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I really have no patience or sympathy for people who complain about “customer service these days”. I haven’t worked a customer service job in years but in the eternal conflict between patron and employee, I almost always take the employee’s side. So when someone laments how “terrible” customer service is nowadays, I have only one question: Dude, have you seen customers lately? I know you’re suppos…ed to carry your burden with a smile on your face but I think we would all understand if the guy hired to clean the Port-a-Johns after a 3 day summer rock festival isn’t exactly whistling Dixie while he shovels boiling sewage out of a sweltering plastic box. And still I’d rather work in that environment amongst puke and beer scented urine than in the environment most customer service representatives are forced to endure. Look at it this way, a therapist is paid 300 dollars an hour to deal with narcissists and sociopaths. The guy or gal behind the counter has to weather a rapid fire assault of these insanely selfish head cases every day and he or she makes about 120 bucks a week doing it. All I’m saying is forgive her if she seems a bit detached and uninterested by the time she gets to you. She’s been waist deep in A-holes since 7am and she’s got about 21 dollars before taxes to show for it. Being uninterested is the only thing stopping her from pulling her hair out and setting herself on fire with the charcoal lighter in aisle 7.

Perfect example from this morning: I was in line behind a woman who was purchasing a large amount of beef. If I know anything, I know beef. And I know for an absolute fact that the beef she bought was not on special. Well the man at the cash register rings up her items and tells her the price. She responds with a shocked and horrified look on her face and insists that the dollar amount should be considerably lower because the ground beef is on special. He patiently explains that as an employee of this establishment he possesses a unique insight into the reality that, in fact, there is no special on beef. Of course she then demands someone be sent on an expedition to the back of the store to confirm the price of the meat in question. Keep in mind, the rest of us in line are now stuck waiting for this woman to satisfy her cheapskate urges. And how much does she stand to save even if she’s right? Maybe a dollar? Two dollars at the most? Is two dollars even worth embarrassing yourself while inconveniencing everyone around you? If I paid you two dollars to run into Walmart and throw a temper tantrum, would you do it? Maybe for fifty, but two? Some people seriously need to develop a capacity for shame so I don’t have to feel it for them.

Now to the twist ending of this saga. The call comes from the back of the store: the meat, it has been confirmed, is NOT on special. Oh but that’s not enough for this apparently impoverished woman wearing the 250 dollar North Face jacket. She proceeds to make the case that she should STILL get the beef at the price she THOUGHT it was. It’s not on special, it never was on special, everyone knows it isn’t on special but she wants it on special because she thinks it should be on special. The conversation went on for another three minutes before she finally, heroically, paid the actual price for the meat and stormed off, but not before muttering a few obscenities under her breath.

And it was only 9 in the morning at this point. That dude behind the counter has a full day of entitled brats to look forward to. When it was my turn to check out he told me he was sorry for the delay. I told him he didn’t have to apologize. I told him I’m sorry. I am sorry for every coupon clipping terrorist that comes through those automatic doors. And I mean it.

Customers like to say that the customer is always right. Well that’s just the first in a long line of things the customer is wrong about.

If you work in the customer service field and you’ve never serviced a customer with a smack upside the head, God bless you. You are a much stronger person than me. And if I end up in your line and you aren’t exactly a warm bundle of sunshine with rainbows shooting out of your ears, I understand. Believe me, I understand. You don’t need to dance a jig and bend over backwards for me. Just ring me up and I’ll be on my way. And if the price is a dollar or two higher than I expected, well, I suck at math so I probably tabulated incorrectly. But if I didn’t and, God forbid, I pay 12 or 13 more dimes than I needed to, so be it. I’m sure I’ll still have enough to keep the heat on and pay the rent.

Either way, you won’t get any crap from me. I’m not here to impose my will on every person with a name tag. The people who operate that way are simply awful and hideous human beings. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

Godspeed, CSR’s.

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