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Angry Customers Who Aren’t

Written by GCom on Monday, April 16 2007 and posted in Features
By GCom They exist in every aspect of business: the person who wants something from you, expects it, but hasn’t done anything to warrant it. Is there such a thing as a free lunch? Often, yes, if you can make it happen, but then it’s not really free is it? This is a fresh example. Situation: someone [...]

By GCom

They exist in every aspect of business: the person who wants something from you, expects it, but hasn’t done anything to warrant it. Is there such a thing as a free lunch? Often, yes, if you can make it happen, but then it’s not really free is it?

This is a fresh example. Situation: someone wants to sell me some older comics. I don’t want these particular books. They’re angry that I don’t want what they are selling.

This is a multi-day story, so please bear with me as I tell the story.

New comics day. There’s a policy in my store that we do not buy back-issue (older comics) on Wednesdays. We’re simply too busy with new comics and customers.

This gent walks in, looks around for 2 seconds and walks up to the workdesk that two of the Filthy Assistants (employees) are using. Without asking any questions, this person pulls out a stack of comics from a backpack and throws it down into the pile of work that the Filthy Assistants are hacking away at. I wasn’t there (I was in another part of the store), so I got this part of the story second-hand.
“Uh, can I help you?” asks Filthy Assistant Matt.
The gent explains that he wants to sell the books he’s just thrown down to us.
Filthy Assistant Matt walks back to my office where I’m working on my end of the Wednesday Madness and tells me “Uhh, there’s a guy here wanting to sell us some books.”
I don’t even blink as I say “We don’t buy books on Wednesday.” and continue with what I’m doing.
“Okay, cool.” replies Filthy Assistant Matt with a tone in his voice that says a lot about his encounter with the seller to me.

That was the end of that for me on Wednesday.

I’m up front working on some back issues. I’m solo in the store for that moment, so it’s just me making things run.
In walks a gent who I don’t know. He ignores me utterly as I say “Hello.” to him, as is the custom in my store.
He pulls a backpack off his back as he strides up to my workdesk, fishes in it, pulls out a stack of about 15 comics, and throws it down on my desk hard enough to make my drink jump.
“Can I help you?” I say pointedly as I meet his eyes. I knew what he wanted, but this isn’t a good way to do it already.
“I was here yesterday.” he replies with a slightly angry tone of voice.
We stare at each other for about 4 seconds as I wait for him to expand on his statement.
“…Yes?” I fish with.
“You wanna buy those?” he asks me with a nasty tone of voice.
Now, me being me, at this point I want to tell him “no” and to go away. Instead I remember the rules of customer service and get ready to deal with what’s coming.
I pick up the books without another word, thumb through them (a stack of Alf comics in what appears to be Very Good to Almost Coverless condition), and decide quickly that no, I don’t want them.
“I’m sorry to say, but we aren’t interested in these.” I inform the gent.
The angry look that came over the man’s face was mildly surprising to see.
“>censoredhe says. “And that store over there didn’t want them either!” (there is no store that deals in comics “over there” so I’m assuming he’s talking about a game store around the corner from mine.)
With a shrug I slide the books across the desk to him and say “Sorry. I can’t use them.”
“Well, I’m just going to throw them away if you don’t buy them.” he spits at me.

People try this tactic on us with disturbing frequency. I’m not quite certain what the rational is, but I think that people think that I will be so desperate to save some worthless comics that I will reverse my decision and come swooping in to save the books.

I look the gent in the eyes and say “Okay.” in as neutral a tone as I can manage.
The gent follows up with “I’m serious. I’m gonna >censored< trash them if you don’t buy them.”
“That’s fine.” I say while reaching for what I was working on.
Seeing this wasn’t going to work, he tries something new. “I got a whole buncha comics though… what are you lookin’ for?” he almost demands of me.
“Well,…” I start back in with. “…we buy near anything. We don’t have a list of anything we’re looking for, what’ve you got?”
“Stuff.” he says in an angry manner.
“Okay. Then bring some of that stuff in and we’ll see if we want it.”
“I mean I got a lot. I’ll even take a dollar a book just to get rid of them.” He declares as he gives me a contemptuous look and continues with “If you don’t want them, I’m >censored< trashin’ ‘em and then they’re gone.”

I think of the Alf and Smurfs books I just saw. At the best they would go into my 25 cent boxes and sit there forever. They aren’t worth the space they would take up, let alone a dollar.

With a short laugh I declare “There is no way you are getting a dollar a book. I can’t give books like that away, and I’ve already got stuff like that in better shape in my cheapo boxes.”
“Then what do you want?” he narrows his expression at me as he says this.
“Okay. I’ll give you a tip to save you some time then: we won’t buy most things that are in bad shape. We like things in a nice condition.”
The gent doesn’t respond or look at me as he storms out. I figure he’s gone. No loss certainly.

The angry seller returns.
He walks in, ignoring the Filthy Assistant at the desk who greets him with a “Hello!” and strides up to me at the workdesk. Along the way he once again doffs a backpack and pulls a stack of books out of it. >BAM< they go onto the workdesk in front of me, spilling out in a straight line towards the edge.
“What about those.” He asks/states as he puts his hands on his hips.
I don’t even try to be polite anymore. Efficiency Mode kicks in to protect everyone. I simply scoop up the books and leaf through them. Infinity Gauntlet’s in what appears to be Near Mint shape. I run my mental inventory through my mind and discover that we have sets of these already, as well as multiple copies of the Trade Paper Back on the shelf. The single issues don’t sell, we don’t need anymore.
I drop the stack from about 18 inches up onto the edge of the workdesk closest to the Angry Seller.
“I can’t use them. Already got sets of them, as well as collected editions.”
“>CENSORED<” he declares.
I fold my arms across my chest.
“Who else buys comics around here?” he angrily asks, which tells me: he doesn’t want to come back, he’s got nothing better to offer me as far as he knows, and he knows I’m not going to be tolerant much longer.
“The next decent shop is in >store location and title<.” I tell him flatly.
With a sidealong look he tells me “I ain’t got a car. I’m on a bike. I can’t get there.”
I give him my best blank look.
He leaves. Then he comes back, grabs the books he forgot and leaves again.

As I write this, I’m waiting for the Angry Seller to return.

As a tip for those trying to sell something: don’t approach your customers in an angry manner. It will either intimidate them, which means they won’t seek you again, or it will put them in a foul non-spending mood. Be polite, smile, and generally be positive.

A tip for people trying to sell to me: respond to greetings of “Hello” as you come in the door. Don’t throw things. Don’t refer to your product as “crap”, “junk”, “>censored<” or something other than what it is. Don’t assume that I’m going to buy it as soon as air touches it. Don’t come at me like you are going to start a fight if you don’t get your way. Speak plainly and politely, and I will return such. I don’t like being rude, but I tend to give what I get. So do my Filthy Assistants, as they are instructed to “Be polite and nice. Always. Until it’s time not to be.”

Comic Retailers are a strange breed.


To discuss.

Posted originally: 2007-04-16 09:03:38

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