Closing Time Nightmares: Let Her Whine For A While


4 CLOSEDFrom Ilia

Many moons ago, I worked for a, now defunct, book chain. We closed at 10pm, straightened till 11pm and left. This usually meant I got home sometime around 11:30pm, ate a now-cold dinner left for me by my parents and crawled into bed. So it's probably easy to imagine that stragglers at work were treated with borderline hostility.

*theme music*

Enter The Straggler.

The Straggler would come in once a week, five minutes to close, and attempt to shop. Managers and employees knew her by sight, and knew it was time to break out the riot gear and dig the fox holes. It was always a fight.

She wanted to browse. She did not appreciate being told that we were closing in five minutes. We were being very rude. She was the customer, and a regular, so we should treat her better. This was not customer service. No, she could NOT come in earlier, because she had three jobs and this was the only time she wasn't working and could shop. Well maybe we SHOULD make an exception for her! That was good customer service, after all. She COULD complain you know, but she wouldn't if we would just stop trying to make her leave...

ILIA1It got to the point where a manager had to kindly inform her that the police would be called if she didn't leave.... every time. Every time she came in it was an argument, and took a threat of police action before she would leave.

And none... repeat... NONE of the managers would ban her, or tell her five minutes after closing that the cops would be called. They would spinelessly try to convince her to go (read, let her whine loudly) for fifteen minutes before pulling out the big guns.

I think I would have gone homicidal if I had worked there any longer than I did.



Bad Customer Service: Making An Appointment Has No Actual Value


Bad retail slavesFrom Ilia

Okay folks, is time for Bad Customer Service ranting...

Five hours. FIVE. HOURS. At Yota's Car Place. We had an appointment for 10:10 am, which Dad made two weeks in advance. We received an email confirmation, as well as a warning that if we were late to our appointment, it would delay when the car would be looked at. Dad and I figure it'll take an hour or so to get the recalled parts removed and replaced. We bring a book each and go in. We arrive a few minutes early.

"Oh, your appointment time is actually just the drop off time. It doesn't move you ahead of anyone. There are a lot of other cars ahead of you, so we won't be getting to your car until about 3 or 4 pm. But our shuttle will take you anywhere in [city]."

1) Why the fuck did we bother making an appointment if you will ignore us to do walk-ins first?

2) Why the fuck didn't you TELL us over the phone that appointments are only drop offs and don't actually benefit us? We could have brought a second car and gone home!

3) Anywhere in [city] is useless, as we live in [city an hour away]!

4) Do you SERIOUSLY think we're going to do business with you assholes ever again after this shit?

We sat in the damn waiting room for five hours. I finished my book three hours in! Thank Thrognar I had my iPod Touch and could read webcomics on their WiFi... 

Jason RawrEmail of complaint we sent to Yota's Car Place, under my dad's name:



I am, quite frankly, appalled by the way [Yota's Car Place] handled our visit today. We received notice that there was a recall on parts for our [car]. I made an appointment (two weeks in advance) and was given an appointment time of 10:10 am to have these switched out. When my daughter and I arrived, we were told by a woman on the Red Team that our appointment wasn't actually an appointment to have our car looked it, it was instead merely a "drop off time" and that there were a number of people ahead of us. So though we made an appointment for 10:10am, the car wouldn't actually be even looked at until 3pm or 4pm.

We were not told this over the phone, or we could have been better prepared, or even arranged for other transportation for our wait time. Instead, we were directed to either walk up the road to Burger King or Wendy's, or they could get us a shuttle to take us "anywhere in [city]." Seeing as how we live in [city an hour away], this was not a useful recommendation. We expected to spend, maybe, two and a half hours tops while our car was taken care of. Instead, since our "appointment" time didn't actually have any meaning, we spent FIVE AND A HALF HOURS sitting in the waiting area waiting for the service team to eventually get to the car.

I was under the impression that an appointment (as is understood in other situations) was a time slot set aside for someone who was planning ahead to have their vehicle looked at. If that's not the case, then making an appointment has no value.

Freddy not impressedI find it hard to reconcile continuing to do business with a company that shows no respect for its customer's "appointment" time. We had other obligations to take care of today, which had to be delayed thanks to the lack of transparency about [Yota's Car Place] Customer Service Policies.


Now we have done business with independent garages. They call it a 'drop off time' and not an appointment. They have been upfront with us that it may take hours or even a day or two. This is perfectly fine.

However, we made something specifically called an "appointment" with the employees, at a corporate owned dealership and service department and it was stressed that if we missed our appointment by more than ten or fifteen minutes, we would 'lose our spot.' This usually implies something similar to a restaurant, or a doctor's appointment. If it's a drop off time, you call it a drop off time. Grrrrgh...



Old People Hell: In The Blue Store, With A Red Shirt, Shopping


01 Old DressFrom Ilia

A combo of Mistaken Identity and Old People Hell for this one.

Mom and I are in Hell Mart, and Mom decides to take a spin through the clothing department. Sometimes we find some decent stuff for good prices in there. Due to mom having a bad back, I'm pushing the cart. I'm wearing a dark red shirt with a dragon on the front, and blue jeans. DARK RED SHIRT! In Blue Box Store! This is the kind of dark red you don't even see in the Bullseye store.

Now we're on a slow meander, mom doing the touchie-feelie-holding up the shirt kind of shopping particular to someone in no great hurry. I'm just kind of half-leaning on the cart, making comments and opinions.

"Where are the bras?"

I don't look around. I pick up a shirt in a color I like, look at the front and put it back. Meh. Nice color, suck ass design.

Loudly, just behind me, "Hey! Where are the bras?!"

I meet mom's eyes with a "Oh fuck me. This can't be serious," look in my eyes. She has been witness to several Mistaken Identities in the past. She covers a snicker.

I turn around and see an old lady behind me. "Try the other side of the clothing department, lady."

I turn away from her.

Old Lady: "Well aren't you going to show me where they are?"

I turn, slowly, back to her.

Me: "Why the hell would I do that? You look like you're fully capable of walking there yourself, and you certainly look smart enough to follow the directions I gave you."

ILIA2Have you ever watched somebody swell up with anger before? It's like a combination of a puffer fish, and Harry Potter's Aunt Marge. It's kind of fascinating, kind of hypnotic, and in this old lady's case, kind of hilarious AND sad.

I look her right in the eyes and say, "Alternatively, you could ask somebody who actually WORKS here for help."

She freezes, blinks, and actually looks me up and down before saying, "Oh... you don't work here?"

Me: "No. I'm shopping with my mother."

She deflates, then snaps, "Well you're just a rude young woman then!"

Me: "Funny, when you're not being paid to be nice to a stranger who's bothering you, rudeness kind of happens, doesn't it? Next time look for someone in a store uniform. It helps."

Old Lady flounces off.



Justice Served: A Bad Crusty Creates A Windfall For A Good Custy



From Ilia

It was a miserable and stormy time at cash wrap in Hoarders many, many moons ago. Holiday hell was upon us and the store was crowded.

A woman comes up with a stack of gift cards eight miles high, and she wants varying amounts put on them. (The amounts were sorted based on the picture on the gift card; the ones with the kitty all had $15, the ones with the christmas tree all had $20 etc.) Okay, that's not a problem and that makes sense.

She then hands me a list with the amounts vs pictures and tells me to fill the cards according to the list.

Me: "Uh, okay but why can't you... ma'am? Ma'am?! Where are you going?!"


I'm standing here with a line that wraps halfway around the store, and she decides that the best course of action is to leave the registers to fuck-knows-where to kill time rather than stand at the registers.

The store manager is standing at the register next to me and I just look at him helplessly.

Manager: "Just fill them up, then make an announcement."

Me: "Ugh..."

So in between fending off customers who (understandably) thought my register was free, I swipe the gift cards one after another and get the total. It took me just over five minutes.

Me over the PA system: "Would the customer buying the [x amount] gift cards please return to the registers?"

No appearance.

RHU Characters 185Second announcement.

No appearance.

Manager: "All right. Cancel the transaction and go back to helping people in line."

(We could suspend any transaction except the ones with gift cards. For whatever reason the computer just couldn't do it.)

Shrugging, I cancel the whole thing, put the stuff aside and helped more people.

THIRTY MINUTES later the woman comes meandering back, cuts to the front and asks for her total.

Me: "Ma'am, I had to cancel the transaction. You didn't answer the two pages I made for you to return."

Customer: "WHAT?! Couldn't you just have waited for me to come back?!"

Store Manager: "Ma'am, let me start off with the fact that I am the store manager, so please don't bother asking for my superior. I am THE authority here. Now, it took you half an hour to come back. There are a lot of people that Ilia helped ring up while you continued shopping. You can either stand at the registers and pay immediately, or you can leave without your purchase. We don't have time for anything else."

My cold retail heart did a glorious little dance at the store manager's support.

But this is not the end of the tale. Oh no... for this is a Justice Served Tale, and the most joyous thing is yet to come!

The woman is fuming and grinding her teeth loud enough that it sounds like someone put rocks in a pepper grinder. But she stands at my register in stiff silence while I ring up all her gift cards yet again and she pays. Angrily she takes them and shoves them (poorly) into her purse.

As she storms off, about half of them are jostled free and hit the floor.

A young man, well meaning and kind, snatches them off the floor, sets his arm full aside so he doesn't take unpaid merch outside, and pursues her out the door.

That's the last I see of them for a little while, so I assume her entitled ass is rewarded by a generous soul. Sigh.

Things proceed as normal, and then suddenly the young man is at my registers... with the pile of things to buy, a clearly defined red hand print on his face, and a bunch of familiar looking gift cards.

My eyes go huge and a sputter a horrified question about "What happened?!" to him. She whopped him good.

Carolanne2 098He tells me that he tried to give the gift cards to her. The first thing she snapped was "I have a boyfriend!"

When he tried to tell her that he wasn't trying to pick her up and tried give her the gift cards a second time, she whipped around, slapped him and told him to fuck off!

At which point he smiled at me and said; "So, guess who's enjoying a little windfall?"

Since the gift cards aren't like credit cards-- with no name or identifying information and are just like dropped cash-- he bought most of his purchases on her dime and left a happy man.

And yet, there is still more.

Over an hour later she comes storming back, cuts in front of the line again, stops in front of the store manager and plops the rest of her cards on the counter and says that her cards were stolen and she wants the missing cards canceled so that she gets her money back. She shoves her looong receipt in his face and demands that he go item by item, figure out which ones need to be canceled and do so.

He blinks at me, since he witnessed the young man's windfall, and I give him the tiniest evil smile I can and wag my eyebrows at him.

It takes him quite a while to go through the recipt, sort through the cards and check the ones missing. It should be no surprise to anyone that all the missing cards all came up as having been used and there was literally no way to refund her the money.

Steam screamed out of her ears as he explained that gift cards were like cash and that losing a gift card meant losing the cash too. If she wanted to buy new gift cards and pay the balance, that was fine. But he was unable to discount gift cards, and could not refund her any of the money. She was out of luck!

I thought my glee would cause me to explode into individual, rainbow gummy bears. She threw a fit, failed to get her way that way, tried tears, failed that way too and then sulkily decided to buy replacements.



College Bookstore Memories: You too can be a human popsicle


Xmas2009 010

From an RHUer:

This is my daughter’s story. When she was in college she worked all four years in the college bookstore. This is a school that attracted students from all over the United States and other countries, many with a winter climate much warmer than Chicago or with seasons out of step, ie. Summer there is Winter here. In addition to books the store also sold a large selection of clothes.

Since most students had to preorder books to be there when they arrived often the first actual human that they would talk to over the phone in their new city would be one of the clerks in the book store.

 In Chicago we have this thing we graciously refer to as “Winter.” While in other parts of the Earth where “Winter” means that some days may be cloudy, it might rain, and a cold snap might bring the nighttime low temperature down to 55F here in Chicago mother nature is actively trying to kill you.

If you live outside the US and hear that the temperature here can be 15 that does not mean that you will need a sweater to stroll outside. It means that water as far as you can see has frozen solid and there is a big difference between Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures.

               Even students from the southern parts of the US have a difficult time with the concept. The school would not only provide them with a list of books that they would need but also a list clothes that they would need in a possibly hopeless attempt for survival. They would ask if they would really need a heavy long coat, boots, gloves, hat, etc. They would state that they could not possibly look cute in those clothes. My daughter would tell them that remaining alive just might outweigh the need to be “cute” and that every year many folks in Chicago would actually die from the cold including longtime residents that should know better.

               Then they would ask when they would need to obtain their winter gear and could they just wait until January, and my daughter would explain that while they would be arriving in Chicago near the middle of August with the temperatures in the 90’s, that the normal temperatures in October would be anywhere between 80F and snow, possibly on the same day. Sweat in the morning and freeze on the way home. And while Chicago is not Antarctica that we are doing our very best to simulate it, just with tall buildings and more freezing people. And “No” the snow does not melt the day after it stops snowing, you will have to deal with it for months.

               But after all the advice was handed out coat sales in August and September would be very light but after the first two 40F degree days the line would stretch out the door.




Mistaken Identity: Punch Bruce? Bruce Smash!


ILIA3From Ilia

So here's a story told second hand; a story of my dad's friend's encounter in workplace hell.

We'll call him Bruce. Bruce is a big guy; damn near 7 feet tall. Bruce worked with concrete (he's retired now). Not terribly bulky looking, but he could heft a sack of cement and wander around with it like it's no biggie. Short cropped hair as black as corporate's soul and perpetually tanned/sunburned in a combination that made most onlookers a bit unsure whether there's a legit ethnicity under that odd combination of lobster red and suntanned brown. Very distinct looking fellow.

On one of his many trips to a big box orange store for supplies to his job, he encounters a woman who politely asks him for assistance since she can't seem to track down anyone on the floor for help. He tells her kindly that he doesn't work there, but agrees to help her and advise her on a project she tells him about (I don't remember the project). She grabs her goodies under his direction and advice, notes what needs to be done with what bit or bobble and buys her stuff at the registers.

He does his own purchasing through the company account. (This was decades ago, and such things were in a three ring binder, rather than in a computer.)

All is good, or so it seems.

About a month or so later, a strange man storms onto the current worksite and punches Bruce square in the nose as he's hunched over, shoveling cement. Bam! Out of nowhere, to poor Bruce's point of view. But Bruce, on top of his introductory description above, is the dude that takes the punch and smirks at you. Which is exactly what happened.

Bruce stands up to his full height, looks waaaaayyy down at the puny little mortal, gives the man a smile that would chill the blood of a hardened mafia hit man and says "Son, that was your one freebie."

Jason DepotHis coworkers barely had time to say, "Holy shit that dumb fucker punched Bruce!"

The fight was short and very much weighted in Bruce's favor. He pounded the man flat, folded him like a towel and put him away, whimpering. He was still folded and whimpering when the police arrived on the scene, took statements, took photos and went about their business.

He find out much later that the woman he helped out of kindness, had escaped from a relationship with a very jealous man. But said jealous man played (skillfully) the part of a husband who suspected his "wife" was cheating on him. Hired investigators with cameras, the whole nine yards. He got several photos of Bruce helping the woman around the store and pulling things down for her, talking and smiling with her. Since he clearly wasn't an employee with the bright orange apron, Bruce was (supposedly) one of the dudes she was 'cheating' with. He got ahold of Bruce's name and with what company he worked, then haunted construction sites until he spotted Bruce and went apeshit on him.

And Bruce, being Bruce, went full on Hulk in return.

In the end, the guy went to jail... after a trip to the hospital with a few missing teeth and several broken bones. Bruce was given a verbal finger wagging, though he was also told off the record told that was the sweetest story they would have the pleasure of sharing over the water cooler at the station.