Saturday, June 18, 2011

Return to the bitchy women bookstore

Remember a few weeks ago I told you about my visit to a used bookstore?  I went in there to sell some books and quite honestly, it was my worst customer service experience ever.  And that's counting the time I lived in Buffalo with BH for a few months back in 2000.

Yeah, as I recall the service workers in Buffalo were totally Night of the Living Dead. Salespeople or store clerks would perk up only if I happened to ask for something out of stock or discontinued.
Me: “Do you carry [name of item]?”
Them: (Sudden great big smile, wide open eyes, cheery vocal tone) “No, we sure don’t!”
 A moment later, back to flatlining.

I've delivered quite a bit of customer service training over the years, and I feel there's no excuse to treat customers poorly, especially if you're the owner of the goddamn store and especially in this economy where business people should be grateful that anyone has set foot in their establishment.

Well, as promised, I returned to the bitchy women's bookstore today to see if my experience would be any different.  Mike came with me this time and as we walked from our parking space in the practically empty lot of the shopping plaza, I told him I was going to keep an open mind (which is something I hardly ever do because it's just not my nature). 

We walked in and only the older woman was there, with the same grumpy throw-up burp look I remembered from my first visit.  As I perused the shelves, I could hear Mike striking up a conversation.  Let me tell you something about my boyfriend:  he's a talker.  It's amazing that we could both be talkers--like how can either of us get a word in edgewise?--but he totally has me beat.

So I can hear him asking, "How's business?" and then talking about Dante's Inferno and other smarty-pants topics of conversation and it seems he's been able to engage her.  After a while I take some books up to the counter, ready to cash in on my 50% store credit from the books they bought from me last time I was there.  (Still think that policy sucks.) 

The woman was totally pleasant.  No doubt Mike and his charm softened her up a bit, and I wonder what she'd have been like if he hadn't attempted to get her talking, but she was fine. 

I decided to converse with her a bit myself.  "So, was that your daughter in here with you last time?" I asked.

"No, she's a good friend.  My daughter used to work here, but she's disabled now."


Well, folks, I have to tell you, if my daughter were disabled, I might be pretty bitchy myself.  I didn't prod any further.  She gets a pass.  Now, I don't know what was up the younger woman's ass when I was in there, but who knows?  Maybe she's dealing with something as well.

I try to remember that most of the time people behave as they do for good reason, but my first encounter with those two was so miserable, I couldn't even get myself in that frame of mind.  Whenever I encounter someone obnoxious or arrogant, or if I simply don't like their stinkin' looks, I try to think of how I would feel about them if one of my grandchildren needed a kidney and they were the only possible donor on earth and they were willing to give it up.  I would freakin' love them!  They would be my saviour!

It would be nice if we could maintain that approach for all the strangers we come in contact with during the course of a day--cashiers, co-workers, people we pass on the street.  It would be nice, but frankly, I'm not that big a person.  When I get poor customer service, I get pissed off. 

And don't get me going about people who talk in the movie theatre.  You know my policy:  "Behead them!"


Mellodee said...

Everybody has a story, some of them awful, but to just be bitchy at you because of something personal, that's not good at all. All it would take would be a "I'm sorry, there's a lot going on in my life and its a little hard not to worry. I don't mean to take my worries out on you. I apologize."

I don't need to hear the story, I am more than willing to try to be empathetic. Perhaps, even come back on another day (as you did!) But without explanation, without apology, without courtesy, without a reason??? Nope, not good at all. And I would not go back!

Since I have reached those days of purple hats, I find that I will not just "take it" anymore. You push me? I push you back!

debadee said...

Weird innit? You never know what's just happened to someone, or how rude & aggressive someone's just been to them.
I hate rudeness in shops and have complained to head offices before now, when it's been really bad, ('Next' sent me £20 voucher as an apology for their staffs rudeness once).
I agree with Mellodee in some ways but it'd be completely alien to a Brit to explain why they were a bit off to a stranger. Human nature means we react without rationale sometimes and as long as it's not just out of 'can't be arsedness' then it's bearable. We're naturally sympathetic and open to others tales of woe, so if there's a reason behind the attitude, then I suppose we tend to put up &shut up. If it happened more than once with the same person though, I'd have to say something. On hormonal days, when faced with unhelpful, rude staff, I have been known to tell them to Fuq off.

Tender Heart Bear said...

I have worked all my life with the public. Something like this is not right at all. You are suppose to leave your personal like outside the work. I don't care if you own the business or not. There was no call for it the first time. You are always suppose to be polite to all customers.

I do feel bad with what she is going through. But there was no reason to be bitchy to you the first time. You did nothing wrong when you brought the books in the store. You were not mean to them and they should have never been mean to you. I am glad it all went good this time. I don't agree with the policy either. I bet she didn't even remember who you were when you walked in the store this time.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

@ Mellodee and Tender Heart Bear: You have a good point about not bringing your personal life into the workplace. I hadn't thought of that. Makes you wonder how many good natured people are keeping it together despite what could be happening to them personally.

@ Debadee: I love that you said "innit." That just made my day.

debadee said...

haha yeah, 'innit' might be funny but 'fannypack' is hilarious! ;)

C.Thurlow said...

So true...a paradigm shift takes place when we know a little more about the other person and they become REAL. (So, was it the bookstore on Eastern/Warm Springs by the old closed, Fresh and Easy?)...cause the people there are sorta rude!

Vegas Linda Lou said...

That's the place! I guess I'm not the only one who got that impression from them.