Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jekyll & Hyde

The Strange Case...
There was a bizarre customer today that seemed to have a split-personality.

She'd gone to Cleo's till just as she was opening it up at the start of her shift. Most supermarket shoppers will know that it can be quite a pain if you've got a big trolley load and you're the first customer there - you don't get time to get everything onto the belt before the action starts.

Seeing that this lady was going to fall behind with the packing, I went over and started bagging things for her whilst she finished putting her shopping onto the conveyor belt. When she'd finished, she seemed delighted at this help:

"Oh my, oh thank you so much! You've made my day!"

She watched me packing for a few moments before suddenly exploding:

"Don't put all that in there! It'll be too heavy and I can't lift it!"

Taken aback, Cleo and I shared a puzzled glance with each other. I don't think the lady noticed this but, nonetheless, she swung back to her former self:

"Oh, how ungrateful of me to complain when you've been so helpful!"

My God! What is this? I was thinking to myself, almost too scared to speak in case she burst into another furious rant. In the event, I didn't need to speak, she did it of her own accord.

"NO! That's still too heavy, I'll never get that into the car!"

Miffed at such ingratitude, I reorganised the bags a little so the weight was more balanced.

"Oh, you're ever so kind, thank you."

But seconds later...

"I'll never get all THIS into the car!"

And then, she flipped back once more...

"Thank you very much. At least I've got a good strong husband at home to help me get it all back out again."

By the end of that encounter, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. Cleo was just as baffled as I was. Perhaps you couldn't appreciate how unnerving this customer was without seeing her. She literally veered between being so smiley and chirpy it was intolerable to being so full of rage and hatred she was shaking and spitting as she yelled. Perhaps she was doing it on purpose to make my day interesting?

Long winded
A customer telephoned the store today and when I answered, I got perhaps the longest query I've ever come across. "Oh, hello, my name's Madeleine Hayes, and I'm just telephoning you because I thought you, or one of you staff, might be able to assist me in discovering whether or not you might sell such a thing as an electrically operated toaster?"

So, basically, "Do you sell toasters?"

I mean, come on! It was as though she was asking for something completely bizarre that she'd never heard of before. Have you ever come across a device for toasting bread that isn't electrically operated? Apart from a spit for holding bread against a fire, I doubt it. And since when was it necessary to formally introduce yourself to shop assistants?

Still, I suppose I shouldn't be complaining because she was, at least, polite about it.

Self-Centred Staff
An incident today has given me the opportunity to have a good old whinge about people who think they're important and should have priority over their colleagues when it comes to booking holidays.

Today's event involved a team member requesting 25th August off as holiday because it's their wedding anniversary. They were told, quite rightly, that two weeks' notice was nowhere near enough and that because so many other staff had already booked holidays over that week, the only way they'd get it off is by asking somebody to swap a shift.

They went off in the huff at this and stomped off to Terry's office to complain. But they didn't just complain about the holidays not being granted. The complaint was made personal towards the supervisor who had refused the holiday request.

Just who do people think they are? It's made perfectly clear in the company induction and in the terms and conditions handbook, issued to all staff, that the company's standard notice period for holidays is three months. In our store, we say give two months' notice to be guaranteed the dates you want. You can ask at shorter notice and you will get the holidays if they're available. If not, tough.

There's just no fairer way of doing it than allocating dates on a first-come-first-served basis. Which is why I got so annoyed at the team member's reaction to being refused. It's not as though they didn't know when their own anniversary was and they should have booked it months ago. It's no good asking for time off when the schedules are already compiled for that week. As it was, that particular week has been booked solid since March.

When this colleague finally found somebody who was willing to swap a shift, they then started moaning that they'd need to get a babysitter for their new shift. Well Christ almighty! Did you want your anniversary off or didn't you!?


Pizza Hut Team Member said...

The way holidays are dealt with at most supermarkets and other big stores is exactly why, while I am a 'part-timer' I won't apply for jobs at them. It does interest me but places with loads of people seem so fussy and strict with holidays.

I suppose it is so hard to manage otherwise, but at Pizza Hut we have about 15 staff, we all know each other and can ask for as much or as little time off as we want If it can't be booked off, we all have each others numbers in their phone and text them. Holiday pay is built up over the year and you can get it whenever you want, even if you don't actually have time off. The only bummer with pay is, we don't get any special rates for weekends, bank holidays - naffing.

Al said...

We say four weeks as a minimum but to be honest if you ask even a week ahead and it's possible then you'll get it.

Working in a small department does have it's advantages. Much like the situation for PHTM, we all get together at the start of the year with the calendar and mark off any days we know we need (holidays, anniversaries etc.) and those are booked. Anything that's left is done on a first come first served basis - although pretty much everyone likes to have the same weeks off each year so it's fairly easy to predict if you can have a certain week off.

We can also take all of our holidays when we like, regardless of whether we've 'earned' them or not. So I could have all of April off but if I leave in the next 12 months I would have to pay them back any holiday pay I hadn't 'earned'.

I've never had a customer swing from happy to mental like that. I have had a customer who gave me a filthy look when I had packed a few bags for them, unpacked them and did them their way. I thought fair enough and walked off.

James UK said...

People... staff AND customers...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again;

"The train don't stop Camborne Sundays!"

AggressiveAdmin said...

With a small store where so many of us work across different departments and cover holidays, it's extremely difficult to plan holidays.

Most of us are sensible and book dates early to avoid clashes, but there's a handful of people who wait until the very last minute and think they can just have the time off regardless. It's very annoying for the people who plan ahead.

There's every chance you'll get holidays at short notice, but some people just don't understand that if there's already 6 other people off, it's tough luck. They booked first.