Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gym Class Heroes 'As Cruel As School Children'

I spent a little time with Mike Long yesterday. He’s been interning at Rock 92 / 1075KZL in the Creative Services Department… That’s a fancy way of saying that Mike has been working for free, making and recording commercials. And recently, we asked him if he’d like to grab some hours in the Promotions Department. Thankfully, he agreed.

Mike worked two remotes in a row yesterday and he did an excellent job. And I got to know Mike a little better. We both got to talking about past jobs and experiences… My time spent working at Peaches Music & Video came up. We were discussing how some people can be difficult and downright stupid in the eyes of those working in customer service. Especially to those in the retail and the restaurant industries.

Although I have never spent any time in the restaurant industry, I sure as hell spent some time working retail. I spent five years at Peaches, a year or so at a Toys ‘R Us, I delivered office supplies, and I worked with the public at a framing supply joint.

Generally… And perhaps only to me… Folks weren’t all that difficult at most of those jobs. Peaches on the other hand… The public was a handful.

When I was a manager, I ABSOLUTELY hated to be lied to. Just about everyday, someone would come in with an opened tape or CD with the same sad story… “I bought this the other day… And ummm… I already have it… Can I… Ummm… Exchange this for something else?”

I knew they were lying. I have thousands of CD’s and LP’s. And if you were to ask me if I have a certain album, I will immediately give you an answer. I know my collection.

I even went as far to ask someone who caught me on a bad day… “How many CD’s do you have?”

They told me some crazy number like 150 CD’s and that’s when I explained the amount of my collection and my ability to recall whether or not I own it before purchasing another by mistake.

I couldn’t understand how someone with less than a few hundred CD’s could forget whether they owned it before buying. And that’s the rub… I knew they were lying. They didn’t want the CD after listening to it and instead of telling me the truth, they lied to me.

I don’t like being lied to.

Generally, I would point out the policy that was printed and posted behind the registers. The merchandise was your’s once you opened it. The only exception (not printed and posted) was during the exchange season after Christmas.

So I would be a hard ass and adhere to the policy when lied to. And to that one particular customer who caught me on that bad day, I said, “Now if you had told me that you just didn’t like the CD… I would have gladly let you exchange it.”

That’s right! Whenever someone came up to my counter and said something like… “I bought this the other day… I like the one song… But I just don’t like the rest of it… Is there any way that I can exchange it?”

When hearing the truth, I would always say… “Sure! No problem. Just pick something else and we’ll make the exchange!”

Simple, easy, and the truth always set them free.

Only once did my frankness get me into a little hot water with the home office…

We closed at 7pm on Sundays. My personal policy as a manager was… If you walked up after the door was locked, you KNEW what you wanted, and I still had a cash drawer in the register… I would let you in for that extra sale. Sure, my employees didn’t like it, but I was making a good impression on that customer.

If I had already pulled the cash drawer… Sorry, you were out of luck. You would have to wait until 10am when all the record stores opened. Besides, we were open one hour later on Sunday than all the other stores in town. The Wal-marts, K-marts, and Circuit City didn’t have those extended hours at that time.

One bright, summer Sunday evening around 7:10… A man walked up and tapped his keys onto the glass to get someone’s attention. He wanted to get a CD. I had already pulled the cash drawers and counted them down for the night.

I spoke to this man through the glass and tried to explain that we were closed. All the cash drawers had been counted down and there was nothing I could do.

He was very rude and with the use of his watch as a visual aid, he explained that it was only a couple of minutes before seven. We shouldn’t be closed!

I grabbed a business card, unlocked the door, and stepped outside to talk to the man. I explained to him that his watch was wrong, our computers and clocks were in line with an atomic clock… The be-all, end-all of timekeeping devices. A little better than the Armitron strapped to his wrist…

I handed him the business card and said, “Just call us first thing tomorrow morning… And you let us know the time. We’ll synchronize our clocks and computers to your wristwatch. That way, we’ll both be happy.”

He called me a smartass and he wanted the name of my supervisor… I handed over my ink pen, told him my full name, told him my boss’ name, and I also threw in the number to the home office down in Florida for an added bonus.

My immediate boss thought it was pretty funny. But the General Manager in Florida called to gave me a few minutes discussing why we shouldn’t piss off customers.

Believe it or not… That time at Peaches was one of the best times in my life. I loved that job despite the low pay and having to deal with that small percentage of idiots running around in the general population.


  1. Now I'm basically in my office not dealing with the public anymore. I forget about these issues. However my jobs in retail, waitressing, and banking helped me learn to deal with people. I never worried about being robbed while at the bank. We were across from the awesome K'ville police station. I did fear pissing off someone (not being able to cash their check, service charges etc) that they would get into a rage at the branch or wait for us in the parking lot. We had some scary moments.

  2. Anonymous4:52 AM

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