Basic reading.

Ah, retail. How you make me feel so loved. I honestly feel like shopping brings out the worse in people. Be it from the people who tell their children to not say please or thank you to me because I am there to serve them (true story). Or the people who think they should be the exception to every rule and I should be glad they gave me a chance to fix an issue (also a true story).

Or my personal favorite at the moment, “You should have told me about this.”

“But Ma’am, we sent emails and let 2 phone messages and the automated calls went through for everyone else”

“Well you must not be trying hard enough!”

Still, we enter a scene were I was told we did not inform the customer of when an item was coming out. And play:

“Excuse me sir, My son said he cannot have the item he put money down on a while ago. Why won’t you let him have it?”

(Me) “Let me see sir. Ok the item he is wanting is not out yet, It was delayed by a few months and won’t be out for a few months.”

“That is Bull****, he wasn’t informed of this. Why didn’t you tell him?”

“Well sir, I just believe I did. I am sorry I don’t have the item. If I did, I would be glad to sell it to you.” (And come on, what retailer wouldn’t love to sell more stuff? “No please, I don’t want your money”)

“Well what are you going to do now?”

“Well sir, I can refund your money, no problem.”

The gentleman grumbles and hands me a receipt. I process the transaction and give him his son’s money back. As I am handing him the money I notice his old receipt.

“And here is your full refund. Also sir, I wish to point out that on the receipt itself it shows a date of June for your item. It printed out the date when you put the hold on it”

The man looks at me.

“What? You expect me to read that? Why would I read that?”

*exasperated sigh

I am hugging a pony……

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Mini post!

I have a mini post today as I have completed a very long week at work (yes, in retail our weeks are different from yours as this thing you call the weekend just means we are busier).

As it so happens, like always, life is coming down hard on me and iis making it difficult to post. My wife has been sick and with the incredibly busy week at work, I have not had a chance to get one of the post I have been meaning to get out complete. Fear not though, I will be back and hopefully in greater numbers.

Hug a pony my friends.  Here is a picture for your amusement.

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Aftermath

I felt like a kid in that doctors exam room. I let things out like I have never have before. I couldn’t speak at times because speaking would be admitting I had a problem. I push the words out as best I could. I held and stroked my little Fluttershy so hard, I felt as if I would rub a hole through her.

The doctor was patient and took her time. I told her I was not a fan of doctors and told her why. She agreed with me that I would have no reason to trust doctors after what I had been through. She told me my options and prescribed some medication for the pain/depression and recommended therapy.

The first day after was great. I had lived so long with the pain that I had no idea what it was like to not have it anymore. It was almost intoxicating. To move and walk and talk without pain or to not have that constant ache that wears me down. It was beautiful.

Then came the next day.

I started off with a headache and took my pills and waited.

And waited

And waited

After the 2nd hour it was getting a little fuzzier but still that constant ache was like a faded memory. Soon after another side effect kicked in.

I itched.

I itched all over.

I ended up scratching and rubbing my nose so much, I looked like a crackhead. Did not help improve my mood.

Then today happened.

I went into work after a VERY rough night of me or the wife not sleeping and started going through my routine. Everything was going good until I opened and 7 different groups of people came rushing in. I spent the next hour being yelled at, screamed at, threatened, cursed out and treated like less than human.

Not a good day.

I will say the medication was nice in the fact that I could roll it off my shoulders for the most part but at the end of the day, I still went home with that same disappointing sadness and depression that I have known all too well.

Still, I will press on. I am going to try and relax and let this work. I am only 3 days in and have about a month to go. I can only hope that I can get better.

Hug a pony my friends. It may be the only thing going for you at the moment, but grab anything that can help.

The “Big” one.

So. I have teased this long enough. I said I had an announcement a bit ago and I have been dragging it out. I have lead many of you, dear readers, along this merry journey. I have gone back and forth about telling you anything. I am doing it right.

And I am still doing so, for my own amusement.

OK, enough is enough. I have have decided to go back to school.

OK, settle down with knives and pitchforks, I know it wasn’t the earth-shattering news you wanted but this is a big step for me. This is especially hard for me as I will be still working a full-time job (more so being salary in retail [YAY mandatory 44+ hour weeks!]).  I will still be a father of two very active little girls. I will still have to help a wife who is starting to take off in her side job, after being a stay-at-home mom, by selling awesome nail wraps (which are really awesome, so awesome I will plug them here http://www.gale.jamberrynails.net/ [LOVE YOU SWEETIE]).

This was a choice that I had made a few weeks ago. I have had enough of retail at the store level and I want to get out. This makes me sad as I really enjoy helping people. I read a beautiful blog post a friend on WordPress pointed out (Hi, http://shopgirlanonymous.com/) . You can find it here https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/82926123/86/ .  It talks about those exceptional customers that make your day. People who bring a smile to your face. Making customers for life because YOU helped them find that perfect item that just made their son/daughter/parent/friends day.

I know I have had more than a few.

Encouraging the little boy of his enjoyment in little pastel colored ponies.

My wonderful husband and wife couple who comes in every week. They came to see me for the first few months at my store. I was a new face at the store and they encouraged me when I saw them. We got to know each other, she had battled cancer, he was retired helping her. They are good people. We laughed and joked at new things, old things, and everything in between. I almost lost it when He came in one week and I asked where his wife was. He calmly explained how she was back at the hospital, the cancer had come back. A few weeks later they both came walking back into my store, she had lost about 30 lbs, he was helping her. I was close to tears when she saw and stopped me. She told me to dry my eyes and that she wasn’t dead yet and If was going to cry on her, I would be useless to her. She made a few VERY off colored jokes about death and had such an amazing attitude about it, anyone would feel better.

There are moments like these that make customer service beyond worthwhile. I treasure each and every one of these. But, I feel a change is needed. For every one of these there are ten more of some rabid customer who is practically foaming at the mouth to sue you over not having the right color item that no one has ever made.

It makes me sad.

And So, I will continue to pursue this education. I think it will help me further my career path and want to expand my horizons. I ask for your help and encouragement in this endeavor. I will be walking that path with a plush pony in my pocket. Thank you all.

Hug a pony my friends. Spread some cheer.

Rough Weekend

So work was killer this last week. I have so much going on, it is not even funny. Let me list this out for you.

1.My RD (regional director, My boss’ boss) left the company. This was a man who I respected and who gave me a lot of encouragement. He had been with the company for over 26 years and had come up through the ranks and took care of us. There is much fallout to be had over his leaving and, not only a new person, but a Vice President of the company now is over us.

I am worried.

2. One of my employees broke down crying on Saturday. People just don’t realize that we are humans in retail.  She had a customer in our store doing a difficult transaction for 2 hours only to be followed up with the general mad rush of a weekend day, and then topped it off with a customer who, I believe, is crazy.

This final gentleman had a son who traded in some items to put toward some other items. He told my employee that his son did not received all the items he had purchased and that we needed him to give him his sons items. He also said we need to give him $40 in exchange for the items that he had brought in, along with the credit those items were given for the purchase he made. He also did not have a receipt or know what day his son did this but we had better take care of him.

My employee made it to the back room before breaking down on the phone crying with me, asking me to come back to the store to help her take care of the customer. My assistant manager was stuck on the highway, due to the highway being shut down, so no one else could help her.

I come in and talk to her and calm her down. She tells me whats going on and I approach the customer. The customer tells me a new story that involves his son buying a item, us not giving his son his item, and us telling his son we would hold his item for over 2 weeks until his other item that he had a special order for came in and we would give him both.

And we owed him $40 for the credit on the items his son traded in.

And no, he did not know the date or have a receipt.

And we better take care of him.

After a long process of looking through days of receipts, I find his son’s original transaction, and show him that: We gave him the proper credit for his items, his son placed his order and paid it off, we gave him all the games he purchased, and that we did not have any items for his son. The gentleman looked at me, smiled, and said that is exactly what he wanted to hear, turned and walked out without me saying another word.

I still do not know what crack he was on.

3. We ran a contest at work to promote growth in an area of business. Simple right? Hit this certain dollar goal, and all the managers in the store get a bonus.

AWESOME, right?

So, me and my team attack this with a vengeance. It is difficult because the contest runs through the holidays. We enter January just a little behind goal. We have to the end of the month to hit it. The dollar goal is $98,467 for what we are tracking. We enter the final week and I get an email about how much we are short.

$847

We got this.

We bust our butts and go all out to hit this goal. End of the week comes.

$3,259

About four times what we needed. We celebrate and cheer and wait for the money.

That never comes.

Two weeks later, we get an email saying we did a great job but that we fell short of our goal. Confused I ask my boss about it (who was also keeping track of everything) and we looked into it together. Turns out the goal they gave us was the wrong goal and that, while we did amazing for having one of the highest overall goals in the area, we fell short $347. The final week goal of $847 was an approximate amount and not an accurate number.

$347 out of $98,467

My team was crushed. I was crushed.

I went out and took $60 bucks and bought a $20 dollar gift card for each of my managers from my own personal money as a thank you. Still, it was hard looking back and kinda feeling like we got the rug pulled out from beneath us.

Rough week for me overall. Time to hug a pony.

Quick shot 3

“Can you help me with my service?”

“I can do my best ma’am. What is the issue?”

“Well my daughter’s service is not working, the bill isn’t due, and we don’t know whats wrong.”

“Well, I will not be able to assist you with that. Here is our support number and they should be able to take care of you.”

:Five minutes later:

“Yes I just called and you said you would help me with my service.”

“Yes ma’am, did you get it fixed?”

“No, no one would help me. Can’t you just fix it for me?”

“Ma’am, I have no way to troubleshoot your problem.  What did they say the problem was?”

“Oh, it was an automated system and I didn’t want to do that.”

“Ma’am, you have to go through that system. I cannot assist you. Did you not hear support options?”

“No, I hung up after it asked me to press a button. I didn’t want to go through that to speak to a person.”

I am trying to not bang my head against my desk right now….

Hug a plushie, hug a plushie, hug a plushie, repeat.

First day back.

So I have been enjoying some time out of my store, both with my vacation and with helping out some other stores with my manager mentoring. I had enjoyed my time off immensely and was looking forward to coming back to work.

I should not have been so excited.

All in all it was a good day. Numbers for everyone was good. We were very busy but we were handling it well. I was training a new person, saw an old manager of mine.

You know, a good day.

Should have been my first clue.

It was about an hour to close and I was helping a regular customer when the phone rang. It was from a private number. Now, if you remember a blog post I did a couple of weeks ago about the prank calling through a private number, you know I am always a little leery. I answer the phone and am immediately greeted by an adult male who is upset to the point of yelling. He asks for one my other key-holders who is not working at the moment and I inform him that they are unavailable. I ask them what the call is about and he interrupts me and says he can only talk to one of the managers. I inform him that I am the store manager and asked if I could help him. He tells me that his son came in a few weeks ago and bought an item from us that requires an ID to purchase and that his son is not of age and was able to purchase the item from my employee without being carded.

Now the employee in question is one of better employees and has never, EVER not followed this policy.  He is one of the better ones.

So I ask him the date of the purchase and he says he doesn’t know. I ask for the receipt and he says his son lost it. I then go to ask him another question and he interrupts me again and tells me to stop stalling and to help him. I told I was trying to and asked how he paid, and he said cash. He then asked why I would let this happen. I told him this was not store policy and I would be starting to look into it but I needed information, only to be interrupted once again by him saying that I was trying to just to protect my employees and that I must approve of the practice of selling items to minors. I told him that was not the case and that we took every one seriously but I needed to do an internal investigation. He asked if I was calling him a liar, to which I was confused and said that I was correcting him on the statement that I do not approve and take the matter seriously.

He then started to demand his money for the game back. I told him I would do everything I could to take care of him but I needed to know some information. He told me that his son had bought it in September (different date now) and that he paid case so there was no way for me to look it up. I asked if his son had a loyalty card with us and he starts YELLING at me that his son was under age and that he was not old enough for a card. I informed him that you only have to be 13 to be a member and he heatedly told me that they did not have a membership. He then insisted that I give me the cash back for the game and that my employee fired.

Now, it has been 15 minutes on the phone. I have a line of customers waiting, a new person on the register wanting help, and a customer that I am in the middle of ringing up waiting patiently. I have been yelled at, called a liar, and told I have to do something because a customer wants it.

Did I mention that I had had a good vacation with no headaches?

So I proceed to tell the customer to bring in the game and I would see what I could do but that I needed more information to start an investigation. The customer told me that that was not good enough and that he want my employee down there, the employee to apologize, me to fire him, and have his money returned in cash. I told him the that I would have to look into the matter before I fired ANYONE. He then demanded his money back. I told him to bring the game back I would see what I could do. He then told me that was not good enough and that he wanted me to say that I would give him his money back. I told him that, Yes I would give him his money back. He then hung up.

Now for the rest of the night, I am stressed out. I am depressed and cannot focus well. My head starts to hurt me and I look at every person who comes in my door with fear in my eyes, waiting to be yelled at some more. At 9 o’clock we close and I start to think it really was a prank call. I think back at how I was torn down. I think about how horrible it is that someone wanted someone fired, and it was a “prank”. How time was wasted and energy spent and people hurt for what? A prank call.

And there are no repercussions.

People are horrible. I see them everyday. I weep for those around me. I rejoice at those who give me a smile because I know how rare that is.

Tonight, I will be clutching a pony for comfort. I will try and unwind and relax enough so my muscles don’t cause me grief tonight. I pray that I can relax enough to sleep. What is sad is I am now dreading tomorrow. I now look at it in fear of what will people say next. All that time off wasted.

Hug a pony my friends.

Entrapment

I feel trapped. I am stuck in what feels to be a dead-end job that is sucking the life out of me. Being on vacation this past week has made me realize that I am dreading going back to work.

I hate that.

I like to enjoy my job. I would like to be able to work and leave work at work. I do not like being harassed about my job when I am out with my family.  There have been many times that I have been recognized in the local community of the place I work at. I then get asked questions about sales, items in stock, and more. Sure I could decline to tell them or just try to ignore them but what then? It comes back to haunt me when they see me next and say I was rude to them, even if it is off the clock.

So what happens then?

I get in trouble.

I also am bombarded with emails and text messages at home, all work related. I have to make calls and schedule people from home. Now many would say “that is a part of salary (I have been told it is earning my salary)” or “That is management”.

When is enough, enough?

How much can a person take?

I feel I am reaching that limit.

Hug a pony my friends.

Attack on me.

I cannot stand being called a liar, an idiot, stupid, and other derogatory remarks. Being told off by customers is never fun but is part of the job (of customer service) they say.

Why is it part of the job?

Who says its normal?

It is not normal to call someone names over the phone. It is not normal to threaten someone that you will get them fired because you feel slighted, even if you were!

Why do we accept it?

How come we just stand there and take it? Why do we let people attack us over and over and look at them with a forced smile and say “Hey a nice day” after it all is over?

People are terrible.

This comes about after I had this altercation with a customer today. I had someone calling to look for a new product for something that is over 20 years old. I told the customer that we do not carry said product, new or used, and that I know a store that possibly carries it. Before I can even tell the customer the name, he calls me a liar. He said he just saw the product being sold new a week ago. I told him I had not seen anything and that we still did not carry it. He then asked about accessories for the 20 year old product. I told we did not carry anything for the product and that he would have to find a retro store for it. He then asked for specific items and told me to look them up. After each item, I asked if it was for this same 20 year old product and he said yes. I told him after each one, including one that he couldn’t remember the specific name for, that we do not carry the product and I would not be able to assist him. He then asks for a made up item that has never been made before. I inform him that we would not be able to help him further and hung up on him.

He calls back several times while I am busy and I am unable to get to the phone until 15 minutes later. I answer with my company and my name. He asks me to repeat my name and tells me he just called me and I was extremely rude to him on the phone. He asks why I would hang up on him, and I inform him that I would not be able to assist him in finding items we do not carry. I told him repeatedly that we do not carry these items. He said I was the rudest person he has ever spoken to in his life. He said he was just looking for a not so hard to find product that we actually do carry that has all the stuff he wanted. I told him that I would be able to look that up, but he cuts me off and says that I was rude and an idiot and he didn’t want to talk to me anymore and he wanted the manager. I informed him I was the manager. He told me that my company were idiots to give me a store to run and he had no idea how I could be a manager. He wanted my district manager’s name and number. I told him my DM’s name but said I would have to take his phone number and have my DM call him. He said that wasn’t good enough and that I was refusing service. He asked for my customer service line and that he wanted a local number to call. I told him it was a 1 800 number and that there was no “local” area coded number. He told that I was being rude again and that he now had enough to get me fired. He then told me he would do what he could to get me fired. I told him if there was nothing more that I could do, that he could have a nice day and he hung up.

Now I know most of you would say “Hey, pony guy. This was just a harmless prank call.” I beg to differ.

I have handled my share of prank calls but this one was different. The person attacked me personally. He threatened me and said he wanted to take away my livelihood. I don’t care who you are, you just don’t do that.

So now I am at home, being fed a delicious sandwich by a loving wife who knows that bacon is one way to make me happy. I have my pony and coffee as well and am calming down. I still feel angry at the whole thing. And I know that people will be say I am too sensitive but I don’t understand why we accept this kind of behavior.

Hug a pony my friends. Feel better. I will try as well.