• Katherine Pan

Customers FROM HELL

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Before entering university, I did my first job after graduating from high school. I had worked in the service industry as a membership services assistant. As I was only seventeen and had no prior job experience, I was naive and unfamiliar with job ethics. Fortunately, my department was willing to guide me and aid me whenever I needed help. This was essential in building my self-confidence and improved my job performance. My job scope had involved the printing of membership cards, managing membership sign-ups and answering customer inquiries. Most customers were friendly and understanding. They were willing to wait patiently when they saw my trainee badge, or when I was serving multiple customers alone. Unfortunately, not every customer will be as understanding. My friends would say that I have a phlegmatic temperament and do not get angry easily. However, these customers have made me furious while others have left me astounded from their lack of manners.


I cannot be the only one that feels this way right? (Image sourced from https://imgflip.com/i/19kz1m)

The Verbally Abusive Customer


Magazines stands were located in front of the membership counter and the magazines were shrink-wrapped and taped. Hence it was common for customers to approach the counter for assistance to remove the wrap. The shrink-wrap was to ensure that the magazines were in good condition as it might be returned to suppliers. However, the membership counter is not responsible for the magazines. Thus, I often directed customers to the respective language counter for help.


It was a weekday morning and there are hardly any customers on most weekday mornings. I was just minding my own business when a customer approached the membership counter with a magazine in his hands that was half torn! Needless to say, I was mortified because you are not supposed to unwrap magazines! He asked me for a pair of scissors as he wanted to remove the shrink wrap. Being professional, I put on a warm smile and directed the customer to the Chinese counter. The Chinese counter was just a mere 10 meters away.


Upon hearing this, the customer clenched his jaw and shouted at me, demanding that I give him a pair of scissors immediately. Usually I am a chill and easy-going individual that does not get mad easily, but this man was challenging me. I could feel the heat at the back of my throat arising from anger and my hands were trembling. I politely repeated myself as I had to remain professional and I could not lose my temper. Even so, this man was persistent, and he continued shouting at me, insisting that I give a pair of scissors. After consistent rejection, the man finally left for the Chinese counter. Yet, on his way there he was cursing me non-stop, calling me all sorts of names. The vulgarities were in Hokkien and he was saying things such as "Chao chee bai", "Siao zha bor", "Kan ni na". They translate to smelly vagina, crazy woman, and fuck your mother. It took so much willpower and effort from within for me not to lash out at his unacceptable behavior and to relinquish the rage burning inside of me.

Did someone say verbally-abusive customer? (Image sourced from https://imgflip.com/memegenerator/This-Is-Fine)


However, I had to remain calm and not lose my cool as I was a service provider, and it is never right to be rude to customers. I remained in my seat and took deep breaths to calm myself down. I thought of bringing this issue up to the management as it was verbal abuse. Yet, I decided to let things be as I did not want to make a mountain out of a molehill.

The Condescending Customer


Some customers behave as though their actions are always right and they can do no wrong. Unfortunately, I met this type of customer as well. I was handling this customer who was with his wife as they had signed up for a membership card. While waiting for me to process the card, they had gone off to check out other books in the store. After I was done, I went back to give them their card and explain the usage of it.


As I approached them, the wife had picked up a shrink-wrapped book to see. The books were shrink-wrapped for the same reasons as magazines. The wife asked if I could remove the wrap. Just as I was about to reply, the husband butted in. He told his wife that it was fine to remove the shrink-wrap and none of the staff here can stop them from doing so. He then turned towards me, laughed, and exclaimed that he had been doing it for years. The husband then started to taunt me by saying that I do not have the power to stop his irresponsible behavior. While this customer did not make me furious like the previous customer, I did think that he was self-opinionated and condescending.

Is this the thought process that goes through the minds of customers? (Meme generated from https://imgflip.com/memegenerator/139971723/Spongebob-Burning-Paper)


My Thoughts and Opinions


These customers have left me in disbelief that such people populate our Earth. Their behaviors clearly show a lack of respect and emotional intelligence. It honestly does not take much effort to not be a jackass so let us not be one.

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