People Shit Me
By Adam Hill
People shit me. Not all people, but a selective group of people. I call them customers; I hate customers; again, not all customers, but a large number of them.
I have worked in retail now for six and a half years and the other day whilst dealing with ‘a problem’ customer I suddenly realised, ‘I hate this.’ And begun thinking to myself; what gives these people the right to talk to me like this?
I have worked in retail for 8 and half years. I have managed stores and I know a lot about retail law. But customer assumption is a very strange thing. The rights some people think that they have are ludicrous. I don’t mind the trivial things; people reading my name tag and talking to me as if we’ve been friends for years; or people asking me, ‘do you work here’ when what I am wearing couldn’t be anything other than a uniform; while putting stock out or cleaning up. ‘No, dipshit. I’m just a really big fan.’ Many customers’ have unrealistic ideas of what is good retail service. Here are some of my career highlights.
Can I speak to your manager?
As a young manager this was always an infuriating question. Simply because I am young people do not believe that I know what I was talking about. Here’s a perfect example.
I was dealing with a customer who had a problem with the amount of change that he had received. I followed procedure; counting the til in front of him to see if there was any extra money taken. It balanced exactly. I naively thought, ‘problem solved’, but he proceeded to tell me that I was still wrong. My response was merely, ‘I’m sorry, but the till balances and there is nothing I can do for you, maybe you lost it?’ Big mistake, he continued ‘You fuckin’ little cunt!’, assuming that I thought he was a scam artist, “How dare you call me a liar, I know how much fucking money I gave you and you’re not going to get away with it!’ Then came the dreaded demand, ‘I want to speak to your manager’. I calmly replied, ‘he’s just going to tell you the same thing that I have’. The response came as expected, ‘No, I am not leaving here until I get my money!’ This customer did not realise what I and my smirking casual employee on the register behind me both knew; I was the manager, and he was already speaking to the person he wanted to speak to. However, I’d had enough, I politely told the man, ‘Okay, sir. Just wait a minute; I’ll have to go get him.’ He angrily agreed. I left and walked to the back of the store. I waited for what was probably an unreasonable amount of time before returning, but I was angry and he had been unforgivably rude considering I’d shown him that there was no mistake made. I returned to the front striding right up to the man. ‘Hello sir, I am the manager of the store: I believe you wanted to speak to me?’ The look on his face was worth every bit of frustration. Needless to say he left without saying much else.
How much for cash?
Not every store works like a market! We actually buy our products here! And we have to make money to cover wages, utilities and rent! I always die a little bit inside when somebody asks me this question. Or when somebody tells me I am allowed to do it cheaper becase I won’t have to pay GST for it. Now I am not fully aware of how GST works but i know that is completely off the mark! I understand that people want to get the most for their money, but most stores can’t operate that way. For me this question usually comes the moment that I quote a customer our ‘lowest sell price’. I’ve already offered a considerable discount and have always explained that the prices are guaranteed to be the best at the time. The inevitably condescending response always follows, ‘Don’t you want to make a sale?’ - No, not really, I actually prefer trying not to make sales – You enormous douche! But instead I politely reply ‘Sorry I cannot go any lower, if you would like to try find the product cheaper you are more than welcome. I don’t know where the line is between haggling to begging but I am always amazed at how little self respect people have. I would be embarrassed to be seen making such a nuisance of myself over $30 or $40 when I am being offered a 50% discount on a $3000 product;
I was recently duelling with a man and his wife in this exact predicament. He was after a product values at $2500 which I was offering to him for $1300 (This was our best price AKA the guaranteed best price!) I went through all the normal banter, starting out with what was good about the item and allowing him to ask the question. ‘What is the best price you can do for cash? I replied ‘we can do it for $1300 cash, card or cheque. Our best price is our best price we don’t mind how you pay for it!’ After 40 minutes of me repeating myself and him trying to haggle the price down $100, then $50, then $100 again. He announced ‘If you won’t go any lower we will have to go somewhere else.’ I simply offered and encouraging ‘Good luck’ and said that we could match any better offer made but this is not something that I have ever had to do before because we are the cheapest. They walked out the door and then instantly came back in as if presuming that I was going to run pleading after them, ‘No! Don’t go. Take that machine, another machine and let me massage your feet all for $1250! But please don’t shop somewhere else!’ However, instead I had sat down to my computer and gotten back to work. ‘So, you won’t do it any lower?’ Instead of remarking on his arrogance, I offered‘Sorry, but I can’t do it any lower.’ He flicked out his credit card (not sure what happened to the cash!) and triumphantly announced ‘$1250 done deal!’ Well, that was more than enough patience from my end. I just shook my head and announced ‘Look, I will put the payment through but you are paying $1299, I am sick of you wasting my time’ this got a chuckle from his wife, ‘if you do not want to take the deal I will go an sit in the office and wait for someone else to come and take it. But I have a shop to run and other things to do.’ The man reluctantly handed over his card and purchased the ridiculously low priced item.
After 8 years there are many more examples of unreasonable expectations and myths that I can bust wide open about the retail industry but they could fill an entire book. So stay tuned for part two of this piece!