Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Every time I come in this Bloody Shop..."

Mrs Snot & The Clementines
It's been one of those hours where everything has gone tits up. Firstly, a cashier rings in sick five minutes before the start of her shift, everybody in the whole town decides to pack into Food Place at once, all the staff from every department are sat on checkouts - including me, the supervisor - and somebody goes and smashes a bottle of vinegar.

"Oh, oh, whoops! I'm ever so sorry."

"It's alright, don't worry about it - happens all the time..." I'll give you something to be sorry about you blundering fool! Can't you see this is hardly a convenient moment to start smashing the place to bits?!

After an hour like that, the last thing I want is an arrogant, cocky customer blaming me for things that aren't my fault. Dealing with them is not a pleasant experience at the best of times, never mind when you reek of vinegar. But whether I like it or not, a lady we shall call Mrs Snot, has chosen this moment to vent all the steam she's holding about Food Place.

She catches me off guard. Normally, you have at least five seconds to prepare when you see a situation emerging unless, that is, they sneak up on you. And she does just that. I've just finished a telephone conversation with a nice customer making enquiries about what brands of furniture polish we sell. Which is lucky really because the morale boost from that customers pleasant tone certainly helps with what's about to come.

"Excuse me, I've had enough of this place, every bloody time I come in here something is wrong, can't you get anything right? It's just constant, if it's not pricing it's rude staff or mouldy food, I'm just fed up!" Mrs Snot stops to catch her breath and I'm aware that I'm gawping at her, startled.

"I'm sorry, is there anything I can help with?" I muster upon regaining my senses.

"Well you could just scratch the surface by explaining to me why your products are in this state!" She produces a pack of Dairylea cheese triangles. The packaging is split.

"Oh, it most probably got damaged in transit, I can replace..."

"Well if it was damaged in transit, why didn't your staff pick up on it, aren't they trained?" Mrs Snot is seriously overreacting. Perhaps it doesn't come across so much in what she's saying, but the fact that she's almost in tears indicates the melodramatic tone.

"If we notice something is damaged, we remove it immediately, but we case fill here you see. The transit box is cut open and the whole case of products put onto the shelf - so that pack you have probably wasn't handled by the staff."

"This is exactly why I get annoyed with [Food Place], you have pathetic excuses for everything. You're actually trying to tell me that it's not your responsibility to check the quality of the goods on sale?" Mrs Snot is now making hand gestures to emphasise how useless we staff are."

I'm not in the mood to let her generalised assault on our job performance pass without defense: "We will always try to make sure products aren't going on sale when they're damaged, but we can't be everywhere at once. There's a lot of work to be done to operate this store and only a limited number of people to do it. We are only human and we can't spot every problem. But we will act when somebody points them out."

It's lost though. Mrs Snot has more fish to fry: "And while we're talking about problems," she rips out her receipt, "you're displaying a sign next to the Satsumas that they're buy one get one free. Nothing has been deducted from this bill, just nothing!" She hits the receipt for emphasis.

I take a glance and read: "Clementines 2@£1.22" I tell Mrs Snot that I'm going to check the sign for her, to humour her, but she decides it's necessary to follow me. I clearly cannot be trusted.

We arrive at the produce department and she lunges for the sign "SEE! Buy one get one free!" She turns to me with her 'well what do you have to say about this?' pose - eyes widened, lips pursed.

"Yes, the sign indicates Satsumas are buy one get one free, but you bought Clementines you see. And those aren't on offer." I, briefly, contemplate adopting her wide-eyed pose, but decide to remain as diplomatic as possible. I just know she's going to have an answer for this and it won't be 'oh I'm terribly sorry, my mistake!"

"So why on earth is the sign above the Clementines then?" Mrs Snot is on the brink of sobbing hysterically and throwing her shoes across the shop now.

"If you look at the shelf layout, the sign is below the Satsumas. It's the standard right across this store and any other supermarket to have the POS displaying the offer below the product."

"I don't want these, get me a refund so I can just get out of here!" She picks the Clementines out of her bag and drops them back onto the shelf.

I'm only too happy to get rid of her.

Why this incident irritated me
Firstly, would it be so hard for people to check their facts before making complaints? If I suspected I'd been charged incorrectly in a shop, my plan of action would be to return to the shelf, check I'd read the price/special offer correctly and check I'd bought the correct product. If I remained certain I'd been overcharged, I'd go to the desk, alert the member of staff about the pricing error and request a refund. That way nobody gets insulted or, in Mrs Snot's case, humiliated.

Why do people need to make a scene about such trivial matters? Does it really matter to them that much? Some of the emotion and bile that customers have when they complain is beyond imagining. I often wonder what sort of a difference they could make to this country if they directed their venom towards the things that really are a disgrace - the NHS cash crisis for one. I'm glad that this world has people that kick up a fuss and complain - but they should stop wasting it on trivial matters, hurling the flack at people that don't deserve it!

GGGgggRRRrrr I need sleep.


C said...

You poor swine, I only work part time in a supermarket and even then usually on the chilled dept.

I can't handle checkouts as customers wind me up that much, I must confess I'm one of the staff that if a customer starts whinging if it's anything beyond my department and level (part time low level grunt) they get directed to the customer service desk. And some lucky fella like yourself.

They always seem to forget, I'm getting paid nigh on minimum wage, have the stress of a dissertation hanging above me and am wearing steel toe safety shoes and usually have a box knife in my back pocket. WHY must they get so incredibly arsey. As for the ones that touch you....

One of them is going down before I leave.

Al said...

Even if you hadn't made sure you had picked up the product that was on offer you would at the very least apologise when told you had made a mistake. At least, normal people would.

I've had two or three people actually burst into tears on me at the photo lab. I was totally at a loss as to what to do the first couple of times. Just how do you stop a customer crying?

Now I've put a packet of tissues under the desk for just such an occassion.

AggressiveAdmin said...

Why did they cry? (I'm sniggering now) I could understand it if some important photographs were ruined or something like that, but crying over a crack in a Dairylea box is just silly.

We once had a lady in tears because she's locked herself out of her car - how she managed it I don't know but I felt really sorry for her and helped as best I could.

I have no problems helping people with genuine problems but nitpickers and drama queens need to die!

Al said...

There have been two women and one guy. If my memory serves me correctly:

1. The first woman was because she used a cheap disposable camera (really cheap, it looked like something you'd get out of the pound shop for free with something) to take pictures of her Mum's 80th party. She was upset when the pictures were crap.

2. The second woman cried because the machine packed up and her pictures weren't ready in time. I did feel sorry for her though because she needed them for a funeral later that day. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do except suggest where else she could get them done.

3. The bloke was because my ex-supervisor managed to destroy his film (I don't know how he managed it, but it's not the reason he's no longer our supervisor). While I sypmathised with him it wasn't as much as number 2 as we know him and he's a pain in the arse. He was also the only person so far to threaten to take legal action against me and the company. I'm not sure what I did...