Baddie’s Customer Sorrow
There comes a time in every blogger’s life (or at least so I assume) where the general happy-go-lucky attitude and bubbly writings take an unexpected dark turn. Reader, this is one of those times.
What, oh what, could have caused this dreadful turn? I imagine you saying in a (hopefully) sympathetic voice. Strangers. I answer full of sorrow. Strangers working in customer service.
Much of it was triggered by the Julia incident, but to be quite honest, I’ve had worse. Let’s take a little inventory of what’s what. A couple of months ago, a tiny screw fell off one of my bag clasps, something necessary for holding it all together. Since once such a tiny screw is lost, it is lost forever (!) Mr. B and I decided to go to a local cobbler and ask if they might sell us this item. So we went in, and the conversation with this senior Russian shop-owner went like this:
Us: “Excuse us, we lost the second screw for this bag clasp… would you happen to have a similar one we could buy?”
Us: “Would you have something like this we could buy?”
Shop-owner: “What? You want me to fix it?”
Us: “No… we actually just want a second small screw. Could we buy one from you?”
Shop-owner: “What? What do you mean? Can’t you look around? I have dozens of bags I have to repair.”
Us: “Yes… but what about the screw?”
Shop-owner, laughing at us: “Are you serious? People come here to ask me to repair their bags!”
Us: “Err… so you don’t have a similar screw?”
Shop-owner, derisively: “I am not selling any screws.”
Us: “Okay then… good-bye.”
At first glance, this might seem like one of those conversations at cross-purposes. What it was, in fact, was an unpleasant type of commercial blackmail. The message was pretty loud and clear: you either leave your bag here to be “repaired” or you leave empty-handed. But we didn’t want to pay lots of money for a job that we could do in one minute with a screw-driver. It all left a bitter taste, especially the outraged, peevish attitude of the shopowner. He could have told us, in a friendly way, from the beginning, that he didn’t sell screws. Instead, he chose to mock us, and in the process managed to make us sad and angry and ruin our day.
But that is ages ago, I hear you argue. You can’t still be brooding on that. Not so, beloved reader. Bad customer service follows me wherever I go. Six days ago, as I was walking out of the door of a central Zara shop after happily purchasing a pair of new shoes, the same thing happened that happens 4 out of 5 times I buy shoes in Zara: the security gates beeped. I didn’t panic, having had loads of experience with this, and knowing with certainty that it was once again the strange inability of their employees to properly de-activate whatever makes those things beep.
I came back in the shop, willing to go to checkout, when I was stopped short in my tracks by the over-zealous security guard. Who made me take everything out of my bags, and show him. And kept repeating things unnecessarily, like “So, these are the shoes you bought… and this is the receipt…” We went together to the checkout, where he kept eyeing me like a criminal. The clerk did some things to the shoes, and handed them back to me, without apologizing for the inconvenience (I was actually wearing the shoes and had to take them off… but I suppose that’s my own fault, given my history…)
And then, after all this debacle of getting stuff out of my bag, walking through the shop, taking shoes on and off, sweating, and generally being looked at like the offspring of Hannibal Lector, comes the wise advice of the security guard: “here, put this receipt in your bag… yes, keep it accessible – even if you haven’t stolen anything, it’s good to have it handy.” Excuse me? I swear that at that point I thought the heat had gotten to me and I was hearing things. “Even if I hadn’t stolen anything?!?” Not only did I not get an apology, but this store-employee was to my mind on the threshold, if not already crossed into the territory of, casting aspersions on my character. I cringed inwardly, and swallowed hard. Outwardly, I nodded my thanks and went out in the blaring sun…