Maybe it's the pandemic, the US and UK sociopolitical burndowns, the uncontrolled wildfires, and/or all the rest of what 2020's vomitted forth that's causing customers to suck extra much lately. Here's another one from the technical sales (vehicle lighting) niche I inhabit.

Customer orders a pair of headlamps, a pair of bulbs, and a wiring harness. Easy routine stuff—the headlamps ship from facility "A", and the bulbs and harness from facility "B".

By and by, Customer pings me: he got the harness and bulbs; when may he expect the headlamps? I take a look: h'mm, that's odd; I don't have a tracking number for the headlamps. I call my guy at facility "A", he looks into it, and says oops, his fault, he sees where that order got snagged; he'll send it out the next day (since it's past cutoff).

I email customer to apologise for the fumble and tell him his lamps will be shipped the next day and I'll send him the tracking number as soon as I have it. He writes back "No problem, thanks for looking into it."

Two days later, email from customer: "I hope you didn't ship the headlamps to [address he specified when he placed the order], because I can't receive packages there any more. They should go to [other address he's never mentioned before].

I reply: "Oh dear…I'm afraid the lamps did ship to [address he specified when placing the order]. If I had learned of the new address when I let you know your lamps would be shipping the following day, I could have sent them to your new address, but given where the package is in its progress, it can't be redirected now. Will you be able to retrieve them?"

Back comes "I didn't say it was your fault! I just told you my new address! GEEZ!!!"

I write back: "I wasn't seeing any blame, I was just expressing regret that I didn't have this information the other day when I could've accommodated it, thus saving you some inconvenience, and that I don't have a way to make the delivery more convenient for you."

He replies: "Pretty snide response from the jerk who 'forgot' to send the lamps. Good day, pal."

Now, I'm as polite and accommodating as can be, often much more so than deserved…but only to a point.

So I reply: "'Forgot' in quotes? What, you think I deliberately didn't ship them, hoping you wouldn't notice or something? C'mon. Good day to you, too, I reckon. I hope you're able to retrieve your lamps from the address where they shipped."

From him comes: "Do not contact me again."

Next day, I send: "Hi, there. Sorry to violate your directive not to contact you again, but you did previously request the tracking info on your headlamps, so I thought sending it might be worth risking your annoyance or anger. Tracking number [number] shows delivered on [yesterday's date]."

No reply. Did he manage to get his lamps? Only he knows for sure, I guess.

Customer Cuts Off Nose, Spites Face

I'm (still) in speciality technical sales, specifically vehicle lighting. There's a lot of routine, boring, anyone-could-do-it order processing, but aside from that there's a lot of special knowledge required for when a standard off-the-shelf part won't do.

Some months ago, a dude building a custom motorcycle contacted me at great length by email, and eventually at greater length by phone. He wanted a headlamp that would look a particular way when lit and unlit, and provide excellent low and high beam performance. No off-the-shelf standard parts would meet this need, but Collapse )

A Transoceanic Customer Suck

I do specialty technical sales. Specifically: vehicle lighting equipment. Some months ago, I had an inquiry from an Australian living in the Netherlands and working in Saudi Arabia. He has a very nice early-'70s BMW with original headlamps in badly degraded condition. Wants much better seeing at night, better than can be had with the original-type headlamps restored to perfection.

Now, from 1940 to 1983, all vehicles sold in the US had to use standard-size headlamps. They weren't very good, but the standard size and large installed base (many vehicles over many years) means there are now headlamps available in those old standard sizes but with up-to-date technology and performance, for drop-in upgrades on older vehicles. No such standard-lamps law existed elsewhere in the world, so whatever the car came with is what it's stuck with forever. The solution is to change to the US headlight fixtures and put in some up-to-date standard-size headlamps.

I explain all this to the customer, and he's on board. I can provide the headlamps and hookup components, but not the brackets. I spot a set of the brackets on eBay, new-never-used, for his model of BMW, and point him at them—I'm not really comfortable pouncing on an ebay auction just to turn around and mark it up. He contacts the seller, who won't ship outside the States. There are also a few ancillary items he wants for the install from Amazon. So I agree to receive the eBay and Amazon items, consolidate all the parts, and send them all to him in one box (memo to self: stop doing that).

By and by, everything's in hand: new US-spec headlight fixtures, the good headlamps, the hookup components, assorted other items. The box gets sent out about 10 June from Michigan, and I send customer the tracking number. The next day he starts demanding to know why he hasn't received the package and what I'm doing about it. I gently remind him that transport takes time.

On 16 June, USPS tracking info says "Departed Chicago international facility en route to destination". Tracking info stops changing at that point—stays the same for days and weeks. That happens sometimes, even when everything's running normally (no pandemics or deliberate attempts from above to destroy the US Postal Service, etc).

I calmly inform customer every time he writes—which is often—that I will do/am doing everything possible to figure out what's up and get the situation straightened out as necessary. Again and again I patiently explain that the Postal Service has a certain number of days that must elapse before they will initiate an investigation, and that I will be opening an investigation as soon as possible. He keeps on writing back and accusing me of dragging my feet and doing nothing, etc.

The first day the USPS will open an inquiry, I do so, then immediately write to customer to share the info with him: USPS will do their own investigation to see if the package can be found here, see if there's evidence it might have left the US without getting the scan it was supposed to get, etc. They'll also notify the postal people in the destination country of the Netherlands who will do their own investigation. All of this will take not less than 33 days. If the package is found during the investigation, it will be sent along to the addressee (that's him!). If not, then it'll come time to fill out insurance claim forms, etc.

Customer gets extra super pissy, accuses me of stealing his money and his parts. Makes unrealistic demands, phrased in ways that for some strange reason make me feel less cooperative ("I shouldn't have to wait! You know the right thing to do is to refund me in full and then if the parcel is found and reaches me I'll send it back to you as I no longer have any desire to receive a parcel from you, but of course you won't do the right thing", etc).

I keep about 98% of my cool and inform him that we'll be doing this by the book: we'll let the postal services do their investigations and go forward from there. I remind him, as the USPS rep reminded me, that everything is taking more time than usual on account of Covid, and some usually-air shipments are going by sea instead, etc.

In return: more vitriolic bilge, and a new accusation that I'm using Covid as a dumb excuse.

I'm down to about 97% of my cool; I tell him "With all due respect: don't be an arsehole. Breathe. Be patient. Be grateful for life's gifts. Understand that this will get resolved, just not as quickly as either of us would like."

He comes back with "Arsehole, really!! Wow, a new low of customer service from you. Well done, showing your true self and level of business acumen. I’ll be sharing your email with every single person I know in the classic car world. No need to contact me again by email, I look forward to meeting you in person."

So…this is what, some kind of silly threat, I guess? Boy, am I ever quaking in my boots, 'cuz he's gonna hop on a plane, fly over the ocean, declare his travel essential to bust through the Covid border closure, find me, and give me a knuckle sandwich or somethin'.

That brings us to 7 August.

On 8 August I get the news from USPS that the parcel had been delivered.

So I send customer "Well, now lookit there—all that was required was some extra patience; your parcel was delivered today. Enjoy. Drive safely. Smile!
(And maybe work on being a little less quick to assume bad faith, eh?)

Not a peep out of him since his dumb little threat. Here's hoping I've heard the last from him, though I have a nagging feeling he's going to try to make more trouble onehow or another.

One from the archives

I've been slogging around in some old email archives, and found this email I sent to a customer twelve years ago. This customer wanted to buy one pair of not-very-expensive item. Italic text is customer, plain text is me:

Wondering if there's any discount I can get? Something like:
1. Wholesale or commercial discount
2. Volume discount

1. Volume discounts apply at volume quantities.
2. Wholesale discounts apply at wholesale quantities.
3. Commercial discounts apply at commercial quantities to customers with a valid state-issued business number on file.

3. Good guy discount - and yes, I do qualify ;-)

I take you at your word that you're eligible for the Good Guy discount. Me, I'm eligible for the takes-the-time-to-work-individually-with-each-potential-customer-to-
one-size-fits-all surcharge,
and the discount and the surcharge cancel each other out.

After Black Friday comes Wack Saturday...

So, Saturday night, this happened: Customer comes in with wife and baby at 2 minutes til close. " I want to buy a rug. I've been spending a LOT of money today, so I'm gonna need you to give me deep discounts, because, you know, I'm here. Now I'm going to want a $225 rug for $99 because I don't like any of the $99 rugs, they look cheap. Now I'm going to go to another section to shop and I expect you to stick with me. Because I spent a lot of money somewhere else today. And I need a discount. So, anyway...Wait. What? Honey where'd she go? She ran out the back when I looked away? It's only 10 after 9! And we didn't get our discount!" True story. Paraphrased, but true.
  • pncwho

I am not a dog!

Still working at the fabric store. There is one customer who has been getting on my nerves. She seems nice enough when I'm helping her, but when I finish cutting her fabric or otherwise serving her, she doesn't say, "thank you," she says, "good girl!" Yes, in the exact same tone of voice you would use to praise your dog for fetching your slippers.

Has anyone else been addressed in this way? What kind of person considers it acceptable to address their fellow human beings like dogs?

I wonder if she'd get the clue if I replied with "woof" next time she said "good girl."
  • Current Mood
    irritated irritated

we're cheap, but not that cheap

Dear lady who wants to adopt a dog,
Our adoption fee is $75.00 for a dog. That is $75.00 when you adopt, not five bucks down and you'll 'pay the rest when you can' No, not all the crying and sobbing of your kids, nor your assurances that you 'will pay the full price, but just not now' is gonna sway us.
the adoption fee is still $75.00. Believe us when we tell you that you will NOT find ANY other humane society around this area that is that low. Other humane society charges fifty bucks more for their dogs. I've seen other humane societies that charge as much as $200.00 for a dog. As it is, we might have to raise our prices.

thanks for stopping by...
Atlantis - FAIL

Thank you for calling... How can I help you?

It is amazing how many people feel that it is the cellphone company's responsibility to pay for cellphone manufacturer mistakes and errors. To a certain extent -- yes, we are there to help and to assist. And yes, there are manufacturer defects that we definitely will cover on behalf of the manufacturer...

...No, you will not get a brand new phone.

A man came on the line, and he was angry. Livid. I was able to get my "appreciation" in and my "initial response" in, but after that he went on a 5 minute long tangent on what my company was going to do for him. What I was going to process for him, or else.

"My wife's phone isn't working and this is unacceptable! I've already troubleshooted the device. We've already done everything and it's all on the account, so I'm done with this. Give me a new phone. Just give me a new phone! You're going to send me out a new phone for this--I'm done troubleshooting, we've done it all. So you send it out right now. I don't want a refurbished phone--I want a NEW PHONE." He spat through the call.

I tried my best to position troubleshooting the device despite him refusing to tell me what is going on with the phone. I let him know that I'm very skilled in getting cellphones to behave, so I'd love to have a go at getting his phone working because I know how frustrating it can be to lose information with a phone you can't turn on and switching devices.

He pretty much repeats the previous paragraph. And now 15 minutes have passed. Great. I should have had this solved by now and on to the next customer. He is still insistent; and finally I realize I need to be more direct with him.

"I understand your frustration, sir. It is my goal to help you and resolve your concerns. However, I will not replace your phone with a certified like new replacement until we've troubleshooted your phone."

I made a point to call it "certified like new" so he knew we aren't in the business of ordering new phones. I don't even have the choice to choose a new phone by sku or otherwise when I process a warranty replacement...

He flipped!

"What the !@#$?! You're going to !@#$ing replace my phone with a brand new !@#$ing phone! I am tried of this $%#&. I am paying for a warranty on this damn phone and I expect to get a brand new !@#$ing phone for it! I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE A USED GODDAMN PHONE. !@#$ING REPLACE MY PHONE. REPLACE IT NOW!--"

"Sir, I definitely understand your reason for frustration. I am doing my best to help you today, however I am having a difficult time understanding you due to some of the choice words you're using. I'd really appreciate it if we could be more civil with one another." I interrupted and responded in a quiet tone (people tend to quiet down if you do in tone).

He paused a moment, as if he was surprised I called him out on his childish temper tantrum. However, it was only momentarily.


"Please, sir. I am more than empowered to help you today."


"Thank you for your patience. We would be more than happy to replace your phone for you with a certified like new replacement once we have completed all troubleshooting steps." Mind you, I was being as kind as I could. None of my words or tone of voice was out of spite or in attempt to be difficult.


At this point, I could have gotten him to our escalation department, which isn't a group of supervisors. But he didn't let me do anything with his phone or account. He denied me the ability to run a diagnostic on his phone in question, and we weren't getting anywhere. I wasn't going to cost the company another $30 dollars to transfer him to the escalations department (yes, every transfer in a company costs it money), who were going to tell him the same thing as me.

"[Name], I am not going to transfer you to a supervisor. You haven't given me the opportunity to help you."

Incomprehensible words and he hung up. He didn't say goodbye, and if someone listened to the call there's no way that someone could know for sure it was an intentional hangup. So... I had to call him back.

He didn't answer and I left a very kind message on his voicemail about where he can get support -- over the phone, online, at a store -- and if he's calling in to troubleshoot to call in from a device other than the one we're troubleshooting.

He did call back, which connected him to another representative, which hurt my stats for 3 day repeats. Evidently he admitted that he had broken and damaged his phone. He never shared that with me. That was a game changer... the warranty doesn't cover damage to the phone. Only manufacturer defects.
  • quamp

Caught in the Middle of Suckage

I wear glasses. Recently, I had to get an eye exam. Being an older person, for the first time I required bifocal lenses to help me read up close things. When I went to the glasses store to have my new prescription filled, I was told it would be about 10 days to get it. Well, ten days come and go, and nothing. I call the store, all I get is an automatic message. So I go down there and ask what happened. The store's clerk tells me that one of the lab technicians had his daughter get sick and that they've had trouble meeting deadlines and they were still trying to call people to let them know this. I was then told it should be ready in three days. I was fine with that; however, a woman standing nearby wasn't. "Are you really gonna let them walk all over you like that!?" She asked. She then started griping at the worker at the counter for not having my special prescription filled in time. I tried in vain to stop her, but she just ended up making an idiot out of herself. I then rolled my eyes at her and told her to give the store a break and walked off with her still nagging at the clerk.

What does it matter to you if my prescription isn't filled in a timely manner? They had a good reason why they didn't do this. You did not have any reason to butt in and go all fanbrat about everything.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated