My first job was at Kmart. I was 16. It was at Kmart that I learned that customers could be difficult. Customers could get so upset they’d cuss, make threats, and demand to speak to a manger.
It was at Kmart that I learned how not to handle a difficult customer. This lesson came through the courtesy of my friend, Beverly Johnson. One Thursday evening, Beverly, just 17, was put in charge because management in our area was gone for the day.
I joined Beverly on a price-check at the Service Desk. When we got to about 20 feet away from the Service Desk, Beverly and I looked at each other and without saying a word, our eyes communicated, “Oh shit.” We saw one of our notoriously difficult customers.
The customer was Nancy. She was known to return large numbers of items, usually clothing. She’d have her kids (all 5 of them) wear the clothes until they literally wore out. Then, she’d return the clothing. She always had a receipt, and she knew that anything could be returned anytime for an in-store credit. If you dare challenge Nancy, she’d raise her voice, get her dramatic hand gestures going and then, demand to see the store manager. Tonight, Beverly was the “manager.”
We approached the desk, and the first thing Beverly said was, “We’re not taking that junk back!”
“Excuse me?” Nancy was genuinely shocked. No, this little girl didn’t just tell me I cannot return these items! is what I imagined she was thinking.
Beverly, serious as a heart attack, said again, “We’re not taking that junk back.”
“Little B$#&@, yes you will!” No, she didn’t! Even for Nancy, this was extreme. Continue reading