I used to volunteer as a manager at Oxfam.

One day a customer was arguing the toss on getting a discount on the set price.

This was normal practice in the shop as everyone who tried to haggle had the same argument

“But you got it for free – so what does it matter what you charge?”

Ignoring the fact we are a charity trying to make as much as possible, the cost of running a store and the fact that someone chose to donate to our shop (hence we had to get a good price), there was no justification for selling a like new item item that retails at £60 for less than £30.

Oxfam is a charity – but it still has to be run like a business to achieve it’s objectives.

So I am stood there trying to politely explain why the customer can’t buy the item for next to nothing and that actually the price it was selling for was actually a good deal.

But my logic wasn’t working and the fat, aging man went all puffy and red in his fat face and started raising his voice.  I tried to calm him down and get him to see reason, but he wasn’t having it.

“Your just a volunteer!  You can’t know that much if you aren’t working a proper job at your age – I want to speak with the manager!”

The man’s comments upset me a bit – it was true I should have been working, but I had been unemployed for a few months and had had my confidence knocked a bit in trying to get back into things.

When faced with such aggressive confrontation I always choke up and don’t know what to say.  Luckily the manager who had been listening the whole time intervened.

Peter was a big Glasweigian bloke, he grew up on a Glasgow council estate and so that made him tough and blunt.  There had been a number of times he had inadvertintly upset a customer with his rough demeanor.

“I’m the manager….” he said without any nicety or politeness that I had shown the customer

“…and that item is no longer for sale.  In fact nothing in this shop is for sale to you….”

The mans fat red face had gone a shade of white

“…So fuck off and don’t come back….”

The fat man stood there in a state of shock and with his guard down, Peter snatched the item back.  The man waddled out fast like a penguin taking a run into the ocean and without looking back he left pretty sharpish.

What is the moral of this story?

Perhaps it’s worth while losing a bad customer?  Sometimes it benefits to not be nice?

I honestly don’t know, but I can say I have stayed friends with Peter long after leaving

2 thoughts on “The Customer is always right

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