Thursday, October 05, 2006

Customer Anecdote No ?

I came in one morning and as I usually do if I haven't anything better to do (put the coffee on, read a magazine someone's left lying about) I rifled through my colleague's in-trays in search of anything interesting.

Copied to each of us I found the resignation letter of a particularly unloved colleague who'd decided she could no longer hack the unsocial hours. Sayonara, baby and close the door quietly behind you as you leave.

Beneath that in one tray I found a copy of a customer claim.

While run of the mill refunds are just put through the till without the burden of a whole load of paperwork to back them up, some exceptional cases demand forms ...

An example of circumstances demanding form-filling is the notorious 'foreign object'. Clearly loads of people (the very least of which are 'us') need to be aware if a foreign object has entered a product. Ineptitude or malice are the obvious two explanations and neither is acceptable. Forms are sent off to 'higher beings' who have the power to get foreign objects investigated.

If we've a run of problems with a product (fresh chicken for example not lasting until its use by date before turning green and reeking) we'll start filling out customer claim forms to support refunds in the vague and probably vain hope that one of the higher beings will take some sort of supportive and even corrective action.

The third situation in which we endeavour to fill out a claim is when the customer is manifestly at fault and we've been unable or unwilling to tell them (the customer) to 'go sit on a stick and swivel' (or insert prefered alternative at this point).

The form I found beneath the resignation stemmed from just such an instance of Customer Brass-Faced Cheek, on a par with the woman and her finger-sticking 'your ice-cream isn't hard enough' outburst.

I'm pretty sure I recounted the story of that woman who produced a tub of ice-cream (our best) that she considered 'not hard enough'. Deep down I always suspected that those words were really words she wanted to take home and say to her husband, but in her frustration she spat them at a colleague. When it was pointed out to her that the ice-cream she was complaining about would never be as hard as the ice confection we offer as an icecream substitute at the bottom end of the market (at a given temperature) she insisted on sticking a finger in a sample tub another colleague produced to show her. When we remonstrated with her, given that she'd rendered yet another tub unsaleable, she demanded a spoon.

It was as well for her that we were unable to produce the spoon because, frankly, she'd have been given the spoon in an altogether less than totally comfortable place had one come to hand.

I have wandered somewhat from the subject at hand which was the quite extraordinary tale of the woman and her tights (pantyhose/stockings). She'd returned the hosiery because they had a hole in them. She'd only discovered the hole after she'd warn them. She had washed them very carefully. She'd hand washed them, in fact. So could she have her money back please?

Being the sort of woman quite capable of making an horrendous scene she was eventually given her money back! Half the staff are queuing up (including an alarming number of the male staff) to return their holey hosiery (used, but carefully hand-washed, of course).


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