Monday, January 3, 2011

Stories from the Front Lines of Retail - January 3, 2011

Where I work we have online customers, in store customers, and phone customers.  Generally speaking, the phone customers are the largest pains in the ass.  Sometimes the in store customers are but, by and large it's the phone customers.

Nowhere is this more true than one particular gentleman who calls from the West Coast (I shall refer to him as WC for the remainder of the post).

It was just your normal, average Monday after the the holidays.  Kinda slow, regular (i.e. intelligent) customers, and no ranting emails from anybody.  Nice.

And then the phone rang.

I felt my throat tighten up when I saw the caller ID "Private Caller".  I knew that it could only be WC.  I groaned.  I contemplated running out the front door and never coming back.  I thought about pretending that I didn't hear the phone ring.  But I answered it.

It takes 5 minutes for lovely WC to get to his first item.  We talk in circles about whether he wants a 4 oz bulk bag or a half cup refill (and, no - they're not the same thing).  I explain, several times, that one is by weight the other by volume.  He says, "I want a 4 oz refill bag".  I say, "Okay, so that's a half cup refill, right?"  "No.  A 4  oz refill."  "Right.  So a 4 oz bulk bag then, yes?"  "As long as it's the 4 oz refill bag."

By the way - you really have to hear his nasally, drawn out voice.  It totally makes the phone call.

Finally, we get to an agreement about the bag.  Then he asks about star anise.  I explain that it's used in Oriental cooking.  He then asks me to explain it's savoriness.

No, folks - I'm not kidding.

I pause and he, sensing my confusion and seething rage, asks to explain the differences between it and clove.  Um...everything?  Anyway, after painstakingly going through the pros and cons of star anise vs clove in cabbage and beet stir fry he decides to go with cloves.

And that, my friends, is about 15 minutes of my life that I'm never going to get back.

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