I’ve been sitting here for a few hours now, waiting for a parcel delivery. I can feel my fury building because this never goes well. I have deliveries every couple of weeks for my shop, and every couple of weeks I end up in an argument with the company. I think they go out of their way to not deliver things to me.
So, while I’m waiting (stewing), I thought I’d share a couple of my all-time favourite customer service experiences. And when I say favourite, I don’t mean good. If you’re looking for good customer service experiences, you need to check out You Had Us At Hello, my friend Jo’s blog, dedicated to the people who make spending money a pleasant experience.
Good retail doesn’t happen to me. I seem to attract the rude, crude and bizarre when I shop. Something about me says “please make my day as difficult as possible.”
These are true stories…
The day someone tried to sell me a baby
I was about three days pregnant when I made my first trip to Babies R Us. Yes three days. So what? I was excited!
I was holding my incredibly flat stomach lovingly and imagining all the wonderful things I was going to buy my zygote when a young shop assistant popped up in my face. Like, almost touching my face. With her face. I swear I could feel her breath inside my mouth.
“Can I help you?” she asks.
“No thank you,” I say, taking a huge step backwards. “Just looking.”
She’s standing smack in the middle of the aisle, staring at me like the conversation is still going. Ugh.
I go to take a step towards her which is the universal signal for ‘excuse me, I’d like to get past, please and thank you’ but she doesn’t move. I do the old ‘left, right, which way are you going dance’ but I’m the only one dancing. She’s not moving and I’m just flapping around trying to act like we are both in on the joke.
She just keeps staring, so I flatten myself against the shelves of sterilisers to move past her.
She simply pivots on the spot as I wander towards a display of breast pads.
She’s giving off a distinct ‘I want to kill you and wear a suit made of your skin’ vibe. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I glance round the shop to see if anyone else is watching. I can’t see anyone. The place is deserted. Will anyone hear me scream?
I give her one of those sideways glances that say “I know you’re staring at me and it’s creeping me out” but she just keeps staring.
“Do you have a baby?” she asks. Not in a polite, ‘making conversation’ way. In the way a strange man would ask when your last pap smear was.
“No.” I say. Firmly. Conversation ended. No need for follow ups. I will not negotiate with shop girls. Shop girls will not change my way of shopping.
She keeps staring. Her gaze is like a moist hand on my arm.
I’m determinedly reading a box of nipple cream. I’M IGNORING YOU.
“Do you want a baby?”
My head snaps up. There’s something in the way she says it that makes me feel immediately terrified.
I drop the nipple cream and run.
I take a quick glance back to see her staring at me through a display of bottle warmers.
It’s really possible she was just being totally inappropriate and personal. But to this day, I’m convinced she was trying to sell me a baby.
Lauren the unwitting sex counsellor
I wandered into the timber section of a large hardware store in a suburb quite far from home. It’s the kind of suburb where wearing shoes makes you a bit fancy and having all your teeth makes you a definite outsider.
I’m not a regular hardware store shopper. I was lost.
A young shop assistant buzzed over to me with the excitement of a teenage boy who rarely saw women. I asked for wooden dowel and he directed me to a ladder which took us both to a loft area – thereby TRAPPING ME.
“What are you building?” he asks.
“I’m building a teepee,” I say.
“You’re building it, or your husband’s building it?” he asks.
“ME,” I snap. Little twerp.
“Oh no offence or anything, it’s just we don’t get many women in here,” he explains. “I mean, I’m all for women doing stuff and all. Except they shouldn’t really get muscles cos that looks really ugly.”
“Ok, so anyway, I’ll take this dowel thanks!” I say brightly, trying to keep things on track. “I’ll just need it cut in half if that’s ok?”
“Sure, but first, can I ask you a question?”
“So my ex-girlfriend keeps calling me and telling me she loves me but she can’t be with me. What’s that all about?” he asks earnestly.
Um, WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? Am I Dr fucking Phil? I honestly don’t know why people talk to me. Nothing about my body language EVER says ‘please share your innermost thoughts with me’.
“Right, um, sounds like an excuse to me mate,” I say. Please let this be the end.
It’s not the end.
“Yeah?” he asks. “Cos, I mean, we went through a lot of shit together but she stupidly lost her virginity in a one night stand after we broke up.”
My mouth drops open.
Let me be clear. This is a real story. This is not even a little bit embellished. I wrote down the conversation as soon as I got home so I could always remember this special time I shared with this inappropriate boy-man.
“You see,” he keeps going, “I never did her because it just never felt right, you know?”
I am a goldfish. Mouth opening shutting opening shutting.
“She said she wanted to have sex because she wanted ‘experience’ with men. I mean, I’ve had experience with women, if you know what I mean?”
I do know what he means.
“But the I found out the guy she slept with slapped her.”
“Right!” I yelp, “This dowel looks GREAT! Let’s go downstairs right NOW!”
I run towards the ladder swinging some very long and unsafe sticks behind me.
But he keeps talking.
“He slapped her because she wanted to, you know (points at his crotch) go down on him and he didn’t want her to,” he prattles on.
I close my eyes and smell coconuts and the sea air. I’m on a beach, in Jamaica, and it’s really really quiet.
“I swear I was going to kill him, but I stupidly promised her I wouldn’t, but man I wanted to.”
I’m desperately searching for someone else to come and serve me. Anyone? It’s just us. I throw my dowel at him.
“If you could just cut this to 1.5 metres, that’d be great, thanks!”
“Yeah,” he sighs. “Women are weird.”
“Yep!” I screech, “I’ll find my own way to the checkout, thanks!”
I run. Like proper running.
Still waiting for my package by the way…
Please tell me it’s not just me that this happens to? Have you ever been left speechless after a customer service encounter?
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