11 February 2015

Lying Liars: Bizarre Customers, Part-the-mumble...


While I'm away in Asheville for the week, I wanted to schedule a post or two.  Obviously I'm not going to write an actual book review, but I have just the right amount of energy to recount a terrible/laughable customer encounter I had right before Christmas. For whatever reason, I totally kept my cool and was even trying very hard not to laugh through the whole thing, so I must have been in just the right mood. I often feel deflated after bad customer interactions and I tolerate behavior directed toward me that I would never allow to be directed toward my staff So the way that this story ends is particularly satisfying.

Woman: Yes, I called yesterday about The Hobbit.  Where is it?

Me: Right over here in the sci-fi/fantasy section. We keep the Tolkien on the bottom shelf. [In a fit of bookseller humor]. You could say he anchors this section.

Woman: Which one is the illustrated one?

Me: Well, we have a couple editions with some of Tolkien's original illustrations, but I wouldn't call them illustrated editions, per se.  They're right here...

Woman: What? Why have you lied to me?  I called yesterday and you told me that you had illustrated Hobbits.  Now where are they?

Me: Well, I didn't personally tell you that we had illustrated editions, and I'm sorry if one of my coworkers did.  I know there was a Michael Hague illustrated edition at one point, and I can check to see if it's still available...

Woman: Do you have it here?  If not, don't bother.  You're a liar and I wouldn't buy anything from a liar.

Me: Well, ma'am. Well, again, I didn't personally lie to you, and there's an excellent chance I can have the book for you by tomorrow.  This close to the holidays, we place special orders every day of the week. I'm sorry that you're upset, but why don't you let me see if I can have it for you tomorrow?


Woman: Was I not clear? You're a liar -- you're all liars -- and I will never shop here again.

Me: Ma'am, I'm very sorry that you're upset, but I'm trying to make the situation right for you.  What would it take to make you stop calling me a liar make you happy?


Woman: Why would I trust the word of a liar? You're just upset that I'm yelling for everybody else in the store to hear.  Well, I'm going to tell everybody I know that Odyssey Bookshop is filled with liars.  *stomps off, with a tone that implies that she thinks I'm probably a whore, too.*

Normally, an encounter like this would really make me angry.  But it was just so obvious to me how ridiculous the situation was that I called out to her, with a big grin, as she walked away: "Ma'am,  I'm really sorry.  And I'm really sorry that you think it's okay to treat people that way, but I'm glad you took it out on me and not somebody else."

A small clutch of customers who had started to gather 'round started applauding.  I curtsied once (while I was thinking, to save time) and got back to work. I don't normally give any lip back to customers, no matter the situation, but for this I was fighting to keep my face straight the whole time.  It was almost as if it had been Will Ferrell there in the store, hurling those accusations at me:



In other words, it was pretty hard to take her seriously.  What about y'all?  Do you have any outlandish customer tales to share with me?

25 comments:

  1. You're a much better person than I am, I always ended up either too flabbergasted to respond or I definitely lost it and gave lip back in spades (and then got in trouble). Yeesh!

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    1. Even looking back on it now, I'm a little surprised at how I reacted. And, honestly, a little pleased with myself.

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  2. The GIFs you interspersed here are almost even funnier than your customer interaction . . . and that's no lie! ;)

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  3. Hi Emily, I have plenty of outlandish customer tales to tell but many of my customers read your blog, so I can't tell them here. Maybe on your next visit to Anguilla! Hope you and B are well.

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    1. I'd just bet that you've got some doozies. i'll hold you to that offer the next time we're down there!

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  4. Ah but don't you know Emily, employees are part of a hive mind so if one of you lies then you ALL lie.

    I will join the other customers and applaud your response. *Insert GIF of Orson Welles applause*

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    1. Oh, right. I forgot about the hive mind. Excellent point!

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  5. Fab! The curtsey is the most ladylike two fingered salute there is. Always takes one to the higher ground. well done girl - we sisters are proud of ya!!

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    1. Funny, I never thought of a curtsey as a two fingered salute. Now I'm chuckling to myself.

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  6. I've got a few too- that I'd rather share with you in person :-)

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    1. The next time our paths cross, we'll engage in dueling stories. :-)

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  7. omg, hilarious!! So awful. I must have had funny bookstore stories, but it's been over a decade, so now I only remember the weirdos (like the guy who licked the pages of photography books)...

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    1. Ewwww! That's pretty disgusting. I'd hate to be the employee who had to tell him to stop licking the merch.

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  8. So funny! Yes, I have many funny customer stories but many of them read my blog, so I'm hesitant to share. Yesterday, we had a woman come in that we have nicknamed "The Mutterer". She stays in the store for hours, muttering to herself, and then comes up to us and complains she's been asking us questions and no one is answering her. One year, over the holidays, a man actually hit me with his cane to get my attention when I was talking with another customer. I hope you're having a wonderful time in Asheville -- wish I could have been there!

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    1. Asheville was great -- I hope to post about it next week.

      Whoa, a man hit you with his cane? Did he apologize?

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  9. "You're a liar and I wouldn't buy anything from a liar."

    Ahhhhhhhhhh that would have driven me CRAZY; good job keeping your head. Omg. Just. The worst. But that Anchorman quote about Whore Island is my favorite line in the whole movie so yayyyyyyyy.

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    1. It's been so long since I've seen Anchorman that I didn't remember it, but it seemed JUSSSSSSST right for my gifs for this post.

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  10. Nutty. She wouldn't even look at what you did have?
    Have fun in Asheville. I'm eager for pictures. My husband and I have a trip planned there soon, so I want to see where to go!

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    1. Nope. She wouldn't look at any of the 4 editions of The Hobbit that we had on hand, two of which had some of Tolkien's original illustrations done in facsimile.

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  11. Those Anchorman gif, well done! and I commend you for not laughing at her. Well not, to her face at least. Afterwards there should be much laughter

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    1. Much laughter and much wine, though admittedly the wine came once I got home.

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  12. Bless you for being such a patient person! It's just nuts what you have to deal with, hahaha!

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  13. I agree - you are patient! Working at a school library, we don't really have issues like that one. What we get are comments like these: "Remember that book I liked last year? I want another one like that." Or....
    "Do you have that book about that girl?" Not much to work with!

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  14. Oh goodness. Don't you wonder sometimes if customers actually want something or if they just want to make a scene sometimes?!?

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Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)