This is my shout out to anyone who has worked a single day in retail. We learn from the start, that the customer is always right, even when you want to punch them in the face. So for those of us who can maintain a job in retail by holding back this urge, here is a list of scenarios and how we would like to respond rather than how we should respond.
1. A customer is complaining about the store’s return policy which is clearly stated on the receipt and the wall behind the registers. He claims that only accepting returns for store credit is the most absurd thing he has ever heard of and he is surprised that our store is still in business after 21 years with a policy like that. He then looks around and upon seeing that no one is in the store says, “this is why you don’t have any customers!”
In my mind I reply, “Actually, Sir, we don’t have any customers at the moment because they realized there was an asshole in the store and they all left.”
2. This is a paraphrasing of an actual conversation over the phone:
Customer: I am looking for a book.
Me: Okay, what book are you looking for?
C: Well first, would you be able to deliver the book to the hospital? I am here for a little while, but they have me in a nice room on the second floor.
M: I think we could probably arrange something for you. What are you looking for?
C: Well it is a book on stone walls in New Hampshire. It is called, oh hang on, the bear is back.
M: There is a bear there?
C: Yeah, he keeps coming around outside my window.
M: And you are on the second floor?
C: Yeah, but he just stays a while, I will have to call you back.
What I would like to say, “Okay, but we barely got started here. Also, did you say you were in the psych ward?”
3. A new customer but more paraphrasing and may a little editing to keep it pg-13:
C: I ordered a magazine from you online and when I received it, it was a book and it wasn’t the right thing.
M: I think you have reached the wrong business, we don’t sell online and we also don’t sell magazines.
C: No, you are *****. I ordered online through Amazon and it was your business name.
M: Well sorry, but we don’t sell online and certainly not through Amazon even if we did. I can’t help you.
C: No, you sent me the wrong thing and you need to fix this. You are a bookstore in Lee! I got your information from your website, I know it is you.
M: Actually, we are not in Lee which you would see if you were on our website. I can’t help you, you need to call Amazon or whomever you ordered from.
C: ******I ordered from you *****. You owe me what I ordered or send me my money back.
M: I am sorry, but you have the wrong place. (I hang up)
The customer proceeds to call back several times which I kindly let go to voicemail rather than hear more berating. But… if I answered the phone I would have done it like this: “City Morgue, you stab ’em, we slab ’em” or perhaps, “Department of Immigration, your report ’em, we deport ’em” or maybe I should have done, “Thank you for calling Amazon customer support, we don’t care!”
4. Often times reviews or advertisements for books come out before the book is published. I can’t tell you how many times a customer has come in the store looking for a title that is not yet on sale. Most customers understand when we tell them that we don’t have the book and it won’t be out for another month and then you have the customer that knows all. She argues no I saw the book last week. Someone else was selling it. I don’t understand why you can’t get it in. I guess I will just order it online. All one can do in this situation is admit defeat and know that no matter if she orders it online, she still won’t have it until the book is actually published.
Or say, “I am sorry, but our time machine is broken this week and we actually couldn’t pick up our shipment of books from the future. Thanks for checking with us though. Once it gets fixed we will go back and get that autographed copy of the Bible for you.”