It’s a good thing I was back at full strength this week at the shop. I don’t know if I could have handled it otherwise.
Although 99.9% of our customers are incredibly personable, passionate, fun-loving collectors, you’ve always get that one who is, well, not.
This week we had quite possibly the worst customer interaction I’ve seen all of my years of retail and the worst customer interaction that the owner had seen in nearly 18 years of business.
It was not sports cards or collectibles related, as we carry other products in the store.
The customer came in with his son. A day earlier, they had purchased an item (brand new out of the box and perfectly fine condition) but his son had broken the item in question. It wasn’t something we could fix on site. It had to be sent back to the company but the customer wanted it fixed in the snap of a finger and we literally didn’t have the ability to do that. It’s a higher ticket item so, that heightened tensions a bit.
Our owner is one of the kindest, reasonable and most laid back people you could ever meet and he took a berating for the better part of an hour, to the point where I almost wanted to just step in and diffuse the situation but I didn’t.
The owner had called the headquarters of the company in question and they were in the process of trying to resolve the issue for the customer… as the customer is screaming that both the owner and the representative on the phone were completely worthless. I’ll keep it G-rated and just let you know it got worse from there. He was demanding to talk to a “supervisor” and at one point even threaten to grab an item off the shelf and walk out of the store with it. He threatened lawsuits and all kinds of other completely unnecessary and crazy resolutions to what was really a relatively minor problem.
Along with two men who are working construction on our site right now, I was standing in the back of the store- on one hand wanting to get involved but also not wanting to go up and say or do something I’d regret because the customer was completely off the rails. We were just hoping things didn’t get physical, in which case, we’d have to intervene.
Throughout the entire fiasco the owner kept his cool and continued to help try to resolve the issue.
The worst part of the entire situation is that this innocent young boy was standing right there in the line of fire as his father was ranting about an item, that for all intents and purposesm is a toy. We could only imagine what that poor kid deals with when there are legitimate, serious issues or concerns within the household. That’s what disgusted us most is that an adult would act like that in front of a child.
Eventually after a few more threats and just completely inappropriate actions from the customer, he ended up leaving the store.
After all of this the owner of the shop still agreed to fix the item. He actually had his father come in and help look at it and we put in a call for the pieces and parts that were needed to rectify the situation.
With it being an item that couldn’t be fixed on the spot, the owner made the difficult decision of actually contacting local law enforcement to intervene. Knowing the customer had to come back in the store, basically we had the police call the customer and let them know that we couldn’t be doing this from this point forward. We made the rather obvious decision of letting them know that he was no longer welcome in our store. With this all on video and with the company’s headquarters literally hearing the guy screaming on the other end of the phone, they also said it would probably be best if he never came back to the store.
The Sunbury (PA) Police Department did an outstanding job in defusing the situation by contacting the customer and just getting the result we needed.
I guess I say all that to say this: if you’re reading this article I would make the assumption that you enjoy collecting sports cards, memorabilia, other collectibles and maybe even toys. I would just ask that each and every one of us keep basic manners in mind when you’re interacting with shop owners, shop workers or fellow collectors.
Whether in person or online, it’s a business that sometimes means large purchases. Many people pay a lot of their hard-earned money to be involved in these hobbies but please keep in mind that they are just that- hobbies and toys–and those selling the items are people, too.
There are far bigger fish to fry and far bigger concerns in our day-to-day lives, so please just treat each other with at least a basic level of kindness, dignity and respect.
I would say that I’m surprised I still have to say that but sadly I’m not.
Have a great week and try to spread some love and kindness. The world will be a better place for it.