Customers Behaving Badly

WARNING: My views are mine, and not necessarily the company I currently work for. Much as I love them dearly. I say 'not necessarily' but I have my suspicions considering what items in said store have the gold sticker of approval from 'up on high'. For those who haven't been following for the last few months, I sold my independent bookstore to work in a bookstore owned by a major book selling chain, which is also coincidentally run by a woman with probably similar views to mine. I admire her greatly and, if my life goes halfway the way I'd like it to, she's an example I aspire to.

The incident happened yesterday. Right about this time, actually--twenty-four hours to the minute.

A gentleman (and, trust me, I use this term rather loosely) came into the store with who I presume were his kids. Plonks them down on the floor in the kid's aisle, and then walks around the store. At first, I thought, "Oh, he's browsing... and his kids love a bookstore. What a fantastic parent he is..." (I'm paraphrasing a nebulous emotion. Actual words to thoughts weren't present.)

He then wanders close to the bestseller deal shelves.

And loses his sh*t.

I mean loses it. As in completely. Wastes zero time in finding the nearest employee and goes off on her.

The source of his ire and butt hurt?

Mark Manson's newest book being just slightly above, but possibly still in sight of, the children.

A book, that while it is suggestive of having a swear word in the title is actually censored out. I mean, we're Canadian and our version of censoring is looser than other countries, but we're not that reckless.

But he doesn't stop there. He stomps around the store, going off on the Vagina Bible (which he was offended by the word vagina. Seriously. Dude. Take a chill. Considering the subject matter and the scientific way the information is presented, what else would you call it? The VaJayJay?), the other books that aren't in the children's section, despite it being a rather small store.

Now, the employee dealing with this handles this all with panache. I mean with great coolness - and, at the customer's request even gave him the right phone number to lodge an official complaint with head office if he feels so butthurt about it (again, paraphrasing here) and once he's gone off (in the STORE and loudly enough to start causing customers to leave... mostly women... because he's that style of intimidating to us) that exposing his children to such lewdness is gross.

He then, because the kids have found books they want, goes to the cash and holds the line hostage.

We try to politely get him to complete his purchase, but he's past belligerent and into he's the boss and will do what he wants when he wants and how he wants it. He lets the debit machine time out four times until finally when my colleague asks him to just leave. Someone else, not sure who (wasn't one of the only three employees there at the time) says he's a great example to his kids, if they're his kids.

To which he then pounds the counter (I guess he missed the sarcasm) and says they're great kids because he instills good old fashioned values that are obviously missing in the store.

Like we're an affront to him.

The other employee, presumably to not lose it in return, heads to the back and another one, who had been on break, comes out and tries the honey instead of vinegar method. He goes off on her.

By this point, despite our best efforts to quietly get him to just complete his purchase and go, he's going nuts. The debit machine times out a sixth time.

Customers are uncomfortable. We're really uncomfortable. I just want security stat, but finally - after being on the phone with head office a second time about how we're rushing him out (dude, the debit machine has now timed out an eighth time!) and he FINALLY pays for the purchase and leaves the store.

Everyone sighs a huge sigh of relief but we're shaken and rattled. Customers start returning to the store and one, a woman, says she felt threatened by him and he wasn't even aiming his ire at her.

Think about that for a second. She felt threatened and he didn't know she was there. Imagine, if you will, how we felt with it aimed at us.

We try to go back to normal, but not a few seconds later, he comes back to ask about the free comic books we put into his bag without permission. I hold up my hands and tell him, "It's free comic book day! They were free!"

He finally leaves and we don't see him again.

It's after this I learn from the first employee that he had been there the day before, and in the middle of a transaction told another customer to not give us a cent for the fundraiser and went off on them yesterday too about the money we're raising for a local school and accused us of stealing that money.

And that he has a pattern of coming into the store... to just complain about book covers and how he doesn't like them. Which, makes sense, since it took us a good half hour to fix the store back up from all the books he turned backwards and threw off the shelves to the upper shelves.

(I would like to point out, in the general fiction area, that books are organized by author's last name. That means the books will be on the shelf in that order. Not by subject matter... not that it should matter because that's the 'general fiction' area, not the 9-12 or younger... which is kept in its own, reasonably separate area)

This isn't about customer service. This about one arse deciding he's either bored and needs to make people feel like crap just for his own entertainment... or he comes into the store every so often in some sort of twisted protest against what he feels is a too liberal agenda.

I can tell you this, now that I know it wasn't a one off occasion, the next time I see him and if he starts in on us... security gets called.

Abuse is abuse.

His behaviour was out of line. It was abusive and threatening. I am very thankful that the old "the customer is always right" rule is going the way of the dodo and being replaced by a fairer, "There is room for calm, respectful, negotiation" instead of leaning on policy or letting bad customers get away with bad behaviour. Unfortunately, there are still throwbacks who can't understand that or just don't want to, not sure where he fell into that, but either way he (and others like him) cannot be allowed to roll over people.

And that's what these kind of customers forget.

It's not just a robot in that store or on the phone when you call in. It's a live, human, being that deserves respect and the minute you forget that and lose yourself then that human being has every single right to tell you to leave their place of work.

Because I do not deserve to be treated like that, nor do my coworkers.

No one does.

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