Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lingerie Customer From Hell

Here's another Customer From Hell Story. This took place in the 90s when I was a manager for a major high-end department store. I had a staff of 30 that I was responsible for (it was my first job out of college!) and I was working a minimum of 50-60 hours a week for peanuts.

I have so many stories from there, I hardly know where to begin. For instance, one day I saw a wealthy mother and her spoiled daughter (about 6 years old) walking through our kids' department. "Mommy, mommy," whined the little girl, "I want THAT dress!"

"No, darling," said the mom. "I've taken you everywhere today and have bought you tons of stuff. That's enough."

"Mommy, I WANT it. C'mon mommy, let me have it," demanded the little girl.

"Mommy said no," replied her mom.

"F*ck you," replied the monster. The mom continued her shopping as if she hadn't heard a thing.

But here's the main story I'd like to share with you today. I oversaw many departments. One of them was the lingerie department. It was one of the Flagship Stores for the company, which meant that my department got more scrutiny (and I did too). My departments had to be in tip-top shape.

My lingerie department was having a huge sale. Now, that meant tons of women flooding the dressing rooms with armfuls of lingerie. To add to all that, some of the women would try on THONG UNDERWEAR without wearing any underwear. That would mean that as soon as we discovered the nasty underwear, we would gingerly pick it up with some tissue and throw it away, making a note in our log so that it didn't count against us during inventory.

It was almost closing time, and my best salesperson was with me, going through a mountain of lingerie behind the sales desk that was piled so high, it came up to my waist. We were marking out any nasty underwear, and re-hanging the rest.

Up walked two black women. We looked up and smiled automatically, asking if we could help. They told us that they were looking around, and walked off for a couple of moments. They were back shortly, and asked to speak to the manager.

"I'm the manager," I replied brightly. "Can I help you?"

One of the woman looked at the other one, and shook her head. "No," she said. "Then we need to speak to the STORE manager."

"Is anything wrong?" I asked. "No," she replied, "Just lemme speak to the store manager."

To add to the stress, the store manager that was on that night was a women who would've gladly poisoned me any day.

I called her, and she came out.

"How can I help you ladies?" she asked.

The main spokeswoman pointed dramatically at us. "These women," she began, "ignored us and wouldn't help us. Then THAT woman" (she pointed to me) "called me a n*gger."

My salesperson's jumped to my defense. "That is a flat out LIE," she flamed. "How DARE you?"

"No, let them talk. Don't say another word," I ordered her, putting a restraining hand on her arm.

The store manager, who (although she would have liked to think the worst of me) was incredulous. She repeated it to verify what they said, and they nodded. Yup, that's what happened.

She took their names and phone numbers and promised that the matter would be investigated fully. The next day she took the info to The Store Manager (she was only one of two assistants) who immediately dismissed the incident.

What in the world happened? Well, there are all sorts of scams that go on in retail. Sometimes thieves are bold. They might snatch the clothes off a display near the exit and run to a waiting car. Sometimes they try a more subtle scam. I don't know what they thought the payoff might be, but I assume they were hoping for a gift certificate or a shopping spree at our expense. After all, they wouldn't have to pay for it! But they didn't care about the price that others would have to pay.


Senor Caiman said...


Anon thinks you’re in Cigar City. I think you’re in Israel.

Big business is funny isn’t it? I’ve always instructed my managers to give certain minority customers whatever they wanted. I did a cost benefit analysis early on and determined that $100.00 gift certificates made more sense then being dragged through the mud in court or by the media or both. My policy has nothing to do with race, I gathered the facts, identified the stakeholders, identified alternative courses of action, determined the consequences of each alternative, and made the decision that certain minorities will always receive gift certificates. The funny thing is that when I told Ford that it would be more cost effective to pay out on burn death lawsuits than fix the gas tank of the Pinto I never even considered that a minority might be driving.

Albeit, the new Ivy League whipper snappers that now are required to take ethics classes seem to want to challenge me on this policy, but I remind that my business allegiance is first what can I do to benefit me and if time permits what can I do to benefit the shareholder. I guess you could say I’m in Scrushy’s camp.

PS. I’ve always been a big fan of thong undies, what a wonderful invention.

michelle said...

I use to have a guy that said he was in a band come into the store I managed to try on spandex. Yup, that was fun.

AP3 said...

Those are all horrifying stories! That little girl and her mother-awful! And I've never understood thong underwear, or "anal floss". And the false accusation... always scary. The your-word-against-theirs is a horrible place to be.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Once a black guy asked to "borrow" gas money from me, by saying, "You don't have anything against black people, do you?"

I didn't, but I do now. Against one of them.

Fred said...

I once had a mother of an African American female accuse me of segregating blacks and whites in my classroom.

I tried to explain to her that the students were placed in alphabetical order; whatever happened was merely a coincidence.

After a few minutes she realized I was not the teacher she wanted to talk to. She didn't even apologize to me and hung up mid-sentence.

I was not a happy camper.

Kathleen said...

I have had a similar experience, but with an employee. She was not long as one of my staff (she was sent to me because she hadn't gotten along in other departments)when she accused me of making a racist statement to her. I was shocked since I never made the (obviously racist)comment she accused me of making. What was so horrifying was having to defend myself to the company. After all, it was a she said she said situation. Fortunately, the company's leadership had experienced me at work and had personal knowledge of me as a person. I survived the attack, but learned that I would forever be more vulnerable than I previously imagined.

Jeff said...

I hate it that we live in a country driven by lawsuits. More properly - fear of lawsuits. I hate to say it, but I have to disagree with the gator this time. Instead of putting up with this shit and just appeasing assholes like this, we ought to start practicing some civil disobedience. Don't hire a lawyer, just go to court. Tell the judge that you opted out of a lawyer because this is bullshit and you refuse to play. Ask the judge how it is that you can be expected to respect a court that cowtows to the nonsense that a court does these days and then politely make the point that you ain't payin' for shit. NOT ONE DAMN PENNY. And then turn and walk out of court. As soon as we start growing balls as a society and stop allowing ourselves to get walked on in the hopes of saving money because some asshole knows about our "sensitivity training" horse shit, then the sooner we can end it. The biggest reason we have problems like this is because of our "cheaper to buy out" mentality instead of our American "get the fuck out of here with that nonsense" mentality. We all complain about it, but noone does anything about it. Sadly though, it would never work so I guess I'm probably just talking out of my ass but the truth is, sooner or later I'm gonna get sued and if it's a bullshit thing like "he called me a nigger" there's no way I'm playing the game. I'd rather rot in jail for life that get walked on by an idiot.

Also, I think I definately qualified as the customer from hell the other day because I got two people fired for being, for lack of a better word for these two, assbags. It goes both ways sometimes too. I don't know about you, but there are some things I cannot stand anymore. Customer service types that forget respect and manners are on top of the list. My ire is mostly directed to walmart employees for reasons I could happily type out for hours, but the other day's was at a fast food joint (you can read it on my own blog but I have to warn you it is quite full of some very foul language because I was pissed when I typed it and even more pissed when it happened). The walmart is my favorite though. Wanna try something fun? Next time you go there and are on your way out the door and that poor person at the door trys to check you receipt, tell them "no". Then keep on walking. I have been chased out to my car and blocked before because of this. I have had the cops called on be because of this, but there is no need for it and I will not play. Before you call me a dick, let me tell you how it evolved...

This is the conversation that put me over the edge...
The lady watches me walk away from the register where I payed for everything and walk straight to her. In my cart are several bags of stuff and two bags of cat food. Again, she watched me walk from the register...
Her: Sir, I need to see your receipt, please.
Me: Sure, here you go...just out of curiousity, what exactly is it you are looking for?
Her: Well sir, it's store policy that we have to check the receipt of every item that goes out the door not in a bag.
Me: That seems fair enough to me, ok.
Here it's important to note that I look like a convict. I'm 6'4" tall, close to 250 unless I'm retaining water this week, bald, goatee, tattoed, couple piercings, and unless you know me and know better, I generally have a fairly sour disposition at first glance because I tend not to smile unless I have a reason to and at a walmart, who the fuck has a reason to? Right after she told me the store policy to check everyone with something that isn't in a bag, a very clean cut and happy, well dress white guy and his wife walk past the two of us. In their cart is a bunch of bags of stuff and a HUGE picute frame sticking out the top so I ask...
Me: Just out of curiousity then, how come you didn't ask that guy for his receipt there?
She looks at what I'm talking about and I continue...
Me: You just told me that store policy is to stop every single person and check the receipt of every single item that leaves the store without a bag, why didn't you stop them?
Her: (Now she gets snotty and here's where it went down hill...)
Well because that was just a little old cheap frame and these are expensive bags of cat food.
Me: Well what if I told you that that frame cost more than twice these two bags of catfood and then went and proved it? The fact is, lady, it has nothing to do with the value of the frame, you looked at me and assumed I'm a fucking thief because of the way I look, didn't you?
Her: Well, I'll admit you look a little shady.
Me: So you fucking profiled me right after you watched me come from a register right here in front of you?
Me: Yes you did, and store policy, right out of your mouth is to check everyone. That means EVERYONE!
And that was the end of it for me. Never again will I allow someone to check a receipt at the door. Had she not just watched me make my payment and walk directly to her and then told me store policy and then decided when she needed to follow store policy as she saw fit I wouldn't have lost it and become the customer from hell. Try it sometime. Personally, it's almost become a sport for me and generally I'm quite polite about just saying "no you don't need to see my receipt" and going on my way, but on occasion, they get tough with me and it can be quite fun. We don't stop letting people treat us like shit all the time and we are going to continue to be nothing better than shit. Until later...

mal said...

first I am REAL glad I do not wear thong choni's....eeeeyyyuuuuu

Second, those two "ladies" didn't happen to leave your store and go to order some chili at Wendys by chance?

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Sad news. Unfortunately the world is getting more like this.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Tan Lucy, yeah, it is. The nice thing is that most retail stores realize this now and are more ready to back their own staff (from what I see).

Mallory, *LOL* Yeah, the Finger Surprise.

Gator, thong undies are very popular. But I don't agree with pacifying the customer. I think we've allowed it to go too far and it impacts us all. We pay higher prices (monetarily and socially) to compensate for all the scams.

Michelle, funny story! I didn't know you worked retail at one time, too? Or did I?

AP3, now think about what was being flossed. Bleah.

Fred & Kathleen, doesn't it make your blood pressure shoot right up when you have to defend yourself against something you didn't do???

Oldhorsetailsnake, Reverse discrimination, plain and simple.

Jeff, Oh wow. That would've made me furious. You are completely right. I've been in some stores where they tell me it's their policy to take my purse, or other bags I was shopping with. I then ask to speak to the manager and tell him/her that I can't trust his people any more than they can trust me. Usually they see the point and allow me to shop unmolested. But you faced discrimination based on your looks, obviously. I have seen great shoplifters who dress like a Hollywood Starlet because people have less tendency to confront them. I've also seen millionaires who dress slovenly because they don't give a crap. I used to train all my staff to never assume anything about anyone based on looks.

michelle said...

no, you did not know. Started when I was 16. Got all the way to manager. The pay was soooooo bad! The 40% discount was soooo good!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Michelle, that is so true. Rotten pay, great discounts to keep you there! ;o)