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 upbeat 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! Woohoo!" could be heard in the background as the mother mumbled something about "Yeah, well, it better show up..." and hung up.
--Online Retail Hellion
Read more Holiday Hell stories here
From Perpetually Indignant:
I was searching the apparel section of my grocery store delivery website... along with shoes and tote bags, it appears that I'm also expected to wear broccoli and tamales.
Ordered a lens on eBay. Seller forgot to send the lens hood with it and sent it out separately. Sent me a note and a packet of crisps. What a legend!
Online order fulfillment is always such a joy! But not really.
At my store, there are a few ways that online orders function.
Person orders, we have item in stock, order is either prepped for shipment or ready to be picked up within 2 hours.
Person orders, item is not in stock. Item ships from warehouse to either customer directly or to store for pick up. This can take a week or more in some cases depending on timing.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a woman who ordered a 14 foot trampoline online for store pickup. She was calling to check the status of her order. Ok, totally normal so far.
I pull her order up, and informed her that the status was Pending Merchandise.
Well, when is it going to be ready to pick up?
Knowing what I do about the rhythm of our supply chain, I inform her that she should be able to pick the trampoline up Wednesday evening following the next warehouse delivery to our store. (Note that this happened on a Thursday, and we only get these deliveries once each week.)
WHAT?!?!?!?! That's ridiculous! I ordered it today, you should have it ready for me to pick up today!
I just can't believe that it takes that long! Main Competitor would have it ready by now. I only ordered it from you because it was cheaper. My kids can't wait that long to be able to play on it.
I sigh internally, reiterate that I don't carry that size of trampoline. I have 12 foot and 15 foot options available in store, if she wants to call and cancel the original order to get one of these.
That's just not good enough for me. I have to have this size for (completely insane reason that I can't remember). Here's what you are going to do for me. You are going to call Location X of Main Competitor for me, and get them to match the price from your website.
Record Scratch Wait what? At this point I am done with this conversation.
Ma'am, I am not able to contact the other store for you, nor do I have any control over whether or not they price match. You are welcome to call our customer service line to cancel your original order and purchase one that I have in stock if you so choose, or wait for it to arrive for you to pick up. These are the only options I have for you today.
Thank goodness she not-so-politely informed me what I could do with those options and hung up.
Now her trampoline has arrived since she didn't call to cancel, and it sits in our holding area waiting. Today is the day it cancels if she doesn't come get it, and if so it goes into my inventory and out to the sales floor.
TL;DR Woman gets mad that my store has failed to implement teleportation technology in order to have her non-essential item available for her right now.