RudeRobin Customers Buy The Newspaper, Too.
Hi there, previous submitter here, formerly of retail, currently of the newspaper business. Shockingly, people are assholes about the paper, as well.
For the most part my job is relatively simple. I’m a sales rep in the classifieds department, meaning I answer the phone and help people and businesses put job ads or yard sale ads or “please buy my guns” ads in the paper (no shit–had one of those last month).
This past month, however, has been more interesting.
About a month or so ago, this frail-looking older woman came into our office and wanted to put in her ad selling a whole room full of Elvis memorabilia. She complained non-stop about the half-inch thick movie ticket booth style glass window that separates my desk from the office lobby: how the “speaker” hole was too tall for her, how she couldn’t just directly hand me her paper with the ad written on it because the bottom window hole was cut funny, how thick the glass was, how she couldn’t hear me because of said thick glass, etc. There was literally nothing she wouldn’t complain about. She asked typical price questions, and explained all price points to her. I went through the whole ad-writing process for her, but then had a fit when i told her it was going to be over $200 to put her 20-line ad in all 6 papers for a full month, so she just wasted 20 minutes of my day. But before she leaves, she asks if I know of any other way to get the word out about her ad, and I suggest the state-wide paper, as well as some other, slightly smaller papers from all the major cities in the state. She then makes me write them down with their numbers so she can call them. I didn’t want to, because ummm that’s not my job?? but whatever, if it’ll make her go away sooner, why not? so I looked up all the appropriate sites, wrote down their cities and their classifieds numbers and hand her paper back full of info. She leaves. Yay, good job done, albeit another 20 minutes later.
Fast forward a couple weeks, she comes back in, complaining about how the state paper wanted to charge her hundreds of dollars for that ad and that was just crazy and she couldn’t believe it was going to be that much money! etc., etc. So I type it up again, price it out no problem, not much drama or weirdness, except the part where she decides to call her husband and then hands me her phone to talk to him??? In retrospect I should have politely refused, but it went by quickly enough and then she paid and left. Cue me, thinking the madness is over. Yay, good job done.
Oh, but it wasn’t.
Fast forward three weeks to last Friday: normal, no big fuss, but then, about an hour before my lunch break, I get a call from our sister office and the very nice lady I speak with frequently, Meredith. She sounds stressed,tells me she has a woman there upset about her ad. She explains that this woman came in complaining that her ad was “too small” and she had already “spent hundreds of dollars on it” and hadn’t gotten the response she wanted from it. I explain to Meredith that the woman only paid $86 for her line ad, not a display ad, so that “hundreds” figure was total crap. Meredith and I finally get on the same page, and she puts Elvis-lady on the phone. This woman then starts complaining to me about how she hasn’t gotten not one phone call about her stuff because the ad was too small, and we just threw it up there in the middle of all the other columns and because of all that, no one could see her ad, and THAT’S why she didn’t get a call about it.
Couple of things:
- Ma'am, you waited almost a month after your ad ran to say anything was “wrong” with it. Why the hell would you wait that long to complain about it?
- Also, you wanted a line ad, not a display ad, so there is only one size of line ad: the newspaper column size. They can be as long or short as you want them, depending on what they say, but they are ALL only 1 column wide, so if the job ads are 1 column wide, so are the house for rent ads and the lawn care ads and the miscellaneous for sale ads, which is what your Elvis memorabilia ad is categorized as.
- AND you wanted a line ad because it was the cheaper option because you were horrified at actually having to pay real ~money~ for your ad, and the display would have cost you like $300
- Furthermore, how in the hell is it OUR fault that no one called you about your Elvis crap? Like seriously, how did you conclude that? Are you trying to say that we went around and called people and told them not to call you? Or that we made posters and put in other invisible ads warning people away from looking at your ad? NO. We did NOT. No one called you because no one has any interest whatsoever in buying all your shit and BY THE WAY what in the hell were you doing buying all that stuff if you weren’t going to keep it?? like that’s not our fault??? that you wasted actual money and time in buying all that stuff??? like deal with it????!
Anyway, she complained about the ad being too small and blamed it on us, and then demanded we run it again in two of the papers FREE OF CHARGE, because no one called her, and she that was asking too much, right?
I wanted to scream at her, OH HELL NO, LADY. NONE OF THAT SHIT IS OUR FAULT. YOU WANNA KNOW WHY NO ONE BOUGHT YOUR SHIT? BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS A BUNCH OF ELVIS SHIT, YOU BATSHIT OLD LADY. But I didn’t, because that’s bad customer service.
I conferred with my boss, who laughed when I said she wanted a free ad, but then HER boss overheard this and said to just go ahead and run it to make her be quiet. I was furious. I’m a firm believer in having rules for a reason, and I don’t think “good customer service” is letting people stomp all over the rules just because they don’t like how some things turn out. It was in no way the paper’s fault that no one called her. We printed the ad like she wanted. I confirmed multiple times that the wording was the way she wanted it AND printed out a copy of it so she could see exactly what it looked like before it printed! We did everything we could!
But I was told to run it for free, so I did. But I made absolutely sure to tell this woman, “I want you to understand that we WILL run the ad again ONE MORE TIME, but if, after this next run, you don’t get any calls again, there is NOTHING ELSE WE CAN DO YOU FOR YOU, OKAY?” and I made sure to enunciate every word and repeat myself so she really understood. She said “Yes, that is fine with me” and then I told Meredith what happened, and explained that if that lady comes in again, she is not to get anything else unless she pays for it, because we have done everything we could do for her and more for her.
TL;DR: there are even bitch customers working at a newspaper, and retail hell pretty much follows you wherever you go.
ALSO, it’s worth noting that every single one of my coworkers stopped what they were doing to hear me argue politely with this woman, and then later several of them told me that I had handled myself every well, and they were very impressed with how well I spoke with her, even though they could tell she was crazy just from listening to my side of the conversation.