This one will be a short one, but it still really got on my nerves.
So once again, I was working in the (Cell Phone) store, just another day, nothing particularly special going on. The day had been fairly slow, which was fairly odd because the weather wasn’t all that bad, and it was Thursday, which is usually a decently high traffic day.
So I’m sitting around, waiting for some customers to come in, when all of a sudden a vehicle pulls up to the front (And parks crooked, something that it seems like almost every terrible customer tends to do). Out of this vehicle steps a woman, probably around the age of 50 or possibly even 60. As she’s walking up to the front door I notice that she has a folder in her hand which is full of papers that look like bills…. Not a good sign…
She proceeds to Open the door. I will be ME, and the Woman will be OM.
ME : Hi there! How can I help you?
OM : I have some questions..
ME : Okay! *Politely smiling, waiting for said questions*
OM : I have some questions about my bill
ME : Yeah I should be able to help you out with that, let’s go --
OM : *Cuts me off* Here *Pushes bills into my hands*
ME : *Denying said bills* Actually we’ll end up taking some table space over to the side here, go ahead and follow me!
So I lead her over to the table and we take a seat. She lays her folder full of papers onto the table and starts pulling some of the bills out. At this point I start to notice that there are a LOT of bills in this folder, probably like 5 or 6, and I just assume that she keeps every single one of the bills she gets.
OM : So there’s a problem with the bills..
ME : *Looking at one of the bills* Oh yeah?
ME : *Looks up, after her not elaborating on what the problem is* what um.. What seems to be the problem?
OM : Well look at this one *Puts other bill in front of me, on top of the one I was already looking at*
So I’m here looking at her bills, which, as anyone who has worked in one of these stores knows, isn’t exactly easy to navigate without knowing what you’re looking for. One thing that stands out to me though, is that the totals on the bills were pretty far apart from each other. After seeing that, I take the next logical step. I pull up my tablet and go to look up the account.
After typing in the account number that was on top of one of the bills, I get an error. No account found. Pretty weird error to get, but whatever, maybe I typed it in wrong, you know? So I type it in again, same error. At this point I flip over the bill to find one of the phone numbers on the account. Once I track one down, I put that one in. Same error. It’s at this point that I realize that the other bill that we were looking at had a different account number, so I try that. Once again I get the same problem. This is where I start asking some more questions.
ME : So, what kind of account is this
OM : It’s my account
ME : Yeah, but, what kind of services are associated with this account.
OM : We use it for our business
OH MY GOD JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!
ME : *getting irritated on the inside*, well let me ask this, is it cell phones? Internet? Television?
OM : We use them for making calls, but on one of the bills we got a long distance charge.
ME : *light bulb clicks on* Ohhh, so it’s a landline phone service?
OM : Yeah
Finally I had gotten to what I needed to know. This explained why I wasn’t able to pull up the account, because in our store (Which is a CELL PHONE store) we can only access Wireless Cell Phone accounts. In no way shape or form can we even see into Landline accounts, let alone a business account that has billing issues regarding them.
ME : That makes more sense. *Relieved that I don’t have to deal with this anymore* The thing is though, unfortunately our store is a customer facing Wireless Cell Phone store, and there isn’t really anything that I can do for you regarding your landline service, you’ll have to --
OM : *Condescending* Well then get me someone here who CAN *Looking at me with an incredibly red face*.
ME : If i’m being completely honest with you, none of us in store are going to be able to do that, we just don’t have access to the systems that involve your plan, you’ll have to call in to our customer support.
OM : *Grabs another paper out of her folder* Well see look at this, these are the prices that my plan is SUPPOSED to be at, but they’re too high!
ME : Yeah… Like I said, I wouldn’t know the first thing about the rates that you’re showing me here, We just aren’t trained to deal with that kind of thing.
OM : Call them for me then
ME : Unfortunately that’s something that I can’t do, if I were to call in, they’re just going to want to speak to you anyways in order to verify the account, and I honestly I don’t know anymore about this than you do.
OM : *Her red face staring me down* Well… They helped me last time I was in here!
ME : Yeah, I can’t speak to what reps have done or what they didn’t do in the past, all I know is that I’m not allowed to call customer service on a customer’s behalf.
OM : This is ridiculous!
It’s at this point that the manager walks up, who will be called M
M : Hey there, what seems to be going on over here, is [ME] getting everything taken care of for you?
OM : No, he is not, he is refusing to help me with my bill.
M : *looks at me* what’s the problem with it?
ME : Well, it looks like this is a landline bill, and I was letting [OL] know that we simply don’t have access to the systems that we need in order to look at something like this.
M : *Going into that typical retail manager “everyone must be happy” mode* Why don’t you just go ahead and call this one time and see if you can help her out.
ME : *Dieing inside* … alright, I can do that, let me gather some extra information.
I was incredibly frustrated at my manager when this happened. Usually my managers are pretty strict on us following the rules on this kind of thing, and will back us up, but in this case they sided with the customer. Of course after this the customer was giving me the most smug look she could muster as well while I’m on the phone trying to get HER account figured out. And the worst part? I had to constantly hand the phone off between me and the customer so that they could verify her over the phone, and ofcourse she knew none of her Passcodes.
In the end do you want to know what the issue was with her account? Her promotional period had ended. That’s all. She had a deal for being a new customer, and then it ended. Customer service ended up extending the period without any fuss, and the customer left and went on her way.
Here’s one from your friendly neighborhood cell phone store.
So it’s just your average day. I’m sitting around, waiting for another customer to come in, you know, just doing my job and passing the time. Before we get too far though, let me note that with the company that I worked for when this happened, there was a pretty big push towards not just selling phones, but to also sell the customer what we called an “integrated solution”. Now you may ask, “What is this integrated solution?” Well don’t worry, the answer to that question is easy. We also sold TV service of the satellite variety.
Now as the people who have worked in one of these stores (or any sales job I suppose), usually the thing that the upper management is pushing most to sell is the thing that customers do not want to initially talk about. Satellite Television is one of those things. People come in to purchase a phone and/or to make changes to a cellular plan, not to be pitched a TV service until the salesman is blue in the face.
All that being said though, I honestly didn’t mind it. It was no different than selling anything else. Was it fun to bring up? No, not at all, and it can even be kind of awkward to find that natural segway into it, but a job is a job, and you have to do what you have to do, so I would ask every customer that would come in about their TV provider, because that is what I was there to do.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can address a different point, and this point is in reference to what we are NOT supposed to be doing with customers, and that is tech support (unless it directly related to our cellular service of course). A customer comes in with a phone that they dropped and the screen won’t turn on? Sorry, should have bought insurance. Customer can’t remember their Gmail password? Sorry, my employer has no affiliation with Google. That’s the policy, and honestly, it’s a policy that I am firmly in support of.
There are moments where this policy goes to the side though, and that’s when TV Service comes into the picture. Like I said, my job is NOT tech support, I am a salesman, and I have to bring up Television with every single customer that I have, including people who come in with any old issue regarding their phones. This is where the story really begins.
So as I stated in the beginning, it’s just your normal day. I’m sitting, waiting for the next customer. All of a sudden I see a dark green van with an older, fairly overweight gentleman pull right into the parking lot, probably a bit faster than he should have considering his goal was to park. So this van pulls up and parks crooked right on top of one of those yellow dividing lines that defines where vehicles are SUPPOSED to park, talking up about two spots. Then, after about 5 minutes of him just sitting in the van, the driver’s door opened and out he stepped.
He made his way up to the entrance, grabbed that door handle and gave it a tug. Once he was inside the store he took a couple of steps forward, stopped, then darted his eyes from person to person, and made a “Hmmpph” sound. I walked up to him and did my customary greeting, and from here on out there will be dialogue. I will be ME, the customer will be OM.
ME : Hey there, welcome to [nameofstore], how can I help you today?
OM : *Holds up his probably 3 year old ZTE smartphone* My phone isn’t working! *Tosses phone onto the table with a thud* Fix it!
ME : *irritated on the inside, all smiles on the outside* Alright well I’m sorry to hear that, What seems to be the issue with it?
OM : *Looks at me like I’m an idiot* It. Doesn’t. Work.
ME : *Picks up the phone, and notices that it turns on and the touch screen is working just fine* Hmm, well it’s on, and I can access the phone’s screen, so everything seems to be in order, is there a specific issue you’re having with the phone?
OM : I can’t see my pictures!
ME : Ohh, alright, let’s see what we can do for you today.
OM : Also, my bill is too damn high! It’s ridiculous, there’s only me on the account and it just shouldn’t be this much money.
ME : Yeah, absolutely we can take a look at that as well!
I pulled him over to a different table away from the door with a couple of chairs that we can rest on. This is a pretty standard thing to do, we don’t offer tech support, so what we do is take a look through some general settings on the phones and pull up their account to see how long they’ve had it, whether they can get a new phone and/or whether they can file insurance for the device, and the entire time we are doing this, we talk to the customers about our Television solution and why it would be a great deal for them.
So here I am, looking through the settings. The problem he is having is with the storage on his phone (Go figure, it’s got 8GB of internal storage). I notice this right away, and go into his settings to see what I can do. While I’m doing this, I go on with making small talk with the gentleman, asking him how his day was, what he’s up to, how the weather is, all that kind of stuff. He’s not the nicest guy in the world, but he’s not giving me the worst responses, and I get ready to tie in the Television side of the conversation. Another thing I notice is his plan. He had a couple gigabytes of data, on a single phone line with one of our old plans, so he was paying about 65 to 80 dollars a month (Tax and late fees are the reason there’s a discrepancy there). After seeing that he pays that much, and doesn’t use the best phone out there, in my head it occurs to me that this man would honestly be fine on a plan that could be as much as 30 dollars a month instead.
ME : Okay, so after looking at your plan, I think I’ve got a solution --
OM : *cutting me off* It’s really high, isn’t it!?
ME : For being on your own plan, I could see how that would be kind of expensive, but I --
OM : *cuts me off again* It’s absolutely ridiculous, I’ve been a loyal customer for years, and what do I get for it? I get $H1T on!
ME : Well like I said, there’s a way we can --
OM : *Once again cutting me off* And you know what else!? I’ve got friends who have their own plan that’s a phone, and they have a tablet and they pay 100 a month! I almost pay that and I don’t even have a tablet!
ME : Yeah, actually tablets are only 10 dollars a month, so if you wanted to add one we could--
OM : Oh, so I can get gouged again, I already pay almost a hundred for the service and there’s nothing your willing to do, it all adds up , 100 for this, 100 for cable, 70 for internet.
This is where I peak up. When he says that he pays about 100 dollars for his television service, I know that we can beat it on price, and what was his goal for his plan? Declining the price. I realize I can knock his phone bill in half, and probably his cable bill for about a year.
ME : *Trying to bring in how I can save the guy money* Yeah I know, I’ve been there, things can add up, but let’s see if there’s something I can do--
OM : *Cuts me off… AGAIN* It’s all just so expensive, and I never get treated like a loyal customer!
ME : *Irritated that I keep getting cut off, and realizing that I better just pitch this now* Well let me ask you this, who do you have as your TV provider right now?
OM : *Slams his flat palm on the table* Why are all of you in here always trying to sell me on your TV Service!? I’m not here for that! I’m here to get my phone fixed and to lower my bill!
ME : I understand that, but at the same time, I’m here to do my job, and my job is to find the best solution for you, and I’m thinking you may want to hear me out on this.
OM : NO. I AM NOT HERE FOR THAT, I’M HERE FOR THIS *shoves his fat finger onto his phone*
At this point I realize that this guy is just a lost cause. Could I have clicked the “Clear Cache” button and made his phone work for a bit longer? Sure I could have, but after that outburst, I’ll just go ahead and close the app. Could I have switched him to a cheaper plan? Of Course, but after him cutting me off like that? Nope, I’ll just go ahead and exit the account.
ME : Okay, so listen, this is kind of where we are. I know you’re here to get your phone fixed, but that isn’t what I’m trained to do, and unfortunately this isn’t a repair location, it’s a sales front, and looking into your plan, That’s actually pretty standard for a person by themselves, there isn’t really much I can do, and when it comes to the phone, you’re going to have to contact ZTE for support.
OM : So then what am I supposed to do!?
ME : You know, I’m not really going to have an answer for that, all I can really do past this point is sell you a new phone, otherwise you’re just going to have to deal with the lack of storage on this one.
OM : This is ridiculous! *Storms out*
Afterwards my manager came up to me, we talked about it, and had one long laugh about the whole situation. The most infuriating part to me, is that all he had to do was not cut me off. If he would have listened for about 2 minutes, I could have saved him money. Even if he wanted to stay with his current TV provider I could have still moved him to a different, less expensive plan, but some people just never learn.
This is something that happened to me quite a while back. At the time I worked for a large electronics retailer.
It was just an ordinary day, things were going pretty smooth. I was typically assigned to the mobile phones department (actually as a term of my employment that was the only area where I was supposed to be, but that’s a story for another time).
Anyways, so I’m pretty familiar with everything cell phone related in the store, but on this day the computer department was pretty busy, and a manager was calling for some help over the radio. Me, being the stand up guy that I am, went over to help. This was my first mistake.
So I get over there and meet up with the manager. She tells me that a couple needs help over by printers. I instantly regret coming on over to offer a hand, because as anyone who has worked in one of these stores knows, people coming in to buy printers are some of the worst people in retail, and on top of that, I really don’t know much about printers in the first place. I decide to wing it.
I walk over to the printer section. It’s along one of the store’s walls, but it’s pretty cramped, because there is a mini wall that divides it out from the rest of the store and the section itself was really only an aisle big anyways, on top of that, in the middle of this small area there is a metal stair/ladder that we use to actually grab the printers that are in stock.
By this time I start greeting the customers. They are nice enough, it’s a thin elderly man and his overweight wife, and they have a german shepherd service dog with them. The conversation starts out normal enough, basically just trying to figure out what they need, so this is how it goes down. I will be ME, the Old Man will be OM, and the Old Lady will be OL.
ME : Hey guys! What can I help you with?
OM : (Already looking a bit irritated) We’ve been waiting for more than 20 minutes…
ME : *Thinks in head about how they could have only been waiting here for maybe 10* Oh, well I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m here now, what can I do for you?
OL : *Angrily Shouts* Well! Obviously we need a printer!
ME : Hey, okay, I can help you out with that. What kind of printer are we looking for, what do we need it to do?
OM : Hmmhp.. It just needs to be able to print… that’s all
ME : *Wondering why they didn’t just pick one out then* Oh perfect, well that makes it pretty straight-forward. All of the printers here will do all of the main tasks, they can scan, print, copy, all of it. So all we have to do is decide which one we want, do you have a brand preference?
OM : No.. we just want a printer.
OL : *Walks up to one of the printers* What about this one
ME : Yeah, I can grab that one for you..
OL : No, tell me about it.
ME : Umm.. well, there isn’t really much of a difference between this one and the others, when they are at about this price range they tend to be pretty similar across the different brands.
OL : Print on it
ME : Im sorry?
OL : I want to see this one print.
Now a lot of people probably already know this, but almost all store displays in many locations aren’t actual, working models. Many items that are on display are plastic makeup of what the model actually looks like. Now this doesn’t necessarily apply to all printers, but even the actual models that we have on display are not powered, filled with ink, connected to the a source to print from, or filled with paper, so printing something on one of these things isn’t going to happen.
ME : *Looks at printer, just making sure that there wasn’t a way to print on it* Hmm, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to print with any of these, what is kind of nice though is that we do have a 14 day return policy, and if for whatever reason you don’t like it you can just bring it back and exchange for a different printer.
OM : *Getting a stern look on his face, starts shaking a little* This is RIDICULOUS! I guess we’ll just go to Office Max! Honey! We’re going to Office Max, it’s right down the street. *looks at me again* we’re going to office max!
ME : *Customer service smiling* Oh, well I’m sorry to hear that guys, I hope they’re able to help you out.
OM : *Gets quiet for a moment* I’m going to speak to one of your managers.
ME : Yeah, I can get one for you, just give me one moment.
So I walk away a bit and track down the supervisor that is in charge of the television department (The only one that was free). I fill him in a little bit on the situation, and he follows me over to the printers, He will be S (for supervisor).
ME : *Walks back over to them* Alright, I went and grabbed *Sup Name* for you guys.
S : Hi there, so what’s going on, what can I help with?
OM : Your employee here *points at me* is refusing to sell us a printer.
S : Sounds like there may be some confusion *kind of cocks his head at me*, what did he say?
OM : *Lying through his teeth* He was showing us the printers, and when we asked to see one of the printers print, he laughed at us and said “If we printed off something every time a customer wanted to look at a printer, then we would go out of business!”.
This totally catches me off guard. I am immediately stunned at how this guy just lied right to my supervisors face, and when he said it I made a bit of a confused face.
S : Well I’m sorry to hear that, let’s see if I can get something printed for you. *Looks at printer and realized it’s not plugged in, and doesn’t have any of the supplies needed to run it.* Actually folks it doesn’t look like this printer is hooked up to anything, I can’t print anything from it either.
OM : *Looking extremely irritated* This is RIDICULOUS. We’re just going to go to OFFICE MAX! I’m calling corporate! *looks at my supervisor* What’s the number for corporate!
S : I don’t have the number off the top of my head, but I can track it down for you.
OM : NEVER MIND. Who’s YOUR boss!?
S : Oh, my boss is *Store Managers Name*
OM : And he works for corporate?
S : No, he works right in this store, he’s here today, do you want to talk to him?
OM : *Angrily Nods yes*
S : Alright, let me get him for you.
So me and the supervisor go and get the manager and fill him in. After this the manager went in alone and talked to them alone. He’s a pretty smooth talker, and he was able to somehow get them to just purchase a printer without a demo, but they still weren’t happy about it, and definitely let us know that they would be going to Office Max from here on out (as if we care).
Afterwards I was called into the manager's office for a bit of a sit down. He asked me what happened and I told him exactly what I’ve told you here. Then the supervisor was called, and he backed me up, saying that the customers immediately had a bone to pick.
I haven’t seen those customers since. Honestly I hope they really have cut their ties with that business, and went on to Office Max in order to torment some poor souls there. It’s people like that that make retail hell, but at the same time, at the end of the day it’s just another story to tell.