Saturday, June 12, 2010

On customer rights and wrongs

Dear customer,

I am aware that you are right. The customer always is. Or so they say.

Once we have that established, however, I would like to take some time to check whether you are absolutely sure that you mean all those things you are right about. I know that being a customer can be stressful. I completely understand how certain things you say in the course of the crowded and heated experience bookstore browsing can be (there are so many words in a bookstore, after all), may come out of your mouth sounding slightly different than what you intended. Therefore let me run a few specifics with you:

1) Do you, really, mean that it is my job to decide what book you should order? I know it must have been confusing when I told you that there were several titles available covering the subject you inquired, but usually when this happens we let the customer choose between these titles. If you are absolutely sure that you cannot be held accountable for making this decision, I am happy to make it for you. However, I will not have any pouting later. Chickens come to roost and all that.

2) When you said you wanted “a good book”, are you sure you also meant the subsequent “it can’t be too long”, “it can’t contain any three-syllable words”, “I don’t really like complex characters” and “it must not be written by a woman”? Of course it is possible that there is a book out there written only with words consisting of two syllables or less, that it is a short book (it would have to be), and that any characters in it are stereotypical icons of shallowness – it is even possible that if this book exists it is written by a man – but I highly doubt it is any good. If you say it is, though, I am of course wrong. You are the customer, after all.

3) You are absolutely right that the wrapping paper in the store is not the prettiest in the world. However, I do wonder if you are as sure as you were that it was a good idea to point this out after I had carefully wrapped all of your purchased books? Nothing says “thank you for the service” as a well-placed “your wrapping paper sucks”, I guess…

I have more questions for you, but I think these should suffice for now. After all, I do not want to overload you after your tough shopping experience. Please let me know if answering these questions are to your inconvenience, and I will kindly smile and pretend I never said anything.

I am getting good at that.

Yours devotedly,

Cruella Collett


M.J. Nicholls said...

Do you have anything by Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer? I would like you to wrap me 50,000 copies of each while dancing on the graves of V.S. Pritchett and B.S. Johnson. Please.

Leanne said...

Yet again I marvel at the similarities between our workplaces... or rather, the annoying people who barge into them and want our attention when we'd rather be reading the wares. ;-)

Cheeseboy said...

Laughing @ M.J....

Great post. I feel for you. What morons you must deal with on a daily basis.

Cruella Collett said...

Mark - certainly, no problem. Would you like a Nobel Prize to go with that?

Leanne - you don't suppose there are people travelling the world for the sole purpose of being able to ask the same stupid questions in bokstores in different countries? It would explain so much!

Cheeseboy - you'd think bookshops were slightly better than other shops, because at least there is a reasonable chance that the customers can read. But who says that is a sign of intelligence...?

Jemi Fraser said...

Gotta love the retail life. I've never worked retail - but I did waitress for years and now I'm a teacher, so I totally understand :)

Cruella Collett said...

Jemi - I think waitressing must probably be even more stressful and generate customers that are just as bad (if not worse) than in retail. Then again, everyone has to go to school, so that can't be no picnick either. (But I would guess more rewarding nevertheless)

Vatche said...

Wow, I can't believe you have to go through that...and I wanted to go work for Barnes&Noble or Borders for a summer I'm having second thoughts. Anyway, hilarious post Cruella.

Write on and rock on!

Cruella Collett said...

Vatche - hope I didn't completely discourage a bookseller-in-the-making... People can be jerks, that's all. Many of my customers are great people, and there have been many incidents when I feel that my job is rewarding. But somehow you remember the bad ones better than the good. (I like my job, though, at least for now. It's definitely not something I intend to spend the rest of my life doing)

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