Where's the accountability?

I had this customer today who encountered me at customer service and asked if she could use our phones.

Me: Sadly, no. Our entire team was very sick for months back and our GM has now issued a policy of employees only, but there are public telephones at both the stores next to us for you to use.

The woman gets upset and starts telling me how rude we have been toward her while she has been here. How one person was hostile. One person took her books from her table when she only left them for a few minutes. How so many people have told her not to shop here and now she understands why. Because of how she has been treated, she feels I should make an exception for her and let her use the phone.

Me: While I completely understand your frustration with your experience and I appreciate you telling me, I still cannot allow you use our phones. I am so sorry.

She asks if I have a personal cell phone she can use.

Me: (a small shocked laugh escapes my lips) No, ma'am I have to pay for that myself. I repeat my earlier comment about the public phones next door.

She continues to get upset and tells me about her head injury she sustained recently and . . . . more of her story.

Ten minutes go by, I listen and make comforting sounds and responses. Then repeat, "Sadly our phones are strictly for employees only, but right next store they have public phones for your use."

She finally leaves and I go to the registers to pull numbers, log them in our binder and then go to our different departments to drop off their numbers. As I round the corner to one of our departments, guess who I see?? IN FRONT OF A PHONE!! The same woman I told no to not five minutes earlier.

My blood pressure shoots through the roof.

Me: Ma'am, can I help you with something?

She looks at me and says, "this nice girl said I could use the phone."

Me: After you asked me and I told you that every one of our phones are for employees only?!

My employee: Oh my. I am so sorry. (she immediately looks sick)

Me: It's okay you didn't know. It's not your fault. (I look point blank at the woman) As I said before ma'am, our phones are strictly enforced as employee use only, but you may go outside (and I point this time) and use the public phones next door.

She says, "I thought this was separate from your store."

Me: No ma'am we are still in the same building. Obviously there has been a misunderstanding.

She says, "I asked if she had a cell phone and she directed me to this phone."

Me: As I said before, we have to pay for our personal cell phones, but there are public phones for your use right next door. I am going to have to ask you to step away from the phones and out from behind my registers, now. Thank you. (I can feel my face dying from trying to remain calm and collected)

I pull our employee aside and explain that our GM was very specific about not letting customers use the phone because of us being so sick over the holidays. She apologizes again. I tell her not to worry and I will let our GM know he has missed labeling the phone as "employee use only."

I then go in back and find out this woman has complained to our other assistant manager and our merchandise manager too!! Ironically, our other assistant manager has been texting our GM about this woman and watching her on camera to see what she is doing.

Are you kidding me??? I ask what our policy is on asking people to leave because had I known this in advance I would have not hesitated to ask her to leave. As I ask this, our GM says we have full right to ask her to leave and to keep an eye on her. Since I am still seething I ask our other assistant, if she doesn't mind if I stay in back for a few moments and pull tape, then go out front. She says she will walk the floor and keep an eye on her.

I know I have to reapproach my employee who I am sure thinks she is in huge trouble, which she should be, but I am not concerned with her because she always does an incredible job and I know without a doubt she will never forget this incident. But on a side note, this woman who asked to use the phone could very well have gotten that employee FIRED on the spot for her disrespect and disregard after asking me and me telling her no. HOW RUDE?!?!? It just astounds me time and time again, when people do not think by them getting an employee to do something a manager has already said NO to, they could be fired. Or maybe they just don't care. I don't know, but after all my years in retail I shouldn't be surprised anymore.

Hours go by and I get a call asking specifically for me. This same woman calls and wants to speak with me. Directly with me, which is so wrong because anyone who knows they have been wronged will call the manager and complain. Instead she asks to speak to only me. I greet her and ask her name -- which she won't give. Surprise, surprise. She then goes into a long conversation asking my why things escalated so quickly (bc she did something stupid and got caught). She felt harassed and unwelcome (probably bc she complained to everyone, not to mention she got someone in trouble). She doesn't understand why we watched her after she didn't use the phone (bc she was in direct violation of security policy for being behind a register). By then I am so over the situation, I basically talk her down without admitting to being at fault for anything (bc I/we did nothing wrong). At this point, I know it is easier to just console her rather than argue with her, especially knowing my GM will back me up with any complaint she may have. I reassure her she will be welcome in our store and if she has any problems in the future she can ask for me.

Blah blah blah


jayayceeblog said...

So it seems she finally found a phone to use, huh? What a pain!

blueviolet said...

I find it so bizarre that she actually called back later to discuss it further. What a weird day that was!

E. said...

Very strange. I think Customer Service people must have so many stories of unusual people and events.

Glad to hear that you were backed up by the GM.

Pepsi Breath said...

Just the other day I started filling out an application for a major chain bookstore online because I thought I wanted to leave my cushy but very low-paying stay-at-home medical transcription job for a tiny bit more money and the pleasure of working around books. Luckily, I came to my senses becauase I recalled my retail days so many years ago and the freaks I had to deal with as an assistant manager. Your story perfectly illustrates the reason I work from home! I truly hope you've seen the last of her.

Kimberly said...

My blood pressure was rising from just reading that! What boggles the mind is that in the time it took for her to argue with all of you and start all of that fuss, she could have gone and used the other phone.

Good on you.

Duchess said...

Sometimes it's brutal to be the "nice guy" especially when they are yelling at you. I hate when people call at work and ask for my first and last name. It makes me feel somehow unprotected even though I know they can find it out online. *sigh* there's never a happy place in all this...everyone feels they are entitled to something at all times.