April 18, 2004

A Contest!!!!!

Yes, boys and girls, I have decided to have a contest!!!!!! I know that many of my fellow bloggers work in either retail or tech support. And we all know that a surprising number of customers are idiots. May I present:

The Practical Penumbra Stupid Customer Story Open

Just tell your favorite stupid customer story in the comments to this post. You may enter multiple stories, but only one story per comment.
In order to be fair, folks who don't work in customer service are allowed to enter stories of stupid customers they have actually observed in action, but it must be a first-hand account--no hearsay allowed!

The deadine for entries is midnight EST (CDT) April 27, 2004, and winner(s) will be announced April 30th.

The decision of the judges (when I get some) will be final.*

There will be a prize of some sort (when I think of something), as well as valuable linkage to the top three finishers.


*I'm thinking about asking the Reverend Paul of Sanity's Edge, Jennifer of Jennifer's History and Stuff, and Mr. Mouse of Beyond the Black Hole to join me as judges because we all read Bill and thus are experts on stupidity. However, if any of them wishes to be a contestant, they will be excused from judging, and I'll try and find another of Bill's readers to take their place.

UPDATE: All three judges have acepted, and the prize thingie is under development.

Posted by Susie at April 18, 2004 06:03 PM | TrackBack
Comments

I am very honored to be selected as a judge for such a prestigeous contest. Good luck to all contestants!

Posted by: Mr Mouse at April 18, 2004 08:05 PM

I'd love to be a judge!

Posted by: Paul at April 19, 2004 06:27 AM

While at one assignment in the Air Force, I was the designated ‘computer guy’ who got called for anything involving electronic equipment. One day I got a call from the a General’s secretary that his Secure Telephone was broken, and that he needed a new one immediately. This wasn’t an odd request because these phones were complicated and kinda delicate – we kept spares for just such occasions.

Setting up the phone for use took about an hour. There was a special electronic “key” that needed to be programmed, then you had to call a special number for the “key” to be read and confirmed and synchronized. I got it all set up, then took the whole thing over to the General’s office to install.

His phone’s electrical cord had come unplugged from the wall.

Posted by: Ted at April 19, 2004 08:27 AM

I got nuthin'.

No, wait. How about just a general story about a customer? When I was Customer Service Manager at UCC Buffalo we had a family that joined the club with a last name of Cadet. Nothing wrong there, right? Well, Mr.Cadet's first name was Wiener. Yeah. Wiener Cadet. Oh, the laughs we had when Wiener Cadet came in to shop. We were quite juvenile and unapologetic about it.

The Cadets were immigrants from South Africa. Wiener doesn't mean wiener there. In fact, it's pronounced Vay'-nar. So, although his name was funny here you can't really call him foolish for having a name like Wiener Cadet when that's a wholly unhumorous and normal name in his birth country.

However, you can call him a moron when he has a kid who was born in the USA and he named the poor son of a bitch Wiener Cadet Junior.

Posted by: Jim at April 19, 2004 09:22 AM

One of my jobs in the family business involves waiting on customers at our automated car wash. This is a conveyor wash which involves guiding the customer onto the track and stopping them at a specific spot. There have been many poor drivers who don't listen to the shouted directions, but usually you can get them on the track with out too much difficulty.

But the absolute worst customer I had pulled up on a very busy day and apparently thought that we should take the car through for him. So he simply got out of his car with the engine running and with it still left in drive.

I had to chase it down the car wash tunnel, dive into the open door, and put it into nuetral before it hit the car in front of it. Almost broke both of my legs as they were half out the door as I was dragged through the car wash.

Posted by: GEBIV at April 19, 2004 09:42 AM

Many moons ago, I worked for the local ice rink. I became the keeper of the stupid question list. The absolute worst question I ever heard was when I was working in the concession stand. A gentleman walked up to the counter and said "What's the difference between nachos with cheese and chili cheese nachos?"
I looked at him and said "Umm... the chili."

Posted by: Pink Kitty at April 19, 2004 12:09 PM

Well, since Ted stole about 95% of my 'stupid customer' stories with the unplugged General's phone tale...

How about an actual 'Stupid Customer' tale. But only if you use the term in a literal, and most un PC manner.
****************
When the ceramics studio was still in business, I was running things one Sunday, and a fellow came in. He was clean, neat, well dressed, but by his demenaor and immediately upon speking with him, it was obvious he was 'slow'. Probably functioning at near the understanding level of a child. But he was polite, and rather humble, and somewhat shy in his demeanor.

He'd been looking over the shelves where some of the kitchen items were kept - with an obvious look of some confusion, and a bit of dissapointement. I asked him what I might do to help him, what it was he was looking for. He asked me to wait a moment, and went out to his car, and brought back in a stoneware spoonrest, which was broken in two. He explained that it belonged to a friend of his, and that he'd been responsible for breaking it. He was hoping it could either be repaired or a replaced.

Unfortunately, our studio specialized in low-fire paint-your-own ceramics, and we had nothing matching it in stock or available on order, nor did we have the technical means to repair it. Also, I wasn't aware of anyone in the area that carried stoneware, or could repair it. I explained this to him, and as I did, the look of disappointment and concern got more profound.

That made me not want to just shrug my shoulders and tell him 'sorry pal, can't help ya.' I studied the piece, and found a firing mark on the back, with a legible manufacturer's name. A couple of minutes, and the magic off Google later, I tracked the manufacturer down - a small Ceramics Co-op in California. By chance, they had an online catalog, and I was able to find the same style of piece, but not the exact design.

I filled him in with the results of the search, and he was initially quite happy - but as I explained to him how to get in touch with the company to order another one, a look of very obvious confusion and dread began to build on his face. I think the process I was explaining, which is an everyday thing for most people, was probably horribly complex and intimidating to him.

I didn't really want to commit to contacting the company in California, or placing an order for a retail item to come to the studio, which he expressed a willingness to pay extra for - it just didn't seem right to take this guy's money. So I asked him if there was someone that could either go online or call the 800 number to the place in California for him to set up shipment to his home. His face brightened when he figured out I was helping him get his friend's spoonrest back, and do it as cheaply as possible. I wrote the information down for him, and handed it over.

He thanked me very politely, but not profusely, although he was obviously extremely happy by this point. And he went upon his way.

And that has been my most memorable 'stupid customer' story to date...and I smile every time I remember the look on his face before he left.

WR, just wanted to let you know that I'm disqualifying this story because the customer in question does NOT deserve to be the object of ridicule; he's very admirable! However, if you have any stories about Bill's behavior in a public setting, those would be very welcome ;)!

Posted by: Wind Rider at April 19, 2004 12:30 PM

This one is from this morning.

Customer is purchasing a new Umbrella for his garden furniture, and he needs a stand. The stand he wants happens to be on a shelf about 14 feet up. Ask for help? Never! You'd do the sensible thing and just use the rolled up umbrella as a tool to bludgeon the item off the top shelf, like he was doing.

I came to his rescue before he was able to dislodge the item, thereby causing severe contusion's, and potential lacerations.

I started to ask him what his aneurism (sp?) felt like, but alas, I bit my tongue.

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at April 19, 2004 01:46 PM

This evening's issue was reminded to me by a sweet little oriental woman:

So there I am, standing in the middle of the "Greenhouse Patio", resplendant in my "+4 Green Smock of Comeliness" (Aparrently chicks dig garments that have the word "Garden" written all over them. I think it has something to do with all the attention I have to pay to the *ahem* bushes.), and in the process of unboxing chrysanthemums.

Then I hear it. The question that I get to hear at least four times a day. The one that really makes me want to bite the poor person's head off, chew it up, digest it, excrete it, and then put it back where I found it.

"Excuse me, Do you work in this department?"

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at April 19, 2004 06:43 PM

This wont qualify since it's hearsay, but, hey, it comes from my sister and I put 100% faith in the fact that it's true. I've never heard the tape that proves it, but I know that it still exists.

My sister is a computer programmer for a large American manufacturer of writing impliments and often gives tech support to lesser experienced computer users within the company.

So, one day she recieved a voice mail from a guy who she was helping to use his new computer. She has saved the tape to play and replay for her co-workers, and the message went a little like this:

"Hi, Colleen, this is Mr So-and-so. I'm trying the scroll my cursor to click on a tab at the left of my monitor screen, but my mouse is already at the edge of the mousepad..."

Posted by: Tuning Spork at April 19, 2004 08:10 PM

Hand to God truth--this happens at least once a year, and not just to me at the bookstore I work at:

Customer: Do you have a picture book of dinosaurs?
Me: Sure.
We walk to the dinosaur books and I show him many books with various sketches and paintings of dinosaurs.
Customer: No, not pictures...PHOTOGRAPHS. Photos of dinosaurs, please. Where are those?

I don't think I can take having to tell one more stupid person that cameras were invented, oh, several million years after dinosaurs were around. You may substitute angels, demons, and Shakepeare in place of the word "dinosaurs" at any time.

Posted by: ensie at April 19, 2004 08:15 PM

I swear on my kids' heads this is a true story.

-=-
When I worked for Unnamed Computer Store, the first IBM PC's had been unleashed on the public. (Think A: drive and B: drive. 10 whole megabyte hard-drives!) They were hella expensive for the average home user at the time. One couple came in, bought the top-o-the line model, hundreds of dollars in software, tech support and training. She had not had this installed in her home for more than ten minutes (I know this because the guys hadn't made it back from the on-site install) before the phone rang.

"Blankety Computer Store this is [Emma] how may I help you?"

"Yes. I need the nice young men to come back to my house right away. I don't want your crappy computer here."

"What seems to be the problem, Ms. [Customer]? I'm sure I can get [Bob] from Training to help you out."

"This thing is telling me to press the 'Any' Key. I've looked all over this keyboard and I can't find a stupid 'Any' key!"

"Um. . .just a moment, Ms. [Customer], would you mind holding while I connect you?"

::: draped over desk, gasping for breath from the guffaws ::::

Posted by: Emma at April 19, 2004 09:29 PM

I work for a very small company, therefore I do many things. One of the jobs I did recently was to set up a VPN between our computer and our client, so they could transfer information directly to us.

I get on the phone with one of the guys in their IT department - he thinks this will take about an hour. I said, You've never done this before have you? He says, No.

Well, several days later and many phone calls back and forth, he's completely frustrated. I can see his attempts to connect on our firewall log, but it never gets farther than that. He is insisting the problem is at our end. He says he's got an error code on his firewall and we must be the cause.

I ask him, what does the error code mean? (we don't have that brand of firewall). He says, I don't know. I say, can you look it up? He says, I'm sure it's a problem on your end, why don't you get in touch with your firewall makers and find out what the problem is.

I say, send me a copy of the error message you are getting. When I get it, I hit Google, type in the error message along with the firewall type. Two minutes later I find out that HIS firewall is rejecting our passphrase because it's too long - by 1 (count 'em 1) freaking character!!! I email him, tell him to change the passphrase...

Lo and behold - he is astounded and amazed - the problem is fixed. The connection is up! Why oh why do I have to look up HIS error messages for a firewall I don't even run and have NEVER even seen??? It's one of life's little mysteries.

Posted by: Teresa at April 20, 2004 12:06 AM

I honestly can’t say how many times I have had this conversation in the ER.
Is there any chance you are pregnant?
No?
Are you sure?
Yes!
Are you sexually active?
Yes!
Do you still have periods?
Yes!
Are you on birth control?
No.
Do you use condoms?
No.
Has your husband/significant other/autistic baboon had a vasectomy?
No.
So let me get this straight. You are still menstruating, have unprotected sex, you are actively trying to get pregnant.
No.
Look, if you are having sex and not trying to prevent getting pregnant, you are actively trying to get pregnant.
No.
Arrgh!

Posted by: Azygos at April 20, 2004 02:21 AM

Once while taking a trouble call (again in the Air Force), I was talking a user through a process. The user was a jet mechanic, and this was years ago before PC's were everywhere, so his lack of computer literacy wasn't surprising. We were doing great until I told him to type the semi-colon. He didn't know what that was, so I explained it was "the key with the period above the comma, next to the "L" key". He said ok and was typing it in. After a few seconds of silence he says "I keep hitting 'em, but the comma and period keep happening side by side."

Posted by: Ted at April 20, 2004 08:35 AM

Not a stupid customer, but a stupid manager story...

I was visiting the local Major Hardware WhorehouseWarehouse. I was talking with my father-in-law about various items we'd need for a project I was guiding him through when one of the store's ass. managers walked by.

He paused and told me, "Go get the fork lift."

"Excuse me?" I said, turning towards him.

"Get the forklift. We need to get more widgets off the rack and put them in the displays."

"I think you have the wrong person."

"Go get the forklift or I'll have to take disciplinary action."

"I don't work here!"

"Not with that attitude! Now get your things and get out of here!" he ordered sternly, and exited stage right, apparently going after the forklift.

I have no idea who he thought I was...

J

Posted by: J. Fielek at April 20, 2004 11:31 AM

I have a few, not sure where to begin. I have seen people walk into the out door, and vice-versa.
The dumbest one was when a Navy guy returned 30 minutes after he payed for his order, and asked why I didn't discount his coupons.
When I told him he didn't give me any coupons, he responded "Oh, was I supposed to give them to you ?"

Posted by: Desert Raspberry at April 20, 2004 11:31 AM

While I was working editing video: "Can you make is sound more green?"

I twisted a couple of pots on an unused channel on the audio mixer, and everyone was happy.

Posted by: Phelps at April 20, 2004 12:19 PM

Susie - understand the disqual thing - no ridicule of the guy was intended. It was actually a very pleasant experience. I might point out (although the judge will probably make me talk to the hand for quibbling)- the rules don't say anything about it being a tale of ridicule! I completely agree with your observation that the soul in question deserves our admiration and respect - he has mine.

Posted by: Wind Rider at April 20, 2004 12:22 PM

From back in my tech support days:

After supporting Network Based Education Software for only 3 weeks, I learned a valuable lesson. Whenever the customer mentions that they have a "Computer Science Degree" within the first 3 sentences of the call, your call will be something like this: Okay, I need you to click "Start", that's in the lower left hand corner of the screen....

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at April 20, 2004 07:05 PM

I sold specialized industrial equipment to distributors who dealt with the end users. This tended to isolate me from raw stupidity. What I got instead were people who tried to push their mistakes off on me, and some of them were total jerks about it.

One classic case had been the barber to the founder of a company, and wound up manager - operations and sales - of the Chicago operation. I had given him a price to make six of a special item, and he became very angry when he received a higher price for only two, because he was sure two was the quantity his customer needed and he had inquired about. He was not very happy about having to pay the setup charges again on the other four he ordered as an emergency rush shortly thereafter.

I had another customer who was so unpleasant, and so prone to the same sort of mistakes, that he was my job security. If I had been fired, one consequence would be that someone else would have to deal with him. I knew vendors in two other states who suggested that he had photos of his boss with little boys as his job security.
One day, after I had managed to refrain from exploding in profanity until after each of his three phonecalls, he finally dug deep enough into the mess on his desk to find the paperwork I had sent him, and he actually called back and apologized. Ten minutes later we had a partial solar eclipse.

Posted by: triticale at April 20, 2004 07:33 PM

I had a customer who wanted to know if the publishing system I support could typeset in Spanish. Sure, I said. We support all the accented characters that are used in Spanish.

No, no, she said. She wants the job to output in Spanish. Where's the software switch to have the composition engine generate Spanish output?

I patiently explained that she'd have to enter the required markup commands to place the accent marks over the characters that required them.

No, no, she said. Where's the switch to output in Spanish?

It finally dawned on me that she thought that since our software has "non-English language typesetting capability", that it would be possible to change a setting somewhere so that her English language input files could be automatically translated into any of the 13 languages we officially say we support.

I think it's because of people like her that Superman Halloween costumes contain the "Warning: Cape does not enable wearer to fly" advisory.

Posted by: kgb at April 20, 2004 08:08 PM

Driver on phone to me: “Customer says this is the wrong water pump.”

Me to driver after a quick review of original notes: “Told me it was a 1987 Olds Cierra. Is that correct?”

Driver looks around. No Cierra.

Driver to customer: “Where’s the car?”

Customer points to Olds Calais.

Driver to customer: “That’s a Calais.”

Customer to driver: “What’s the difference?”

Driver to customer: “Besides the water pump?”

I know that customer must have heard me laughing at the other end of the phone.

Posted by: Rob at April 20, 2004 11:24 PM

Recently, the following customer follies have occurred right in front of me:

A customer paid a $13 tab all in quarters.... and examined each quarter closely one by one to make sure he already that that particular state in his collection. The line behind him became legendary.

A customer made me read FOR him (because he'd forgotten his glasses) every single ingredient, including those vaguely unpronounceable on ALL my snack items in case there was something in them that "didn't agree with him." In the end, he took only a cup of water.

A customer got mad at me because my fairy floss cart is on the top of a slight incline, claiming it was discriminatory against "persons of size" who have to "climb a hill" to get their sugar fix.

A customer became upset with me because I could not tell him who invented the Tilt-A-Whirl. He said I was obviously poorly trained.

I could go on and on and on, but I'm sorely depressing myself and will surely never go back to work if I continue.

Posted by: LeeAnn at April 21, 2004 09:44 AM

I work for a national High Speed ISP providing phone tech support. This his my favorite call.

Here is how the call went.

Me: Thank you for calling…

Customer: Hi. I love your service. It is so fast. I got it about a month ago and it is working great but I have one problem.

Me: How can I help you with your problem.

Customer: Well I got the service and my computer at the same time and I am having problems sleeping.

Me: Ok.

Customer: I have the computer in my bedroom and it is so bright. It is keeping me up at night. Can I turn it off? Will it mess up the system?

Me: Yes you can turn off your computer if you want. I will not cause any problems with your High Speed Internet access.

Customer: Ok, How can I do that?

Me: Well you can shut down you entire computer or you can just push in the power button on the monitor.

Customer: Ok, Thanks… (Click)

This happened when I first started working at the call center

Posted by: Culbrez at April 21, 2004 02:48 PM

In a previous life, I worked in a Wal-mart photo lab. For several years, Wally World held a policy that they would not copy -under ANY circumstances- any photograph that was copyrighted. If we, as photo lab peons, felt that something even LOOKED professionally done, even if a copyright was not readily detectable- we were to apologize and politely suggest other stores that would work with them. Either that, or get a signed release from the copyright-holder. (As you can imagine, that never happened.)

One very busy Sunday, complete with equipment malfunctions, call-offs, and a nasty case of PMS (mine), a woman and her adult sons asked to copy a photo of her late husband. Of course, it was taken by a professional photographer. This was obvious because of two things: the hideous background, and the signature of the studio on the front.

The photo was of her late husband, a military veteran. I got the impression that he had died some time ago, and she wanted copies for a memorial or gift to other family.

I was the acting manager that day, and this family was dealing with a co-worker. I was busy helping others, trying to keep the machines running, and praying for the Advil I'd swallowed to take effect.

Finally, after going back and forth with the woman, my co-worker turned to me and said “Will you talk to them? They won’t listen to me.” I sighed and braced myself.

I proceeded to talk the company line as I’d been taught, but adding a bit of extra empathy for good measure. We were talking about a beloved husband, after all. And it wasn’t like I didn’t want to help her.

Finally, one of the sons gets tired of hearing “no” and spouts off “Well Sam (as in Walton, founder of Wal-Mart) will let us do it! He believes the customer is always right!”

At this point, I had had enough, and I still don’t know how I refrained from ripping his face off.

“Sam probably would, except he’s been dead for 4yrs!” I retorted.

“Oh.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” I asked.

“Umm, no. Thank you.”

Oddly enough, that was the last time I had to tell someone “no” on a copyright issue.

Posted by: Lachlan at April 22, 2004 03:07 PM

While working at a major telephone company, a customer refused to pay a bill for several calls made to a 1-900 bookie hotline. The reason? The bookie had given him the wrong selections.

Posted by: Salieri at April 23, 2004 08:49 AM

I work at a ski resort in Colorado and some of the city-folk are a little slow, they seem to think this is Disney World. Here is an actual quote from summer lifts that will give you a clue to the kind of people we are talking about.

Guest "Hey! You guys really go all out."

Me with puzzled look on face.

G "You guys have that robotic bear crossing underneath the lift just as we went over."

Me "Sir, we don't have any robotic bears."

G "What? You mean that was a real bear?"

Me "Yes sir."

G "Ahhh. We were gonna hike down but I think we'll just take the lift."


Brass.

Posted by: Brass at April 23, 2004 04:56 PM

I work at a large amusement park in southwestern Ohio that has a large replica of the Eiffel Tower, which stands at 331 feet 6 inches-1/3 the size of the real tower. The tower is visible at any placein the park and is the color of a robins egg. Well, when I used to work in the games dept., at least 5 times a day someone would come and ask me

"Where is the Eiffel Tower?"

Usually I would be very pleasant and tell them to turn around...its behind them. But one day I was terrifically annoyed and hot and tired and just completely out of sorts. Redneck Joe comes and asks me and I said to him, "Ok, you see that big blue thing in the air? Well, walk towards it till it gets bigger and you will get there."

Posted by: jessica at April 25, 2004 07:38 AM

i worked as a cafe barista at a borders in my town and specialized in the world of coffee. one day to my surprise, i was scheduled to work in the music section. although i was never formally trained in the music section, i figured it would be like books and not so hard. i also know a thing or two about a lot of different music styles because of my large family. i could handle it.

i wasn't in there for 2 minutes when mrs. lexus stolls in with her freshly done hair and french manicure.

mrs. l: yeah, my son really likes this one band that has a really popular song out right now.

me: okay...

mrs. l: well, i don't know the name of their album, their band name, or the name of the song but the tune is like this "ba ba bee da dum dum baaa"

me: ...

mrs. l:[not very happy with me] do you have any clue what i'm talking about?

me: ma'am, i'm sorry but we can't really look up "ba ba bee da dum dum baaa" in our computer.

mrs. l: don't be a smart ass with me, missy.

me:[trying not to laugh/stab her] ma'am, i'm not trying to be a smart ass, i'm just saying there isn't really any way i can help you unless you have some information i can look up.

mrs. l:[yelling] NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I EVER BEEN TREATED SO DISRESPECTFULLY AT SOME BULLSHIT BOOK STORE! EVERY TIME I COME HERE YOU AND YOUR CO-WORKERS ACT AS IF IT'S SUCH A CHORE TO HELP CUSTOMERS!

me:[trying really hard not to laugh/stab her] would you like me to call my manager?

mrs. l: YES!

-i paged my manager, which we have several but i lucked out and got the good one-

rad manager:[irritated because she was busy] is there a problem?

mrs. l: yes, the...

rad manager: no, i wasn't talking to you.

mrs. l: well!

me: she wants me to look up a song using only the tune.

rad manager:[laughs]

mrs. l:[again, yelling] IS IT SO HARD TO ASK FOR A LITTLE HELP OR DO YOU NOT OFFER THAT FOR FREE? ALL I NEED FROM YOU IS THE BAND NAME THAT SINGS THAT ONE SONG THAT GOES LIKE THIS, "BA BA BEE DA DUM DUM BAAA"! IT ISN'T THAT HARD TO FIGURE IT OUT!

me: so go home and figure it out and give us a call.

mrs. l: I WILL NEVER SHOP HERE AGAIN, I'M TAKING MY BUSINESS TO BARNES & NOBLE.

rad manager and i: okay. bye.

this woman was insane.

xoxo

Posted by: bethany at April 26, 2004 03:33 AM

DesRas: I have seen people walk into the out door, and vice-versa.
What drives me nuts is coming to a double door and watching as someone coming the other way, rather than even trying the other door, either waits for me to clear - or sails through as I hold the door "for" them.

Okay, here's a customer story. In 1987 I worked for a tiny company that designed and sold high-end phono needles. One day a customer called to ask about the tone-arm that he had sent in for repair. We hadn't received it, so he wanted me to trace it, because it had cost him more than a thousand dollars. Okay, how had he sent it? By mail. Registered? No. Insured? No, of course not - it was damaged, and therefore "worthless"! Poor sap was in tears by the time I got through to him that there was no way I could trace something sent by ordinary mail.

Posted by: Anton Sherwood at April 26, 2004 07:02 PM

After many years in retail I have more than enough stupid customer stories.

As a graduate student I worked at a travel bookstore. In addition to books we sold maps and Globes. I have no idea to this day how people who were seemingly intelligent wandered into our store to ask the stupidest questions. These are all direct quotes:

Customer - "I need a globe, but it has to have Asia on it" My response... "Asia will cost extra" She was nice enough to laugh at herself for that one.

Customer - "Do you have any globes that have the United States bigger? I don't need all this Africa, I just really want the US and Europe" I had to gently explain that nations are represented on the globe in relation to their actual sizes. As I recal I ended up selling her a wall map of the US and one of Europe.

We were the only store in the mall that sold books. As a result at least once a week some rocket scientist would come in and ask where the 'best sellers' were. We would explain that as we were a travel bookstore we didn't have the latest Stephen King etc. Sometimes if we were feeling snarky we would direct them to the region that had been selling well lately "Spain books and maps have been best seller lately". One of the reasons that I love the movie Notting Hill is because rarely does a film really capture a tiny little annoyance in your very mundane life so very well.

Posted by: mapchic at April 27, 2004 12:58 AM

Dunno if this qualifies exactly, but I'm submitting it because it has a drunk in it.

I tended bar in a country club for about ten years. In order to keep dues down, the CC would allow outside (non-member) parties. One year, a sorority from the Univ. of Maryland rented out our ballroom.

It actually wasn't quite the debauch I thought it would be. At the end of the night, we got everyone out with pretty much no problem...but as I was cleaning up, I saw a guy come out of the bathroom, past my bar, and up the stairs. I figured he had passed out and the busboys kicked him out of the can while they were cleaining it up.

A little bit later, he came back downstairs, and wandered into the kitchen. I went after him and asked him if I could help him.

"Oh, man, you're the bartender, you were cool...I'm looking for this girl..."

So was everyone else, I thought to myself.

"She was my date, and now I can't find her. She had blond hair and a black dress on..." just like three-quarters of the girls there, of course. I felt bad for the guy, but they didn't tip enough for me to put up with his shit. As I recall, he didn't tip at all.

"Dude. There's no one else here. She probably got picked up by some guy and is probably getting fucked by him right now."

The fact that he didn't flatten me--or try to--should tell you how drunk he was. "No, man, not this girl! She's different!"

That, basically, told me she was *definitely* getting it from someone else, but he looked sad, and I felt kinda bad for telling him his girlfriend was smoking some stranger's pipe . "C'mon, dude, I'll take you around to a couple of hidden spots and we'll see if she's there." So I took him to a couple of hidden spots (that is, the locker rooms) and to the laundry room and of course no one else is there. I led him outside, wished him luck, locked the door behind him, and went back to cleaning up and restocking the bar.

I had a beer, chatted with the busboys and managers, then left about forty minutes after kicking out lover-boy.,,and I found him still wandering around the parking lot, looking for his girlfriend.

I'm sure he found her eventually. I wonder how that conversation went.

Posted by: Victor at April 27, 2004 12:29 PM

What really gets me is when the customers own childish behavior is somehow the fault of the company. I work for a small local Wireless Carrier and we have a very good reputation for accurate billing and simple to understand invoices. However, even with that it is still to much for some customers, as evidenced by the following:

Customer: My phone was shut off and I need it re-connected right away. I received one of your 7 day notices that said I needed to pay by the 23rd and they shut me off today!!! (Outraged by this)

Me: Ok, it is the 27th so that would be 5 days past what was right. What is your number so I can look up your balance?

Customer: (Looks angry that I pointed out that she was given 5 extra days to pay before being shut off, begrudgingly gives me her number.)

Me: Your current balance is $207.64. Did you wish to write a check?

Customer: WHAT!!! WHY IS IT THAT MUCH????

Me:(after quickly reviewing a very inconsistent pay history) Well, it seems you had a bill for $207.71 that was never completely paid for. I see a $100 dollar payment that covered 2 additional months of service, but the February bill is still unpaid.

Customer: WHY is my bill so high?

Me: It seems that you exceeded your minutes that month. Usually you don't go over and the following 2 bills were normal so I don't recommend that you change plans.

Customer: I NEVER use my phone!! That can't be right.

Me: (I pull up a copy of her bill which clearly shows every number she has dialed, and which I can see she just as clearly recognizes. The bill is completely correct. She then wants me to feel bad because, "she was very busy that month".)

Customer: I don't remember getting that bill so I didn't know I had to pay!

Me:(she has had service billed to her every month for 4 YEARS!!) Well, you signed up for a monthly service and your bill is due every 23rd.

Customer: Well fine! Here's my check! How long is it going to take to turn my phone back on? I NEED it!! It is VERY important that I have MY SERVICE!!

Me: I will have you re-connected right away. It will take at most 15 minutes.

Customer: I hate the way YOU GUYS TWIST MY BILL!! It's NEVER right!

Me: Well, your next bill will be a little off because you have made your payment so late. I don't want you to think that you are being double billed, so please disregard the Balance Forward amount of $207.64. You will only actually owe the regular amount (about $45) and your re-connect fee of $25.

Customer: YOU ONLY TURNED ME OFF THIS MORNING!!! ~WHY~ DO I HAVE A RECONNECT FEE???!!!

Me: You have a re-connect fee because the bill has been unpaid for over 60 days and its been 5 additional days since the 7 day notice.

The customer continued to fume about how unfair it was that she should have to pay on time for services rendered. I have actually had more than one conversation with her just like this one, and it seems to be a case of chronic I-can't-grow-up-and-be-responsible-for-myself-itis. Her ~own~ usage is ~never~ her responsibility and she doesn't think there should be any consequences when she doesn't want to pay her bill. Oh, and by the way, this customer is over 40 years old. How embarassing for her to ~still~ act like she is 4 years old!!!


Posted by: kara at April 27, 2004 03:53 PM

The contest is closed for entries, but feel free to vent if you need to...

Customer to Cashier: "What's the name of that miracle movie?"

Cashier: "Miracle."

Posted by: Susie at April 28, 2004 10:30 AM

Suzie, I wish you had said, "Whip."

Posted by: Trey Givens at May 2, 2004 03:31 PM
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