Thanks to all the jackasses


Many years ago I lived next door to a woman who made me glad I didn’t make my career in retail. She believed fully in the adage that “the customer is always right” and worked hard to educate all retailers around her that this was to be observed at all times.

We’ve all had times where we had to get stern to exert our rights, or ask for a manager when the sales clerk wasn’t understanding, but this woman took these activities to a new level.

If she purchased something in a store that didn’t live up to her expectations, she would take it back – sometimes after using it for a while. If there was some sort of small print on the receipt that said “no returns” or “returns not honored after 30 days” she didn’t care and would begin to argue. If that didn’t get immediate results, she would begin to raise her voice and make a scene.

When the sales clerks would argue with her, she would pull a phone out of her purse and tell the clerk to call the manager because she was calling her son, who was an attorney (this was a lie – he was not).

As the bewildered clerk and manager listened, she had a full out conversation with her “son-the attorney” about damages and lawsuits. She would make the phone conversation sound like she didn’t want to be mean and that her son (the “attorney”) wanted to throw the book at them. She would nod her head, and say “Yes,…” and “Uh-huh,…” and other things on the phone while the activity all around her ground to a fascinated halt, hanging on every word.

She would end the call – only after “talking down” her son and go on to assure the clerk and the manager that she just wanted was was due to her; that her son has suggested that they file a suit, and that they owe her not only a refund but additional money for the time and aggravation she had to expend in returning the item but that she only wanted fair treatment.

You may be rolling your eyes, but very often she walked away with a full refund (even if she bought the item on sale and wore it 3 times) and sometimes even extra money or a gift card. After a good 10 minutes of her hissy fit, they simply wanted her to go away.

I was remembering this woman today when I had to call a major shipping company about a problem with a pick up from my house – a problem caused by their delivery/pick-up person – not by me.

I always start out friendly, and try really hard to remain that way. The customer service agent on the other end of the phone was also friendly but he made the mistake of telling me I would need to bring these packages into one of their locations – because of their driver’s mistake.

That was not going to happen. But I did not get all crazy on him, threaten to call an attorney or use foul language.

I smiled (you can actually hear smiling through the phone) and told him politely but firmly that no, that’s not what was going to happen and asked him if there was any other option for us to explore to resolve this issue.

And I believe that it was at this point where the JACKASSES in the world made my life a little easier.

He immediately changed his tune and after a few clicks on a computer keyboard, he suddenly found a way for those packages to be picked up tomorrow; as they SHOULD have been picked up today.

I thanked him profusely, wrote down my reference number, thanked him again and hung up.

I firmly believe that the JACKASSES of the world have left such a negative impression on retail and customer service professionals across the nation that when you show that you’re not taking no for an answer, but that you are willing to be a reasonable human being; you can get what you need in relatively short order.

And so today, I am grateful for all the customer service jackasses out there who have acted so badly that a smile and a firm request can turn a “no” into a “go“.


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