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I Am A Retail Warrior: Throw The Dog A Birthday Bone!

Remember the customer who wouldn't stop texting my personal cell phone? Well she texted me at 7 a.m. on my day off a couple of weeks ago. Seems she just felt the need to reach out and wake someone. Actually, she was checking on a pending special order, because, like 95 percent of customers who order things from us, she decided to stop listening when we got to the part of the transaction when I tell them specials can take up to six weeks. I got the last laugh, though. I waited until the next day when I was in, called her to update her, then politely let her know she'd been texting my personal phone and would perhaps get a timelier and more accurate response if she called the store directly. She seemed only mildly miffed, and I haven't heard from her since, so I guess that's good news, though I have the feeling it's not over yet.

Since then, I've had several customers who just seem completely off the rails. Take, for instance, the woman who brought in a toy she'd been given as a "new puppy" gift and wanted to exchange it because she was sure her puppy would just destroy it. It was a sweet little toy, perfect for small breed puppies, and very popular among customers and gift-givers alike. And there's no stuffing in it, so who cares if the puppy destroys it? Puppies destroy stuff - better their own toys than your shoes or furniture. But she insisted she wouldn't have a toy that his tiny teeth could rip up, and asked for advice on something better and more durable.

"Let's take a look at this line," I suggested, and showed her some extremely durable U.S.-made toys for those tough chewers. "This is one of the most durable toys we carry."

She looked sour as I explained the features of each toy in the line. "This one isn't meant for unsupervised play, but it's a great toy for tugging," I said. Big mistake.

"There will be no tugging," she snapped. "This will be a well-behaved, well-mannered dog. I'll just look around on my own."

Okay, then . . . You got a puppy and you don't want it to play? Dogs are dogs, lady, they're going to tug, chew, run and jump. Deprive a puppy of toys and it's going to seek out other things to keep it entertained. At that point, I was kind of hoping the dog was back at home chewing up her hand-sewn Italian leather shoes.

She didn't leave with a toy. She got some dog ear cleanser and a dog toothbrush for her puppy. I sincerely hope this woman didn't have children. If she did, I can only imagine they were forced to behave like pre-Maria Von Trapp children, forced to march around the house in lock-step and obey when whistled at.

About a week later, another woman came in with her large, lovely dog - some kind of setter, I think. He was sweet-tempered and happy - unlike his human companion, who had brought him in because it was his birthday and he should get a present. Her ability to control him was more than somewhat lacking, though perhaps her Lilly Pulitzer outfit and high-heeled shoes were preventing her from being able to manage him. He bounded around as she tried to rein him in - a sea of black fur against green and pink flowers, staggering around on height-enhancing footwear and cursing under her breath. I decided to intercede. The dog had picked out several toys which she had rejected. I showed her a best-seller - one that my own dog adored and that we have trouble keeping in stock. The dog looked interested. The woman curled her lip in distaste. "I don't like it. I have to like it too," she said. So she teetered around a bit more and picked out two toys on her own, then tried to force the dog to pick which one he liked best. By that time, the dog was as exasperated as I. He flopped down on the floor and refused to look at either toy.

"I don't understand it. He has one like this at home and he just loves it. And it's adorable," she complained.

"Maybe he's just tired and overwhelmed," I said, trying to keep a straight face. "If he has one at home and likes it, I'm sure he'll show some interest once he's back at the house."

So she spent $22 on a toy her dog didn't seem interested in at all and was on her way. It's probably still lying in the bag, undisturbed, while her depressed dog dreams longingly of the toys he liked that didn't pass her cuteness test. Some birthday.


Previously in I Am A Retail Warrior:
* 15 Things We Wish Customers Knew.

* I Am Not Your Friend.

* Doggy Dress Code.

* The 41-Cent Saga.


Previously in Life At Work: Barista! Tales From The Coffee Front; At Your Service; I Am A Security Guard; I Am A Roofer; Working The Door; I Am A Wrigley Beer Vendor; I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy; and the original Life at Work.


Jane Harper is our pseudonymous retail correspondent. She welcomes your comments.


Posted on October 19, 2015

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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