For anyone who has worked in a customer service role, this should be a mantra to live by. Forget the sycophantic smile. Forget the extra mile. These people don’t deserve it. Without question, the customer is almost always wrong.
The customer will try to tell you that your website isn’t working. Don’t worry, it is. The customer will tell you that the film times are different to those advertised. Don’t listen, they’re not. They will tell you that you are wrong, and they are right.
THEY ARE MISTAKEN! Tell them to go away!
They complain because they couldn’t find the building.
“It took me 20 minutes to work out how to get to this building! I hope you realise that!”
“I’m sorry madam I didn’t, let me have them move it for you. Next time why don’t you tell us where you’re going to be, and we’ll come to you.”
They will moan because their son Cosmo is intolerant to corn and you do not supply a popcorn substitute. Advise they take their weakling child away somewhere.
They will approach you expecting some sort of extra-special service tailored specifically to them.
“I’ve already bought tickets online but I still need to collect them. Do I have to queue up in this queue with everyone else?”
“No of course not sir, let me show you to the VIP enclosure.”
They will baffle you with questions which are neither pertinent to the current situation, nor to reality.
“I’m not me, and this isn’t the film I bought tickets for, where do I queue then?”
“I don’t have any ID, but as you can see from this photo of me a year ago, I’m wearing the same shoe laces as I was then, so why don’t you just let me in?”
The worst thing is when you do actually put that extra effort in to help a customer out, it invariably backfires giving you more grief or making you feel stupid. You go so far out of your way to try to accommodate them in their pointless little request, and when you offer them a half-way solution, they change their mind completely.
The problem is that these people force you to contemplate your own situation. What are you doing in this job anyway? Don’t they know you’re an artist! And I don’t think working in a cinema is going to turn out to be the stepping stone into the film industry that you were hoping for.
Unless they’re nice of course! Then at least smile.
Oh we do love a good moan don’t we, and nothing gets the British going more than the weather, because let’s face it, we deserve better. We complain about it for months on end as we make our way through the drizzle and trudge to work in wind, rain, snow and fog. In winter we complain that it’s too cold. In summer we complain that it’s too hot. In spring it gets all fresh and clear and we all know that’s just not natural so we complain about that too if we know what’s good for us.
We devoutly check the weather forecast and eagerly await the new front predicted by the man on the tele. As it approaches we prepare our summer clothes, and at the slightest hint of daylight we don shorts and sandals, and stubbornly wade through the slightly warmer drizzle than before.
And then it hits! The heat wave! There’s always a heat WAVE! It comes swimming over us, crashing down over our heads and oppressing us to the ground.
And so is born a feeling of entitlement, because why should we do anything else when the weather is like this? How can people expect us to work when it’s this hot? They must be bloody mental.
The fact is we complain because we like to. It’s therapeutic and keeps us on our toes. The way I like the weather is just hot enough so that I can complain that it’s too hot. Just hot enough that it makes you go “Phroooarr it’s bloody hot isn’t it”. So you can enjoy the warmth, but also feel just on the verge of discomfort. Otherwise you’re just not getting your money’s worth.
But then, like that, it’s suddenly gone again. All we had was a couple of days. From 30 degrees yesterday it’s now 18 degrees today. Where’s our bloody heat gone? It’s typical isn’t it. I hadn’t finished. I was complaining about that!
Now I know I’m not the only one among us who’s convinced that the self-service machines at supermarkets are deliberately designed to make us look utterly incompetent in front of everyone else waiting. The gruelling test of patience involved is designed to only allow those with an iron will and determination to actually leave the shop with food. But my experience recently probably deserves special mention, because, well, it happened to me. Let me recount, picture the scene…
I stand already irritated in a queue which stretches back half a mile down the frozen food aisle and seems to slow to a crawl each time the shoppers pass by Spam Fritters or Mr. Brain’s Pork Faggots, peering across with the same morbid and perverse curiosity as they would at a grotesque accident on the motorway. There are just two checkouts open despite the queue of 50 people, and while most of the staff stand around talking, they leave Shane, Asda’s self-service conductor and great orchestrator, presiding over the sophisticated network of self-service facilitation terminals, trying to shepherd each one of the trembling luddites and technophobes to one of the few vacant machines.
When I eventually near the front it becomes clear that the queue is being held up because they no longer supply plastic bags (a government initiative to cut waste), and the people at the front of the queue are shouting ‘well ow am I sposed to get my shoppin ‘ome then?” I actually support this because nothing annoys me more than seeing someone load up 50 plastic bags with one item each. Shane offers to sell them at 5p a go and proceeds to wave a bag in front of the machine in an attempt to add it onto the bill. The machine complains with it’s usual “assistance is required” and he starts waving his supervisor card around like a desperate man, entering validation codes and telling the machine to shut up. They’re calling it a ‘Bag for life’, but let’s face it, it’s not a fucking puppy.
But great, things can move on. WE HAVE BAGS. A minor victory.
Then it’s my turn. But as soon as I go to work I get bombarded by a barrage of error messages knocking me back, exhausting me with it’s pained noncompliance and utter lack of cooperation. As I desperately try to scan items across its glass window it seizes up in a twisted spasm, pleading in a pained voice “Urggghhhhhhhhh…… unexpected item in the bagging area”. What now? I half expect it to say “HA, is that the best you’ve got you dumb bastard!? You lose! GAME OVER!”
It’s a frenetic race to get things bagged as quickly as you can before it seizes up again with yet another error and you have to wait for the poor sod to finish with the other 5 machines he’s trying to nurse back to health so he can come and attend to yours.
Approval needed!’. We wait as the guy makes his way over for the fourth time by this point to give clearance for a packet of tunes. They do state on the packet that you mustn’t exceed 12 packets in one day, but it does make you wonder how many verdicts of accidental death have been recorded from an excessive amount of throat sweets. When it comes to putting a reduced price hot sausage through, the item won’t scan and the number on the front, which incidently is about a hundred characters long, turns out to be one number too many to actually fit into the box provided on the screen. So as I stand confounded trying to make it fit I’m eventually forced to concede and call for yet more assistance. The thing is by this time the guy’s actually getting annoyed AT ME!! Then he repeats the torturous process himself, slowly punching a number code into the computer, before he reaches the same conclusion as I did.
“There are too many numbers”
“Yeah that’s weird”
“Yeah I know.”
“I’ll try it again”
“No why don’t you just put it through as a carrot?”
“Nah mate, I cant do that”
and so he feverishly goes about re-checking the number.
IT’S A SAUSAGE!!! FOR 10p!!!!!!!!! JUST GIVE IT TO ME!!!!!
Despite the fact that we only nipped down the shop for a few things and my tour around the store only took about 10 minutes, it seems to take an eternity to work through the remaining items in the basket. An infuriating feat which tests all my faculties of patience, wit and speed, and as I finally manage to wrench myself free from it’s grasp, swearing under my breath, the machine bids me a courteous farewell with “Thank you for using the fast lane”.
You’re having a laugh!! Next time it would be quicker and easier to try and roll the items out the shop past security with my nose.
So then, did everyone break the restraints of apathy yesterday to fulfil their civic duty? I think most people did. With all that’s going on, this is a time when everyone should stand up and take notice. I tried to follow the campaigns from the start, but the longer it went on, with all the bullshit and forced sincerity, the faster I slipped back into indifference.
Still, it’s vital to exercise our right to vote. Especially seeing as during the last general election I would have voted if it weren’t for the fact that when I turned up at the polling station I was told that I wasn’t even registered in that city and so had to walk home having made no democratic difference at all. So this time around I made absolutely sure that I was registered and knew exactly where I was going, even though I was still no closer to making a decision right up to the time of walking into the booth.
But they don’t half make it hard do they? I mean I left school years ago now, and to walk back through those school gates and be put back through the rigours of a primary school education, being told to put the right coloured piece of paper through the slot on the right coloured box. I mean the mind reels. I was never too good at that even as a kid. It was fine though, I worked it out in the end.
But who to vote for? We’ve all had enough of Brown and Labour and I can’t abide that putty-faced fool David Cameron or the idea of a Tory government. So I thought Lib Dem was a fairly sound choice, but as the campaigning went on I began to get more and more irritated with Clegg’s fervent sincerity and the way he stared down the camera delivering his rehearsed lines like someone in an audition. Perhaps if he repeated the word ‘change’ enough and stared straight into our eyes, maybe he could hypnotise us into voting Lib Dem. Sorry, but I don’t play that shit. And besides could we really have a prime minister who looks like a manager from PC World?
So, still undecided right up until the last minute, the only thing I knew for sure was that I couldn’t stand the BNP getting any votes at all, and so with that in mind I just put a big cross next to them and walked straight out. That ought to do it.