I’m one of those people who drives around checking out billboards and signs, looking for typos, or unintentional suggestive images, and other clever shit. Awhile back, I saw a sign outside of a strip mall near me, which has a Kmart and a grocery store and Verizon store and all that fun consumerist crap. The strip mall has that stuff, not the sign. But the sign said:
“Custumor Parking Only”
What the fuck is a Custumor? I’m not saying I never make mistakes, because I think I have before, but this was no mistake. The sign had to go through a process, consisting of at least two – if not all – of the following steps:
- whatever writing/typing/printing that went into writing the description to begin with, which
- then goes to a proofreader, which
- then goes to someone who approves it, which
- then gets typed up and finalized and
- sent to a media company for print.
And yes, I realize the company is probably going to quote policy on printing “exactly as the custumor presents it to you.”
But what about when the sign got delivered to the store? Nobody caught it, even then?! Not the idiots who received it against the packing list? Not even the idiot manager?? When the idiot putting the sign up was drilling the holes in the metal, did they completely miss the glaring error??? They should hear of their idiocy. Perhaps if someone had broken the news to them sooner, this idiot shit wouldn’t be happening (but then I wouldn’t have this brilliant material, so nevermind).
Know what else I hate?
“Let me put you on hold, and I’ll see if I can find the answer for you.”
Only, when they come back on the line, they tell me that they’re transferring me to someone else. That’s not an answer! That’s a fucking repeat performance, on my part! I don’t want to have to ask my question 4 times, just to not be helped by anyone. I called you for help! That’s when I hit ’em with: “Cool, let them know what my question was before you transfer me, would you?”
It’s especially nerve-grating when you have to transfer to numerous departments, because nobody knows what’s going on, and you have to give your access information every single time. “Ok I’ll need to access your account, can I get the last 4 of your social? Your zip code? Okay, and your date of birth? Aaand, your address? Yeah, and the exact time you last took a dump? Okay, and, your account number, please? Great. Now how may I help you?”
Well you fucking can’t, I’m sure, but let’s bring more people in on this clusterfuck, what the hell. The more people who get to deal with me, the better. I actually almost sort of pity any customer service representative who has ever had to deal with me. Even on my best day. On my best day, I love messing with reps. On my worst day, I channel all of my frustration from the days when I worked in a call center, and I convince myself that my wrath is a rite of passage for the rep lucky enough to be making the choice to work in a call center now. They deserve it. They need it.
I’ve worked in every side of customer service, and they each come with their own specific agony. I’ve done cold calling, insurance claims processing, inbound sales, member services, billing, collections, and mail correspondence calls, to name a few. I’ve sold CDs, clothing, phones, and dietary supplements. I’ve worked as a competitive employee, and as an equally competitive team member, as well as in thankless positions that got no recognition or reward. I’ve dealt with state departments, doctors, angry parents, sick and injured people, and people who threatened to “come find me” if I didn’t stop calling. There wasn’t anything about the easiest of customer service jobs that was remotely enjoyable. So please believe me when I say I understand how much it sucks to wake up to the knowledge that you have to drag your ass to a customer service job. Truly.
I also know that I don’t care how you make your money, as long as you do the job you’re being paid to do. And if that includes going back into training, so you can more effectively help me when I call and ask you for the low-down on your area of expertise, then that’s probably what you need to do. I’m just a consumer, though, what do I know?
I went to Wal-Mart, a chain well-known for having terrible customer service at their brick-and-mortar locations. Maybe it’s the area where I live, or maybe it’s the caliber of people who are willing to show up every day, but the customer service at the location in my town is probably one of the worst ones. If they’re not loudly reading your full name and address off your license in full earshot of anyone in line, they’re playing(?) dumb until you just give up and do their job for them, or just walk away. I would rather throw away a gift card, than to have to troubleshoot it at customer service. I’m that petty.
There’s a gas station/convenience store chain in our area, that doesn’t require their cashiers to provide anything more than the bare minimum customer service. They count the money, and put the stuff in a bag… sort of like a bank robbery. They don’t acknowledge you; they just start scanning your shit, and yell at you if you don’t drop all of your items quickly enough. They don’t tell you the total; they just expect you to read it off the screen yourself. They don’t give you a receipt unless you ask for it, and they don’t say anything to you once the transaction is done. It’s an oddly cold practice, but it doesn’t require people skills, which is probably the main perk to the job. A high school diploma/GED is not required, and you can be any kind of felon or addict you want. As long as you don’t mind spending a lot of time refilling kerosene right next to the register, you’re in! Welcome to the team! (they don’t probably actually say that, because they’re rude).
There is also a local restaurant, which I won’t name, because I don’t want to give them any free advertising, and it’s about a stone’s throw from my house. They usually have live music and pretty good food, but it’s a bar, basically. The guy who owns it is an asshat, and the employees are all junkies, and even though that’s status quo for most places, this was some velvet rope treatment type of shit. Matt and I got overcharged one night when we went there to see a friend’s band play, and the next day, we saw that we had also been charged for another table’s bill. We brought the statement (online banking on an app) to the restaurant to see the manager about getting it cleared up, and shit went all kinds of wonky from there.
First of all, they wanted us to just take their word for it, that there was no double charge, even though two different amounts were showing as debits from my account. No evidence to back up their claim, no reasoning they wanted to share with us, just their word. Of course, I don’t take anyone’s word for anything, especially when it’s money at a bar. I wasn’t having any of it, so the guy asked if he could take the phone out back so that they could “double check against the database of charges.”
That’s a hard FUCKNOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. There’s got to be a better way!
The guy says, “I’ll go get the printed list of transactions.” Well why didn’t you suggest that first? That seems way easier than taking my phone back there. The guy comes back with the list, and he’s looking through it like a proper accountant, and he looks at us and says he can’t find our credit card swipe anywhere. He double checks. He triple checks. This is a bartender, by the way, not the manager. We haven’t even gotten to see The Wizard at this point. The bartender tells us the chargeS aren’t on the ledger, and just looks at us, hoping we’ll take his word for it, like he suggested already.
“So?” I says to him.
“Soooo…. It’s not on there.” Spinning my wheels with this guy was getting old, so I demanded the manager come out. And before I knew it, he appeared; his banana yellow shirt looked almost distorted, or like an upside-down light bulb, as it clung to his gravity-defying beer belly. The oily sludge in his hair seemed to be permeating the skin on his face and neck, and probably his back (*shudder*). His Dockers were horizontally crinkled at the top of the thigh, telling that he had been sitting for a long time (probably doing nothing). But the only thing I could focus on, were his annoying gold chains swingin’ about. He was so slimy and disgusting, that Matt still talks about him, to this day (he encouraged me to be more descriptive, because this did no justice to how vile he was. He was the epitome of a sleazebag bar owner.) His smug-ass face (smug ass-face?) made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be bothered. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but it was only 10:00 AM, so he couldn’t get the waitress to offer us a beer, and that put him at an obvious unease. He wanted to get back to whatever he was doing. And this time, free alcohol wasn’t going to get us to cooperate. So he started looking through the useless ledger, and asking us – in what can only be described as the whiniest voice I never expected to come out of his mouth – what we thought he should do.
Not my company, asshole. I don’t think you’re paying me to make your business decisions. In fact, you’re not paying me any of the money you owe me, so let’s get to that. I tells him, “I think you should give me the $25 you charged me for someone else’s drinks.” And you know what this clown decided was the best response to throw back at me?
“What if that extra charge doesn’t go through, how am I gonna get my 25 bucks back?”
I walked away at that point. There are not many things in this world that are worth $25 to me, and that was absolutely not something I would have thought was worth $100/hour. I would have gladly paid the $25 again just to avoid the exchange altogether.
The worst part about being “helped” by someone, is when the actual transaction/exchange is over, but they have about 140 more things to say. So you get to the point where they’re no longer useful to you, but they still want more of your time than what you’ve already given them. They want to tell you about their website, and all the dumb shit you can do on there, and they want to tell you that they’re available monday through wednesday, and friday from 8-4, except for the hours of 10-3, and they want you to know that they strive to provide the best customer service, so you’ll be getting a follow-up call to ask you some questions about the call where you asked them questions. For someone who does as much Consumer Reporting (ahem*complaining*ahem) as I do, you’d think I would be watching the phone for that call, for the opportunity to recount all of the things the rep did that weren’t up to my standards.
Well I hate that call. I don’t like any automated calls, and I get a ton of them. Appointment confirmations, school updates for my kids, surveys about whateverwhocares, or some cruise that I definitely did not inquire about. I didn’t inquire about a cruise. The only inquiry I will ever make into a cruise, is to ask why the fuck anyone would ever go on one. That’s the end of the inquiry. If there’s anything I hate worse than interacting with a robot on the phone, it’s being isolated in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of humans.
Cruises are a lot like life on Earth, in that way. We’re just a bunch of beings isolated in the middle of nowhere (space). And life, like the ocean, is unpredictable and powerful. I guess the difference is, I just don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of rich assholes in the middle of the ocean. I’ll take my chances with my friends and family and all my cool stuff, on dry land.
Are cruise-takers even called customers, when they’re on the ship? Are they cruisers? (I just checked, and they are called cruisers, so I guess I know my yachtie lingo, and can now set forth on my journey to swindle a rich dude to take me as his trophy wife!)
I was joking about that last part, before anyone comes for me about being anti-feminist, or misandristic, or whatever. I am nobody’s trophy, nobody’s wife, and nobody’s anything. I am sometimes a customer, though, depending on how you use the word.
An entry from the late 14th century (spelled “custumer,” which might explain the typo, possibly, a bit) states that a customer is a: “customs official, toll-gatherer,” but the entry after that, referred to the Shakespearean definition implying prostitution. So if someone is described as “a cool customer,” that guy is probably getting some that night. Currently defined as “someone who buys things,” it’s safe to say that neither definition carried over into the 21st century very well. It also currently has a second definition:
a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with.