I’ve been hung up on. I’ve been cursed out. I’ve been been treated like a minimum wage worker. But I’ve always sucked it up because that’s what it takes to run a successful wedding linens business.
Even though we now have a small staff to answer phone calls and run our help line, back in the day my wife and I were the only ones available to handle customer support.
After all when we first started out, we couldn’t afford to hire anyone so we had to answer all of our own phone calls. To make things even more comical, I was constantly asked for wedding advice even though I knew very little about our products:)
Just imagine a clueless Chinese guy giving out decorating advice and you’ll get the picture.
In any case, I thought that it would be fun to document some of the crazy customer support calls that I personally fielded in the last decade of running our business.
Enjoy and please share any crazy stories of your own in the comments:)
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Customer Story #1: Exploiting Chinese Labor
Every now and then, we get customers who are morally opposed to products made in China. This particular lady was concerned about our manufacturing process but ultimately couldn’t refuse a good deal:)
Customer: “Yes, I’m interested in your linen towels. Where are they from?”
Me: “Many of our products are from Asia. These particular towels are made in China.”
Customer: “Hmm, China huh? Do you happen to know whether these towels were created from exploited Chinese laborers?”
I was taken aback by the question and needed to gather myself a bit before answering.
Me: “No ma’am, I’m not aware of any illegal labor practices that were used in the creation of these towels.”
Customer: “Did you know that [insert random percentage here] of Chinese laborers are exploited? They work all day for pennies on the dollar. They don’t get any vacation and are forced to work in a horribly dirty and unkempt environment?
I had a friend who is a photographer that visited China and came back with all of these photos illustrating the poor conditions that some of these Chinese people have to live through.
<........continues on like this for another few minutes.....>
How do you know that your products were not created in this way? Are your laborers being treated fairly?”
Me: “Well, we have visited our vendors and have seen a few factories and we’re not aware of any workers being mistreated in the fashion you have described.”
At this point, I just wanted to get off the phone. I didn’t think this lady was going to buy anything and she just wanted to tell me off.
Customer: “It just disgusts me that stores sell these products at the expense of millions of poor chinese laborers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the products you carry were made from exploited labor”
Me:” ……Like I said ma’am. I don’t believe that …”
Customer: “Okay whatever… How much do you charge for these linen towels anyways?”
Great, now she’s going to tell me that we are charging too much money when the poor Chinese laborers make only pennies a day.
Me: “$14.99 for 4”
Customer: “Give me 5 sets”
When she finally decided to purchase them from us, I was so shocked that I thought that I had heard her incorrectly. After obtaining the necessary information to process her order, I was relieved to be finally done with this lady. Though when I tried to hang up, I got this.
Customer: Shame on you for selling these products!
At this point I was so confused but relieved to finally be done with this nightmare transaction. Was she for or against Chinese products?
Customer Story #2: These Hankies May Lead To Divorce
If you run a business long enough, you’ll inevitably attract a certain class of customers that will only shop in your bargain bin. These people will skip all of your nicer merchandise and go straight for the cheapest stuff that you carry in your store.
Often times, these people will also ask for a further discount as well on top of the already heavily reduced price.
We had one of these frugal customers purchase the cheapest item in our store for $6.50 once. And to be frank, this particular set of handkerchiefs were really ugly.
They were not selling well, we had marked them down 3 times already, and we just wanted to clear them out of our store. All of our clearance items are non-refundable.
Anyway, this fellow received the handkerchiefs in the mail and called us up because his wife hated them to such a degree that they got into a huge fight over it. It turns out that this guy bought these handkerchiefs as an anniversary gift for his wife.
Just as an aside, I went and asked my wife if she would have gotten mad if I only spent $6.50 and got the cheapest item possible from the clearance section of a store for an anniversary gift. Her reply
“Well Steve…let’s just say that your blog would be called MyWifeDivorcedMyAss.com instead of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. “
This poor fellow was getting major heat from his wife so he called us up to complain.
Customer: I spent good money on these handkerchiefs, but they are ugly and poor quality and I want to return them.
Me: I apologize sir but those products are in our clearance section which means all sales are final.
Customer: I got these hankies for my wife for our anniversary. She absolutely hated them and I want my money back.
Me: Was there something physically wrong with the product? Was it damaged in any way? If so, you can send them back for a full refund. Otherwise, I apologize but all sales are final.
Customer: Yes. They are damaged. After we washed them, they shrank dramatically.
Me: I’m sorry sir, but the fact that you washed them voids the return policy.
Customer: What??? Why would washing them prevent them from being returnable??? I had very high expectations for these handkerchiefs and I was hoping to make our anniversary special. Now this has all been ruined.
This whole time I’m was thinking to myself…You bought the cheapest hankies from our store. Of the hundreds of hankies to choose from, you chose the ugliest ones from the clearance section, washed them and now you want a return??? What world am I living in?
Me: I apologize about your anniversary sir and I feel badly about it. Unfortunately our policy is stated very clearly on our terms and conditions.
Customer: So I can’t return them???
Me: I apologize sir, but we can not accept the return.
Customer: Fine!!!! If I get divorced, it will be because of you! ***click****
So there you have it. The divorce rate in the US is over 50% and our online store has contributed to that statistic. Oh well…
Customer Story #3: The Blind Leading The Blind
Sometimes there are products that we carry that I’m not intimately familiar with. Because buying and stocking items for our online store is primarily my wife’s responsibility, she has much more knowledge about our products than I do.
Fortunately, I don’t have to take that many customer support calls so my weaknesses are not often exposed.
However every now and then, I get a customer that truly tests my knowledge. This particular lady pushed me to my limits.
Customer: Yes. I’m looking for some linens that I can use to host a tea party.
Me: We offer a line of cotton and linen tea napkins exactly for that purpose. I will send you the URL for the webpage that lists these products.
Customer: Are these napkins thick? Because I’m looking for something very sheer and delicate.
Me: Hmm….They are napkins so they are definitely on the thicker side. The only items that we carry that are sheer and delicate are our handkerchiefs.
Customer: Perhaps those will do. Can you suggest a handkerchief for me that I might be able to use for my tea party? How about this set of 3 white embroidered handkerchiefs with flowers?
Me: That is a very nice set. Since they are large, they’ll be perfect for your tea party.
Customer: Can you describe them to me?
Me: I’ll send you a link so you can see them yourself.
Customer: I’m on your product page right now so I don’t need the link. Can you describe them to me?
Me: I apologize ma’am but it’s really much easier if you take a look yourself rather than have me describe them to you.
Customer: Can you tell me more about them?
Me: Once again, I apologize but the picture and the description clearly explains the product. Please just look at the picture.
Customer: I can’t look at the picture which is why I’m asking you to describe it to me.
Meanwhile, I was getting a bit frustrated with this lady. Did she want me to handhold her through the entire shopping process? Read the fricken description and look at the picture yourself!
Me: Is our website down? Would you like me to email you the picture directly?
Customer: That won’t help.
Me: And why wouldn’t that help you? It is not as though you are blind.
Customer: Why as a matter of fact I am.
I felt like a jackass at this point, so I tried my best to describe them to her. BTW, here’s a picture of what I was trying to describe…
Me: Um…yes. This is a white handkerchief with flowers on it. I’m not sure what type of flowers they are….er…are they roses? no wait, maybe they are daisies?? There are leaves….beautiful leaves surrounding a stem….
Where the heck was my wife when I need her the most?!?!?
Me: I apologize. I’m not very good at this. I can’t remember what types of flowers they are…oooohh maybe they are lilies?!? Do you know what lilies look like?
Customer: Can’t say that I’ve seen lilies before…
I think the customer was getting impatient at this point
Customer: Look, just send me a variety pack of your best selling handkerchiefs. I’ve got something I need to tend to.
Me: Very well maam. Thank you for your patience
Later that night, I told my wife about this customer call, and she practically slapped me upside the head. Turns out that we do carry thinner napkins for sale that would’ve suited her needs perfectly. Dang it! I guess I need to study our products more closely…
Customer Story #4: Dr. Steve Is In Session
I don’t know why, but for some reason our customers always want to tell me their life story when they make a purchase over the phone. They nonchalantly ask me about the merchandise and then slowly steer the conversation towards what’s going on in their life.
In some extreme cases, they ask me for advice, not on the products mind you, but on personal life decisions. My wife says that I’m extremely polite on the phone with customers but I don’t think that I come across as a psychiatrist!
In any case, the following lady clearly needed professional assistance with her situation. Maybe I should consider becoming a shrink?
Customer: Yes I would like to order some personalized handkerchiefs for the groom and his groomsmen. I was thinking of embroidering my name and the grooms name along with the wedding date on the handkerchiefs.
Me: No problem. What would you like them to say and what thread color would you like?
Customer: Please embroider them with (…blah blah…and blah blah).
Me: And what thread color would you like?
Customer: Please use dark blue as the thread color…..On second thought screw it…make it pink, hot pink. This is my wedding and I should be able to choose the colors that I want to choose!
Me: … (Yikes!)…
Customer: Did you know that my fiance has not helped at all with the wedding planning? Here I am calling places and shopping for his groomsmen for christs sake.
This is clearly his responsibility. I don’t think that this wedding means anything to him at all. Don’t you think that the groom should help out with the wedding planning as well?
Customer: Are you married?
Me: Yes ma’am.
Customer: Did you help out with the wedding planning or did you leave all of the planning to the bride?
Me: I..uh….don’t remember…I’m sure your fiance is doing the best he can.
Customer: Do you know what he did last week? He didn’t go to our cake tasting with me because of some stupid basketball game on television. I hate March. All he does is plaster himself in front of the television and ignore everything else. Sometimes I wish that he’d get his lazy ass off the couch.
This couple seemed like they were married already:)
Me: Are you referring to college basketball ma’am?
Customer: How did you know? Don’t tell me you watch that too?
Actually, I’m a die hard Stanford mens basketball fan but I didn’t want to let her know.
Me: I don’t watch the tournament, but I do know that it is very popular with a lot guys. I think he’s just getting caught up in the moment…
Customer: Sometimes I question whether I should go through with it. You know what I mean? I should be his number one priority.
Me: Of course…
Meanwhile, I was thinking to myself…are you going to continue with the purchase or what?
Customer: Ok what do you think I should do, dark blue or pink? Pink is my wedding color but my fiance absolutely hates pink.
Me: Honestly, I think dark blue is a more masculine color and the last thing you need is to create an argument over the thread color of a handkerchief that he has to carry. I personally think that the blue thread will not clash with the rest of the colors in your wedding.
Customer: Ok…Dark blue it is.
Crisis averted! You can call me Doctor Steve from now on. I just saved yet another marriage!
Customer Story #5: The English Major Who Couldn’t Read
The one downside of running an online store or business is that inevitably you’ll encounter a customer who is extremely abrasive and condescending. This particular lady placed an order with us, misread the description and then accused us of misleading her into making a purchase.
Customer: Yes, I’m calling because my order was not delivered correctly?
Me: Oh really? We apologize for that ma’am. What is your order number?
Customer: Order xxxx.
Me: Yes it shows here that you ordered a single four corner embroidered lace handkerchief. Was that not the contents in your package?
Customer: The type of handkerchief was correct, but I only got delivered one instead of four.
Me: There seems to be a misunderstanding. The handkerchief has embroidery on all four corners. It does not come with 4 handkerchiefs.
Customer: Well, let me tell you that that is extremely misleading. The product name implies that it comes with 4 handkerchiefs.
Me: I apologize ma’am for your confusion but unfortunately you only ordered a single handkerchief. I’d be happy to take your return.
Customer: I don’t want a return, I want 3 more handkerchiefs.
Me: I’m sorry but we can not do that. The item description reads “This is one white wedding handkerchief…” It seems unambiguous to me.
Customer: WHAT?!?! How can you say that? I’ll just have you know that I have a masters degree in English from (Some college I’ve never heard of). The way you wrote your description clearly indicates that it should come with 4 handkerchiefs. Did you go to college? Do you have a degree in English?
No, I just have a worthless engineering degree from Stanford. I was getting pissed off at this point and I almost lost it. Clearly, the english program at her university was horrible if she couldn’t understand the word “one” in our description.
Me:That is irrelevant ma’am. The description is for a single hankie.
Customer: You should go back to school if you ever went in the first place. Are you going to ship me the other 3 hankies or what?
Me: I want you to keep the single hankie that we shipped you. We will refund you the money you paid.
Dealing with these types of customers are not worth the time. In the end we lost money, but it was worth it never to have to deal with her again.
Customer Story #6: The Customer That Was Too Nice
It’s always refreshing to have a nice, considerate customer every now and then. I really enjoy speaking to our customers when they are polite on the phone, even if they are just calling to complain about something.
90% of the time, if they state their case clearly and politely, I’ll try and help them out in some way or form. In any case, the customer I’m going to talk about today was just too damn considerate…so considerate that she actually got on my nerves at one point.
Customer: Yes sir, I was wondering if I could speak to the person who does the embroidery?
Me: Hi ma’am, unfortunately our embroiderist is not in at the moment. Is there something I can help you with?
Customer: Possibly. I recently ordered a monogrammed handkerchief, but the letters seemed to have been stitched incorrectly.
Me: Oh, we apologize if we made a mistake, what is your order number?
Customer: 5907. I wanted the initials JOB, but instead they were stitched JBO.
Me: Ok, I’m pulling up your order right now. Indeed, you are correct! We’re sorry for your inconvenience. We’ll send you out another one ASAP.
Customer: Actually, I don’t want to be wasteful of your materials. Can I send you this handkerchief back so you can remove the stitching and re-embroider the letters on it?
Me: Don’t worry about it. You can keep that handkerchief and we’ll send you a brand new one. You don’t have to pay anything additional.
Customer: I really hate wasting anything. How about I return this hankie to you, you restitch it to the correct letters and return it to me. This way, you won’t have to waste another handkerchief and it will save your business money.
Me: I apologize, but restitching the hankie probably won’t look very good not to mention the fact that it is labor intensive.
I was kind of taken aback, but in a good way. This lady was really considerate. We were going to send her another hankie for FREE but her primary concern was being too wasteful. This was a rare customer indeed.
Customer: How about I send you this hankie back regardless and I’ll pay for any additional labor required.
Me: Ma’am, I really don’t think it will turn out very well.
Customer: What if I send this hankie back and I’ll purchase another one as well?
Why was this lady being so persistent? While she was being extremely considerate, she was starting to test my patience. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I felt deeply conflicted inside. Her intentions were good but almost annoyingly so.
Me: Ok sure, please send us the hankie back and we’ll restitch it for you. In addition, we’ll send you a new one as well, free of charge.
Customer: You are such a kind young boy. I insist on paying for the additional one and any labor charges as well.
Me: There are no labor charges and no additional charges whatsoever. We sincerely thank you for your consideration.
Customer: So can I just pay you over the phone right now?
Clearly, we had a communication problem here. What didn’t she understand about no charges?
Me: Hi ma’am. I apologize for the misunderstanding. There are no charges so you don’t have to pay for anything.
Customer: Ok, I’ll place the order online then.
Sure enough, she then placed a new order for a handkerchief online. We ended up sending her two handkerchiefs, free of charge, and we also refunded her credit card for her additional online purchase. Perhaps this was her ploy all along…
Perhaps, this was a brand new negotiation tactic that I hadn’t encountered yet. In any case, if she was trying to get a free handkerchief on purpose, it worked. But honestly, I don’t think that that was her true intention.
Customer Story #7: AOL Is The Bane Of My Existence
I’m not sure why but our online store attracts a large quantity of customers that are not very web or email savvy. We spend a lot of our time taking orders over the phone because people don’t feel comfortable ordering online or entering their credit card information on a computer.
While a good portion of our customers fall into this category, most of them are extremely courteous and polite. Usually, it’s a joy to walk them through the necessary checkout steps and teach them about the world wide web.
In this particular case however, we had one customer who grossly misunderstood some basic concepts regarding email and spam.
Customer: Hello? Hello? Hello?
Me: Hello? I can hear you. Can you hear me?
The lady was clearly on a cell phone and was calling in an area of poor reception.
Customer: Hello? Don’t you dare hang up on me. I only have a few minutes to talk so you better stay on the line.
This call had already gotten off on the wrong foot. Fortunately (or unfortunately from my point of view), her reception improved so we didn’t get cut off.
Me: Hi. I think the reception is better now. What can I do for you?
Customer: I just placed an order online. Usually I expect to get a receipt right away but I haven’t gotten anything yet.
Me: Hmm. Ok. Let me check. What was your name again?
Customer: Gwenivere. Do you see my order?
Me: One moment. Yes, you are all set. We have your order on file and it will ship first thing tomorrow morning.
Customer: So where’s my receipt? What kind of a store doesn’t send a receipt?
Me: A receipt was sent to your email address on file.
Customer: I didn’t get a receipt so clearly you did not send it.
Me: Hmm. Our records indicate that an email was sent. Did you check your junk folder by any chance? Sometimes the email ends up there.
Customer: Why would I check the junk folder. Is your receipt junk?
Me: Please just check your junk folder.
Customer: *pause* Ok, I see it there. Why was it placed in the junk folder? AOL never places email in the junk folder unless it is junk. Is your store and website legitimate? Why are your emails considered junk by AOL?
Me: Hi ma’am. Sometimes when you receive mail from a new sender, the mail sometimes accidentally gets categorized under your junk or spam folder. It happens quite often. It also depends on how your email client and spam filters are set up.
Customer: I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned your company must send junk mail otherwise it wouldn’t have ended up there. AOL would not miscategorize my emails! I want you to delete my email from your database immediately. If I so much as receive a single email from you again, I’ll report you.
Me: Hi ma’am, I assure you that you won’t receive any unsolicited emails from our store (Besides our multi-step post purchase email sequence:):). Nonetheless, your email client seems to be filtering our mail to the junk folder regardless.
Customer: I don’t care, please delete me now and send my order. Please delete my personal address now as well!
Me: Hi ma’am,we need your personal address on file in order to ship your order to you.
Customer: Fine! Then ship it first and then delete everything. I will not tolerate any sort of junk mail!
Given how the call began, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. I wish there was someway to avoid having our emails sent to the spam folder but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a way to keep it from happening 100%.
Customer Story #8: The Shotgun Wedding
Even though I am born and raised in the United States, I still encounter certain phrases and figures of speech in the English language that I’ve never heard before.
So when I had to call this customer in order to clarify his order, I was totally caught off guard by what he had to say.
This customer in particular ordered a custom hanky from our online store with the bride, groom and wedding date embroidered on the handkerchief. What was odd about his order was that the wedding date was for a Tuesday.
Since I found this particular day to be somewhat unusual for a wedding, I decided to give him a call to confirm the wedding date.
We don’t normally do this but I’ve learned from past experience that it’s better to clarify possible mistakes with the customer to avoid any potential problems ahead of time. While this principle is fundamentally sound, sometimes you receive too much information.
Me: Hello? May I speak with Billy please?
Customer: This is Billy. Who is this?
Me: My name is Steve. I’m calling you about an order you placed for an embroidered handkerchief. It seems as though there might be some mistake in terms of the wedding date specified on your order.
Customer: Yes I ordered an embroidered handkerchief. What seems to be the problem?
Me: The wedding date that you requested is for a Tuesday. Most of the weddings that we’ve encountered usually take place on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I am calling you to confirm that Tuesday is indeed the intended date.
Customer: Why yes it is. Is there a problem with that? Will you be able to deliver the hanky in time for the wedding?
Me: Your order was placed on short notice. It’s currently Thursday which means we would probably have to get it out today in order to be sure to make it in time. We’ll see what we can do.
Customer: We definitely need that handkerchief by Monday night at the latest. You do realize that if the hanky doesn’t arrive in time, then the wedding might not happen right?
Me: Yes sir. I apologize but I missed what you just said.
Customer: You heard me. If the hanky doesn’t arrive in time, it might be too late to have the wedding.
Me: Oh…ok (I felt extremely awkward and didn’t know what to say)
Customer: Ever been to a shotgun wedding?
Me: No sir. I apologize but what does a shotgun have to do with a wedding? I’m not familiar with the term.
Customer: To put it simply, I damn knocked up my woman and I have to get married before the baby pops out. I made a mistake and now I have to make up for it.
Me: Oh haha (nervous laughter). Why don’t you just have the baby first and schedule the wedding date for a more convenient time?
I was intrigued but I shouldn’t have asked the question since I just wanted to get off the phone.
Customer: Cuz her Dad would flip out and probably kill me. You just don’t have a baby without getting married. What is so confusing about that?
Me: Nothing I guess. I apologize sir. Just to get things straight, are you implying that your actual wedding date is around the same time as your baby’s delivery date?
Customer: That is exactly what I’m saying. So can you deliver it on time or not?
Me: Yes sir. We’ll make sure to get the hanky to you by Monday.
Customer: I’m counting on it and please get it out as soon as you can.
Me: Of course sir.
I couldn’t fully relate to this customer’s situation but I wasn’t about to risk having the baby delivered before their wedding. I still couldn’t figure out why the wedding depended on the delivery of our handkerchiefs, but I wasn’t curious enough to ask.
Customer #9: Discount On A Huge Order
About 15% of the calls that we receive are from customers asking for discounts on products that they wish to purchase in bulk. We are not a wholeseller so we generally don’t offer price breaks unless the quantities involved are fairly large.
But what is definition of large? Apparently, the term “large” and “huge” cover a fairly big range. This customer’s definition of “huge” was drastically different from ours as evidenced in the customer call transcript below. I don’t know, would you consider her order huge?
Customer: Yes, I would like to order a large quantity of handkerchiefs and I was wondering if there were any discounts for huge orders.
Me: Yes, we can definitely offer you a discount if sufficient quantities are purchased. Which product in particular were you interested in?
Customer: I was looking at the white scalloped crochet lace handkerchiefs. Do you have those in stock?
Me: Actually, those are our best selling handkerchiefs. What quantities do you require.
Customer: We’ll be ordering about 25. What discounts can you offer me?
When this customer said 25, I naturally assumed “25 dozen” since most of our customers who purchase in bulk always specify quantities in terms of dozens.
Me: That’s very nice. Are you providing these as favors for your wedding guests?
Customer: Why yes. We found your website and thought giving handkerchiefs as wedding favors was a great idea.
Me: We can offer you 10% off and free shipping on your order.
Customer: Excellent. Can I place my order over the phone?
Me: Sure. Your total including the discount is 810 dollars?
Me: Your total is 810 dollars. It’s $36 dollars a dozen times 25.
Customer: There must some misunderstanding. How can 25 handkerchiefs cost 810 dollars?
Me: I’m sorry ma’am did you say 25 handkerchiefs and not 25 dozen?
Me: I apologize, but we can’t offer you any discounts for an order of that size. At first, I thought you were ordering 25 dozen. Unfortunately, your order size does not qualify since it is too small.
Customer: How can an order of 25 handkerchiefs not qualify? You sell these in packs of 3 and we are ordering 8 of them. How can that not qualify for a quantity discount? Instead of purchasing wedding hankies for just the bridal party, we are buying them for all of the immediate family. That’s a lot of people right there!
Me: I apologize ma’am but that order size doesn’t even qualify for free shipping.
Customer: How you wouldn’t consider 25 hankies a huge order is beyond me. Is there any way to get any discount whatsoever? I promise I’ll be a loyal customer for life!
I’m usually inclined to give discounts to certain people but one of my pet peeves is when a customer promises something that is contingent on money. If getting a discount will make a person a customer for life, that means that money is the only determining factor.
Me: I would really appreciate having you as a customer for life but unfortunately, I can not offer you a price break at the present time. We offer less expensive handkerchiefs other than the ones you have chosen. Perhaps you might be interested in a different product.
Customer: C’mon, we’re just talking about a few dollars here. Can’t you just give me a break? This is the most important day of my life.
Yeah, it’s the most important day of your life and you are not willing to spend an extra 8 dollars.
Me: I’m really sorry. I would really love to give you these discounts but unfortunately I’m not authorized to do so.
Customer: Well I’m appalled at how cheap this store is and I’m going to take my business elsewhere. You really missed out on a significant order!
Me: I’m really very sorry.
** Click **
And to think, I was going to close up shop early because of this lady today. Boy, do I regret not getting her order. If this lady handled the situation a bit differently and wasn’t so pushy, I might have given her free shipping.
But her tone of voice became aggressive and at that point, she wasn’t going to get anything out of me.
For the life of me, I can’t possibly see how she would have considered her order “huge” but who am I to judge? It kind of reminds me when we placed our first order with our vendors.
The first time we ordered from our suppliers, we tried to order 500 handkerchiefs. But our supplier misunderstood and assumed that we were ordering 500 dozen. I guess assumed quantities are all relative.
Customer Story #10: I’m Lost And Can’t Find Your Store
It’s safe to say that a large percentage of our customers are not very tech saavy. But for some strange reason, I always expect a minimum level of computer competency whenever I speak with a customer on the phone.
For example, if a customer is able to find our store via the world wide web, isn’t it safe to assume that they know how to use a web browser? Shouldn’t they have at least a basic grasp of what a URL or what a web address is?
I discovered the hard way that this assumption is grossly false. This particular customer came across as a competent web user but turned out to have a very Google-centric view of the web.
Me: What can I do for you today?
Customer: Yes, I found your website the other day via the world wide web. But today, I was unable to find your store again. Fortunately, I jotted down your phone number. Is your website still available?
Me: Yes ma’am, we are definitely still around. We can be found at www.bumblebeelinens.com.
Customer: For some reason I can’t find bumblebeelinens.com. Are you sure your website isn’t down?
Me: Yes ma’am, I’m on our site right now.
Customer: Oh wait, I think I found it. Ok great. I was looking for your “Something Blue” Wedding Handkerchief. Can you help me locate it?
Me: Sure. Click on “Wedding Handkerchiefs” on the left hand column and then click on “Something Blue Handkerchiefs”.
Customer: I don’t see any such category on the website. All I see are a bunch of wedding favors.
Me: Are you sure? The left hand column is clearly labelled with a link entitled “Wedding Handkerchiefs”.
Customer: I just don’t see it. Like I said, I see a lot of pictures, but nothing on the page says “Wedding Handkerchiefs”.
This was really strange. We don’t sell very many items and “Wedding Handkerchiefs” is one of our most prominent categories.
Me: Are you sure you can’t find it? It’s in bold on the left hand column.
Customer: Hmm, there’s a search box here. Let me type in handkerchiefs… Okay, I see something here called “Something Blue” handkerchief.
Me: Ok great. Put that in your shopping cart. I’ll walk you through the checkout process over the phone.
Customer: Thank you so much. Ok, the item is in my cart.
Me: Ok. Click on the checkout button and fill in the required fields such as your name, address etc…
Customer: Ok, give me a moment. I don’t see a checkout button but there is a button here telling me to complete my order…Ok filling in my information. Give me a sec.
Me: Sure thing.
Customer: Ok, I filled in all my information. Am I done?
Me: Not yet, you need to click on the “Confirm” button to finalize your order into our system. It’s located in the lower right corner.
Customer: I see a “Complete Order” button. Ok, clicking it. Alright, it looks like it went through!
Me: That’s funny, I don’t see a record of your transaction on my end.
Customer: Are you sure? My screen clearly indicates that the order went through. Let me check my email. I think I have an email confirmation.
Me: Really? That’s strange. I don’t have any record or anything. Would you mind reading it to me?
Customer: Sure. It says “Checkout Complete” for 1 Something Blue Wedding Handkerchief at $9.99.
Me: Hmm. The product name sounds correct but the price is wrong. What else does it say in the email?
Customer: At the end, it says “Thanks you for shopping at www.IGotTheWrongStore.com”.
Me: Huh??? That is not our store. You just bought your hankie from one of our competitors.
Customer: What? I don’t understand how that could have happened. I just typed “wedding handkerchiefs” in Google and then clicked on the first link. I did exactly what I did last time.
Doh! The Google rankings change practically everyday. No wonder this lady couldn’t find us. She didn’t know how to enter a web address!
Me: I’m sorry ma’am, but you just purchased something from a different store.
Customer: Oh really? If I was at the wrong store, I don’t know how I got your phone number.
Me: It’s probably because our spot in the search engines changed positions, but never mind. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Customer: Nope. I got what I wanted to get. Thanks!
Me: Thank you for shopping…er…not shopping at www.bumblebeelinens.com.
I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with this lady and didn’t even get a sale to show for it. What’s even worse is that I think she clicked on one of our Adwords ads to find our website originally.
I should have known something was fishy when she wasn’t seeing the same buttons and links I was describing, but I couldn’t put it all together in time.
Maybe next time I should check if our competitors have an affiliate program I can join.
Customer Story #11: Just Give Me Your Vendors
We get a ton of calls on a regular basis from customers seeking discount pricing for bulk purchases. In most cases, their definition of a “bulk” purchase and our definition of “bulk” are miles apart.
For example, just the other day we had a customer who demanded a “bulk” discount for purchasing 2 items valued at a whopping 40 dollars!
Very rarely though, we get a customer that truly meets our definition of bulk. This particular customer wanted to buy a large quantity of handkerchiefs and demanded a price that we weren’t willing to meet.
Customer: Yes I’m looking to purchase quite a few handkerchiefs and I was wondering if you offer discounts for large purchases?
Me: Why yes we do but it depends on the quantity of handkerchiefs that you need.
Customer: Actually I was looking to purchase around 50.
Me: Actually for just 50 hankies, the best we can do is free shipping.
Customer: Really? That’s it? After all, I’m purchasing 50 dozen here.
Me: Oh 50 dozen! Sorry about that. For those quantities, we can probably offer you 25% percent off including free shipping. May I ask why you are looking to buy so many? Do you run a business?
Customer: Actually, we are looking to sell custom embroidered handkerchiefs for weddings and other special occasions.
Me: Interesting. We do the exact same thing here at our store!
Customer: I’m very aware of that.
** Silence **
Me: (Ok, that was awkward) Ah yes. Well even still, we have no problems selling you blank handkerchiefs for your business.
Customer: I’m sorry but 25% off is not going to cut it. You are way too expensive.
Me: I apologize ma’am, but that is probably the best we can do. Depending on the style you choose, we may be able to do a bit better but not much.
Keep in mind that you are receiving free shipping as well. If you take the time to look around, you’ll come to the conclusion that our prices are competitive with other wholesalers in the industry.
Customer: Yes I am aware of that but your prices still just aren’t cutting it. Where did you say you get these handkerchiefs from again?
Me: Well, most of our handkerchiefs come from different manufacturers in Asia.
Customer: Where do you get them from?
Me: Well specifically, we get some of them from China and some of them from India depending on the handkerchief style.
Customer: (Getting audibly frustrated) Who do you get these handkerchiefs from?
Me: Oh, are you worried about the quality? We hand inspect all of the merchandise prior to shipment to ensure that you receive only the highest quality merchandise. We also have a money back guarantee.
Customer: Perhaps, I’m not being clear enough. Who do you buy your handkerchiefs from?
Me: Excuse me?
Customer: Who do you buy your merchandise from?
Me: Our vendors are in Asia ma’am.
Customer: How can I say this more clearly? What is the company in Asia that you purchase your handkerchiefs from?
Me: I apologize ma’am, but we don’t give that information out to customers.
Customer: All I need is an email address or a phone number.
Me: I apologize ma’am. We would be happy to special order these handkerchiefs for you but we respect the privacy of our vendors.
Customer: Well, your prices are not good enough for me to make a profit on my products and I require better pricing.
Me: Let me get this straight and please correct me if I’m wrong. You are planning on opening a shop that competes directly with our online store selling personalized handkerchiefs.
You want us to provide you with our rolodex for our vendors in Asia and you want to bypass us altogether and purchase these handkerchiefs directly from the manufacturer.
Customer: Actually I’m just looking for merchandise at the lowest possible prices.
Me: Sorry ma’am but if you are looking to source products for your store, you’ll have to do your own leg work. We would be extremely happy to supply you with blank handkerchiefs for your online store but we will not provide you with information regarding our manufacturers.
Customer: I see. Well you are missing out on a large order here. If you can offer us a better price, we will continue purchasing from you in the future.
Me: Unfortunately, that is the best price that we can offer you at the present time. You might want to contact Walmart to see if they carry handkerchiefs. Perhaps Doug McMillon can help you with where they source their items.
Customer:: Oh. What was the name again?
Me: Doug McMillon (CEO of Walmart)
Customer:: Thank you, I’ll give them a call.
** Click **
Can you believe this lady had the nerve to ask us for our vendors? She was just looking for the easy way out instead of doing her own research. Did she really expect us to just hand over our rolodex? When will people learn that there are no shortcuts to starting a business?
Not to mention the fact that she came across as a complete mercenary. Even if we met her pricing requirements, would she become a loyal customer? She certainly didn’t come across that way. In retrospect, we were probably better off not having to deal with this lady as a customer at all.
Customer Story #12: But It’s In The Picture!
When you run an online only store, it is essential to have good product pictures. Because the customer can’t actually touch or interact with the product in person, your product photos are the single most important factor in whether the customer will make a purchase or not.
As a result, we often embellish our products with accessories while taking product photos in order to make them more visually attractive. But sometimes, this can lead to some funny misunderstandings.
Me: What can I do for you today?
Customer: Yes, I was looking at your bride groom wedding set online. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about this set since it’s hard to see the details from the picture.
Me: No problem. Did you try clicking on the picture to enlarge it?
Customer: Yes I did but I still couldn’t see the details. Could you describe the edges of the handkerchief for me please?
Me: Yes, this particular set has a mens handkerchief with satin stripes and a womens handkerchief with a battenburg lace corner. There is also white rose embroidery on one of the corners.
Customer: Oh, so that is a white rose. Would you mind sending me a more detailed picture of the corner?
Me: Sure, no problem. I can actually point you to some better pictures on our website. Please give me one moment.
Me: Ok, try this URL
Customer: Thanks. Ah, this set looks perfect.
Me: Would you like me place your order for you over the phone?
Customer: One moment. Would you mind describing the rings in the picture?
Me: Oh, hehe. Those rings are just some sample wedding rings taken alongside the handkerchiefs.
Customer: Ok. I think this set might just work. (mumbling in the background) The rings will probably work as well.
Me: Excuse me? I missed what you just said.
Customer: I’m sorry. I was just speaking with my mother in the background. Ok what now?
Me: I’ll need your shipping address, phone number, email address and payment information
She then proceeds to provide me with her information
Customer: Actually, on second thought, would you mind telling me a bit more about the rings again? What are they made of?
Me: I’m sorry? You mean the rings in the picture?
Customer: Yes, I just want to know if they are made of silver or gold. What type of metal is used?
Me: Actually, they are made of platinum. But why is this relevant?
Customer: Oh, just in case I decide to use them.
Me: I’m sorry ma’am, but the rings do not come with the bridal set. The bridal set contains just the handkerchiefs, not the rings. You’ll have to purchase your own wedding rings separately.
Customer: Oh really? But it’s in the picture! After all, this is a bride groom wedding kit is it not? I find your product description somewhat confusing.
Me: We apologize ma’am. We are a linens store. We do not deal with jewelry, only hankies and linens.
Me: Would you still like me to place the order for you?
Customer: Actually, I’ll need to think it over some more. I liked your bridal set because it included the rings.
Me: I apologize for the misunderstanding but honestly, the rings would have to be of pretty poor quality in order to be sold for only $10.99. The set is for the hankies only.
Customer: I’ll have to give you a call back later. You really should take those rings out of the product photo and description. It’s really deceiving.
Me: We’ll take your input under consideration. Once again, we apologize for the confusion.
Customer: Thank you, bye bye.
After I got off the phone, I thoroughly read and reread the description for our bridal sets. And there was absolutely nothing in the description that even hinted that the wedding rings were a part of the package.
Do I really need to spell out that the rings aren’t included? Do I need to clearly state the obvious? In any case, we switched up the photo without the rings.
Customer Story #13: Can I Get Your Expert Opinion
Most customers call us for 3 reasons. One, they call because they aren’t comfortable purchasing anything online and prefer to buy over the phone. Two, they call because they have specific questions about our products.
And finally, they call because they want our “expert” opinion on what to order. This particular mother of the bride wanted my input on handkerchiefs for her daughter and future son in law.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t like giving advice about wedding paraphernalia. Weddings are a touchy subject and most of the time, it’s difficult to gather enough information about your client’s taste to make an accurate recommendation.
But sometimes you have to provide your opinion in order to complete a sale. Read on to find out what my opinion was truly worth.
Me: Hello. What can I do for you today?
Customer: Thank goodness, I got you on the phone. I’m thinking about ordering some handkerchiefs and I need your artistic opinion. I really have no idea what to buy.
Me: Sure, I’ll do my best.
Customer: I was thinking about ordering some monogrammed handkerchiefs for the bride and the groom.
Me: Ok. What sort of questions do you have?
Customer: I’m choosing between a handkerchief with a large scallop lace border and one with a small scallop lace border. Which one would you prefer for the bride?
Me: Yikes. That really depends on the taste of the bride. Does she like big lace or would she prefer something more low key and more conservative.
Customer: Her personality is a bit more on the conservative side. I’m not sure if she would want the lace to stand out too much.
Me: Well if she wants the hankie to be a bit more low key, then I would definitely get the small scalloped hankie. The lace is very thin, elegant and simple.
Customer: Oh really? But the large scallop lace is so pretty. Do a lot of customers purchase that one? Is it popular?
Me: Yes, that style is very popular.
Customer: Do you think it will be too lacey for the bride?
Me: Well ma’am, the lace is rather large. If the bride is looking for something more conservative, then the small scalloped would be…
Customer: I think I’ll go with the large scallop.
Me: Ah Ok…Anything else I can help you with?
Customer: Actually yes. For the mens handkerchief, would you prefer having a monogram in dark blue thread or black thread?
Me: Once again that depends on the wedding colors.
Customer: Well their tuxes are black with a dark blue tie. What do you think?
Me: Either color would work I think.
Customer: Just give me your honest opinion. What would you personally go with as a man?
Me: Well, I’m kind of partial to the dark blue thread. I like the blue over the black because it would probably stand out a bit more from the color of the ….
Customer: Do you think black is too morbid? I mean is black only for funerals?
Me: No, some people get black thread but as I was saying the blue thread would probably stand…
Customer: Oh really? Black isn’t too morbid then? I was worried that black would be too negative for a wedding.
Me: Well actually…
Customer:Ok yeah, I think I’m going to go with the black then.
Me: Ok. Sure. Anything else I can help you with?
Customer: Nope. That’s it. I just want to thank you so much for giving me your advice on what to buy. I don’t know what I would have done without you. I’m so glad to have talked with you on the phone.
Me: Uh…sure anytime.
Did I actually give her any advice? She knew what she wanted to buy long before calling me up on the phone. Alas, I guess some customers just want someone to listen to and not to actually provide advice.
It kind of reminds me of the book “Men Are From Mars And Women Are From Venus” and some of the interactions I’ve had with my wife. Guys just want to give advice and women just want someone to listen to whatever they have to say.
But if the customer is openly asking for advice, then shouldn’t I provide it? Alas, maybe I need to read that book again.
Customer Story #14: Your Website Is Down
The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend who works at a popular search engine company, and he was telling me about some of the idiotic ways people use their web browser.
For example did you know that a good number of people don’t use search at all and instead just append a .com to whatever they are looking for?
It’s funny because as he was telling me these things, he was expecting me to look surprised and shocked but instead, I just stood there and smiled. After running our online store for the past several years, stories like this don’t faze me at all anymore.
I’m well aware that there are a ton of people out there who don’t know how to use a computer very well and they all happen to shop at our store. This particular customer called to place her order over the phone because she was having problems pulling our website up.
Customer: Hello? Yes, I’d like to place an order over the phone please.
Me:Sure no problem. What can I get for you?
Customer:I’d like to order some personalized handkerchiefs please.
Me: Actually ma’am, would you mind placing your personalized order online? We’ve found that it is easy to make dictation mistakes over the phone and we want to make sure that your personalization is done correctly as you intended.
Customer:Actually, I’ve shopped at your store before and I would love to place an order online except your website is down.
Me:Really?(Frantically trying to access our page) Actually, everything seems to be up on my end. (I then went ahead and VPNed into work to see if my work machines could access the site. Nothing was wrong). Would you mind trying again?
Customer: Nope, it’s still down.
This got me a bit worried so I decided to take this opportunity to have her do a little bit of debugging for me.
Me:Ma’am, would you mind trying to access a different site for me just to make sure that your connection is working? I apologize. I just want to make sure that there is nothing technically wrong with our servers.
Customer: Sure I don’t mind at all. The last webpage I was looking at is still working. Seems connected.
Me:Can you hit F5 for me?
Customer:Webpage is still up.
Me: That’s really odd. I can access our page perfectly. In any case, let me take down your order.
Customer:You know what? All of a sudden, I can’t access any webpage anymore. What happened?!? Can you help me?
Me: Uhh….Is your computer still connected to the network cable?
Customer: I use wireless so there is no cable. Hmm, I wonder where Linksys went? It was there this morning.
Customer: Linksys is what I connect to every single day. But it’s no longer here.
Me: Ma’am, you might want to go ahead and reboot your wireless access point. In any case, I’ve put your order through and you are all set.
Customer: My what?
Me: Your wireless access point. You know, the box that allows your computer to connect to the internet?
Customer: I don’t own one of those… Do I need one?
Me: Yes you do. But in the meantime, you can just connect your computer directly to your modem or however you get your internet service.
Customer: I’ve never done that before. I don’t think I have one of those.
Me: The modem is usually sent to you by your internet service provider. You pay a monthly fee which allows you to have internet access. Then, you need a wireless access point so you can connect wirelessly.
Customer: You must be mistaken because I’ve been using the internet free for the past year.
Me: I’m afraid not ma’am. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’d been stealing access this entire time)
I’ll spare you the details of the rest of our conversation, but this poor lady was in shock. Not only did she come to the realization that she could no longer access the web, but she wasn’t willing to pay the money for access either.
I also discovered that when I told her to hit “F5” to refresh her browser, she had typed in ‘F’ and then ‘5’. The only reason that she thought that her internet was still working was because she hit the ‘back’ button on her browser and was looking at a cached webpage.
Customer Story #15: The Overdraft Fee Fiasco
Close to 99% of our customers pay either by credit card or by Paypal and usually the payment transaction goes perfectly smooth. Customer enters credit card and/or Paypal information, hits the ‘confirm’ button and we deliver their goods on time. It’s like clockwork.
But every now and then, someone pays for an order by echeck. And it’s a royal pain in the arse because one, the customer expects us to ship out their order right away even before the check clears and two, their check sometimes bounces.
This particular customer had her check bounce on us and called us in a fit of anger.
Customer: You owe me 22 dollars!
Me: I apologize ma’am. What did you just say?
Customer: You owe me 22 dollars and I demand that you pay me back.
Me: I’m sorry, can we please take a step back? Did you make a return that was not refunded? If so, do you have an RMA number?
Customer: No, I do not have an RMA number. In fact, I never received my order. The only thing I received was an overdraft fee for my account.
Me Hold on….Do you have an order number that I can look up?
Customer: Order xxxxx. You charged the wrong account and I got charged an overdraft fee.
Me:: Hold on one sec…Ok. It shows here that you paid by echeck and that your check was recently declined.. I apologize, but we can’t ship out an order when the check hasn’t cleared.
Customer: Yes! It didn’t clear because you guys used the wrong checking account to withdraw my funds. As a result, I had to pay a 22 dollar overdraft fee and I’m not going to pay it. You are!
Me: I’m sorry ma’am. But we use Paypal as our third party payment processor. I assure you that we have absolutely no idea about your checking account. If funds were withdrawn from the wrong account, then you must have supplied the wrong account information.
Customer:I don’t care if it’s you or Paypal. Your company withdrew funds from the wrong account and I got charged a fee.
Me: Once again, both Paypal and our company do not have any knowledge of your bank accounts. We only know what you entered when you made the purchase.
Customer: Fine!! I’m going to give Paypal a call right now and call you back.
Phew! At this point, I hoped that Paypal would tell her the same thing and that we’d be done with this transaction. Unfortunately, she called us back 3 days later.
Customer: I can’t believe you people!!!! I just got charged another 35 dollars in overdraft fees. I called my bank and it says that you guys tried to withdraw the funds again from the wrong account!!! Now you owe me 60 dollars!
Me:Huh??? We haven’t touched your order or issued another Paypal transaction at all. We are simply waiting for your echeck to clear which it hasn’t.
Customer:: That is because you issued another charge to the wrong checking account! You know what? I’m fed up with you. Cancel my order and I want my 60 dollars back.
Me:: Hold on ma’am. It looks as though Paypal retried your payment again this morning. It says here that Paypal automatically retries denied echecks after 3-5 days. It looks like Paypal automatically tried to withdraw funds again from the same account. Did you ever clear this up with Paypal?
Customer: CANCEL MY ORDER!! I want a full refund and I want 60 dollars to cover the overdrafts fees!
Me:(Actually, it’s only 57 dollars in overdraft fees. This lady can’t even do math). Technically, we never successfully received payment from you so there is no money to refund. I’m sorry, but once again, we have no knowledge of any of your accounts.
The fact that funds were withdrawn from the wrong account is because you entered the wrong account number when you filed your echeck. We will promptly cancel your order right now and Paypal will no longer reissue any charges. If you have any further issues, please take it up with Paypal directly.
Customer: I’ve already contacted Paypal and they won’t do anything.
Me: Well, unfortunately we can’t either.
Customer:I’m never shopping here again!!!!
Good riddance. Technically, she never shopped with us in the first place because she NEVER PAID! The scary thing is that this isn’t the first time that this has happened with an echeck purchase. I wish there was a way to disallow echecks altogether. Who uses checks anymore anyways?
Customer Story #16: I Want A Discount For Ordering Less
What struck me as odd about this particular customer was that she had such a messed up ideal about business and economics. In fact, all of her assumptions about how to obtain discounts and how pricing works were completely skewed.
Here’s a transcript of the conversation. Thank goodness, my wife took this call and not me.
Wife: Hi miss, what can do for you this morning?
Customer: Yes, I would like to purchase some handkerchiefs and I was wondering if I could get a discount.
Wife: That’s definitely possible depending on the quantities that you want to order
Customer: Oh ok, great.
Wife: What can I get you?
Customer: I’m looking at the lace hankie with the scalloped edge. Do you have that one in stock?
Wife: Yes, but since we are running low on that style, it will depend on how many you need.
Customer: Oh I need 3 sets. What is the discount on 3 sets?
Wife: I apologize miss, but there’s no discount on just 3 sets. An order that size would not meet the minimum threshold.
Customer: How about if I just buy one set? Is there a discount then?
Wife: I’m sorry. If you want a discount, then you would have to purchase at least 15-20 sets.
Customer: WHAT!?!?!? That’s absurd! I don’t need 15 sets. Ideally, I want 3 but I’ll just get one for now if you can give me a deal.
Wife: Uh….that’s not the way it works. The price goes down the MORE that you buy, not the other way around.
Customer: What!?! That doesn’t make sense. Did you know that I’ve never purchased from your store before?
Wife: Oh? (sounding confused…)
Customer: Did you know that once at customer makes a purchase, they are far more likely to make a repeat purchase?
Wife: Okay….(where is this going?)
Customer: So by selling me just one set, I might very well buy a large quantity from you in the future.
Wife: Uh huh…
Customer: So…you should give me a discount, make me a happy customer and then I’ll come back and I’ll even tell my friends about it.
Customer: I guess you haven’t been in business that long.
Wife: I sincerely apologize but we can’t give you a discount on such a small order.
Customer: Well you just lost a loyal customer and I’m going to buy these hankies from someone else.
Wife:…sorry miss but…
Customer: Tell me who your main competitors are!
Wife: Excuse me?
Customer: Tell me who you compete against.
Customer: TELL ME WHERE ELSE I CAN GO so I can buy these handkerchiefs from someone else instead of you.
Wife: Sorry miss, but you can do a search online to find other vendors of handkerchiefs.
Customer: You just lost out on my current and future business. You really should rethink your discount policy.
Wife: Feel free to shop around. Our prices are very competitive.
It’s amazing how some people have such skewed perceptions on how to save money and how discounts work. I’m not sure where she learned her business ideals but her approach was definitely not the way to get a deal.
The funny thing was that this lady called back about 30 minutes later and made a purchase from our store. She didn’t mention that she had spoken with us just 30 minutes ago. She was extremely polite and placed her order as if the first phone conversation with my wife never happened. Go figure!
Customer Story #17: Everyone Is Out To Get You
With the sheer number of telemarketer calls and spam emails that we all receive on a day to day basis, it’s no wonder that many of us are a bit paranoid about who we provide our information to.
While most stores and shopkeepers run a legitimate and honest business, all it takes is one negative experience to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
This particular customer must have had quite a few bad experiences shopping online because she was by far our most secretive customer ever. Judging by her actions, she’s probably been ripped off or cheated on many occasions and obtaining her information was like pulling teeth.
Customer: Yes, I’d like to order 10 sets of 3 of your white embroidered hankies please.
Me: Of course. Is there anything else I can get for you?
Customer: Nope that will be it. Is it okay if I place my order over the phone? I don’t trust giving out my information online.
Me: No problem at all. There are many people that feel the way you do. Could I start by getting your name please?
Customer: Yes, my name is Para. Para Noia.
Me: Hi Para, could I also get your billing address as well?
Customer: Is it okay if I give you my PO Box instead of my home address?
Me: Sure no problem as long as it is your billing address.
Customer: Actually, it is not the same.
Me: Ma’am. I apologize but I need your billing address if you wish to pay by credit card.
** Silence **
Customer: Yes. My PO Box is my billing address for the card I’m going to use. You’re not going to send me any junk mail are you?
Me: (Didn’t she just say that it wasn’t her billing address?) No ma’am, we won’t send you anything except for your order. Could I get your phone number?
Customer: I don’t feel comfortable giving it to you.
Me: We aren’t going to sell your number to anyone. We only will use your number if there’s any issues with your order.
Customer: Do you anticipate any issues with my order?
Me: No, but just in case.
Customer: Well, I’ll take my chances. Once again, I don’t feel comfortable giving it to you.
Me: Ok, no problem. But as it stands, we have no way of contacting you in case something happens.
Me: Could I get an email address to send you a receipt?
Customer: Do you know how much junk mail I receive every day?
Me: I’m sorry? We won’t send you any email except for your receipt.
Customer: No thank you.
Me: Ok….and finally I need your payment information.
(She then proceeds to read off her credit card info)
Me: And I also need the 3 digit number on the back of the card by your name.
Customer: I’m sorry I don’t give that number to anyone. I shop online all the time and I never have to give that number out.
Me: Um…..ok. We usually need that number. If I have any problems charging your credit card, I’ll have to contact you. (Though I had no idea how to get ahold of this lady if that happened).
Customer: Ok what’s my total?
Me: Let’s see your hankies come out to $98 and shipping is $9.95. Oooohh. Did I mention that we offer free shipping on all orders over $100? You are only $2 short!
Customer: Oh really….Is this some sort of trick to get me buy more?
Me: There’s no trick ma’am. If you order an additional set of hankies which costs $9.80, you’ll get free shipping which will actually save you money overall. Plus, you’ll receive an extra set of hankies.
Customer: So what’s the catch?
Me: There’s no catch. It’s just one of our policies. Free shipping on orders over $100.
Customer: The last time I was told something was free, I was charged a bunch of hidden fees. Last time I purchased my computer, I was automatically signed up for a variety of services I didn’t want. When I bought my….(goes off for 3 minutes).
Me: I assure you, there are no hidden fees. As it stands right now, your order will cost you $107.95. If you purchase just one more set of hankies, your order will cost you $107.80. You’ll save 15 cents and you’ll get additional hankies. It’s a no brainer really.
Customer: Well I don’t want anything free. I just want exactly what I ordered and nothing more! Please do not try to sell me anything else or try to tack on additional costs for things that I don’t need!
Me: But you’re actually going to save money…
Customer: NO! Just put my order through and please stop harassing me!
** click **
So there you have it, the most paranoid customer we have ever had. She must have been ripped off many times in the past in order to have developed into the shopper she is today. I hate how poor business practices create baggage for customers even when dealing with the honest guys!
To Be Continued
Even though I don’t pick up the phone very often anymore, I occasionally have to help with customer support. And every time I run the help desk, I inevitably learn something new about our customer base.
Do you have any funny customer stories to share? Would love to hear them in the comments below!
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.