The Customer is always an Ass
The worst day for the multimedia section was the PSP launch. By then I was working in a fairly dangerous inner- city store. I was the best salesman in the store, so I was naturally put in charge of the PSP section. And I had to carry one around to demonstrate to people, let them have a play on it. It was tied to wrist, and under no circumstances was it to be removed. I even had a bodyguard for the day, the store was so worried we'd have a smash and grab. When the store gives you a bodyguard, you start to worry. Especially when employees from the other electronic stores on the retail park start telling you about how they've had guys knocked out when carrying the PSPs. Which is why ours was strapped to my wrist. They made sure it was strapped in such a way that tugging on it only made it tighter. I did not feel a safe man that day. If people wanted this thing so badly that they were willing to knock people out for it, I really didn't want the bloody thing tied securely to my sodding wrist! And to make matters worse, I had to wear a bright white t-shirt with PSP logos all over it that was a size or two too small for me.
Of course, everyone wanted to play the PSP, and we let them. I lost count of how many times I had to tell people that it had to stay attached for security reasons. After that explanation, as usual most people were cool with it, and just got on with having a quick game of whatever game we had in.
But of course, you got people demanding to be allowed to play the PSP without its human anchor, and also wanting to try out every game we sold. Again, I was threatened a few times, only now it was worse than the old store because I was being threatened by gang members and what-have-you rather than angry dads. Thank god for my bodyguard is all I can say about that.
As to be expected, we sold out within a half hour of opening, as we'd told customers we would for weeks in advance. But I was told that I still had to carry mine around, which led to a lot of confusion.
"Do you have PSPs?"
"No, we already sold out."
"What's that on your wrist then?"
"Can I not buy that one?"
"Sorry, it's a display model."
I'd go on to explain that we'd been using it to display for about six weeks, and showed them that on closer inspection it was already scratched to fuck, which thye were pretty alright with.
Except one guy. Things eventually quietened down in the early afternoon, and the bodyguard went for a quick coffee. Indian fellow walks into the store with about six small boys in tow. The way he's walking, you could tell he was already in a bad mood, no doubt having wandered most of the city looking for a PSP. He marches right up to me, getting right in my face, and demands I give him my PSP, while his six kids mob me and start tugging violently on the PSP, my arms, my shirt and my legs. Freaked me the hell out. I explain that it's only a demonstration model, and not for sale. He says that if we're out of stock we shouldn't be demonstrating one. I agree, but tell him I'm only a shop assistant, and it's not down to me. So he grabs me by the collar, and pulls me even closer to him, telling me that I must give him the PSP, or he'd gut me with the knife he said he had in his pocket. Even the "gangstas" weren't as bad as this guy. The section manager and store manager step in at this point to split us up, as the rest of the park's security staff come running in. They'd been warned by the games stores in town about this guy, and were expecting him. If there's one thing I like about working retail, is that stores will always tell each other about problem customers, so we can be ready for them.
PSPs continued to sell out, and Sony brought out a new "Giga Pack", which was a lot more expensive because it comes with a massive memory card. As I said earlier, we got a lot of grief about the companies' inflexible deals, and customers didn't like being told that yes, we did have PSPs, but only at around £400.
And of course, a few months after the PSP business, we had the exact same thing again with the Xbox 360. I had a nervous breakdown and I've not been back to work since.
It's times like these where I whip out my favorite story from working two years in retail.
Now I worked at a shitty department store in a rural part of the south. We get some of the worst customers on the planet to come into our store. They're generally on the low-end of the income spectrum and tend to be assholes about everything.
Anyways, it was a Saturday morning and these two kids came into the store. Immediately our stock guy noticed something funny about them and tailed them throughout the store. They soon approached electronics and when they thought the coast was clear they swiped 5 DVDs and started toward the back exit of the store. Our boss catches them before they can make it to the exit. She starts escorting them to the front when one of them bolts for the door. The only problem being that he's running toward the door marked "entrance." I watch this kid slam into the door like Wile E. Coyote. SPLAT. So he gets up and continues his mad dash toward the back of the store. I don't know what happened, but something just snapped within me, and I started chasing after him. I ended up chasing this fucker down at least a block when we both stopped to catch our breath. He started up with the typical homeboy routine: "Im about to whup yo ass man! Get the fuck away from me!" So I actually pressed forward to him when he grabbed the only thing nearby to stop my pursuit: a pile of pebbles. This kid began to throw pebbles at me like they were boulders. Finally, he just ran off when my manager showed up. She told me to head back inside and wait for the cops to show up.
You think that would be the end of it and the kid would be smart enough to not come back. No, this dumb motherfucker came back to get the bike he left in the back of the store. He was actually walking his bike up the center aisle of the store screaming "I AIN'T DO SHIT MOTHERFUCKERS! Y'ALL AINT GOT NOTHING ON ME!" This time I made sure he wasn't getting out because I locked the doors from the inside. I barracade the door myself and he's shuffling with me to get out when a customer walks in, leaving a door wide open. We both head for the door and he's almost out of it when I slam the door on his face. He pushes me down and opens the door. He runs into the person outside of the door: a cop. The cop grabs him, and greets him. "Hey! How are you today?" she asks, and then slams him on the ground.
What's best about this story is that all of it is on tape.
My first job was at a Hollywood Video. One night, a man and his wife stroll in and pick out their movies. The husband pays while the wife waits by the door. It turns out that they had returned their previous movies late and the husband had kindly paid the late fees. He mentions this to his wife as they head towards the door. That's when it all goes to shit.
The wife becomes absolutely ENRAGED and starts shouting at the female cashier, saying it was not possible that they returned movies late. She is screaming for a refund for the late fees, so the girl frantically starts going through the keystrokes to make this happen. All the while, the wife is still cursing and shouting to beat the band. Everyone else in the store has stopped to watch at this point.
I guess the young girl simply couldn't do the refund fast enough, and sensing danger, the manager steps in and takes over doing the refund. As the manager is getting the money, the woman is still raising hell. Then, one of our regular customers walks in. This man rented every day and since it relates to the story, I will mention that he is black.
He comes over and asks about the shouting and someone fills him in. The woman is still screaming, saying things like: "I ain't paying no late fees. I'm the baddest mother fucker that ever walked in here!" Clearly ticked off that this crazy lady is berating the staff, our faithful customer pulls out some cash and lays it in front of the woman. He says "Damn woman, I'll pay your late fees." The woman's response to this is: "I DON'T NEED YOUR DRUG MONEY, NIGGER!"
At this point, the crazy woman's husband, sensing that she's probably about to get killed steps in and says "Honey, it's going to be OK, just calm down!" With this, she draws back and slaps her husband HARD across the face. He says "Fuck it, I'll be out in the car." The manager tosses the refund at her and she storms out. The manager closes her account and everyone in the store stands around for a couple minutes trying to figure out what exactly just took place.
I remember a late night I was driving back from a spanish class I had been taking in community college. As it happened, my mom called me to ask if I could pick up some groceries she had forgotten at the store. "wonderful", I thought to myself, a twenty minute detour after an hour and fourty five minutes clumsily disguised as college spanish. I take the exit from the throughway and half dozen or so green lights led me to the parking lot of the grocery store where condensed soup had been the sale item of the week.
It was late in the evening and the mid april sky was slowly darkening, like black gloves slowly being drawn over orange stained hands. The store was empty all but for the employees and a few late shoppers, mostly aged bachelors deciding which frozen dinner to eat with their single set of dishware. Passing carts filled with unmarked or expired stock and through the narrow corral chute of the twelve-items-or-less register lead to a sort of lost and found counter. My footsteps met the eyes of a tired looking clerk itching to punch out and get the hell out of dodge. I told him about the rogue groceries and he told me to wait there while he went to find out where they even put groceries people had forgotten.
As I stood there I noticed a heavyset girl of likely no more than 14 manning one of the registers. She was ringing up an older looking man of about fourty or so, his clothes gave him the apperance of being a beaurocrat of some kind, a starched white shirt and loose frock coat hung about his shoulders. The girl carefully took each of his items and put them in a plastic bag, a jar of mayonaise, a tube of toothpase and six pack of fruit-at-the-bottom yougurt was all the man had been shopping for.
Suddenly the man errupted in anger, evidently he diddnt want a plastic bag as it would not stop his purchases from rolling in the trunk of his car. Quickly and seemingly automatically the girl tied a knot with the two loops of the bag's handles. This only enfuriated the man further "what are you a fucking idiot?!" the man shouted. The girl errupted in tears, breaking the composure rarely found in the young when confronted with assholes. By this time I was already walking twoard the man with a set of fingers bent around the imaginary roll of quarters in my palm.
"excuse me" I said "can't you see this girl is just a kid? Why are you yelling? What's wrong with you?" "Mind your own fucking buisness" was all the man said, pivoting one leg to one side as if he could see just what I was thinking. Just then the manager, a fat guy in a red vest, came in along with a woman, the girl's mother. The woman shot first, this guy was getting his ass verbally handed to him by this underpaid, overworked and quite obviously pissed clerk. The manager, I, and the woman spent the next ten minutes trying to just get the guy to leave or better yet shut up about the angry letter he was going to write.
"Alright, I'll take care of you at this register here" the girl's mother said. The man made a reluctant move before being cut short. "Not you" she said, "the gentleman." Gesturing twoards me. The man diddnt say another word, he just paid and got out after the manager rang him up. I left the grocery store with what my mom had left but aside from what was in my plastic bag, I walked out carrying some small piece of satisfaction that I had done a good thing.
This was my mom's story, when she was a waitress at a bar in 1975--
My mom was a young Chinese woman, American born, in a predominantly white area. She worked through college, waitressing at a bar.
Four young women, between 25-30, came into the bar on a "girls' night out." They ordered their complicated drinks. My mom took the order, and went to the bar to have the bartender prepare them. Mom returned to the table, and gave the women their drinks--But, apparently, the bartender had the order wrong? "This isn't what I ordered at all," one sneered at my mom's and the bartender's incompetence. The woman sent the drink back. Mom went to the bar, asked the bartender if he indeed made it correctly--Which he had, he'd been working as a bartender for 15 years, he knew what he was doing.
She took the drink, poured it into a new glass, and brought it back to the table.
"Oh, this is much better. It's good to see you can fix your mistakes."
Yeah, right, you snooty bitch.
I used to work at a major UK out-of-town electrical retailer 10 years or so back where I had the pleaseure of working with S, the most sarcastic man on the face of the planet. Luckily, he was also deputy manager, so this meant we had quite a bit of fun with angry customers in our time.
For example, we used to sell a particularly massive and ludicrously over-priced Aiwa midi hifi system for about £800. One day, a very red, very angry and very steroid-fuelled man stormed into the store with this Aiwa midi system, slammed it down on the counter and immediately started showering everyone with profanities and spittle. "I'VE JUST SPENT EIGHT HUNDRED FUCKING QUID ON THIS FUCKING HIFI AND IT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK. I'VE DRIVEN 30 FUCKING MILES HOME WITH IT, AND 30 FUCKING MILES BACK, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?"
During the tirade, S was poking around with the hifi, getting it all plugged in so he could see what the fault was. Once powered up, Mr Angry proceeded to demonstrate that pushing play on the CD did indeed result in "NOTHING FUCKING COMING OUT OF THE FUCKING SPEAKERS" and pointed out in his eloquent way that he'd like to know "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?" At that point, S simply leant over, hit the clearly labelled 'disable speakers' button and said, "I'm going to turn your fucking speakers on, sir," as music blared around the store.
You've never seen someone go from angry psycho to sheepish apologetic moron so quickly.
At one particular store I used to work at, we had an on-site engineer's desk which would allow us to quickly diagnose if something really was "FUCKING BROKEN" or was actually A-OK. Often there would be a bit of a backlog of items to get through, so we'd take people's broken items off them, book them in and give them a shout once we'd checked it out.
Of course for some people this wasn't enough, they needed their item looking at NOW, and not a second later. This was the case with a very prim and proper lady who brought us a VCR that had stopped accepting tapes. It was still under warranty, but obviously we needed to make sure it was indeed broken before we swapped it, so we booked it in for the engineer to look at and asked her for her contact details so we could let her know the outcome. She was having none of it.
She went off on one about consumer rights, about how she would be talking to her solicitor and how she wouldn't allow anyone to be served until this was sorted out. Bearing in mind this was during the run-up to Christmas, you can imagine the kind of queue that formed. Apparantly the fact that the engineer was at lunch and couldn't look at it now even if we OK'd it escaped her, it just Was. Not. Good enough (TM).
After 20 solid minutes of arguing about her rights, about how a VCR should last longer than 8 months, and about how much we sucked, the in-store engineer happened to wander past on the way back from lunch, so rather than drag this out any longer, we bowed to her menacing air and ugly face and asked him if he'd pop the top off the VCR that was currently sat on the counter and have a quick look. So out come the screwdrivers, off comes the top of the VCR and what do we see but A VCR CHOCK FULL OF CUSTARD CREAMS! The woman's face went the brightest red you've ever seen and a line of customers all started absolutely pissing themselves laughing as she grabbed her player off the counter and practically ran out of the store.
My Mum, Dad and myself used to run a Post Office in a small backwater town, on a small backwater estate of 95% elderly people. Working in this place actually gave me a breakdown, but we won't get into that.
My grandfather died, and as a result, we closed the post office and shop on the day of the funeral. We put up signs to explain we would be closing, and the reason why.
One man came in, picked up his morning paper, read the sign and stalked up to me at the desk. He pointed at the sign and said, "does this mean I won't be able to get my morning paper?! That's disgraceful."
My father promptly banned him from the shop for "being disgraceful yourself".
About 50% of the 'morning paper people' didn't read the sign, and gave me shit all the next morning about 'why were you shut?'. Most apologised after I explained 'I'm sorry, my grandfather died and we were at his funeral', but some stared at me like I'd just told them 'We had the day off to spite you' and stalked off out.
The best customer story to come out of this place happened to my mum, and I wish I'd been there to see it.
We had one guy who was an asshole. He used to beat his wife, who as a result would come down every day and buy one or two bottles of gin from us. Occasionally, she'd come back after drinking them, but we'd turn her away because she was clearly intoxicated. Occasionally, she'd come down all upset and ask for alcohol on tab because 'my husband took my money away again'. My Dad would allow us do it- only for her, because we felt so sorry for her.
She came in with her arm in a sling once, because he'd pushed her over. He blacked her eye so hard she couldn't see, and regulary beat her. I'm not surprised she was an alcoholic, but once in a drunken state to my Dad she confessed she wouldn't leave him because 'I don't want to be lonely, no-one will have me, only he will'. That poor woman.
So, this guy came in on a Saturday morning. He'd come earlier and bought a copy of the Daily Mail, which this particular day, was wrapped in a plastic bag because it contained a scratch card of some type. The whole paper was concealed in this bag. He slammed the paper down at the desk, and said to my mum "there was no scratch card in my paper."
My mum said "there's nothing I can do, the papers came wrapped when we received them. It isn't our responsibility."
The guy glares at her and says "well, open another fucking paper then!"
Mum explains she can't going to open another paper for his scratch card, and that he should call the paper company directly and see if they would send him one.
The guy loses his temper, screams something along the lines of "FUCKING WHORE" and rolls the heavy paper up (anyone from the UK will know the size of a weekend paper), throwing it straight at my mum's head.
My Dad tried to climb over the counter to floor the guy, another customer physically barred him and said "it's not worth it, let it go, call the police."
So Mum- who's alright, a bit stunned, but alright- gets on the phone to the police, who classed it as assault, and came straight up.
The guy flees- leaving his paper- and goes back home. We know his address, having delivered groceries to his poor wife occasionally, and send the police up there. When they arrive, he won't open the door, and sets his dog on the policeman. I don't actually know if they charged him, or what came of that, I really should ask my parents.
The next week, he comes in to collect his pension. He steps in the door, like nothing's happened, and my Dad laughs and yells "get out."
"You can't ban me!" He screeches. "My pension book reads this post office!"
People's books are marked with the name of the Post Office they're meant to go to to collect it. You can collect it at a 'foreign' post office, twice if I remember correctly in the life of the book, and you receive a stamp each time you do.
My Dad picks up the phone behind him, and says "I'm calling to authorize you collecting it there without needing a stamp. Get the fuck out, I never want to see you on my property again."
"You can't ban me!"
"I just did. Piss off."
The guy stares at him, and storms off out. Later than day, his wife pokes her head in the door and asks meekly "does this mean I'm barred, too?" We welcomed her in, and explained no, not you, just your husband.
She came down a LOT more after that. Part of me wonders if it was because she saw our shop as a place he couldn't physically get to her, without being removed immediately.