This is a bit similar to my last story, which you can find here if you're interested.
This took place sometime the week after Christmas. In the store I work in, there is usually only one person in the electronics department (Two during the holiday season). If the person in electronics wants to go on break, they call someone from another department to cover there 15 or 30 minute break because there has to be someone there to help customers, take calls, and unlock items(Games and other expensive electronic products). That other department is the department that I'm usually in, which is bedding, bath, appliances, beauty, stationary, etc.
I was called over to cover my co-worker's break, and during this time a customer (C) came over to me (M) for assistance.
C: "Hi, I just came from [Our store a few miles away]. They said you have a charger cable for DSI's, three to be exact."
M: "No Problem, I'll show you where they're at."
I lead the customer over to the spot they're located, and lo and behold, the spot is empty. I scan it, and my device tells me 0 in stock, 0 in the backroom, 3 on hand. I'm not sure if other stores work this way, but Stock is items on the sales floor, backroom is the backroom, and on hand is...complicated.
It could be an item that is lost somewhere and can't be tracked down, an item about to be salvaged or defected out, or an item that was recently returned. Basically, if stock and backroom is empty, the item might as well be out of stock despite what on-hand says.
Sadly, when checking other store's of ours, 'on hand' is counted as stock. This is why I always tell customers to call the stores and make sure the item is actually there that they are looking for. There are times when an item is 'in stock', but there is nothing on the shelf or anywhere in the store. Plus, you can always get it put on hold so no one gets it before you drive to a different store.
Double sadly, no one at the other store told the customer to call, or offer to call themselves to check that we actually had the item he wanted.
M: "Sorry, Sir. None in stock and none in the back, and three on hand means we may or may not have it."
C: "What? But the other store said you had it."
M: "I know, and I'm sorry about that. They should have called and made sure we had it before sending you over here."
C: "That sucks. My family is visiting down here (Florida, we get a lot of tourists/Snow birds this time of year) and I forgot my daughter's charger at home."
M: Nods sympathetically "I'm sorry to hear that. Would you like me to check if any of our other locations has it?"
C: "Yes please, I'd appreciate it."
M: Checks " Let's see..Looks like the only other store that has any that is nearby by is [Store location]. Would you like me to give you their number?"
Before any of you even say it, yes I know I could call. But much like my last story, a few customers were standing around waiting for me to help them. A customer can call and do this themselves without any issues, customers call all the time and ask if we have an item in stock, it's not a big deal. The way I figure it, if this guy can do it himself, he should. Especially when I have a small line forming of other people that need help, and a phone call to another store can take several minutes(3-5+ mins).
C: "Can you call for me?"
M: Yes, but- Sees the electronics employee returning from his break. I motion to him to help the customers standing by me. "Yes, I can."
So I grab a phone and dial the store up, ask to be transferred and get put on hold while I wait for it to be answered.
C: "Thanks so much, I know it would be faster if you did it!"
M: "Huh, what do you mean?"
M: "I'm just calling the store and asking to be transferred to electronics, anyone can do that."
At this point someone in electronics in the other store location finally picks up.
M: "Hi, I'm at [My store location] and I'm trying to find an item for a customer.It says you have 2, can you make sure that it is there?"
Phone: "No problem, do you have the DPCI number?"
M: "Yes, the DPCI is XXX-XX-XXXX."
For those who may not know, DPCI is just a way of finding an item, every type of product has one, usually beneath the barcode. With that number, you can quickly type it in and find the item and the info that goes with it.
Phone: "Yes, says we have 2 on hand. I'll make sure it's on the shelf, one moment." Puts me on hold
C: "See, See! You knew what to say!"
M: "The DPCI number? It speeds things up very slightly, maybe 20-30 seconds at best. If I was a normal customer, I would have just told him the item name and he'd just have to look it up that way, which is only a bit slower."
I tell the customer the bad news, and how it is important to call and make sure the product is there before leaving for it, not to mention how calling themselves is just as good as an employee calling(There is no secret backdoor or express lane for us employees calling other stores!).
By this time my co-worker had returned from helping the customers from before. He overhears me offering to go to guest services and check the returned items to see if the charging cable is there, since on-hand could mean it was recently returned. Co-worker pipes up and says he has one in his cart of returned items that he was still working on. He runs over to it and runs back with it in hand. Thankfully this story ends on a happy note!