During my years with Borders I spent many hours training new booksellers to provide exceptional customer service, and even more hours actually providing exceptional customer service myself. It took a mere five minutes after opening this morning for customer service to be so far gone from my mind that I might as well have known nothing about it.
At eight fifty-nine a.m. the frontmost customer of the thirty who were waiting outside to get in and start shopping began to rattle the front door. Simultaneously, the phone began to ring, and it never stopped all day. By ten a.m. the line for the register in our very large store wrapped the length of the queue (seven registers long), back past the registers then all the way to the Kids section, turned right to stretch across half the width of the store, then turned right again and back toward the front, ending the giant circle--much like a snake consuming its own tail--back at the registers.
"Excuse me, do you have The Help?"
"So sorry, I can't look it up for you because we have no computers, but it'll be over in Fiction if we have any. The author's name is Stockett."
"Can you take me there?"
We were assailed from all directions, all the time, every time we set foot on the sales floor.
"Miss. Hey, miss! The email said everything in the store is discounted 40%"
"No. It actually said everything in the store is discounted, up to 40%."
People stood in line for an hour to save 10% on their purchase of three $4.99 remainders. They tried to use teacher discounts (all special discounts--including the employee discount--ended yesterday). They tried to get additional discounts for shopworn items. They tried to return items they'd bought yesterday--yesterday, when everyone knew the liquidation sale would start today--and repurchase them at the discounted price.
A lot of people wanted to use coupons. I don't blame them. They purchased their Borders Rewards Plus membership for twenty bucks, and in addition to the extra 10% off (which they're still getting for the next two weeks) they got $10 in Borders Bucks and a big ol' coupon book. Oh well. It sucks, but there's not a single thing I can do about it. My worst, most shameful interaction of the day was with a customer over a coupon.
The customer handed me his coupon and I told him sorry.
"Yeah, sorry. No more coupons. Yesterday was the last day."
Hm. Potty mouth though I may be, I don't particularly appreciate such language in the bookstore, particularly not when it's directed more or less at me. So, figuring discretion, as my dear old mum taught me, to be the better part of valor, I keep my head down and scan away.
"Aren't you going to do anything? Are you listening to me?"
"You know, you lost me at 'that's fucked'."
"FUCK YOU," he yells, throwing his coupon book at me.
"You too, asshole," I yell back.
I'm not proud of that interaction. But I made it through the day.
When I left at three o'clock the line was exactly the same length it had been all day. I shudder to think of what the store will look like when I get back there tomorrow morning at seven.
1 month ago