Almost a year ago I wrote a post on abuse from customers. I’d forgotten I’d written this post until it appeared on the blog’s statistics as one of the most read posts in the last 24 hours. I re-read it and thought I’d look at the situation a year on now that I’m a trainee manager as opposed to a Customer Assistant.
I must say taking the step up to trainee manager has meant the customers get more abusive and more frequent. The customers that I used to pass onto the manager now come to me (what a stupid move that was).
I’m going to recall a couple of recent stories. The first happened about a week before I hurt my knee. I was called to the returns desk because a customer was unhappy (more to the point the was acting in a totally unacceptable manner by threatening the staff that work on the desk). The story was that he wanted to return his kettle, but the receipt for it showed that it had been purchased some 14 months earlier. I got to the desk and looked at the kettle, it was in an utterly disgusting state with limescale and rust everywhere (not what you’d expect for a kettle that was only 14 months old). Our products are only guaranteed for 12 months, and anyway even if it had been within the 12 months he still wouldn’t have been getting the refund as the kettle wasn’t faulty or broken…it had just been abused. I communicated all this to the customer and he started to become verbally abusive towards me. I wasn’t in the mood for it and asked him to stop otherwise he would be asked to leave the store. At that point the decided it would be wise to throw the kettle at me! That was the final straw Security and the police were called and he left in handcuffs (he was charged twice with causing a breach of the peace – once in relation to his threats to the Desk staff and once in relation to his throwing the kettle at me).
Another one was for a customer who believed they had been overcharged for a product. Here is the situation: the customer had picked up a set of electronic kitchen scales that cost £19.97. The product to the right of this one had sold out and the shelf edge label was still in place showing a reduced price of £9.79. The customer assumed (wrongly) that the £9.79 label was for the £19.97 product. When I arrived he marched me along to the shelf and just pointed to it, to which I responded “Yes, what can I do for you?”. This seemed to send him off more (as if I am meant to be able to read his mind or something stupid like that). He started ranting and raving and the conversation went something like this:
Customer: It’s confusing having the two labels there. I want it for that price there.
Me: Why is it confusing sir?
Customer: How are we meant to know which one it is?
Me: Well sir, we generally read from left to right in this country (probably a huge mistake on my part as this sent him of more)
Customer: Don’t you in this country me, do I look foreign to you?
Me: No sir, that’s not what I meant
Customer: I’m going to trading standards about this.
Me: (confidently, as while he was ranting I did my checks) You can go to trading standards if you want, but the shelf is perfectly legal and they will back the store up
Customer: What do you mean it’s perfectly legal
Me: Well the description and bar codes match the product and the price displayed matches what the product is scanning for at the checkouts. We have a label to the right of the product because another product will have been sitting there which has now sold out. This label would have therefore been on the left-hand side of the product that
has now sold out.
Customer: What’s all this bullshit about barcodes and descriptions, all I look at is the price and nothing else.
Me: Well sir, that might be how this mistake has happened. The label contains a lot more detail than just the price. What I am going to do is remove the label to the right of the product to avoid anymore confusion.
Customer: Why would you do that if its legal?
Me: because the shelf is actually part of a discontinued/deranged mod and we do not have anymore of the product left. Unfortunately we cannot be there every time a product sells out so remove the label at the first available opportunity, which this is.
Customer: I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to cover your arse you prick.
Me: Sir, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use that language and no I’m not covering it up. You already have a photograph of the shelf on your mobile phone so me removing the label will make no difference what so ever if you decide to take it to trading standards.
It went on and on like this until the Senior Manager on duty that day came past and saw I was in desperate need of help, but sadly his help was to give the customer a £10 refund…how infuriating!
I have many more such stories, but these are two of the most recent that stick in my mind the most. Abuse is sadly a daily occurrence for those who work in retail and it really is quite unacceptable.