Customers

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My second job is part-time and is customer service. Most specifically, I work for a Subway (you know, Jared from Subway? Sandwich man? Yeah, that's the one.) Generally, I love this job. I love the people I work with, and the work is mindless enough that it doesn't stress me (unlike other jobs).

The one thing that will ruin it for me, YOU. That's right, you. The customer. You and you alone can quickly make my job go from delightful to downright depressing.

Yesterday while I was at work, I thought of a list of things that you, the customer, should know.

1) Complaining about things that are out of my control which force me to be a bitch to you, and enjoy it.

Case #1: We charge $.25 to use the debit machine. Every transaction. Doesn't matter how big the transaction is. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I don't like charging it. And NO, at the end of the night I don't pocket it. When you ask me "So what's with this fee?", I say "The fee is charged by the people who own our debit machine. The money goes directly to them." That's the freaking truth. I have no desire to lie to you. Don't huff and haw and say to your sig. other "Yeah, sure, what a rip-off, they are all crooks...yada yada yada." Doing things like that will cause a couple of things to happen:

  • I will be a bitch to you.
  • I will make a snide comment to you (Generally this only happens if you make one to me first.)
  • I will shrug my shoulders (Especially if you state that you will never come back to this store again - sometimes this is followed by the comment "That's fine, sir, I don't get paid by the customer.")
  • I will make fun of you after you leave the store.
  • I will "educate" you. (Especially if you tell me that charging this fee is illegal. I work for the Police in my other job, and trust me, it's not illegal.)

Case #2: We don't take Credit Cards or the Mall Gift cards (we are in a mall location. We DO take Subway gift cards). I'm sure for the people that are living on credit cards this is frustrating, but for regular folk, generally they have a debit card, although this sometimes is a problem because of the $.25 fee. We have two (count them: 2) signs at the store stating that we don't take credit cards or Mall gift cards. Yet, somehow, we still get people handing me credit cards. When I say "Sorry we only take debit or cash", you then have a couple of options:

  • You can say, "Oh it's fine" and hand me one of the approved methods of payment.

This would be the best alternative. Everyone is happy.

  • You can say "No way.... I just have a credit card" and hope that your cuteness will force me to say "Oh it's alright, just take it".

Surprisingly, this happens a lot. For some reason, mainly guys (probably because i'm a girl) seem to think that when they just stand there and say "I don't have any other cash" I'll somehow just give them the sandwich for free. Generally, I just stand there until it gets awkward and say "Well, there's an ATM over there that can give you cash" or "That's fine, we'll just eat it ourselves" (which actually happens with tossed subs - no point in wasting them). Most of the time they seem shocked that I haven't fallen for their killer charms and good looks.

(On a side note: I really enjoy taking people who think they are god's gift to women down a notch. I really really enjoy it. As someone who is, generally, average-looking, I find great pleasure in reminding those who seem to have everyone fall for them that really, deep down, they are a douchebag.)

  • You can borrow money from you friend/sig. other.

This is also a good idea. However, generally when you have to walk away from the store front, you're probably not comming back.

  • You can go get cash from one of the many ATM's located in the mall.

Also works, but, generally, you never come back. So we generally make fun of you. And remember, next time you come back to the store (and I am very good with faces) I will remind you of you unpaid sandwich and make you feel really bad. It's best never to come back to this location while i'm working here.

  • You make a snide comment wondering why we don't take credit cards.

If it's just a question posed in a nice manner, I just say "It was the decision of our store owner not to take credit cards. We're a franchise so we can do whatever we want."

If you say it in a rude way, you're asking for a rude answer. I had a guy state sarcastically "Have you ever heard of credit cards, they're pretty handy!" I responded "Ever hear of cash? We've been using it for thousands of years, it's also pretty handy." That's right, buddy. Take that.

  • You can get pissed off and make a comment on how we should post a sign.

This kind of behavior is usually returned with "Uhh....we've actually got two signs posted, one right here (in front of your face) and one down there. If you said this really, really sarcastically, sometimes I just reach forward and flick the sign with my fingers until you look at it. When you are even more mean than that, sometimes I treat you as if you are stupid. "Sorry sir, you're right. We've got two, but obviously you didn't see them. We'll print out a couple more and wear them all as aprons. How would that work?" This generally concludes with you storming off, but trust me, it's worth it.

  • You can get very pissed off and storm away.

This usually results in me making fun of you, starting at you until it makes you uncomfortable (*this only works if I can still see you in the food court), or standing there with a smirk on my face until you actually DO leave.

Case #3: Sometimes we run out of a specific type of bread, a specific bottled drink, chips, cookies etc. I'm not in charge of ordering. I'm also not in charge of telling my boss what to order/how much bread to make. It's also hard to predict how many of each bread is going to be used during the day. So, generally, but the end of the night, we don't have all the types of bread.

Generally, when we meet your request of "italian herb & cheese bread" or "lemon iced tea" or "macadamia nut cookies" with "sorry, we don't have any more left", you have a couple options:

  • Pick something else.

This is best. Besides, does it really matter what type of bread you're going to have? Really, really, really?? In the grand scheme of your life, is it really a big deal? If it is, I'm sorry that on your death bed you're still going to be thinking about the fact that we didn't have any bread to match your exquisite tastes.

  • Complain.

Okay, yes you have your favorite. Maybe you even had your heart set on it. You can complain, that's fine. I don't know what you expect me to do about it. I don't have a hidden stash in the back that i'm saving for the complain-y customers. You can express your displease with one phrase: "That sucks". But then, choose something else or leave.

  • Don't complain, but make a face and siiiiiiigh, finally agreeing to have something else, but not before you make it very clear that it is a big strain for you to pick something else.

I had a women come yesterday and ask for a Coke Zero. I stated we didn't have any Coke Zero, but that we had both bottled and fountain regular Coke and Diet Coke. She made such a face that I thought that she was trying to pass a grapefruit. She then let out a big sigh and chose water, no, diet coke, no water, no, okay, fine regular coke. But not before she reminded me that she needed the caffeine but not the calores. How 'bout this: I don't care, lady. There are people behind you. Make up your god-damned mind. This type of behavior will result in the following:

  1. I will look at you in complete disbelief that it took you this long to make up your mind.
  2. I will make fun of you after you leave.
  3. I will get your order complete in the fastest way possible. You may think i'm being rude to you, but usually it's just my desire to get you away from me.
  • Leave.

This also works just fine for me. Again, I don't get paid per customer, so the fact that you just left freed up 2 minutes of my time to do something else.

  • Ask us why we don't have product X.

If this was a nice question, then I usually respond that "it's been a very busy day". If you state this rudely such as, "How can Subway not have X product". I also respond "it's been a very busy day" but this is done with a ruder and slightly sarcastic tone, sometimes accompanied with a shoulder-shrug.

  • Make a sarcastic comment.

If you haven't learned already, being sarcastic to me invites sarcasm. I am a very sarcastic person and trust me, I love using it on unsuspecting people.

2) Being on your cell phone/talking to friends, generally ignorning me will force me to either skip you, taking the next customer, poke you until I have your attention, or yell at you to get your attention.

Case #1: You are talking on your cell phone. You are either having a life-or-death buisness conversation, or are saying "like" a lot and discussing some life-or-death boy-issue.

I will say "What can I get for you?"

You have a couple of options:
  • Tell the person on the other end "I'll call you back". Hang up, and order like a normal person.

This is a good option. We both get the order done and taken care of, and you can then get back to whatever important conversation you were having.

  • Step out of line, letting the next person make their order.

This also works quite well, although sometimes causes confusion depending how far you step out of line.

  • Hold the phone to your ear, but talk to me - going back to your phone after every answer, getting more and more inpatient as I ask you follow up questions (which, mind you, I space perfectly apart for mazimum annoyance.)

Yes, it's true. I will space out my questions so that the moment you go back to having a conversation I will ask you another question. Trust me, i've got lots of practice. The questions that I will be asking when you first get into line are as follows:

  1. What can I get for you?
  2. What type of bread?
  3. What type of cheese?
  4. Would you like that toasted?
  5. Which veggies?
  6. What sauce?
  7. Salt & Pepper?
  8. Drinks?
  9. Cookies & Chips?

I also have a list of other, rather meaningless questions that I can throw out to stetch this out, depending on how annoying you are. These include:

  1. Sorry, what veggies?
  2. Did you want Parmesan Cheese?
  3. How bout oregano?
  4. Extra napkins?
  5. Did you want hot peppers?
  6. Did you want that cut in half?
  7. Did you want me to wrap it seperately?
  8. Do you need a bag?

It's actually rather satifying to aggravate people, especially when there is nothing they can do about it. It's just my job, ma'am.

  • Stay on the phone and stare at me, pretending to be a mime attempting to order a sandwich. Point, gesture and make faces until I magically read your mind and make your sandwich to order.

This usually results in me asking you a question louder and louder until you finally say a word to me. I'm not a mind-reader, get off the damn phone. I can get pretty loud, trust me.

  • Stay on the phone and hold your hand up as if to say "hold on a minute."

This generally results in me staring at you until you get uncomfortable, taking the next person in line for as long as you are on the phone and ignoring you until you say something, or, if you are the only person in line, leaving to the back of the store until you get off the phone and wander up and down the unit waiting for someone to come out. (We have a monitor in the back so I can see what you're doing up front.)

  • Ignore me.

This can result in several things. Either i'll leave and ignore you (sometimes until you give up and leave), i'll ask you louder and louder and louder what you want until you can't ignore me anymore, or i'll help someone else.

Case #2: You are with umpteen of your closest friends. You are laughing and shoving each other around and generally ignoring me.

I say "What can I get for you"

You have basically the same options as the cell-phone-guy. And basically you will get the same results. The difference is that, as long as your being rude and ignorning me, I will do my damndest to embarass you infront of you friends. This is easiest when you are some pre-teen wannabe asian ganger white-boy. You, as a bunch, are very easy to embarass.

The thing is, most of you "friend-boy" and "cell-phone-guy" seem to think that I am somehow wasting your time. Need I remind you that you got into my line? I never forced you to come and order a sandwich. I would rather you not be here, trust me.

3) Being picky about your sandwich order.

Sure, okay, you want the nice tomatoes. Okay, sure, you want the nice lettuce. You want the sauce on the bread first? And the bun toasted then the meat put on? Okaaaay. Now you want this sauce on the meat and this other sauce on the veggies? Right. Now you want these veggies on this side and those on the other side. Fine. Now you want double cheese but alternating flavors. And the salt and pepper put on seperately? And cut into thirds? Now wrapped seperately. And put into seperate bags. With extra napkins. And some of this sauce on the side.

Why don't you go home and make your own sandwich?!

One or two of those requests is fine, everyone has their preferences. But when it starts getting down to an art form, you have to really ask yourself how much of my time are you wasting. You can pretty much be guaranteed that by the end of this order, I will not be wishing you "have a nice day". I will most likely make fun of you.

Now this section corresponds with the following:

4) Don't be rude.

Just don't. I'm not your sandwich-bitch. The old classics like please and thank-you. They are classic for a reason. The ruder you are to me, the ruder i'm going to be to you. And if you decide to top it off with some of the things I've already discussed, you really do have it comming for you.

5) Don't complain about the prices.

The menu is on the wall, prices listed and everything. Don't wait until you get alllllll the way to the cash register before looking at the register, then the menu, then the register, then the menu, then confirming the price with me, then the menu, then finally going "wow, that's expensive". Yeah it is. It's called "reading the menu before you slap double meat on that steak sandwich.

It's rather demeaning actually, when you stare at me as though i've gotten something wrong. Buddy, i've been working here for more than 4 years. I know this register inside and out. Nothing is wrong. Learn how to add.

Now, from reading this, you probably imagine that i'm some sadistic sandwich maker who gets off on making your visit extremely unpleasent. Actually, what i've described here is maybe 10% of people I encounter. Trust me, if you are pleasent and friendly and do nothing to warrant rudeness, I am actually quite pleasent with you. In fact, i've even been complemented on my customer service by customers and if you came to my store, you probably couldn't figure out who I am from just looking/dealing with me.

Now, I feel compelled to explain that I work in an atmosphere where we have a lot of freedom. My boss carries the same attitude as I do, and generally, she can be less patient and meaner than I can. She always stands up for us, and I've never been reprimanded for anything that I have said to customers. In fact, when a customers asks to speak to our boss, I usually repond with a smirk and the phrase "Ooookay, but you asked for it.". It's a great working enviornment.

Now, all in all, I have a couple recommendations to you when visiting your next store:

1. Be polite.

When you go into a situation with a bad attitude, you are likely to get the very least in customer service returned to you.

2. Smile.

This automatically makes people smile. Generally you will get more attention and service this way.

3. Ask questions, but don't complain.

You have a question about a service? Great! I am very knowledgeable. I can answer almost everything, and/or look up the answers. Go ahead, as me anything. But don't complain about the answers I give you. I am not lying to you.

4. If you must complain, do it for the right reasons.

You found a hair in your sub? I will appologize, make you a new one, or give you your money back. I will give you some coupons to come back and appologize again.

You asked for extra mustard but now there's too much mustard? Sorry ma'am, that's not my problem. Here's a napkin: wipe it off. No, I'm not going to give you your money back. No I'm not going to give you a new sub. I don't care that it's for your 2-year-old, terminally-ill adopted child from africa. You want to talk to my boss? Okaaaay, but you asked for it. Next time you'll know not to ask for extra mustard.

I think it should be mandatory for everyone to work 1 year in a customer service job. Kind of like the army. I think people would be less inconsiderate that way. I will rarely enter a store without being polite and smiling, even if i've had the shittiest day ever. No point in making their day shitty too.

Hope this has at least made you think about either your behavior, or some of the behavoir of people around you. Feel free to leave your stories of either bad customers or bad customer service. I know that sometimes store clerks deserve bad beharior- but that rant is better left to another day. Cheerio!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow it took you a lot of effort to type this up. Are you sure you really enjoy your job? It makes you seem like a bitter old b*tch.

L said...

Haha as much as this post makes me sound bitter, old and bitchy, I assure you I am none of those things.

This really is the culmintation of my sassy attitude and 5 years in a retail job. Generally I enjoy the job, and, surprisingly enough, I enjoy the cranky customers. I take sadistic pleasure in making their day bad because they tried to do that to me.

Besides, I'm only a bitch when I want to be. :)

Thanks for commenting!

Dreamy1 said...

I completely agree with EVERYTHING you said. Only I worked at McDonalds for 8 years. In the drive-thru. It's just like your job, but I can't stare at people who are talking on the phone.


Amen Sister!