Improve customer service by not blaming others

Image for Improve customer service by not blaming others post - beer-923633_960_720It’s not often you’ll find me yelling at people in a grocery store.

It had come to that, however, after three different store clerks refused to sell me what I had wanted to buy, at the price advertised on the product’s shelf.

It was “Pizza and Beer Night” for my husband and me. We do this every Friday.  We buy a high-end frozen pizza, we each have our own one beer, and we watch a movie while consuming those.

The grocery store in our winter vacation neighborhood had an entire section of “singles”–bottles of beer you could buy one at a time.  We usually have some quantity of beer on hand, of course, in our own home, but not in this vacation locale and, well, we only wanted the one beer each, and we have differing tastes.

His chosen bottle rang through the register immediately, no problem.  Mine, however, said $7.99–for one bottle.  Clerk #1 was over to us in a flash, reporting that it appeared the single was ringing up as a six-pack.

“I can’t sell it to you as a single,” she said.  I pointed out that it had been found in the “singles” area of the liquor aisle.  “Sorry,” was her only response.  She did not offer an alternative or a solution.

I told my husband I would go back to the aisle and get a bottle of my second choice of beer, just to save time.

When that one didn’t ring up correctly, the answer from Clerk #2 (supervisor to Clerk #1) was the same: “Sorry, it’s not in our system. I can’t sell it to you as a single.”

I counted to three, and said, “It was IN the singles display.”

“It’s not in our system,” was her response, meaning her computers couldn’t find it to charge it to me.

It was then that the steam erupted out of my ears.

The manager–when she finally arrived at our register–listened to what I had to say and responded with, “Oh, I see where the problem is. It’s probably our vendor.  They must have had a six-pack that came open, and they re-stocked it as singles.  We can’t sell it that way.”

“You’re blaming your vendor?” I said.

“Well, it could have been another customer who tore the case apart and stocked it that way,” she offered.

“I’m saying you must sell it to me at the advertised price. This is your store,” I said, and I invited her to see the shelves full of singles, each marked with their various prices.

We walked back to the aisle (this was my third trip now) and showed her the shelf full of “my” beer and the price tag for them prominently displayed at $1.99 each.

“Oh,” the manager offered. “You see this tag here says ‘porter’ and what’s been stocked is actually a ‘stout’.  So there’s the problem. It was stocked wrong.  If I sell it to you, I could lose our liquor license.”

I asked her if she had ever heard how the customer is always right.  She had.  I asked if she had a manager with whom I could consult.  She got on her walkie-talkie.  I returned to the cash register, where my laid-back husband waited patiently.

Soon Manager #1  returned to the register with my beer in hand, punched a few numbers and rang it up at the price I had expected.

“Thank you,” I said.

 “If he wants to lose his license, that’s his business, not mine,” she said to me about her manager.

 Yes. It was his business, wasn’t it?

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