Saturday, December 15, 2007

Great Moments in Customer Service

Pin It At a store today - a store I will call, oh, I don't know, Toys R Us - I had one of those moments that makes me weep for the future of America.

I know there must be no fresher hell than working retail at Christmas time in a toy store, so I am normally very sympathetic, very patient. I bring my IPOD with me so that I can just sort of bop around the store getting my stuff, zone out while I wait in line, and not let all the bustle get to me. I say please and thank you to the clerks, have my money ready and generally try not to make life any harder for them than it already is, if at all possible.

Now, you gotta understand, when I go Christmas shopping, I take cash, not credit cards, because if I take credit cards, I am much more lax about how much I can spend. "Oh, it's just $10 more than I thought, no problem." And by the time I've left I've spent $200 more than I planned. So - no credit cards for me.

Anyway, I get up to the check-out lane and realize that I'm going to be over the amount I have, so when I get up to the check-out, I hand the clerk three rolls of crepe paper and tell her, "I'm sorry, I can't buy these."

She glares at me. "You can't buy these?"

I blink. "No."

She sighs heavily. "Let me get this straight. Are you or are you not going to buy these?"

I frown. "I'm not going to buy them."

"So you are not buying these."

Is she messing with me? "Correct."

She is sneering. Clearly, she hates her job and more specifically, hates ME, with the white hot power of a thousand suns. "And yet you brought them up here, to the check-out."

I stare back at her. "Yeah. It was a mistake."

"A mistake," she repeats slowly, with scorn.


"Maybe you should be more careful next time," she said.

"And maybe I should beat you senseless with this Tinker Toy tube," I said.

OK, I didn't say that. But I wanted to.

In reality I just - clenched my teeth and asked her. "Are you going to ring that up now or what?"
And she sneered and did just that.

Now, doesn't that just warm your heart?

Happy freaking holidays you bitter, cynical little twerp.

Next year, I'm shopping online.


  1. "be more careful next time?" What is she allergic to crepe paper? Gotta love it when your shopping habits are critiqued by the employees!

  2. For a minute I thought the crepe paper was the only thing in your cart. And I was kinda siding with the clerk, there.
    Glad you at least got something done!!!

  3. Exasperating. I feel your pain. I'm afraid that any store clerk who chose to berate me, a grown up, like that would be in for a serious smack down.

    The problem with on-line shopping is they don't take cash and then you are back to the oh, it's only $10 and I don't have to spend gas money to drive to the store (never mind the shipping is 3X what the gas would be)

  4. I have a hard time with really bad customer service. I worked in retail throughout high school and college. When someone is outright rude to me for no reason than they are just miserable people, I have a very hard time holding back. I usually make some comment like "Wow, can't you even be just a little nice? Why do you need to be so miserable?". Usually, it causes the previously nasty person, to suddenly become quite the friendly person "Oh, I am sorry, is there anything else for you today?". Try it sometime, it can be very amusing.

  5. The mind, it boggles.

    I hope it didn't ruin your day. It would have ruined mine and I would have spent the entire rest of the day mentally composing snarky yet well written letters to the store and district managers, copied to the CEO of the company.

    And then I'd realize none of them cared and would be utterly deflated SO I hope you didn't do any of that!

  6. Anonymous7:16 AM

    That is the height of rude! Good grief - she does realize that you are helping to pay her salary right? Gee whiz!!

    I've done nearly all of our shopping online this year, and it's been absolute heaven.

  7. Someone forgot to take their happy pill this morning.


  8. Oh my. I think that comment about the tinker toy tube would have been entirely appropriate given that (kidding). When it's that bad it is completely appropriate to find a manager. I'm not above doing that (nicely), much to the chagrin of my kids.

  9. keetha's funny.

    I'm sorry...that bites.

    Saying something nice like, " you need a hug?" might have taken her to postal, I dunno.

  10. rocks the casbah, babe.

  11. I wonder if there's a special place in either heaven or hell for Toys R Us employees?

    You've reminded me why I haven't shopped there in years.

  12. Huh. So she would've preferred you to take stuff you don't need out of your cart and hide it behind the stuff in whatever aisle you happen to be in when you realize you don't need whatever it is? Cause that's what I usually do, guiltily.

  13. I'm with you. I did a little shopping on line. When I had to shop in the stores I tried to do it during the morning hours or before everyone got off work. Today though, I hit the stores with my mom, who is recovering from leg injuries and will annoy the heck out of everyone, including me. Say a prayer for me.

  14. a few years ago at Target, I overheard a shopper approach a store clerk who was shelving boxes of tissue (you know, for all us to buy when we are sick). She approached him quite menacingly with a large item she had picked up from the end of the row - you know where they stick all the stuff they want you to buy seasonally - and said "this has no price, does that mean it's free?" Loud as anything. I looked directly at the clerk and said, "I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, despite all this."
    She turned white and apologized immediately. Which is good, because I was just about to sit her in time-out and take away her TV privileges and her dessert. Yes, Merry Christmas, indeed.

  15. oh wow. she's obviously a pro when it comes to people skills.
    when i get a clerk like this? i launch into fake stupid mode. i find it difficult to pull my card out, then i change my mind on what card i should pay with, then i type the wrong pin in once and go 'oops' cuz i *know* she's getting p/o'd. yes, i know, i'm going to hell. i'm bringing my own cribbage board.

  16. Oh, my. Yes, Merry Christmas.

    Love those crabby clerks. They can really get you in the spirit!

    I've, thus far, managed buy everything online...What did we do before the internet? Heavens.

    With luck, the next time you're out, you'll get the sweetest clerk to make up for the rude one!

  17. I guess you were just supposed to dump that crepe paper in the baby-doll isle.

  18. There really is no fresher hell then working retail during the holidays is there?? Nothing like $7.50 an hour to rub a little salt on the wound either.

    However, that being said, working retail is a choice and we who chose otherwise shouldn't have to pay for the deep regret of those who did. I would have stared back at her with my own stink eye and let her know that I was here to play if she wanted to go down the road of rudeness.

    I'm with you Sue, online is so the way to go.

  19. I'm disappointed you didn't actually say that about the tinker toy tube. That would have been fabulous to enjoy vicariously although you might have ended up in a scuffle...

  20. Maybe you should have said that the crepe paper was to tie up that last person that crossed you but you thought better of it - until now.

  21. You are a really patient person because I would have ruined little Ms Snippy-pants day by talking to her manager.

    Yep, shopping online might be the way to go.

  22. Kudos to you, Sue, for not snapping back at that poor clerk. I'm afraid I might have asked her, "Which part of 'I don't need this' don't you understand?"

  23. I think rudeness and/or incompetence is required of all Toys'r us employees.

  24. I would have so gotten her name and complained to her supervisor. I am not tolerant of things like that.

  25. Oh, that poor girl! I'd like to say that her mama didn't teach her no self control, but I seem to be failing in the area of teaching kids to not be rude. Ah, well. (I should actually admit that I'm pretty grouchy lately too, so they're learning by example that yelling at inanimate objects is OK.)

  26. I hate to say it, but even if you had said something to her manager it wouldn't have done anything. And by being snippy back you just give her fuel to talk about the incident to her co-workers and spread that kind of holiday "cheer." Just being polite is the best way to handle it and chalk it up to somebody's bad day.

    But you know I would have apologized loudly and profusely and make her feel guilty. And maybe the next time that situation happened she'd bite her tongue.


    I would have seriously found a way to get back at her.

    "I'll be right back," and then I'd return with 10 other things I didn't want.

    No, I probably would have said, "Are you kidding me? You really want to give me grief over this? Out of all the things that have happened today, this is the biggest kink in your day?"

    I worked retail for many years and many Christmases. There is absolutely *NO* excuse for that kind of behavior. She is only acting that way because she's gotten away with it in the past.

    Call corporate. Call the management, but most of all don't put up with it when it's happening.

    She needs to be brought low.

  28. Anonymous2:17 AM

    It's the holidays season. It's making people meaner! and dumber.

    My blog: Just Say These Words

  29. Would have been funny if you had said, "okay, ring them up" and then when she told you the total searched through your purse and finally said, "I don't have enough. Can you take these (point to the crepe paper) off for me?"

    I've worked retail too, and there is no reason to be rude. It is your *job* to be nice to people!

  30. Oh, stuff like that makes me so upset. I have to wait until Friday (payday) to start my Christmas shopping. I'm so not looking forward to it.

  31. Oh, holy CRAP Sue! I wish you had beaten her senseless and posted your mug shot today in the blog. I totally would have bailed you out . . . and then gone and had a swing at her myself! Dang girl - great job keeping cool.

  32. This is one of the reasons online shopping is my new best friend. 'Cause I guess I have a little passive-aggressive in me and I may freak out in holiday shopping in stores.

  33. I think I just drove home with that clerk in the car behind me --impatient tart tailgating me and then with the nerve to honk at me because I put on my turn signal and slowed down to turn.

    I, um, gave her a nice holiday salute in your name. (Sorry.)


  34. ummm, hello Snark-face!

    Well, good for you for not punching her in the mouth. I would.

  35. I can't believe she told you to be more careful next time! It's just crepe paper. You handled it well. I think I would have said something mean to her, I don't have much self control with people like that.

  36. OMGosh! I have experiences like that ALL THE TIME! My DH says I must have an attitude because he never hears anyone else having experiences like this.

    So sorry you had to find that cashier.

  37. I'd have been tempted to say to the cashier, with a very Jim Carrey sarcastic smile, "Wow, looks like (pointedly insert name from her employee badge here) is going for the Customer Service award today!"

  38. YIKES! That's exactly the reason I try to avoid shopping this time of year at all costs. If it's not rude customers in the stores, it's rude employees and I feel very stressed out and panicky surrounded by either! LOL

  39. Anonymous2:35 PM

    I think that I would have been having a talk with a manager. And I would hate to have been there if she had treated my husband that way...he worked in retail management for years, and does NOT take kindly to bad customer service.

  40. Anonymous4:13 PM

    I'm always really nice and polite to them until right before I leave. Then I ask for their name. It ALWAYS scares the crap out of them. Their eyes get all big and they tell you nervously, "Um, um, um, Brandy." Yeeaah, that's what I thought Brandy. You want 'somma this? I never complain, but I bet they're nicer to people for the rest of the day. It works on waitresses and police officers too, just so you know.

  41. "Maybe next time you should be more careful." WOW. I don't know if I could have held my tongue. I probably would have said, "Yeah, I bet that's what everyone told your parents, too."

    I've worked retail at Christmas. There's no excuse for being a wretch over unwanted crepe paper. Or anything else. They hire you to say, "No problem! Can I do anything else for you? Merry Christmas!" Not to berate customers for changing their minds. Good for you for being more polite about it than most people in the world would have been.

  42. huh. I was just at Target, and handed back the pedometer I decided against. (is that a good gist? A lame gift? I never can tell.)

    The clerk had NO PROBLEM with it whatsoever. I guess I was just lucky.

    And I stash random stuff in different aisles all the time.

  43. You have some serious self control. I would have given her a raspberry, and directed my children to give her one also. (well, not really, I would have waited until we got in the parking lot and lectured them on how they should never be that rude to people)
    I had planned on doing all my shopping online this year, but alas, I waited to long, and now it's too late to buy anything online unless I pay outrageous shipping fees.
    We went to Toys-R-us last week, and the girl that helped us was great. She helped us find what we were looking for, and even did it cheerfully.
    I went to Target today and aside from taking 4 kids with me, it went pretty smooth.
    I haven't had any bad customer service problems yet, however, I've only been to two stores, and I do plan on going to Wal-Mart tonight:P
    Just keep in mind that you have had the ultimate revenge on her. You wrote about her on your blog, and now hundreds of other people think she's a twit also>;)
    Did you finish all your shopping?

  44. Jill - Yep, I am done, done, done, done, DONE. Woohoo!

    Believe me, I'm not meek and mild. I try to let things go, but normally that kind of service, deserves a complaint, I think. But I was tired, and just wanted out of there, and the people behind me wanted to get out of there too, so I just let it go.

  45. I hate rude store clerks. They're usually teenagers. And I get pissed when they shrug and say, "Have a good one."

  46. Nothing irritates me more than bad customer service. I can barely tolerate stuff like that.

    Love your blog.

  47. That SO cracked me up!!! I try to be so nice to people when I am shopping, but when I run into someone like that I just want to come unglued with them! You did great!

    New to your site...came by way of Brooke - The Mail Girl!