Category Archives: Customer Service

Thanks For Complicating My Day, CVS

I just stopped at the CVS for iced coffee. The manager asked me if I wanted a print receipt or some other option. I said, “I don’t care.”

She said, “Well you have to choose one.”

Funny. I didn’t think I was required to do anything, other than pay for my purchases. There’s a Walgreens across the street from this particular CVS. I bet they don’t care how I want my receipt, as long as I don’t attempt to leave the store with the ice cold can of liquid ¬†Legally Make Me Happy.

Ghost Customer

I was at my favorite CVS this morning. All new cashiers and it was busy, because it’s the autumn in Salem and October is around the corner. But one of the slightly more experienced of the cashiers called for backup, as she should.

So I’m in line behind about twelve people and the cashiers just get them all done quickly and professionally. I tip my hats to them. But the third cashier whose name I did not catch, finished her last customer and as I was standing there, waiting for her to acknowledge me, or even just look up to see if there was another customer, I suddenly became invisible! Or, you would think I had to be invisible since she logged off of her register, put up her little sign, and went back to whatever she was doing before the rush hit.

The two other cashiers still had customers.

All I can say is the CVS on Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts may have had a regime change recently, but I’m still a regular. The new cashier and I aren’t going to be friends, especially when I get the survey letter in my e-mail.

Get Off My Backpack

Once again, the Peabody Essex Museum wins my heart… burn. For the record, I’m not just making it up when I say that the person in charge of online communications replied pretty quickly the last time I wrote a really scathing Yelp review about my encounter with their over zealous ticket agents. If you to the museum’s Yelp site, you will see similar apologies to many people who reported similar negative experiences.

Here’s the thing: I am a Salem resident. Yes I get in for free and I’m sure after this post there will be any number of people telling me to “get over myself” and the other things that anonymous trolls are likely to go on about. But how I interpret the response I got to my last review, complete with apologies and appeals for my forgiveness, is that the people in charge of PR really do care if one person has had a negative encounter in their museum, especially if they are a Salem resident. Because who are you, faithful reader, likely to trust more when you’re planning where to spend your vacation money? Are you going to trust someone who is paid to tell you how wonderful the place is, or are you going to trust someone who actually lives there and has good reason not to give the place the time of day?

For every nine people who tell me to go F-myself, the tenth person is going to listen and even if only the next one hundred people to read this post over the next ten years are in anyway influenced by this post, it will be worth it. The communications director is going to have to work some serious voodoo to get me to change my one star rating this time.

So what am I complaining about this time?

The backpack rule.

I carry a little side bag. Even in the smaller shops with the most narrow avenues of navigation, no one gives me a hard time about it because of the age old rule of buying what you break. However, even the little bit of weight that is carried in the bag, caused discomfort when I was asked, by a museum guard, to carry the bag in front of me. So for the record, I did try to comply with the rule, but I was incredibly uncomfortable and would have been so if I had stayed in the museum any longer.

Imagine what someone might feel if they had to carry considerably more weight. I know pregnant women don’t have to imagine it, but there could be any number of reasons you would want your backpack on you. Maybe you have medications, medical equipment, or some other necessity on your person that you would need access to as quickly as possible. So checking the bag isn’t convenient, because their baggage area is down on the first floor and you could be up on the third floor when the need arises. But you also don’t want to be physically uncomfortable the entire time, because backpacks have a key design flaw that makes carrying them on your front half difficult and that is the fact that they are designed to be carried on your back!

Why don’t I want to check my bag? Because I have no way of knowing how it’s being treated when I’m not looking. Is it being placed in an area where it’s frequently kicked? Is it being roughly handled? A person who lives in my building, who is also a co-author of local Salem book, once had his bag roughly poked and prodded by one of the security guards I mentioned. As was typical, the security guard made no apology for possibly breaking something vital, for which the museum would certainly not have been tripping over itself to replace.

I actually asked one of the guards why this rule was in place. I would have had a better response verbally supporting Donald Trump’s views of John McCain’s service record. At first my simple request for an explanation to this rule was met with condescension and ridicule. Then the guard gave me a half-assed explanation about how people forget their backpacks and sometimes bump into things.

I tried to point out that if I shifted the weight of my backpack, the risk of bumping into something would be the same. In fact the shift in weight might increase the odds of someone tripping and therefore falling into the very things you’re so concerned about breaking. The lackey just replied with, “The rules apply to everyone.”

Okay, let’s address the logic of the rule. Aside from my observation, if it’s that easy to knock something over in a museum than you probably have failed Museum Set Up 101. In every museum I have been to, exhibits are usually set up so that even on the busiest days it is not possible to accidentally damage items. I assume this is because museums are being trusted with rare and valuable collections of both monetary and historical value¬†and that it is the museum itself that will be held responsible if these things are damaged. If something is that prone to damage than greater care tends to go into protecting it, such as a big glass case and if someone knocks that over, they’re probably committing a felony and your little backpack rule would still be arbitrary.

Sir, Topsham Sat… Yeah, that was a stretch. Here’s my account of our brief visit to Sea Dog Brewery.

John didn’t want to go to Byrne’s super early, so the plan was to arrive fashionably late and stop somewhere for drinks. By drinks, I mean, soft drinks, which should not have been as difficult as it turned out to be.

Sea Dog Brewery is a Maine company with several locations and I’m told that otherwise it’s not a bad place to eat. But apparently, only ordering drinks rates you very low on the priority list for the waitresses who are serving you. It’s funny, because I thought that treating every paying customer like you appreciate their business is a good way to encourage future patronage, but who am I to criticize?

In all fairness, they did seat us pretty far from the counter.

In all fairness, they did seat us pretty far from the counter.

Compare that to the service at Byrne’s Tavern and it’s a huge contrast. That lady had a ton of customers at one table alone and she still managed to outshine not one, not two, but the three separate waitstaff employees we interacted with at Sea Dog. And she had a considerable amount more to bring us, but I have no doubt that if someone only wanted to order a soda or a beer, she would have been just as attentive.

Try Next Door… Or Not

I’d like to give a proper shout out to NextDoor.com for quickly shutting my account down when it appeared that someone living in the same apartment building as I lived when I opened the account may or may not have been a sex offender. I’d like to give that same shout out to them for not reactivating my account after I pointed out to them that I could not have worked as an employee for the Salvation Army if I had not passed a SORI, which proves that I am not a sex offender, registered or otherwise.

Great job guys, spreading libel and slander and not taking the slightest interest in whether or not you could be ruining someone’s reputation unjustly.

New customers would probably do well to go to Front Porch Forum or just start a Facebook or Meetup Group and not give Nextdoor.com another second of your time.

The Internet Is One Big Glass House

For around five years, I was a member of a site called http://www.customerssuck.com. It was a great place to vent about the perils of working in any aspect of the customer service industry and although there were new members everyday, it’s fair to say that the community was fairly close nit. At the very least, if you are an active part of a community for that length of time, you would expect that the other regular members would have a fair idea as to the direction of your moral compass.

Not so.

One of my last threads there, I promoted my comedy event. In the post I said something along the lines of, “And for those of you who are under 21, if you want me to slip you something then arranger for me to-ah, I mean, under age drinking is illegal. Behave yourselves.”

Now in certain contexts, of course that kind of joking can be a turnoff. Especially if you’re new to a group and those present have no idea how to take you. Let me explain something.

That which results as a result of drinking while underage is certainly no joking matter, as it can lead to other dangerous behaviors such as driving while intoxicated. Kids with the barest concept of right and wrong can do horrendous things while drunk and in no way do I intend to condone such behavior. Nor should it have been taken as a sign that I, to quote the moderator, “condoned illegal behavior”.

Also, why would I joke about something like that, only to actually commit the behavior later on? Wouldn’t that be shooting myself in the foot to joke about a behavior, which could be used to incriminate me should something go wrong at the very event which I was performing?

The context in which I made the statement was humorous and should have been taken as such. In fact, the original reason they took the post down was not the actual joke itself, but because the event was for profit and required 20$ at the door. They only decided to trump up the “condoning of illegal activity” after I argued that other members posted similar events that required money to attend without an issue. This hypocrisy finally led to me telling them that if they were going to take something I said out of context like that, then they should just delete my account entirely.

Why am I bringing it up now, do you ask? Shouldn’t I just move on and not let these people have a second more of my time? Probably, but, one thing I’m sick of is someone using their position to bully me. Sometimes the best way to answer bullying is to stand up to them and name them for what they are and to do so in so public a fashion as to send a message that you will not be pushed around.

It’s hard enough dealing with a new bully. However, someone whom you have formed a relationship over the years is even harder because the betrayal is such a sharp knife in the back that you’re surprised you didn’t see it coming. If you can’t properly address the behaviors of someone you once thought you knew and loved, how can you go into a new situation and not be worried that the same thing will happen again? So for that reason I bring to you the hypocrisy that is Customers Suck.com.

Joking about serving alcohol to under age peoples should certainly be addressed. If it makes you uncomfortable, I apologize. But again it’s not my intention to imply that actually would serve alcohol to minors as my criminal record is pretty clean. I also remind you that at one point I actually saved the bottom line of a company I worked for by successfully passing a sting operation, which would have forced the store to lose their license for enough of a length of time that it would have crippled them.

However, one thing I have never joked about is rape. Most would agree with me, especially in this day and age, that joking about rape is insensitive to the victims and desensitizes the nature of the crime. Which is why I link you to a number of posts on Customers Suck that would appear to condone such behavior.

Irving Patrick Freleigh

Oh and apparently murdering children is funny too. This one takes the cake. I’ll leave you to search the website on your own and decide if you believe this kind of “humor” is something you want to perpetuate.