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.