Sunday, February 06, 2005

One of those days

There are days when you have good customers, there are days when you have bad customers and then there are days when you have truly AWFUL customers. Today was one of those days.

Let me set the scene. This person realize they don't have enough cash to purchase a vacuum cleaner and some other items. Asks if Wal-Mart accepts checks. Well, yes. The caveat is that if you've never written a check, you have to have a driver's license or some other form of state-issued ID in order to be put into the system.

Customer gets into the checkout. Cashier takes the check and starts running it through. The register asks her for ID. The customer doesn't even have a driver license, (where were the police when said customer was driving around town, hmmm?) Me, being a customer service supervisor now, catches this blinking light.

I go over, explain that we must have some form of ID in order to take this check. This customer blows up. I try to calm this person down, suspend the transaction in order not to hold up the line and go up to the Service Desk and call for a manager. Now, at this point, the customer takes the check, which has already been made out to Wal-Mart but has not been processed, from me, because they "don't trust me with it." Screams about having been told that they could pay with a check and now they can't.

A manager spends twenty minutes explaining why we have to have a form of ID. We can't have someone read out the driver license number over the phone. We can't take a credit card over the phone. We can't go out to the parking lot and see that the customer owns a business and their name is on the car. We can't use automobile registration as ID. It has to be photo ID. Some part of this never penetrates this customer's angry ravings.

At some point, while this customer is screaming into the phone at someone at how rudely Wal-Mart is handling the situation, the aforementioned check is laid down by the pay telephone. A half-hour later, the customer wants to void the vacuum cleaner off the suspended transaction, take the rest of the items and leave. I void the vacuum and give the total. Now the customer wans the check back.

I politely inform the customer that they already took the check back from me. This causes another ruckus as the person starts screaming at me again, throwing personal papers around and accusing me of stealing from them. They demand a manager and the police because they're not leaving until Wal-Mart makes good on this check. I again politely remind the customer of the exact circumstances of when the check was removed from my possession and why it was taken from me. This sets of another, even louder bout of screaming. "I'M NOT LEAVING THIS STORE UNTIL THE POLICE GET HERE AND FIND THAT CHECK THAT YOU TOOK FROM ME!"

My knees go a little weak, but I know I'm right and I realize that everything I've done is on a security camera, and it will show the check being taken from me. Moreover, the check is already made out to Wal-Mart and can't be used anywhere else. One of the customer service girls goes over to the phone and finds the check where the customer laid it down while screaming into the pay phone. She slaps it on the counter in front of the customer. I can't help but smirk a little. This shuts the person up briefly.

Only briefly, as it turns out. After we ring the person out, the rage is directed away from us and onto the manager who refused to allow this person to write a check without ID. Demands to know the manager's name. Demands to know the store manager's name. Demands for this. Demands for that. I politely give the customer everything they want and send this evil customer on their way.

Honestly, after I had time to process this, I came up with few thoughts:
1) Would you really want anyone able to write checks using your checkbook without a photo ID? or ID of any sort? Anyone could have stolen that checkbook.
2) If you were really in business, as this person claims they were, would you just allow your employees to "call someone" to verify a $250.00 transaction over the phone with no ID and no proof that you'd ever see that money?
3) A manager refused to take a $250 check without proper ID. That is store procedure. What are you going to accomplish by complaining? Everyone involved in this fiasco did EXACTLY what we were supposed to do.
4) Some people should just be slapped on a regular basis and not be allowed to live.

And that wasn't all of the fiascos today. One customer brought in a lightbulb that came in a two-pack. She said she kept the one that worked but wanted half a refund for half the pack that worked. No dice. And she acted offended when I told her that wasn't something we could do. "But I thought ... " she said. I wanted to say: "and thinking was your error," but realized that would get me in trouble.

If it doesn't work, you bring back the whole pack and we give you a new pack. Or we give you one new lightbulb. Either way, you don't get two new lightbulbs (or a full refund) out of the deal AND the lightbulb you have at home (this is what I think she was aiming for).

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