Monday, December 28, 2009

Do you have more in the back?

This comic pretty much sums it up.

One of the most frequent questions that we get (besides "how much is the candy?" and "why is everything so expensive? I think I'll need to do a post about the latter question some other time) is "Do you have more of [insert whatever ridiculous thing they want] in the back?" The question comes in a variety of forms:

"Do you have other sizes of this shirt in the back?"

"This $5 statue is the only one left on the shelf, you know, that empty shelf over there. Do you have more in the back?"

"You don't have a personalized necklace with my daughter's name out on this rack. Could you check in the back? Her name is Ermengarde. While you're back there could you check for my nephew Atticus too."

I realize that you have a desire to get the perfect souvenir for yourself or your children. I do not understand this desire, but I realize that it is out there. Can I tell you where most of the souvenirs that I got as child are? No, I can not. I really have no idea. I do know where my wax mold and pressed penny collections are. Those are significantly cheaper. Just saying. Anyway, I realize you want to buy something as close to perfect as possible, but do you really think that I have a secret stash of merchandise in the stock room for just this kind of souvenir emergency? That would require work. Like extra work. I don't do that. Also, that is extremely silly. Merch 101 teaches us that if it's not on the sales floor, it can not be sold and if it is not sold that makes managers cry.

But because I want to make the customer happy, I cheerfully reply that I will check in the back. Sometimes I even volunteer to check in the back for something. I do this because I want a break from the sales floor. In the back, I am away from screaming children and rude adults on cell phones and people who spill food and drinks in my store and it is wonderful. I welcome this escape from the level of hell that Dante was too afraid to write about. Here's exactly what I do when I tell you that I'll check in the back:
  1. I go into the stock room.
  2. If someone else is back there on lunch or something, I talk to them.
  3. I may ask them if they have seen what I'm looking for or I might tell them that I am looking for something that I know we don't have.
  4. I eat a snack.
  5. I go to the bathroom if need be.
  6. I give it the old college try (and yes, I do attend college even though you think I am an idiot) and look on a shelf.
  7. I return empty handed sporting my best "hey at least I tried" look.
What is even worse than you thinking I have a secret merchandise stash in the stock room is you thinking I have a secret merchandise stash when we do not even have a stock room. Let me remind you about the temporary gift shops that are tents. We have a small corner that is our "stock room." More often than not, broken merchandise ends up in there because your children think that snow globes can bounce apparently. So when you ask if something is in the mythical back, the above steps do not apply. Instead, I'm lucky if I can get into the stock corner. If one other person is in there, I'm out of luck. Doesn't matter. Whatever it was, isn't there anyway.

Have I mentioned lately that I hate you and your children? Cause I do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Excellent Customer Service Part 2

The first rule of working in a store (and probably the most important rule after don't steal anything and give the right amount of change back) is the customer should always be happy. Not that the customer is always right, because they're most likely did not read a sign correctly or are flat out lying. Here's an example of someone who I know was lying.

Once upon a time, it was Friday and I was working in the store by myself. It was around lunch time so the other person working with me was either on lunch or doing someone else's lunch. Our store is right next to a restaurant so we get a decent size crowd of people in around lunch time. That day there were some camp groups in the store among the families there. Now, I don't always remember customers especially on busy days such as this one, but when someone sticks out, they really stick out to me. This day it was a woman who spent about $100 using her sister-in-law's membership coupon which I allowed her to use even though her sister-in-law wanted to use it also for her $80 purchase. Well, Rule #1, make them happy, so of course you can use that coupon too! When she was at the counter buying her t-shirts and various souvenirs, her 7 year old son, maybe 8 year old, but not super old son noticed a glass sea turtle that we keep in a case under the counter because, well, it's glass and breakable, because, now maybe this isn't a well known fact but glass breaks. He really wants this sea turtle which by the way is kinda heavy. I'll state this one more time: The 7 possibly 8 year old boy wants this heavy, glass sea turtle. Mom tells him no and sends him away. When he is out of earshot, she tells me that she will get it for him and save it for Christmas. I get it out of the case, trying to be all sneaky so he can't see me and catch on. I wrap it up in 6 or 7 pieces of tissue paper and tape the tissue paper down. I like to tape the tissue paper so the breakable item won't slip out during the day in case they're going to be carrying it around for a while. I put the sea turtle in her bag, making sure to cushion the area around it with t-shirts. I give her the bag and that's the last I see of her.

Her sister-in-law comes up with her large purchase a little while later. She says, "You're holding a sea turtle for my sister-in-law. I'll put it in my bag so my nephew won't see it." Wait, what? This was never discussed. I tell her that I put it in Woman #1's bag already. When she leaves, I see her and Woman #1 looking through their bags outside. Obviously, they know where the sea turtle is and how much wrapping is around it. Please note this for later.

The next Monday, I'm working in the store again. It's slower today and I have someone in the store with me this time. As luck would have it, sister-in-law comes back that day. She comes up to me and tells me this tale:

"I was here on Friday with my sister-in-law and she bought this sea turtle for my nephew. When we got home, we saw that it was only wrapped in like one piece of tissue and it had broken. We were going to glue it back together but the pieces are to small. My nephew was really upset. I called and was told to bring it back in to exchange. I tried to do it at the front store but they said you're the only store that has them."

"Yes, of course we can do that!" is what I said. What I was thinking was "LIAR! LIAR!"

Let's review the facts:
  1. She was supposedly saving it for Christmas. Why would nephew be sad if he had not received the gift yet? Maybe she changed her mind and was going to give it to him early. It's very possible. However, I believe sad nephew was added for dramatic effect.
  2. One piece of tissue? Again, dramatic effect. She could have chosen the words "wrapped poorly" or "not in a box" which I could not dispute. It was not in a box and depending on your definition of poorly, maybe I did wrap it poorly (I did not though). Her one piece of tissue claim was more ridiculous when she pulled out said broken sea turtle to reveal it in more tissue. She promptly said, "We put more tissue around it." Oh, yes, of course. You put more tissue around it for fear that the sea turtle that you were returning that is unsellable would not be broken further. Well, that is completely logical. Also, I admire how you worked hard to make sure that every piece was creased the exact same way as the original piece and that you put a piece of tape on the outer sheet of tissue stuck it to another piece of tissue and then ripped it to give it the illusion that it had been wrapped up better than you claim.
  3. Both Woman #1 and her sister-in-law looked through the bag to locate the sea turtle before they had left the vicinity of the store. If the wrapping job had been that horrible, they could have asked me to redo it.
  4. No matter how much tissue you put on it, if glass hits something hard enough, it's going to break.
  5. Children are clumsy especially with heavy glass objects. If she had given it to her son right away, I'm betting he dropped it.
No matter what the facts show, she wants another sea turtle and I'm going to give it to her. Why? Because then she'll be happy and maybe come back and spend lots of money again. It just really irritates me that she lied to my face. I knew she was lying and I think she knew I knew. Anyway, I found one of these boxes that we never use. They need to be folded up and they're kinda big so anything that can fit in them probably has its own box. So I took the box, taped the bottom so it wouldn't fall out, shoved about 20 pieces of tissue in the bottom to cushion the sea turtle, wrapped the new turtle in probably 15 pieces of tissue, put more tissue on the top of the box, and then taped down the lid. There was no way I was going to let this woman come back again with a story about how it was not wrapped up enough. I hate you and your children/nephews that you use in your lies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What about this place makes it look like a bar?

I assume that if you are coming to the zoo, you want to spend time with your family. Frequently, that does not seem to be the case. It's more like people bring their children to the zoo so they can yell at them in a different environment. I also have had parents who have been in the zoo for about, I don't know, 10 seconds and want to know where they can get a beer at 11 AM. Please keep your alcoholic tendencies at home and far away from my store. Of course they never do.

Here's a story going back a few years now. It was a slowish day but there were lots of us at work so maybe we were doing inventory or something. I don't really remember the details. I do remember someone saying "Do you smell that? It smells like beer." And it was. Someone had spilled an entire glass of beer in the front of the store and did not bother to tell any of us. We put up a wet floor sign and call janitorial since we apparently are not allowed to have a mop. Now, the store is not properly ventilated so it reeked of beer smell. With no air freshener in sight, we decide to open a package of incense that we sell. In case you were wondering what could possibly smell worse than beer at this moment, the answer is beer and lavender. Anyway, janitorial comes about two hours later and asks me where the puddle is that needed to be cleaned up. I point and say, "See that wet floor sign. It used to be there." Just another happy day at the zoo.

Here's one from last week. So I did not feel well all week, but went to work anyway since I was only scheduled for one day. I was the one in charge for the day. It looked like it was going to rain which made me happy because seriously who comes to the zoo when it looks like it's going to rain. A lot of idiots and douchebags. So I'm walking around, straightening up, minding my own business, when a see a puddle over by the toys. I get closer and I can smell it: beer. I try to clean it up as best as I can causing myself to smell of beer. I spray the poor excuse for carpet with glass cleaner hoping it will over power the smell. But nothing over powers the smell of beer. I'm livid at this point. Why, oh why would they allow beer into the exhibit? So after stalking a few customers who are holding beer, I decide I should go talk to security who scans the tickets as people enter the exhibit. After all, according to the zoo's liquor license, beer must be consumed in the area it is purchased hence the BEER MUST STAY HERE signs. The security kid tries to tell me that sometimes people sneak past them but I don't buy it and I'm pretty sure I guilted him into cracking down on people with beer. What can I say? I was trained by the best guilters: my mother and the Catholic Church. I'm still pretty pissed especially when it starts raining and everyone flocks to our store. Then I turn the corner to see that someone has spilled a blue icee. Really, people? How do you function on an everyday basis without me to clean up your messes? I hate you so much.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Excellent Customer Service Part 1

My tragic flaw is honesty. I'm way too honest for my own good. If my life were a Greek tragedy, my honesty would lead to death and destruction. Fortunately, my life is not a Greek tragedy. Unfortunately, my honesty leaves me with headaches and the desire to punch people in the face.

Two summers ago, I believe it was, a woman brought just about every sea horse item we had in the store up to the counter. Her daughter loved sea horses. One of the items she had was a wind chime that the tag had fallen off of. She asked how much it was and I looked it up and told her it was $22. She seemed content with this. I then noticed that the string that hangs down the middle with a little marble on the end was missing. I told her this. The computer says we have three so I'm sure there's one that's not broken. She says this was the only one out there. Maybe the rest are still in boxes. I send someone to look in the stock room. I finish ringing everything else up and we're still waiting for word on another wind chime. We wait a bit longer. It really could not have been that long. A few minutes tops.

"As a customer, how long am I supposed to wait? I'm just asking." She says.

Oh, were you just asking? Is that what a question is? Please enlighten me some more.

"Well, if you don't want to wait, I can sell you this wind chime for $15," I reply.

Now, she did not even notice it was broken, if you can really even call it broken. Sure the wind chime is missing a string with a marble but it actually looks better this way. Most people would jump for joy about getting $7 off, but she's not most people.

"How did you come up with that price? I'm just asking. It seems like, since it's broken, it should be 50% off."

How did I come up with that price? Well, you see, I take the retail price and then subtract the cost and add in the shipping and figure the worth of the sea horse and each chime and the string with the marble and then I multiply this figure by pi...

I made it up. It seemed like a nice amount. Actually, it seemed like an overly generous offer.

I try to explain this, but she stands firm. 50% off she demands. Well, I want to make her happy because the customer should always be happy [Note: The customer is not always right. The customer is usually wrong, but they should be wrong and happy.] So I finally crack and give it to her for 50% off. At this point, I wanted her out of my store. She was a rude customer in the nicest way possible. She leaves and I look back by the wind chime section where there are two sea horse wind chimes both broken, I mean improved, in the same way. Thanks for wasting our time and making it seem like we were wasting your time.

I wish I had kept my mouth shut.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We're in a tent. This conversation is over.

I can not stress enough that the most popular gift shop at the zoo is currently located in a tent. Ok, complainers, I'll give you the fact that it is an exit store and you are forced to enter a gift shop that you may have wanted to avoid. I'll give you that, but I AM NOT THE PERSON FORCING YOU TO EXIT THIS WAY. Do you really think that I want to clean up after your ginormous wagons and strollers that have just trekked down a gravel path AND hear you complain that it's too hot in here and why do we not believe in air conditioning! First of all, I have to spend significantly more time in here than you do and you tend to hog the fans when you are in my store. Secondly, we are in a tent. A tent for god's sake. A tent that has two doors permanently open. Why on earth would we pay to air condition it?

Now that we've cleared that up. As previously mentioned, there is a gravel road that leads directly into the store and many, many, many people have wagons and strollers so lots and lots and lots of dust gets into our large store that has a crap load of merchandise including plush and shirts. Things get dusty. We try. We really do. Anytime there is any sort of down time, we dust. We really do. Do not accuse us of not trying, we may punch you in the face because you most definitely are not the first person to tell us this. We took it as constructive criticism the first time someone mentioned it. We were pissed off the second time someone mentioned it. And now that we have gone all summer with these complaints, we've reached our limit thanks.

Again, let me stress that while I am one of the people you actually see in this gift shop, I had no input into how the store or exhibit was designed. I make slightly more than minimum wage. They tend to pay people more money than that to make decisions. Frankly, they don't pay me enough to care. Yes, I want to do my job to the best of my ability. But I don't really care if you think it's obnoxious, I mean really obnoxious that we force you to exit through the store. It's not my fault that you can't tell your kid no. It's not even the fault of the salaried people who sit around in air conditioned offices and don't hear you make obnoxious, I mean really obnoxious comments about what you think is obnoxious. I'm pretty much the lowest wrung on the ladder. To be honest, I'm not sure I actually am considered part of the ladder. The people who make decisions don't really care what I have to say and neither do you. So stop complaining to me. Caring is not in my job description.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Might as well prepare them for credit card debt now

I can not tell you the number of times a child has come up to the counter with four or five things and $20. Usually it goes something like this: I scan their items, typically a necklace for $7.99, a stuffed animal for $13.95, a sucker for $2 and some other candy for $2.75. I tell them their total. Their response, "Oh, I don't have enough [sad look]." Child, I really do not care. The child in question then will remove the cheapest thing and ask, "How much is it now?" Still too much, child, still too much. Once they decide that they can, in fact, live without the candy, they're down to the necklace and stuffed animal which are still about $2 too much for them even before tax is added. This is when the chaperone nobly steps in and offers to give them the extra money. To which the child replies, "I'll pay you back tomorrow." I'm willing to bet that the chaperone never sees that money again.

I understand if a kid miscalculates tax and is short a few cents, by all means, give them that small amount. But when you have to give a child or even multiple children $5 because they can't afford a stuffed animal that will probably either be thrown out or go to Salvation Army in a few years, it's unfair to you and the children. I understand wanting to make them happy, but you are already teaching them to want things they can not afford. It will only get worse from here so stop it now before they have a real shopping problem and live in a cardboard box with nothing except that necklace and stuffed animal. If only they had bought that candy, then the would have something to eat.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I think they want me to feel bad about myself.

Today, a boy of about 12 or 13 brought 5 or 6 necklaces up to the counter. I thought for sure this would be one of those times when I told him the total price and he would put 3 of them back because he did not have enough money. [Children tend to underestimate by a lot. I understand the ones who don't figure that tax is so much but there are ones who have $10 and come up with almost $20 worth of merchandise. Then they put back something that costs $2 and ask "What's the total now?"] No, this was not one of those times. His total was $31 something. He opens his velcro wallet and pulls out a $50 bill.

This reminded me of the time a 10 year old child bought Skittles for $2.25 (before the price went up again). He paid me with a crumpled $50.

OK, I understand that maybe your children have birthday money or have saved up money from chores or something (by the way, I was never paid for chores) but why would you allow them to bring it all to the zoo. Yes, it's their money and they can do what they want with their money. But they are your child and live in your house so you can tell them not to bring $100 to the zoo. I don't trust children. I wouldn't want them to loose their hard earned (?) money at the zoo. Which brings me to the next story.

A few years ago, I was working in the shop with Trini one day. It was a slow day and we were putting new merchandise out. Trini went back to the stock room to grab another box to put out. When she came back out she noticed that someone had dropped money in front of the counter. She picked it up and had such a shocked look on her face. She showed me that it was a $20 and a $50. We didn't know what to do. Usually if we find money, it's a few cents and we throw it in the register. So what if we're a few cents over at the end of the day because we found a dime on the floor or something, but $70 over would not be acceptable. Do we call security and have them take it to lost and found? We really didn't know what to do. So we stood behind the register whispering about all this money and what we should do. There probably were only a few people in the shop and shortly after we found the money, a 12 year old girl and her mother came up to pay. The girl reached into her pocket and noticed her money was missing. She was about to start panicing. She was missing a $5o and a $20. We had never said how much it was out loud so we knew she was telling the truth. Her mom was shocked that she had brought that much and was just keeping it in her pocket. Her mom then held on to the rest of the money.

Here's a more recent story along the same lines. Last week, a woman noticed $20 on the floor in front of the counter. She gave it to us and said, "If I lost $20, I would want someone to turn it in in case I came back looking for it." A good samaritan, we thought. Honestly, if I found it, I may have just kept it. But then this woman continued with, "But if they don't come back, I'll take it. I'll leave my name and number and I can come back for it." Oh, you're so funny. She repeated herself. I stared at her. MJ gave her a piece of paper to write her name and number down. She said she would come back sometime next week to pick it up. It's all right, because she's her all the time anyway. I kept straring. She left. MJ handed me the post-it with her name. She was very detailed. She wrote her name, phone number, the date and "found $20" on the slip of paper. I put the $20 in the bottom of the cash drawer away from our money. I waited a bit and no one came back. I called security. They came to pick it up and I threw out her post-it. Yeah, that's not how this works, Lady. If you wanted to keep it, you shouldn't have been honest.