Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How NOT to deal with a customer

When a customer at your store (Weis Market in Nanticoke, PA) who has taken his mom grocery shopping has just rung up a rather large grocery bill and has attempted - unsuccessfully - to pay for it with his Discover card, the same Discover card he has been using for a very long time to buy groceries at at said store, which card is known to be in good working order and to have rather a lot of available credit, in which way should an assistant manager NOT respond?

a) "Sir, we apologize for the problem. Perhaps it is a computer glitch. If you have another credit card you can use to pay your bill, you can use a phone at the Customer Service desk to contact Discover and rectify the situation."

b) "We don't take Discover. Never have."

I was just astonished that the woman who said this to me said this to me. I sputtered "But you do take Discover. You have always taken Discover." - to no avail. She just stared me down and repeated her assertion; clearly, I was wrong and crazy to have thought that I had ever used my Discover card while grocery shopping at the Weis chain. I cracked her skull open with a psychic pulse and read what was underneath: I'm too busy to deal with this crap. This isn't my problem, it's your problem, and I'm not gonna deal with it.

To say I was furious would be an understatement. Little things like this shouldn't set me off - I have a wallet with several backup cards, so there was no problem - but the matter-of-fact arrogant wrongheadedness of the woman's stance really pissed me off, as did her terse response to the girl at the Customer Service desk I went to question about this - who was as bewildered as I was with the sudden refusal to accept Discover cards, and the retconning of their credit card policy to somehow erase years of Discover card use. "Apparently, we've slipped into an alternate dimension," I told my mom as we left the store.

The folks at Discover were a bit bewildered, too, since they noted that my card is used roughly once every four days at Weis Market. (My mom has a copy, and she uses it for gas, groceries, and other necessities and non-necessities; this saves me the trouble of throwing her a few bucks every week.) When I told the security rep* at Discover about the "we don't take Discover, we have never taken Discover" assertion, she just laughed. "They can't change things just like that," she said.

So. A note for all you managers out there who deal with customers. Please don't just make up random assertions about company policy, and then treat customers - and Customer Service reps - like idiots for questioning these assertions. So you're having a rough day? Yes, we understand, we all have rough days from time to time. But that's no excuse for not showing customers and employees the respect they deserve.

*When your card glitches like this, it gets locked down, and the only way to get it unlocked is to call 1-800-DISCOVER, and be directed straight through to security by the flags that have just popped up on your account.


Michelle D said...

Call the store and talk to the manager directly. Refuse to talk to any subordinates. Explain that your cashier was rude and refused to accept your card which you've used before with no issues. Remember to tell the time, date, and what register you went to.

I am sick of crappy cashiers. They need to be dealt with.

My friend just called Ghetto Schiels (on Hanover Street) about one of the cashiers who were rude to her. If you can't deal with people or at least be cordial then FIND ANOTHER JOB.

I'd make a good cashier, don't you think. HAHA

D.B. Echo said...

It wasn't the cashier who was the problem, though she didn't seem...quite right. It was the wandering assistant manager who she grabbed to ask about the problem. The initial display message was "Contact Customer Service", which I always interpret as "We think you're using a stolen card, bucko. Please move to the Customer Service desk and wait for the police to arrive." For the assistant manager to make up a fake policy on the spot was just bewildering. I then WENT to Customer Service, but I think she consulted the same assistant manager, who fed her the same line of crap. I don't think either the cashier or the Customer Service girl believed it, either.

Of course, this whole problem could have been avoided if they had one of those nifty "We Accept..." signs anywhere. But a quick scan (in my amped state, everything was happening quickly) didn't reveal any such signs.

Thing is, this isn't the first time this happened. It actually happened sometime in October, too, but that was right after the checkout computer had crashed, so I chalked it up to a one-time glitch. But my mom and I have both been able to use our Discover cards there a dozen or so times since then without incident.

I'm thinking of contacting the main H.Q. for the store and asking for their credit card acceptance policy. But the Discover Card people say they take it, so that's good enough for me.

Marc said...

I think this is a good reminder to always carry at least two different credit cards with you. I once had one frozen because I used it in NY and NC a few hours apart, then tried to use it in FL. I was flying and using it at airports. They thought the card was stolen and wouldn't let me use it. Fortunately, I had backups.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Just contact them all and include a link to your blog post about this. They won't like the story spread around. I figure they will be exremely apologetic....

Bloggers unite!

joy said...

"I'm thinking of contacting the main H.Q. for the store and asking for their credit card acceptance policy"

While you're contacting them, be sure to tell them this story and give them the name of the Assistant Manager. If they deal with the situation as they ought to, she will be having a very UN-Merry Christmas...perhaps looking for a job she is better suited for.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

There is no such thing as customer service anymore.