling, you simply interrupt with a “I’ll get my manager” and do so. I mean seriously - you really don’t have to take abuse from customers. Walk away, leave it to your manager. (By the way - the corollary is that if your manager is not the type who will protect you, seek alternative employment immediately).

Don’t take it personal and don’t let them make it personal. It’s strictly business.

Of course if you’re like me - you grab a pen and paper and ask the customer to slow down so you can get all this down. When they ask, “Why? So you can do a report or something?” you say, “No, no. I just want to be able to remember all this crazy shit so I can tell my friends later - they’re never going to believe this happened! I mean, you’re supposed to be a grown woman!” Of course when I pulled that it was a Black Friday - you can get away with most anything on a Black Friday.

You’re gonna be ok, congoddwarf - if that’s even your real name.

No, you have this backwards. A stronger person would have hung up on her (or else passed it to a manager). You lessened yourself by putting up with her crap.

ISTM you’re trying too hard to be a “good” person/employee. She didn’t **make ** you cry; she was a psychobitch, and you kept appeasing her even though it made you a wreck to do so.

I have never hung up on a customer in my life. Then again, I’ve only been back in retail for a bit over 1 year. I am learning the hard way that retail customers are insane, while my customers from my office job are mearly loony.
So, I am still learning that I don’t have to put up with this shit. My department head, assistant manager, and store manager will all back me up if I stand up for myself. I just have to remember that I can do it.

A bigger problem is that while I know my bosses will always have my back (I love my store - it’s filled with awesome employees), I am still brainwashed by bosses who did take the customer’s side and write me up, withhold raises, and basically force me to quit. I am gradually learning that I am in a much healthier environment now and that I can actually go to the bosses for help.

In this circumstance, she took me totally off guard with her ranting. We had been having a regular, if somewhat pointless and onesided, converstaion. She asked a question which was totally off topic so I answered off topic. Little did I know that she wasn’t actually off topic. She just has no attention span whatsoever. This is why she went off on me. It took me a few minutes to figure out that not only was she completely delusional, but that she was blaming all her (imagined) trouble on ME!

Strangely enough, while the whole rant was stressful for me, the thing which set me over the edge was when she got pissed at me for being quiet because she couldn’t tell if I had hung up on her or not. Is it just me, or is that a supremely stupid reason for getting mad at someone? I was getting more and more annoyed with her throughout the conversation but I didn’t even have the slightest urge to pass her off, cry, yell, or swear, until that last comment. After that, it was total waterworks. If I hadn’t had the week I just endured, I would have actually responded by laughing my ass off. Alas, the stress took hold of me and I responded in the only way I could.

Warning: this part is gonna be kinda annoyingly introspective…

I have to say that with the benefit of hindsight, I should have been pitting myself. While I was angry with this woman earlier in the day, I realize after rereading my OP that I was not mad at her anymore. I’m much more mad at myself. If you’re not sure why that is the case, read what furt said. He/she is right.
If you believe in astrology, you can blame it on the fact that I’m a Capricorn. I’m high strung, anal retentive, obsessive, a perfectionist, and totally self-centered. I believe that I have to be the best at everything. I push myself to learn more than my coworkers. I need to be the most pleasant and informed person in the store. Apparently, I have somehow managed to avoid being a totally annoying person (this assumption is based on things coworkers and customers have said to me).

A year ago, I was working myself into a full blown meltdown. After spending 4 years working for the most fucked up group of bosses imaginable, my issues with self-image had gotten to an all time low. When I started my new job, I threw myself into it totally. I went in early and stayed late. I took short lunches. I took care of all the problems, even if they weren’t mine. I was trying to prove to everyone that I was perfect. After almost having a meltdown (coincidence? my department head - also a capricorn almost had a meltdown about 1 month before me, and for the same reasons) I had a long talk with my DH, over a few glasses of Vodka. He taught me that I need to stop taking myself so seriously and that I need to let my coworkers fuck up. He told me that I can’t fix everyone else’s mistakes all the time and that I need to concentrate on myself (my happiness, not my perfection).

Amazingly enough, that short conversation had a big impact on me. I don’t arrive early or stay late. Just today, I begged my boss to let me take a long lunch (he didn’t let me). I’ve been actually volunteering to cut my hours during our slow season, so I’ll have more time at home to relax.

So, my actions as far as this particular customer was concerned, were a bad example of how I used to be. There were so many better ways I could have handled this, right from the get-go. But at the time, my obsessive, controlling tendancies took control and I blew it.

Isn’t hindsight wonderful? :rolleyes: :smack: :smiley:

If it happens again, can you put her on speaker phone and go on about your business, interjecting the occasional ‘umm hmm’? Once she realizes she is speaking to the world in general she may chill a little.

Relax, read a book, drink warm milk with brown sugar and cinammon.

I once had a client (a very big client) make me cry.

We had provided the client with review copies of the work we did for them (translation of some marketing material from English into a couple of European languages). Basically, you put together the document (I do layout & graphic design), and then you send it to the client well ahead of deadline for their review and commenting. 99.999% of the time, it comes back covered in notes. That’s just how the process works.

The client’s design guy calls me upon recieving the proof. He didn’t like my layout choices, and he took that personally. He didn’t want to comment on the work, he wanted to throw a tantrum. I’ve never had a browbeating like that in my life. I even got yelled at because he didn’t like the way the actual languages looked. It was nonsensical and immature. But it’s not like I could just hang up on the guy-- this was our biggest client. It was only after I admited that the work was completely unnaceptable and that no competant designer would ever have produced this could I get off the phone. I then put my head down on my desk and cried.

(Version 2.0 of the design–after a gentle explaination by my boss to his boss that different languages have some different typographical and layout rules, and nothign can be done about their ‘look’-- got rave reviews, compliments, and lots of follow up work. The guy’s been really nice every since. Go figure.)

I’m sorry you are going through a stressful period. Try to get some sleep, because being tired messes everything else up.

I agree completely with this:

Finally I’m a teacher. Here is a true story designed to make you gasp. :eek:

On a School trip, one pupil behaved badly. He swore in public, upset the sponsor of the trip and attracted complaints from our hotel as well.
There were two teachers on the trip. We both asked him to stop, warned him to stop, then finally told him he would be reported to the Head when we returned.

He told his mother that we were persecuting him, because we ‘were jealous’ of him. :confused:
His mother blew up and demanded the Head sanction both teachers.

The Head asked me to sit down with the pupil in private and agree what exactly had happened.
After a few minutes he called me a liar, so I ended the meeting. (At this point the pupil did look worried, since I had witnesses for all my claims about him.)

I left the meeting first and went outside, where the mother was waiting. “What happened?” she asked. I told her that her son had called me a liar.
Without hesitation, she called to her son “You didn’t call the teacher a liar, did you?!” The son thought for a bit, then caught on. "No Mum, the teacher is lying about that as well!"
Fortunately I was backed completely by the senior management, and the kid later left the school before graduating.

Years ago, I worked in a little convenience store my aunt owned. being a small town, everybody knew everybody. One day, Mike, a guy from the neighborhood, came in and wanted to cash a third-party check, which, of course, I couldn’t do. He was a little irked about it, but our conversation was pleasant enough.

A little while later, my aunt came to me, her reddened eyes still brimming with tears. “What did you say to Mike?” His wife, Lisa, had called and had gone on a screaming rant about how rude I was and what a horrible experience in the store it had been for her husband. All I could do was express bewilderment.

Lisa called back in about an hour, crying herself. She apologized profusely and said she was having personal problems and had just “snapped” over the check not being cashed.

I’ve been on the recieving end of some of these outrageous rants (once even had a bag of jelly donuts thrown at me) and yes, I’ve cried because it hurts to be abused like that. I try to give the people the benefit of the doubt, though, because if they’re acting like that, their lives must be just awful. Either it’s a set of temporary citcumstances or maybe they’re like that all the time, but either way, imagine what it must be like to live with that kind of anger inside you. It’s kind of sad, if you think about it.

It’s all a matter of how you look at the situation. My attitude is that I don’t like people who are yelling at me. And I figure that the amount of yelling they’re doing is an expression of their unhappiness. So then I realize I’m getting paid to witness somebody I don’t like being unhappy and I start to enjoy it.

Sorry to hear you had a bad day. Sending supporting thoughts your way. :slight_smile:

You come across to me as kind hearted. I hate it when people like you are drug through crap like that.

Awww, I feel for you :slight_smile: I hope your week gets better.

I think you’ve got to tell me what city you work in. I think it’s not too far from me, and I could use a Orange Box store with employees as caring as you! :slight_smile: [I used to do field work work for a company that had a corporate credit card there, so I’ve shopped at many of the boxes in Southern New England, with varying results.]

I work in West Springfield. I’ve talked to many people and most will agree that my store is the best in Massachusetts. We have customers who will drive out from Pittsfield, Greenfield, Wilbraham, and Enfield - all because they hate the service or product availability in their own stores. As I’ve said more than once, I love my coworkers and management. They are a wonderful bunch of people. We do have our share of soap opera crap, but for the most part, we like each other and it shows. The girl who took over this call for me, pulled me aside before she left last night. She told me that if I ever have a customer like that again, to send them to her. She worked at the service desk for many years and has developed a much thicker skin than I have. Most people wouldn’t volunteer to be a punching bag.
I had been wondering if this lady was just having a really bad week (it’s not like I wouldn’t understand that). But when three other people reported the same kind of experience with her, I’ve decided that she’s just having a really bad month. I hope she’s not always like this. She’s gonna give herself an ulcer.
By the way, thanks for all the kind thoughts and the funny (in a black humor kind of way) stories. I really do love my job and it can be very frustrating when people take their bad days out on you. But, I’ve seen many associates do the same. We all need to learn to lighten up a bit.

I sometimes found that the best way to deal with assholes like that is to be even friendlier and more cheerful-almost, but not QUITE to the point of being fake. What are they going to do-say you were too nice.

It really, REALLY pisses them off, because there’s not much they can do.

Fortunately, at the Science Center, most people are in a pretty good mood already, and if there are any problems, I can just go and get my boss, who is awesome.

The longer I live, the more I see it the way that operator did. I think a lot of people treat customer service reps like shit for no other reason than because they can. I don’t do that work anymore, and never did very much of it, but I think no one who has any dignity should tolerate any customer who just wants to shit on them. The worst assholes almost never bring in enough business to offset their crap, and most other people are simply unaware of how they are acting. I think too many people get away with acting like jerks just because they know (or believe) the business will kiss their ass regardless. Fuck that. How a person treats other people says something about them, and most people are well aware that whomever is working behind the counter is not the cause or source of the problem. I say people like the one in the OP should be told off in the gentlest way possible (like in the incident I quote), and if they leave in a huff, well, it was probably worth it.

**congodwarf, ** I feel for you. as an 8 year retail slave most of the arrogant/ screamy/ just plain idiotic bullshit just rolls right off, but once in a while something gets through and just kills you :frowning:

about a year ago there was one fuckwit who called right at closing on a Sunday afternoon (5 pm) saying I hadn’t put an item in her bag. the item was nowhere around the register area and I hadn’t put it back on the shelf so I didn’t know what to say, so I told her I wasn’t sure how to handle it but she could call back the next morning and talk to a manager. she then flew off the handle, screaming at me that I was refusing to help her, the store wasn’t closed yet (uhhh, they just announced it over the loudspeaker that it is 5pm and we’re closed) and SHE used to work retail so she KNEW the MANAGER had to close the store (security closes this store, and the managers tend to waltz out early) and my job wouldn’t be worth having. and all the while, the Child of Fuckwit was shrieking its little lungs out right into the phone to the point where I couldn’t hear what Fuckwit herself was shrieking at me.

I tried to explain but she was just going apeshit and I finally decided I’d had it. I very firmly said “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” and hung up. Then I went home and bawled for 6 hours straight. :frowning:

maybe my favorite idiot customer story will cheer you up: one woman actually asked me if I knew what short sleeves are. “You know, the ones that go halfway down your arms?” she said. :eek: :smack: :rolleyes:

I, like every other person who has worked in retail, has had to deal with the same thing. People really are insane and, while it speaks badly for humanity as a whole, it says nothing about you. That is truly the whole key. I am sure that you have had situations where you fucked up badly and nothing came of it and then situations like this where you did nothing wrong and had it blow up.

The best advice I can give you is to realize it is all just a game (albeit a childish and pointless one). Once you realize that, you can just play a role and disassociate yourself from it and treat it like improv theater. While retail is the most direct supplier of this type of fodder, it happens in other types of jobs as well. I had a high level manager (not mine thankfully) go psycho on me this past week. I just had to keep my nose clean and ignore direct threats during a series of phone calls before my chain of command had enough reason to intervene. It had nothing to do with me and this had nothing to do with you. I know it is hard but learn to play a role outside of yourself for this kind of stuff.