Customer service. The art of pretending to care, when in reality you could care less. If customer service taught me one thing, it was without a doubt patience. Some people are very difficult to work with. Though, my expectations of a “bad customer” was believed to be in the food industry, not a family owned party store. Yet, here I am, explaining how much I’ve learned about patience from a family owned party store. Majority of the customers that I face are fine. They walk in, grab a few items, pay, and walk right out. However, there are other customers that I encounter who can really put a damper on my day. I hate to say that these “bad customers” affect me that badly, but they really do.
One lady who entered the store was really rude to me when I was helping her check out her items. She was old, with a furrowed brow and watery eyes. She walked up to the counter and didn’t acknowledge me when I asked how she was doing. She seemed more intrigued by her breakfast sandwich to spare even a glance at my existence. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was tired, or maybe she didn’t hear me. So, as soon as I try to repeat my question, the woman remarks, “I’m friends with the owners, just to let you know”. “What?!” was what passed through my mind. What point is she trying to get across? Am I not allowed to ask how someone’s shopping experience was in the store? Is this a threat of some kind? I nervously laughed and replied, “Okay”. As I finished bagging her items, she was also finishing her breakfast sandwich. I grabbed her receipt from the machine and asked if she preferred her receipt in the bag or if she would like to hold it. “Well it doesn’t look like I have much room to carry it, does it?” Well you do, but assuming that you can’t use your free hand to hold something, I’ll just pretend you are right. I placed her receipt in the bag and as I told her to have a nice day (though I could care less at this point), she tossed her wrapper on the counter and said “Here, this is for you”. I was dumbfounded, stunned. How could anyone possibly treat someone with that much disrespect? Let alone, a person who is trying their best to help you? Is it because she is friends with the owners that she thinks she holds some sort of entitlement? News flash: I’m still a human being. No matter what position you hold in the work space, everyone should be treated as equals. Also, what blows my mind about this scenario is that many of these people have worked in customer service before. Shouldn’t they carry a little understanding or even a scrap of empathy of how difficult this can be? These jobs are not ideal, but it definitely does not make it any easier when you stumble upon people like this. This was also my second day on the job, so it’s safe to say that I was thrilled to go back to work the next day.
I did not think I would experience another situation as annoying as that one lady the day before, but I was proven wrong when these two middle aged women walked through the sliding doors the following day. They grabbed a lot of merchandise. Napkins, balloons, tablecloths, streamers, you name it. When they approached the counter to check out, they carried the same demeanor as the other woman from the day prior. Luckily, that gave me the answer that these would not be the most pleasant people to work with. So, I decided that I wouldn’t ask how they were and instead, I quietly began bagging their items. Their total came out to be $436.60. One of the ladies, a brunette, began to pull out $100 dollar bills from her wallet. I pressed the button that says “cash” on the register and reached my hand out to grab the money from the customer. A side note: in many stores, ours included, they only accept newly issued $100 dollar bills. Companies do this to avoid the chance of fraud. In other words, it’s easier to check the legitimacy of the bill when businesses only allow the updated ones. So, when people like these two women happen to pull out the outdated $100 bills, we are supposed to let them know that we only allow the newer additions. Well, they were not happy about that. The brunette replied, “What was I supposed to do if I didn’t have the money to pay for it besides this?” Go to the bank duh. “You would have to exchange them at the bank, but we would have kept your items on hold for the time that you are gone,” I answered as politely as possible. “Is that even legal?” said the blonde friend. What? For the bank to issue new bills for the United States, to then be distributed/exchanged throughout retail stores across America? “Yes” was all I could muster. “Well that is ridiculous”, replied the blonde. “You should have at least informed your customers before they decide to buy something”. Well you guys are not going to like this…. With the nicest smile I could ever attempt, I point my finger over to the sign that is plastered to the counter which reads: “We only accept new $100 bills. Sorry for the inconvenience.” I hate to admit that this moment brought me great joy, but it really did. They both huffed in annoyance as they decided to pay with card instead. I finished their debit transaction, and I handed them the bag. “You both have a great day now”, I watched as they practically stomped out of the store.
Customer service teaches you that it’s impossible to make everyone happy. There are always going to be people that will have a bad day, and unfortunately, tend to lash out. Though, these experiences will not only encourage you to have patience and work well with others, but it will also leave room for a great story to tell in the future.
Moor, Ashley. “25 Worst Things You Can Say to a Retail Cashier” Best Life, October 3, 2018, https://bestlifeonline.com/retail-cashier-gig/.