Some customers are never right
Updated: July 12, 2012 1:47PM
Dear Readers: The Fixer will never forget the brazen kid who stopped in front of the cash register, brand-new sunglasses on his head with the price tag dangling down the side. He paused a moment to smile before dashing out the front door of the store with his friends.
Way to ruin the cashier’s day.
The year was 1983, and The Fixer was a high school student working the cash register at the local drugstore. That obnoxious shoplifter was one of our most annoying customers, though most of the shoppers were truly delightful people.
In memory of that clown, we continue our “turning the tables” feature today with tales from the other side about customers who aren’t always right. These are the consumers who make life difficult for everyone else.
(If you are a front-line retail worker, restaurant staffer, service person or small business owner who wants to vent, we would love to hear your story at email@example.com.)
From Margaret: “I work for a chain store. We offer every customer a basket, but many refuse and then pile their things at the cash register while they shop.
“Recently, a customer was doing this, but after she set her items down one by one, she would stand there and gaze around. At this point, I asked her if she was ready to check out. This happened two or three times.
“I finally laughed and said, ‘I will leave you alone — just tell me when you are ready.’
“When the customer went home, she completed the store survey and said I was rude and not interested in helping her!”
From Mo: “Years ago, I was working at a casual restaurant in the city. There was a customer I fondly refer to as ‘Mrs. Got Rocks.’ Her hands were bedecked in jewels with well-manicured fingernails.
“Earlier in the day, the manager had sent home a server, which left me all by myself with 48 tables. By 12:30 p.m., the place was packed and people were waiting for their drinks, their checks and their food.
“Mrs. Got Rocks ordered a specialty salad and said to me, ‘I want the dressing light.’ I said OK, and she yelled at me, ‘VERY LIGHT!’ Well, when her salad arrived, the dressing was on the side. She said to me, ‘I can’t put dressing on the salad!’ I thought she was joking.
“Well, about 15 minutes later, I came back to see how everything was, and I noticed that her salad was gone and she had an omelet.
“I asked if something was wrong with the salad. She said, ‘I told you I couldn’t put the dressing on.’ I replied that I thought she was joking. She started screaming, ‘YOU’RE A LIAR!’ Well, this was just insane and I started to cry — though you know there’s not supposed to be any crying in waitressing.
“The reason I’ll never forget her is twodays prior to this I was at my favorite bar and a young man came in a wheelchair. He had cerebral palsy. He ordered a cheeseburger and fries and he was shaking so bad he couldn’t feed himself. I cut up his burger and fed him myself.
“This woman at the restaurant was perfectly healthy but just wanted to be difficult. She is still my worst horror story.”
From Carla: “Perhaps it’s time for folks who receive good customer service to step up and tell the employee’s bosses how good the employee is. I do this and frankly am shocked at how many bosses don’t expect feedback to be positive.
“Second, my advice to shoppers is don’t do it when you’re tired. You, exiting your busy, busy day, are likely dealing with someone who needs their job and who has been working a LONGER DAY THAN YOU.
“Last, a word about ‘class.’ Poor customers don’t, in my experience, abuse front-line service employees. The worst abusers are the nouveau riche.”
Finally, this gem from Steve:
“I am an airline ticket gate agent. Ticket agents have an ongoing joke that passengers check their brains at the front door of the airport when they enter, but this story takes the cake!
“I was working as a gate agent for a commuter flight to Portland, Maine, with a regional jet that held 50 seats total.
“I had closed out the flight and pulled the loading bridge from the aircraft when I got a call from the control tower to put the jet bridge back up to the plane. We had not one, not two, but three of what the airline terms ‘mis-boards.’ This refers to people who are on the wrong flight.
“With electronic check-in and electronic boarding and security checkpoints, it is virtually impossible for this to happen. But one adult, a 16-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy had boarded a flight to Portland, Maine, when they were actually going to Portland, Oregon!
“The mistake was discovered on board the aircraft when the flight attendant said they looked like a nice family. The adult responded, ‘Do you know any good restaurants in Portland, Oregon?’
“That’s when the flight attendant realized their mistake and alerted the pilots before departure that we had three people on the wrong aircraft.
“The computer specifically says ‘Portland, Maine’ when you are booking. The luggage tags for checked baggage say ‘Portland, Maine.’ The tickets say ‘Portland, Maine.’ With our boarding announcements at the gate, we specifically say ‘Portland, Maine.’
“Even if the adult did not pick up on one of these triggers, isn’t it safe to say that a 16-year-old would say at some point to their parent, ‘Daddy, aren’t we going to Portland, Oregon?’ ”