Get the F&$K out of my shop and don't come back!

Yep. I actually said that to a customer once. It's the one and only time I have ever sworn at a customer ever and I hope I don't ever have to do it again.

I'm not sure if I've already posted about this particular incident on the blog before. I've written so many posts now (1074 and counting!) that it's really hard to remember them all. So if you're a long-time reader and you've heard this story before, I'm sorry. Feel free to click away at any time!

Anyway, this story begins when I was managing book shops for the now defunct Angus & Robertson chain. I was working at the Rhodes/Homebush store, where IKEA is. Can I hear you say $1 hotdogs for lunch? Hell yeah!

Moving on from hot dogs, I was working one day when this man came in. He asked for a copy of an obscure book that had just been printed, and which we didn't have. I looked up the publisher to find out if they had any stock that I could order in for the gentleman and offered to call them to see if they would send us one. He said sure.

So I call the publisher and have a chat with them. It turns out that the book the man was after had a limited edition print run and there were only 1000 available, all of which had already been sent to various book shops around the country. I popped the publisher on hold and informed the man and he insisted on speaking with the publisher himself to confirm my story. After speaking to the publisher I hang up the phone and he starts going on about how ridiculous it is they only printed 1000, don't they know how important this subject is, rah, rah, rah.

I tell him I'll look up the book at some of our other bigger branches and see if they have any they would be willing to send to us or reserve for him to go and pick up. As it happened the Sydney store was showing 1 copy on hand so I called them up and enquired about the book. They tell me they only got 10 copies in and they will go and have a look for the last copy. They put me on hold for almost 10 minutes while they look for the book.

While I'm on hold I serve a couple of other customers who are waiting, all the while the gentleman has been standing there tapping his fingers on the the desk and giving me and the phone filthy looks. The other customers are sensing his agitation and giving me the slight raised eyebrow at the man's over-dramatic sighing.

Eventually the Sydney store comes back and informs me that they can't find the last copy of the book, it's either been nicked, misplaced or the system information is wrong and it's been sold. Either way, I know the man is not gonna be happy to hear this. I get off the phone and take a deep breath, and then let him know that unfortunately it seems they don't have a copy and so I can't get it for him.

Well, that goes down like a lead balloon, let me to tell you. The man then absolutely loses his shit and starts ranting at the top of his lungs about how I'm a liar and that there is a conspiracy to stop him from reading this book. At first I'm just kinda amused by this, he's obviously a bit of a nut job, but then he starts leaning over the desk and getting right in my face and screaming.

By this stage my blood pressure has started to rise and and I'm looking around outside the shop, hoping that one of the security guards might walk past and come to my rescue. Every other customer in the store, and some outside of it, are standing there watching this man scream at me and none of us know what to do. It's then that he starts abusing me personally and telling me how fucked I am and that I'm a shitty little lying girl, with a shitty little job in a shitty little bookshop and my mind goes blank.

I've never in my life been screamed at like this or had a customer hurl such abuse and swear at me and I'm momentarily stunned. But then, when he takes a breath, and looks like he might be about to run out of steam, I say to him as loud as I dare, knowing other customers are watching this, "Sir, get the FUCK out of my store and never come back!".

He then says that's a fine way to treat my customers, that he will be making a complaint about me and that he will never step foot in our stores again. I reply that we don't want customers like him shopping in our stores and to feel free to make a complaint, the store has video security and I'm sure head office will be very interested to see our exchange.

He then grabs his trolley and leaves the store, continuing to hurl abuse at myself and anyone else he catches looking at him. It was one of the most shocking, scary moments of my life. I stood behind the counter for a few seconds absolutely stunned and shaking, not really sure what to do after that. Thankfully there were some nice people in the store who came straight over and asked if I was ok and said that I had handled the situation well and was very restrained considering the circumstances. A few of them even left their names and contact numbers for me in case he did make a complaint and I needed some witnesses to talk to head office on my behalf.

Never before or since have I been treated so poorly while working in a customer service role and I hope I never encounter someone like that again. It took me half the day to stop shaking from anger that I was made to feel so terrible while just doing my job and actually going out of my way, yet again, to try and help a customer. Having worked in customer service for many years, I will always try to be as nice and courteous as I can to other service people and I won't tolerate rude service because I know there is no excuse for it.

And for heavens sake, do not go up to the counter and expect service while you're talking on your mobile! Or swear at the service person. It will never end well.

Have you ever had an extremely bad experience while working in customer service or had being served?

Linking this shitty little experience up with the non-shitty lizards of The Lounge. Check em out!



Kylie Purtell said…
Yep, some people are just complete wankers. Thankfully I haven't had anyone scream at me but I did have one very memorable misogynist asshole who went off his rails about he was very important and I didn't know how to do my job, that I and the other female dispenser must have had a conspiracy and just didn't want to do anything for him and that he would only deal with the male optometrist from now on. Oh, and despite me telling him my name three times, repeatedly kept referring to me as Missy or Girl. As in ' Listen here Missy.... '. Douche.
Kylie Purtell said…
I've worked in retail for 13 years and the shit I have witnessed customers do. I'm pretty sure I've seen it all working in department stores. I love being a manager when the really agressive crazy ones tell me how stupid I am and then ask to speak to the manager and I can tell them I am the manager the only person above me is my state manager who very rarely answers her phone. That pisses them right off.
Kylie Purtell said…
Bugger that, thankfully I've never had anyone treat me like that when I worked in retail for a few years when I was at Uni, sounds like a nut job for sure! I take my hat off to those in retail, it's a hard slog x
Kylie Purtell said…
Wow, that's remarkable. I remember when I was a girl at Uni working volunteer at the Brisbane Wilderness Society when The Edge came into the store with 2 of his minders. I was so flustered at his mere presence, I put through one of his items twice (pre barcode scanning days!) and didn't know how to fix it! He was SO NICE about it. I figure if The Edge can be patient and kind about someone making a fluff-up (no, not THAT kind of fluff-up) then no-one had any excuse EVER for being such a dick to a storeperson.

I'm so sorry you encountered an asshole. I'm sure karma bit him on the arse and he was NEVER able to get hold of that book. What a TOSSER. Kx
Kylie Purtell said…
What a story! Definitely sounds like the guy was unhinged somehow. That sort of irrational behaviour points directly at an untreated mental illness! You handled the situation very well. I know I would have freaked completely at that kind of face to face confrontation.

My best friend has worked on the front desk of a five star hotel by Sydney Harbour for the last 15+ years and boy, does she have some stories to tell about rude guests! Not to mention how some people leave the state of their rooms in! Disgusting!

When I worked in insurance I was relieving the receptionist on the front desk of quite a large, now defunct insurance company (HIH - remember them!) and had to answer the main switchboard. I got this one irate claimant on the phone wanting to know where his payment was. I told him I couldn't help him, that I would have to transfer him to the appropriate claims team. He said "NO, I don't want to be transferred AGAIN, I want YOU to handle it".

I tried to be polite as possible to say I didn't know how to handle it, nor did I have access to the appropriate computer system (this was 1997 - we didn't even have email!). This guy started telling me what a fucking bitch I was and that I was to sort him out straight away.

I lost it then, as you can imagine. I told him to go fuck himself and hung up the phone. Thankfully he either didn't make a complaint or the managers weren't able to track down who answered the phone because I never got into trouble for it.

People can be so rude!

Kylie Purtell said…
What a shitty experience! I used to work in a small grocery store and the worst I ever got was a man who screamed at me because his card got declined. It turned out his wife had decided to clean out his account..
Kylie Purtell said…
That's just horrible. Horrible. HORRIBLE! What a prick! I actually really admire you for sticking up for yourself. I would've burst into tears. And you're dead right. Sometimes, the customer's just a frickin' asshole.
Kylie Purtell said…
People like that just make me realise I will never work in customer service again.

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