Terrifying Tales of Retail: BUY SELL BUY SELL BEEP BOOP

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Terrifying Tales of Retail: BUY SELL BUY SELL BEEP BOOP

Postby Aleril » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:15 pm UTC

I took this from Hippo's story in the fleeting thoughts and partly from the Somethingawful forums. But I found that the Somethingawful topic only focused on how the customer is a dumb ass. And while not wanting to totally shift away from that, this will be both on the customer and the worker.

I, myself, dont have much of a story, other than the fact that Gameinformer has this annoying habit of canceling my subscription without a single warning. Fun.
Last edited by Aleril on Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:32 am UTC, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Fossa » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:27 pm UTC

I have quite a few stories I can share from my days as a front end key at Bob's. I'll share some after I finish studying for this exam, take it, pass out, wake up, work, move, pass out, and wake up (some time Saturday night?)

A brief gem?

I've had a mid-40s soccer mom threaten to kill me because we ran out of shopping carts on one of the busiest sales days of the year. Teeth gritted, dagger eyed, hands clenched, "I.WILL.KILL.YOU!". The kicker? She had two kids (6-8 or so) in tow, one in each of her tightly clenched hands. Their fingers tips were a whitish-blue and they looked as if they'd just seen someone kill Santa. *turns the smile up a notch* "I'm terribly sorry ma'am but all of our shopping carts are currently in use. As soon as one becomes available I will personally make sure it is brought to you."
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:45 pm UTC

Oh, man. Oh, man. I've only been doing retail for five years to pay the College bills, and I all ready feel like some sort of scarred and crippled vet with PTSD. All someone has to do is shout "DISCOUNT IN AISLE FIVE!" and I'll scream and leap for cover. The sight of out-dated price-tags can still send me into convulsions. Once I organize my thoughts I'll pull a few horror stories from my war-chest.

However, I have to admit that I've never actually had someone threaten to kill me, especially not over a cart--so top-hats off to you, Fossa!
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby jgcrawfo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:04 pm UTC

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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby segmentation fault » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:11 pm UTC

i hated my days in retail. i hate the fact that people always want to "talk to a manager." its like "well the manager will just tell you what i told you, but i guess it feels better if someone with a fancy title is telling you 'no'".
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby microwaved » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:34 pm UTC

I worked at a KB toy works one christmas season. I actually loved the job, I helped people pick out toys and it was awesome. I only had 1 gripe, and that was making sure the merchandise was organized neatly on the shelves.

We had this section with about 100 nascar die cast cars stacked in boxes, maybe 10 long inches by 3 inches wide. It was right around when Dale Earnhardt died, and every redneck that came in the place would dig through the the display looking for his car, which we didn't have. Then I would have to spend the 5-10 minutes putting it back together neatly. Not sure why, but that really irked me.

I also had some guy complain to me that we shouldn't be selling "colored" baby dolls, then proceed to try and buy some stuff with a stolen credit card.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Toeofdoom » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:44 pm UTC

ugh. I dont work retail, but after I finished work yesterday, there were still a couple of customers there at about 6:20, and they kept asking for a discount even though the salesperson had said no the first time (we hardly made a profit already), and then managed to keep everyone there for 15 minutes while they tried to remember the PIN for atleast one of their numerous bank cards.

All this while they repeatedly asked "Oh, so when do you close?" to get the answer "Uh.... 20 minutes ago..." (We close at 6).
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Delbin » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:10 pm UTC

microwaved wrote:I also had some guy complain to me that we shouldn't be selling "colored" baby dolls, then proceed to try and buy some stuff with a stolen credit card.

Reminds me of this: http://skippyslist.com/2007/09/16/bad-jobgood-boss/

I work in a publicish library and we get all kinds of people. My least favorite/most amusing is the woman that, every time I help her, says I should be fired. Wouldn't be surprised if she's certifiable. There's one that treats us like his private research team and asks us to find the most inane facts on weekly-to-daily basis.

Anyway, we get all kinds of silly questions. How do I go downstairs? Well, if you look six feet to your left, you can see the stairs going down. Where are the computers? Right behind you taking up about a quarter of the library. Can I check out a book with no ID and no library card? No, you can't.

What's saddest is that people think we're Blockbuster. They ask how much it costs to check out a book or get a library card like we're renting movies to them. We're a public library, people, we actually let you borrow stuff for free.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby MoonBuggy » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:30 pm UTC

The enduring thing I took from my stint at the till was that some people REALLY. FUCKING. STINK. Seriously, how even an animal, let alone human being, could allow itself to get into that state is beyond me. Blech.

Hope that's just brightened everyone's day :mrgreen:
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Dream » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:13 am UTC

I've been in retail/customer service since about 1997. Mainly for first beer money, then college money, now for rent money. In all that time I have one story to beat every other, in its stupefying, gobsmacking unbelieveability.

My "manager" at the time was a Sikh Indian, and I live in Britain.


Manager: So... what kind of girls do you like?

Me: [long explanation] ...so, you know, weird girls. People who are a bit different.

Manager: [Very long pause for thought.] So... like disabled girls. Or Chinese.

Me: *Jaw drops. No idea how to respond.* Chinese girls?

Manager: I mean, say what you want about them, they're just not right.

Me: *Walks straight out of shop.*



I cannot begin to describe how many ways this conversation, and this idiot were so very wrong. For me, it trumps every single idiot customer I've ever had. Some time later, as soon as I had any money at all, I quit with no plans for future employment. Anything was better than seeing that fool every single day.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:56 am UTC

Okay, this isn't really customer stupidity but I DESPERATELY want to know why the hell this happens.

Long ago, I swore to fail the customer in every way possible without endangering my job security. In my ideal world, the store is a sterile and lonely landscape devoid of the pesky intrusions of consumers. But no matter how hard I try, THEY KEEP COMING BACK. Beyond this, one of the things that really burns my french toast are the jokes. If you've worked in retail, you've heard them. It's impossible not to.

Here's the worst one: Standard transaction at the register. Customer is buying rope, condoms, lubricant, skittles, whatever. They hand you a hundred dollar bill. As per standard procedure, you check to make sure it's not a counterfeit.

Up until this point, you could have been dealing with a super-genius. I mean, this guy could be a rocket scientist working on his doctorate thesis on string theory while performing brain surgery in his spare time. Stephen Hawking could roll up to the register in his electric wheelchair. It doesn't matter.

Because no matter who they are, the moment you lift that hundred dollar bill up to check it, they are transformed. Their eyes bulge out from their sockets like a pair of ping-pong balls; their mouths undergo violent convulsions, twisting up into a college frat-boy sneer. Their throats bulge and go taut, as if choking on the sheer enormity of the idiocy that's rising up from their frothing bellies, until it spills out their faces like the shrieking "HEE-HAWWWW" of a donkey's signature cry.

"Don't worry, it's good. I just printed it yesterday."

Why?! WHY?! Is this something imprinted on our genetic code? Are we mere slaves to some ancient primordial instinct that forces us to abandon all sense and reason the moment someone checks the authenticity of a hundred dollar bill?
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Angelene » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:09 am UTC

Re : the note authenticity issue, I've never come across such a line, but I've oft met a customer's desperate attempt at humour with a withering stare or just sheer bewilderment, but then they're nothing special, I meet most attempts at humour with same...to which folk usually then go to great lengths to explain the joke and why I should be laughing...they're always greeted with the same response : I know, I got it, I just didn't think it funny.

Dream : I'm sorry to say that made me laugh out loud, "lol", if you will, but I won't.

I've not worked retail for a while, so there are no recent examples burning in my brain at the moment...I've already paid tribute to my years of studying law finally coming to use in parading my knowledge of contract law in front of idiot customers.

Ah, and I have to say, when it comes to a customer asking to speak to a manager, there's no greater joy on earth than being in full knowledge of the fact that your manager will come out and back you up 100%. I used to work for a ridiculous little man who would set policy in stone with us, and then when pressured from a customer would bend and bastardise the rules at will, with no mention to the customer that he was doing such, and thus making us poor lowly staff look entirely incompetent.

Although, I did work with a marvelous gentleman who once advised a customer that I was far more irreplaceable a member of staff, than they were a customer, and if they had such issue with me, to take their business elsewhere. She was being utterly ridiculous, screaming at me at the end of the evening because we didn't sell gift vouchers in €5 denominations...they went €10, €25, €50. It was a fairly high end home furnishings store, so God knows why she thought €5 or €15 would be warmly received by anyone, or why she thought I could do anything about the issue, but it didn't stop her screaming at me. I was apologetic at first, but she started to upset me with her manner, so I told her quite plainly that I was sorry, there was nothing I could do, and that I wouldn't continue to suffer being spoken to in such a manner. Of course she then demanded she see a manager to report my behaviour. Honestly I fell in love with him a little bit after he defended me so.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Eleyras » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:23 am UTC

Oh, I was just about to post something in random thoughts about this. I work in a bead store. We sell strands of beads, trays of beads (little organized containers holding individual beads), tools, cording, all the other bead-related stuff.

To start with, my manager is an idiot. Here's the story:

Her: "{blah blah blah criticize blah} Oh, and I keep getting this feeling that you're giving me attitude."
Me: Knowing that I'm fairly socially inept and am probably miscommunicating "Oh. Okay. Can you point out what it looks like when I'm doing that? I don't mean to, honest."
Her: Pause for thought"I'm not sure, but me and {coworker} keep getting that impression."
Me: "Okay. Well, if you see me giving you attitude, let me know, and I'll fix it."
Her: "{blah blah blah repeating everything she just said and taking up too much of my time}"

Several days later, the followup:

Her: "Oh, we don't empty the trays like that. Do it like this!" Shows me some other way to do it, that saves time but doesn't filter out bad beads and junk
Me: Pause for thought as I consider the pros and cons of each way and make sure I understand her way "Oh, okay." Goes back out to the floor and sorts
Her: "That's what I meant by giving me attitude. When you paused like that."
Me: "Oh. I was thinking about what you said."
Her: "When me, or another coworker tells you to do something, you just say "got it" and do it. You can think about it later, but you can't be distracted."
Me: "Um...okay, I guess."
Her: "{repeat more}"

And there's more...but I'm out of wherewithal to post.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Vellyr » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:25 am UTC

The thing that strikes me most about customers being stupid is their failure to read. At the ice cream shop where I used to work, we have an item called a "gelati" <je-la-tee>, which is sort of like a parfait. Hundreds of people come up to the window every day and order a "gelato", when we clearly do not have any handmade Italian ice cream. Stupider people who don't know what gelato is will try to pronounce the word various ways including "je-latte" and even "huh-le-tee".

Apparently frozen desserts are extremely complicated. We mostly sell Italian Ice, sort of a cross between sorbet and a snowcone. We also sell frozen custard. All of our other items are made of some combination of these, occasionally with cookie crumbles or hot topping. We have signs outside of our windows that detail exactly what each of our menu items are, in no unclear terms, and yet fully 1/3 of customers ask me what something is.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby alkatmsu » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:30 am UTC

I don't work in retail, but being in the kitchen of a local resturaunt, I hear all kinds of strange requests:

Half a baked potato (what would we possibly do with the other half?).

A grilled cheese with no crust.

One of our side items is mixed vegetables. Customers frequently request "no carrots" or "califlower only" or the such. I refuse to comply, and the manager agrees with me. The waitresses often do it themselves to satisfy their customer.

Grilled chicken with no marinade (impossible, as the marinade is what prevents it from sticking to the grill and burning).

"Warmed-over" beans, meaning beans leftover from the previous night and reheated.

I know there's more, but I can't think of any right now.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Angelene » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:43 am UTC

Am I going to sound like a horribly demanding person if I say that I don't think any of the above food-related requests are that entirely unreasonable?
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Azrael001 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:47 am UTC

Yes. Actually, the only one I wouldn't think is reasonable is the removal of a specific vegetable from mixed vegies, as they are likely premixed (am I right?). "Warmed-over" beans while a little weird shouldn't be that big a deal assuming you keep them around (which seems unlikely).
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Angelene » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:50 am UTC

Even with the veg, though, a customer should always be able to request such, and a reasonable human being would be understanding to then be told that it would be an impossible (or ridiculously tedious) task. But there's no reason it should be taken for granted that it was pre-mixed.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Dream » Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:43 am UTC

CaraInFrames wrote:Dream : I'm sorry to say that made me laugh out loud, "lol", if you will, but I won't.


Well, ok. I suppose it reads a little funnily now. And I admit to laughing uncontrollably when recounting the tale while drunk, though that involved hand movements and facial expressions. Good call :) But when he transferred these "people skills" on to my chinese co-worker, my polish lesbian co-worker or practically any customer, it was bleak. And a family business, so I couldn't complain.

Warmed over beans sounds like a health and safety nightmare. And I read "Half Baked Potato," and thought "Wow. Now that is really, really dumb."
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Azrael001 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:46 am UTC

What if it was ordered for a persons small child who doesn't eat a lot?
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Kikral » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:08 pm UTC

Then they have food for tomorrow.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:26 pm UTC

Ack! Taking food away from a restaurant? Have you gone mad?!

Really, most of those sound unreasonable to me. Half a baked potato is a nuisance, leaving out parts of a mix is, as mentioned, tedious, the chicken sans marinade has a good reason not to, warmed over beans are, as mentioned, a health/safety nightmare. Who would want this tripe, anyway?

I have no tales of retail, as I have neither dealt with nor been a stupid customer. Indubitably, you're thinking "Right... of course you haven't."

Considering how little shopping I've done over the course of my life, and the fact that I've exchanged less than 100 words total with all of the shop-people, and have never been unreasonable or asked them for anything but to exchange me the item/service for my money. . .I'd say I haven't.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Hawknc » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:46 pm UTC

Next month my career as a retail assistant draws to a close, hopefully for the rest of my life, and I can't say I've had too many spectacularly stupid people come in. Working in fast food was undoubtedly the worst of the lot and was a job I only stayed at as long as I did so that I could afford to visit my girlfriend, but eventually I quit due to having a total bitch for a manager. Highlights of my time in retail include:

- Having old men come up to the video stall I was working at and ask for "sexy" videos (*shudder*); that was another short-lived job due to the business being unprofitable
- A customer who stuck his finger into a live lamp socket to "see if it was on" (didn't do much damage to anything except his ego, thankfully)
- A customer who tried to return a 12-volt garden light because their father wired it up to 240V mains power and it exploded
- A disturbing number of people who smelled worse than death; a more accurate description would be if death had just finished a 10km marathon, not showered for a month and made his own deodorant from the sweat of other marathon runners
- Lots of racist people...not outright racist, but they'll often sneer or make disparaging comments if they have to wait behind a customer with poor English, for example. That was probably one of the more depressing parts of working in retail.

I'm just glad I didn't work in the US, I don't think I could have handled the stupidity. Bitches would be choked.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Dream » Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:33 pm UTC

Insignificant Deification wrote:I have no tales of retail, as I have neither dealt with nor been a stupid customer. Indubitably, you're thinking "Right... of course you haven't."

Considering how little shopping I've done over the course of my life, and the fact that I've exchanged less than 100 words total with all of the shop-people, and have never been unreasonable or asked them for anything but to exchange me the item/service for my money. . .I'd say I haven't.


:) I've had regular customers who have never said one word to me in over a year. That's probably not you, but it's infuriating, sometimes. No, further, you can write very well, string many many sentences together and articulate yourself coherently. You are immediately better than about 60% of all customers for that alone. Which would be depressing, if I wasn't a seasoned retail veteran.

Hawknc wrote:Next month my career as a retail assistant draws to a close, hopefully for the rest of my life, and I can't say I've had too many spectacularly stupid people come in. Working in fast food was undoubtedly the worst of the lot and was a job I only stayed at as long as I did so that I could afford to visit my girlfriend, but eventually I quit due to having a total bitch for a manager. Highlights of my time in retail include:

- Having old men come up to the video stall I was working at and ask for "sexy" videos (*shudder*); that was another short-lived job due to the business being unprofitable
- A customer who stuck his finger into a live lamp socket to "see if it was on" (didn't do much damage to anything except his ego, thankfully)
- A customer who tried to return a 12-volt garden light because their father wired it up to 240V mains power and it exploded
- A disturbing number of people who smelled worse than death; a more accurate description would be if death had just finished a 10km marathon, not showered for a month and made his own deodorant from the sweat of other marathon runners
- Lots of racist people...not outright racist, but they'll often sneer or make disparaging comments if they have to wait behind a customer with poor English, for example. That was probably one of the more depressing parts of working in retail.

I'm just glad I didn't work in the US, I don't think I could have handled the stupidity. Bitches would be choked.


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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Delbin » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:02 pm UTC

I have to ask, do customers everywhere get tunnel vision when they see someone at a desk? People often come in, walk right by signs, maps, and large stacks of items, to ask where to find the things they just walked by. I know I've done this in the past.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Dream » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:45 pm UTC

Delbin wrote:I have to ask, do customers everywhere get tunnel vision when they see someone at a desk? People often come in, walk right by signs, maps, and large stacks of items, to ask where to find the things they just walked by. I know I've done this in the past.


They're no longer looking for what they are after, but looking for a person who can tell them where to look. So when they see such a person, they stop looking alltogether, and just walk past everything to ask you.

They are drones.

EDIT: And not the Iain M. Banks kind. The bad kind.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Solt » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:01 am UTC

Eleyras wrote:Me: Pause for thought as I consider the pros and cons of each way and make sure I understand her way "Oh, okay." Goes back out to the floor and sorts
Her: "That's what I meant by giving me attitude. When you paused like that."
Me: "Oh. I was thinking about what you said."



Usually when I pause right after someone tells me to do something, it's because I'm really pissed and I'm contemplating whether to tell them to fuck off and then walking away. But I decided not to and say "okay" instead.

That's probably what it seems like you are doing, to your manager.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby Mathmagic » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:23 am UTC

alkatmsu wrote:I don't work in retail, but being in the kitchen of a local resturaunt, I hear all kinds of strange requests:

Half a baked potato (what would we possibly do with the other half?).

A grilled cheese with no crust.

One of our side items is mixed vegetables. Customers frequently request "no carrots" or "califlower only" or the such. I refuse to comply, and the manager agrees with me. The waitresses often do it themselves to satisfy their customer.

Grilled chicken with no marinade (impossible, as the marinade is what prevents it from sticking to the grill and burning).

"Warmed-over" beans, meaning beans leftover from the previous night and reheated.

I know there's more, but I can't think of any right now.

The only request that is "unreasonable" would be the vegetable one, but that's just under the circumstances of which they're prepared (pre-mixed/frozen/whatever). But it's not like the customer knows this. The chicken marinade predicament can be fixed with a little vegetable oil sprayed on the grill and/or chicken. How hard is it to cut the crust off of a sandwich?

Everything else is fine, and not uncommon. After working in a kitchen for 3 years, I've run into some "retarded" requests, but we've obliged anyhow to make the customer's experience as enjoyable as possible.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby Rippy » Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:42 am UTC

I love the ones who just swear all the time. Not at you, sometimes they're very nice people, they just swear non-stop. One time I had someone curse probably dozen times in a 30 second conversation.

I don't have any horror stories, but I do hate all the stupid customers you get. I've gotten gems like:
"Do you guys sell different sized nails?" (No. We only have one size.)
"Is this on sale yet?" (pointing at the clearly marked sale sign)
"Can you knock 12 dollars off this price?"
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: Free Market Enconomy? NOOOOO!

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:43 am UTC

Okay, here we go. Sorry about the delayed response (LIKE YOU CARE *sob*), but I've been busy working the job I hate.

I make a lot of fuss about being an awful person in retail, but it's mostly just for show. I'm not all that bad--I don't smile much (if you are the type of person who tells a cashier they should smile more, please stop) and I get aggravated easily, but on the whole I do what I can for a customer and treat them politely.

This does not always go both ways.

The 'Masters' incident was pretty tame; it only stood out for me because I've never met someone slap their intellectual dick on the table that fast and pointlessly before. But seriously: People are fucking assholes.

I've had a woman yell in my face, declaring me 'incompetent' because we overcharged her by twenty-five cents. I've watched a manager scrape the expiration date off of expired meat and eggs (I walked out on this job shortly thereafter). I've seen a guy that was at least four hundred pounds rolling himself around in a business chair (he couldn't walk because of the sheer magnitude of his weight) who smelled like rotten eggs boiled in vomit and drizzled with a light urine sauce--this one was a particular favorite, because he'd get us to do his shopping for him despite the fact that he brought a teenage son with him who was equipped with two perfectly functional legs. On one occasion, I asked the son if he could give me a hand loading his groceries into his car. His response (and I quote) was: "That's not my job."

Oh, God. I had one lady with food-stamps--and children to feed--coming into my store and begging my cashiers for 20 dollars. For what? HAIR DYE. Best part? One week later, she comes back in begging us for any frozen food because she doesn't have anything to feed her kids. Excuse me, what?!

I had a black guy who would come in and follow me around the store, calling me 'little white boy' and criticizing every little thing I did as racist and aimed at oppressing the black man (I'm serious here). I've had customers knock things down right in front of me--watched their kids do it--and just look at me before walking away.

I remember this one girl I worked with who stole around 300 dollars from our store through fraudulent coupons. She wanted to be a teacher. When they caught her, I sat in to watch the interview as a witness to make sure that the interviewer didn't pull any shennanigans; although his goal was to convince her confess to the crime (which we all knew she had committed), he was nevertheless very polite with her. He mentioned that if they did not settle this, the company would press charges in court, and that he was unaware of the details but there might be a chance it would interfere with her getting her teacher's license.

Ten minutes later I'm alone in the office with her and she's sobbing her heart out, weeping and crying about how they threatened to stop her from ever getting a teaching license if she didn't confess to their unreasonable demands. She stole 300 dollars; he mentioned criminal charges could interfere with her career choice. Now she's the victim? It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it is for us to justify ourselves no matter how stupid we're acting.

God. I've had a woman steal right in front of me then run into her car. And when I came out to stop her, she had her kids with her. She was stealing things from stores with her children following her. What the fuck am I supposed to do, call her a thief right in front of her children? The best part was when she acted indignant over it--like I was a horrible person (also, I was racist!) for daring to accuse her of doing what I saw with my own eyes.

I've had a lady go off on a rant about how I was a complete idiot because I did not know where the re-usuable douchebags were (they're kind of rare, these days). I've had a little kid open up a toy and bring it up front to claim that he found it that way, then ask if he could have it since it was out of the package.

This isn't even scratching the surface. I'm sure there are folks out there who can trump me--folks out there who have to deal with customers taking a shit in the aisles, or something else ridiculously loathesome--but on average, I'm dealing with a pack of pretty mean-spirited and rude people. The two types I loathe most, though? People who steal and act indignant when you catch them, and folks who tell me to smile (stop that, seriously. I DO NOT SMILE).
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: America's Inaction

Postby alkatmsu » Sun Dec 16, 2007 4:56 pm UTC

mathmagic wrote:The only request that is "unreasonable" would be the vegetable one, but that's just under the circumstances of which they're prepared (pre-mixed/frozen/whatever). But it's not like the customer knows this. The chicken marinade predicament can be fixed with a little vegetable oil sprayed on the grill and/or chicken. How hard is it to cut the crust off of a sandwich?

Everything else is fine, and not uncommon. After working in a kitchen for 3 years, I've run into some "retarded" requests, but we've obliged anyhow to make the customer's experience as enjoyable as possible.


The vegetables come to us frozen and pre-mixed. We boil them all together, then they go into gallon buckets to be scooped out as needed. The menu specifies "mixed vegetables," not "your choice of." If the customer's wanting one removed for allergy reasons (I ALWAYS ask if that's the reason), I make sure the waitress informs the customer that they're all cooked together, and therefore would all be contaminated.

The chickens soak in the maranade for at least 24 hours before cooking, rinsing it off would not change the flavor, just make it harder to cook.

Every customer is provided with a knife, fork, and spoon when they are seated. As you said, how hard is it to cut off the crust on a grilled cheese? What's next, they want us to cut their steak up for them too? You have to draw the line somewhere.

And for the record, the woman asking for half of a baked potato... we gave her a whole one, and she did eat the entire thing.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Akira » Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:44 pm UTC

So. I work in food service, as a worker in several fast-food shops. Mind you, this is on a college campus. There are a few stupid people.

"I want it on (something that sounds like Jalepeno)."
Okay. Jalepeno chedder wrap. No big. I make her wrap all up, and bring it back to the counter and ask if she wants any dressing on it, as per usual.
"Is that the (something that sounds like Jalepeno)?"
"Yes, it's the Jalepeno Cheddar."
"No, I wanted PITA."
"We don't have pita bread, we never have."
She gets all huffy: "Well... fine... i guess I'll take it."

Then there are the people at the chicken shop who ask for "Two extra wings" or "Extra fries!" and get huffy when I have to charge them extra. Not to mention, we don't have "two wings" buttons on our register. See, I have to stick to the combo descriptions, because we just give them the food and the receipt, they pay at a common register up towards the front. If we're caught giving extra (since they can't charge a chicken wing individually or anything), we can get in big trouble.

Of course, (and I know this is supposed to be for horror stories, but) there are the occasional really good customers: the ones who are really polite, aren't unreasonable, who know what they want, who speak clearly and loud enough for me to hear. I like serving them. They make me not quit my job. That's the kind of customer I try to be. I think I'm usually sucessful.

As a side note, does anyone else notice that they pitch thier voice a little higher when putting on the cheerful employee thing? "Hi! How can I help you?" "What can I do for ya?" "Would you like fries with that?" ~Its all in a higher than normal pitch. On the other hand, when dealing with genuinely nice customers, I use a lot more normal tone. I find this interesting...
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Mathmagic » Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:46 pm UTC

alkatmtsu wrote:The chickens soak in the maranade for at least 24 hours before cooking, rinsing it off would not change the flavor, just make it harder to cook.

And you guys don't have any un-marinated chicken breasts kicking around somewhere?

Anyway, I know where you're coming from. It *can* be frustrating sometimes.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Hawknc » Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:57 pm UTC

Akira wrote:Of course, (and I know this is supposed to be for horror stories, but) there are the occasional really good customers: the ones who are really polite, aren't unreasonable, who know what they want, who speak clearly and loud enough for me to hear. I like serving them. They make me not quit my job. That's the kind of customer I try to be. I think I'm usually sucessful.

That's pretty much why I stayed in my current job - there are enough customers that are happy to be helped that it makes it worthwhile. It's a little different for me than, say, someone who works on registers, though, because I'm there to provide "expert advice". It provides a slightly more level playing field with the customer, rather than being their buttmonkey. It also means they listen to me most of the time, but you always get a few professors who are absolutely sure that they're right (I once had someone tell me my thoughts on convection were completely wrong and proceeded to give a detailed explanation of conduction to correct me). Generally people are just glad to have someone explain things to them, though.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Akira » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:00 pm UTC

Where exactly do you work? What sort of job, rather. I've never had to deal with professors. Police officers, but I don't think professors come to the Eateries... lol.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Hawknc » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:03 pm UTC

Currently in the electrical/lighting and tools departments of a certain Home Depot-style store. It's very much retail, but I've been there long enough that I could probably get an electrician's licence without much trouble. ;)
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Akira » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:28 pm UTC

Lol, aaaaah. Okay. Nifty ^^
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Dream » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:31 pm UTC

If I have another customer throw a banknote on the counter in front of me without even making eye contact or saying anything, then turn away and deliberately adopt a *waiting* pose, well, whatever I do I'll be in prison for a looong time. But no jury would convict me, right?

From the annals of my off-licence work:

Customer arrives with 4 cans of beer.

C: Is this £1.32?

Me: *beep* No, sorry, they're £1.69. Sorry, it must have been priced wrong.

C: *shouts* It was priced wrong last week too!

M: Was it £1.32 then too? We must have missed a few when we were changing the price tags. Sorry about that.

C: *still shouting* It's supposed to be £1.32!

M: I'm afraid not. They have always been £1.69.

C: *throws can of beer at me*

M: Right. No beer, not at any price. There's the door.

C: *suddenly nice, but trying to be threatening* I'm coming back tomorrow. I'm going to complain to the nice old lady with the varicose veins.

M: Out.

He left. He looked like he'd never had to deal with any physical activity more demanding than hacky-sack, so the can missed. I really hate it when the customer already knew about whatever problem they are complaining about, but went through with whatever it was and complained anyway. Knowing they planned for things to turn out that way makes it so much more difficult to keep a lid on my frustration. As does (attempted) assault.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm sure there are folks out there who can trump me--folks out there who have to deal with customers taking a shit in the aisles, or something else ridiculously loathesome


Happened to a friend of mine. An old man actually left a trail of shit all the way out the door as he left.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Akira » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:40 pm UTC

Dream wrote:C: *suddenly nice, but trying to be threatening* I'm coming back tomorrow. I'm going to complain to the nice old lady with the varicose veins.

Who probably has raised both kids and grandkids, and knows how not to take shit off of people.

I know that if either of my grandmothers worked in retail (they wouldn't be above it, they're humble women, although I certainly can't see them doing so), there would not be a single impolite customer. Both of them raised five kids, and Grandma still substitute teaches every so often.
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Re: Terrifying Tales of Retail: The Customer is Always An Ass

Postby Dream » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:49 pm UTC

Akira wrote:
Dream wrote:C: *suddenly nice, but trying to be threatening* I'm coming back tomorrow. I'm going to complain to the nice old lady with the varicose veins.

Who probably has raised both kids and grandkids, and knows how not to take shit off of people.

I know that if either of my grandmothers worked in retail (they wouldn't be above it, they're humble women, although I certainly can't see them doing so), there would not be a single impolite customer. Both of them raised five kids, and Grandma still substitute teaches every so often.


Absolutely. She never has to take shit, because she's never even given shit in the first place. Ever. And anyway, the backing up people like me would give her if anyone ever bothered her would be... intimidating. She takes care of us young folk when we have to work hung-over. And we are protective in return.
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