Sunday, March 19, 2006

So seriously??

So, seriously, is there an exact moment in a person's life when all of their moral fibers just vanish? Is there a switch to reality that turns off as soon as people hit a certain point in their life? I am just wondering when it is that people decide that no one else matters in this world except for themselves?? When is it that people decided that because you work in retail you must be the absolute scum of the earth and they have every right to treat you like shit? I mean when did that happen?
When did they lose all ability to say, "excuse me," "thank you," "please," or to utter any other phrase that resembles etiquette? Instead, we get people that interrupt us no matter what we are doing, because what we are doing or discussing could not possibly be as pressing as what they have to say. We get people that feel the need to step behind the cash wrap even though that is clearly not the place for them, honestly people....your dancing space..........MY dancing space. BACK THE FUCK OFF!!!
We get grown women who can not for the life of them put the clothes they chose to try on back on the hanger. Many of them leave piles on the floor, they apparently think we are maids or something. Now I understand, some people might think, well hey that's your job, but really, is it my job to clean up after the over-privileged?? Ummmm, I think not.
My absolute favorite is the people that pick something up, decide they don't want it and put it back backwards, I mean come on, it would definitely take less effort to put it back the right way, and if we were not constantly cleaning up after you, we could probably assist you more, which might get you off our asses about the whole customer service thing.
Then there are those people who are just dying for a bargain. I MEAN HELLO, you are shopping in an expensive store, this isn't the dollar depot people! We have some customer's who somehow always find the item that is damaged, and it just happens to be their size and exactly what they were looking for, oh and ironically, the last one.
"Actually, this has a stain on it, but it's the last one in my size, do you think I could get a discount on it?"
"I don't know let me get out my magnifying glass and detective kit and see if I can find the non-existent stain, hole, damage, defect you are referring to!!"
Don't worry though, because they will always get the discount, that's our company policy, give the customers everything they want, let them walk all over you, treat you like crap, and come back in a few days to do it all over again.
Thanks president of the company for your customer friendly policies, oh and don't worry, when I get my therapy bill for the mental anguish you've caused me, I'll be sure to send the bill directly to you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Where does all the good go?

So now that I have gotten into this whole blog thing I find myself constantly thinking of things to rant about. Not all of them are related to work either, but all are related to people. I have a continuing interest in people, which is ironic because working in retail really makes you question human beings on a constant basis. After one grueling Sunday with my co-worker and friend, she was left questioning her mortal being and I was gearing up to write a book titled, "What the fuck is wrong with you?!?"
The situations I have encountered working in retail are so unbelievably unreal that my entire management team thinks we are being videotaped for an un-named, yet-to-be aired reality series.
I vaguely remember this one morning nearly a year ago when I was just going along with my normal routine for when I open the store; counting the drawers, payroll, filling out the zone chart, answering the phone, and that's when it happened.
"Good Morning, thank you for calling...."
"I'm looking for this mirror that's on your website, I wanted to see if you had it in the store?"
"Ok, what does it look like?"
"It is called the.."
"Oh, we actually don't go by the names on the website, can you describe it for me?"
"Well, umm, it is oval shaped, has flowers, do you know what it is?"
At this point I knew what she was referring to and asked to put her on hold so I could go and look for the item. Well we no longer had the item, so I picked up the phone and informed the woman on the phone that I was sorry but we no longer had that item. Seems kosher so far, well she then asked me if I could look it up and see what other stores have it. I told her, as I told every customer when they ask this question, that we do not have a system that allows us to do, but what I can do is take her information, fill out a request, locate the SKU for her (which neither she nor I had at the moment) and do a store-wide search to see if any location still had it. She asked how long it would take, I told her the entire process, doing the store-wide search, and getting it shipped to her could take up to two weeks. Well all that miss friendly on the other end of the phone heard was "two weeks" and she started screaming at me.
"So you are telling me that it will take me two weeks to find the item?"
"No, it will take two weeks for.."
"Two weeks is ridiculous, I can't believe you can't just find it for me now."
"the entire process, so you will receive it anywhere from now until two weeks from now."
Well she had no interest, all she wanted to know is why at 8:30 AM I was unable to immediately find her a mirror, because honestly that is the most important thing in the world, clearly the most pressing matter is whether or not this woman gets her mirror. Well, she decided that my offer to help her find the mirror was completely unacceptable so she she was going to call other stores. I thought it was over from there, I mean I had done everything I could have at that particular moment. To find a SKU would have taken some time since we no longer had the item and either way I was going to have to still fill out a request for her since our store no longer had it. Time (and etiquette) was apparently something this woman lacked.
So I continued on the things that I had to do, assuming that she would have better luck finding the item at another location and that my part in her all-consuming quest for her mirror was over.
You have heard the saying never assume anything because it makes an ass out of you and me right? Exactly! The phone rings a little bit later and here is this woman again telling me how I must have no idea how to do my job, I must be completely incompetent because she called another store and they found it for her right then. She could not believe how unwilling I was to do my job. "That is your job" she told, I mean yelled at me. She hit a nerve with that comment but I held back, I tried to explain to her one last time that I did everything I could have done at that particular moment and, well it did not matter what else I said, all she wanted to do was yell at me and tell me what I moron she perceived me to be. She also wanted to know who my district manager because she wanted to complain about me.
I had to warn my district manager because I knew how completely she would distort the truth to make herself seem like a victim. I offered her the same information I offer every customer that is looking for something that no longer exists in my particular location, but for her it was not good enough.
Did I say, vaguely remembered?!? Ok, I will never forget this instance because it is a constant reminder how awful people can be and how wrong. This woman had no actual idea how much I had to do at that particular moment, what my actual job is, how hard I work, or how much intelligence I actually do possess. I had no idea that at 8:30 AM on a weekday that this woman would forever change the way I thought about people. No idea that this one high maintenance, self-serving, obnoxious woman would taint my ability to see the good in all people. It did raise a lot of questions though. I have a ton of questions about people, how did they get to be this way? Did their parents teach them the difference between right and wrong? When did they become to believe that the world revolves so perfectly around them?
My list goes on.
I am questioning human beings on a constant basis.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sad Day

So, I know that I came to this blogging thing to be funny, but today is a very sad day and no amount of humor and cynicism could change that. Today the world has been forced to say goodbye to Joan Bogart. This is a woman who opened the doors of life to hundreds of young girls summer after summer. She helped give us all the opportunity to leave our families behind to come and be a part of the Wi-Co-Su-Ta family. Your kindness, dedication and love to that family is embedded in the hearts of so many. So today we are thinking of you, and your family and our hearts go out to you.
I can only hope that the world appreciates what a precious jewel you were and celebrates the life that you lived and the legacy's you have left behind.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Customer Service This

For the past two and half years, I have been doing what I like to refer to as "field work." Some other people might prefer to call it, customer service. I was a recent college graduate who spent the summers creating memories, building friendships and strengthening bonds at summer camp, instead of getting my foot in the door through an internship. So when reality set in, I lacked the experience I needed on paper to get that face-to-face interview. I had a few interviews here and there, but mostly exploratory. So, I walked into the only place I would be able to walk to from my house and tolerate working at, a clothing store. The pickings were slim, fast-food restaurant, tanning salon, 7-11, so I picked the obvious choice.

I have since come to regret that decision. I thought I was walking into a temporary, part-time position. Two and a half years later, I am a key-holding manager whose tolerance for people, if you can call some of our customer's that, is drastically declining.

I go back and forth in my mind every day deciding whether or not I like my job. So when I was back on the "I am not tolerating this for a second longer" kick, someone very smart suggested starting a blog, so that is why I am here. I am looking for a place to rest my thoughts and re-tell the horrific stories of the people that I have to deal with in my profession of customer service. So my two and half years of "field experience" will hopefully pay off.

So I will leave you today with my absolute favorite story to date. Recently a customer came into our store carrying an old purse of ours, she had clearly been using it for a while. I checked on her on the floor to make sure she was finding everything she needed alright. She mentioned that she was looking for a small bag, I pointed her in the direction of where she might find them and without a real thanks she headed in that direction. She clearly missed that little life lesson of etiquette. Later I was at the register when she came up all set to buy a pair of pants and a belt, so I was about to ring her up when she said to me, "Oh and I wanted to return this," and she pointed to her purse. Dumbfounded, my response was, "The one that you are using?!?" She, without so much as a blink of the eye said yes. To keep with our company's policy, I asked if she had a receipt, I was absolutely certain the response would be a no and it would put an end to this nonsense. Oh no, she reached down into her clearly loved bag and pulled out a stack of receipts thicker than our catalogue and proceeded to point right to the correct receipt. To prolong this ridiculous request of hers I went to the back to check up the SKU on the receipt from October of 2005 to make sure it was correct, sure enough it was the correct receipt. By the time I had gotten back up there she had emptied out the contents of the bag she had been using for nearly six months. With the return we ended up owing her five cents, much to my dismay I put it back on discover card and sent her on her merry way. The moral of this story, at the store I work at you can gladly return something that you have obviously used for something more current as long as you have the receipt. Honestly, what in the world was this woman thinking, oh I'll just use the bag I want to return today and I hope they don't think it is weird when I dump out the contents of my bag on the counter and ask to return it?!?!?!

Well, this is just a starting point for my soapbox I like to call, "The customer is always right, except when their wrong."