This story was originally posted on December 02, 2009.
Working for an online-only retailer may not have the piggy messes to clean up at the end of the day (and I have worked that terror before), but it does have the wonderful combination of everything else retail related, with the added bonus of phone-based customer service, where customers can be even more abusive because you are only a faceless voice on the other end of the line.
With the holidays here again, I thought I'd share my favorite holiday story from working online retail. This story happened to a former coworker:
The setup: It's 5 days before Christmas, delivery companies worldwide are in overdrive trying to get people's stuff delivered on time. Delays inevitably develop (last year we had to deal with an entire 'brown' delivery truck full of our stuff catching fire, burning all the presents inside inside to slag. Really!).
My coworker "Dan" gets a call from a customer who had just checked the shipping company's website, and found that her son's XBox 360 wouldn't be delivered until December 26th. Therefore, since we were the company she had handed the money to, she called us to bitch. Though we had handed the XBox to the shipper in plenty of time to get it to her (it f-ing left the warehouse the day she ordered it), delays in the shipper's overloaded system had caused the package to be bumped to the day after Christmas. But, it was, of course, all our fault.
"You've ruined my son's Christmas!" she screamed so loudly that I, a few desks down, could hear her. "I want you to personally tell my son that his present isn't going to get here on time, and that he's not going to have a present under the tree on Christmas morning!"
Dan stammered, tried to reason with her, but it was too late, the child was on the phone.
"Hello?" a voice said, sounding about 12 years old.
"Hey there buddy," Dan said, as up-beat as possible, "I'm really sorry, but your XBox 360 isn't going to get there until the day after Christmas."
"I'm getting an XBOX 360?!" the boy yelled, exploding with excitement.
"Yeah, but it's not going to be there until the day after Christmas," says Dan.
"I don't care! I'm getting an XBox!!" the boy shouted, and handed the phone back to his mother.
Shouts of "Yes! Wohoo!" could be heard in the background as the mother mumbled something about "Yeah, well, it better show up..." and hung up.
What I've always loved about the story is how obsessed she was about making the whole "presents on Christmas Morning" thing just perfect, and the kid couldn't care less, he was just excited he was getting the thing.
Also, it's fraking hilarious that the mother spoiled the surprise herself.
--Online Retail Hellion