Apex Retail Predator
December 20, 2017 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Customer Service Wolf works in a bookstore and occasionally eats customers.

There's a roundup on Bored Panda with larger images.
posted by oulipian (33 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Posting this in the office slack channel. I've moved away from actual physical interactions with customers but I still work service on the phone and this is something I can relate to so much.

And also a reminder for this time of year. Be kind to your retail workers, please, thank you, and maybe even a cup of coffee is ALWAYS appreciated.
posted by Fizz at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

Thought this might be related to NOT A WOLF - it's not, but equally delightful.
posted by Miko at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh, my first real world job was at a bookstore back when those used to exist. My favorite part was taking home the books we had ripped the covers off of because the covers were going back to the publisher for credit. My least favorite part was the customers asking me where they could find The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the various forms that title might take (8 habits/ 7 things that people do to get work done/you know that one with the effective in the title).
posted by Sophie1 at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, my first real world job was at a bookstore back when those used to exist.

*2 minutes before closing early on Christmas Eve*

“I'm looking for a book, it's red and it's about dragons. It was here 5 years ago? Can you help me find it?”
“Oh my, you found it! Oh...it's not on sale? Why isn't this book on sale?”
posted by Fizz at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

I read it as Customer Service Worf and got really excited.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2017 [21 favorites]

These are very funny, but I don't see what's especially wolfish about smelling new books. Doesn't everybody do that?
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love how the illustrator can do the wolf a cute, non-cartoony way, then next panel draw the same character as a slavering beast.

Shout out to the very nice clerk at the county holiday shop who gave me a discount on my purchases this morning! :D
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:56 AM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love everything about this.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Printing out several to post at the circulation desk.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:59 AM on December 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I like "Nope," although my usual version of that experience involves fandom.
posted by praemunire at 12:01 PM on December 20, 2017

Printing out several to post at the circulation desk.

Yes, very much applicable to libraries. Sharing with all my colleagues.
posted by zakur at 12:04 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

these are awesome! I've done my share of retail and those people should be glad I'm not a wolf...
posted by supermedusa at 12:19 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Many years as a retail bookseller; I enoyed this thoroughly and will share.
posted by theora55 at 12:58 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I did once ask a bookstore employee about a cookbook I'd seen on the shelf on an earlier visit — it was a hardback, with a mostly-white cover, about three inches thick?

In my defense, I had been browsing their cookbook shelves regularly for more than a year, and this was the only hardback and the only book more than an inch thick that I'd seen in that time.
posted by Lexica at 1:20 PM on December 20, 2017

My search engine startup is a neural net trained on successful responses given by librarians and book store employees to seemingly-impossible patron requests.

[/fake, but I bet it would be good]
posted by clawsoon at 1:44 PM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I feel a little better about buying from Amazon.
posted by Segundus at 1:46 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

One Christmas Eve at the big box bookstore where I used to work, a guy asked for a copy of Mein Kampf and when I returned with it he said, "You took too long fetching that book. I'm going to spank you."
posted by BibiRose at 2:09 PM on December 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Gee, I was wondering why bookstores are complaining about a lack of customers...well, repeat ones anyway.
posted by happyroach at 3:30 PM on December 20, 2017

It's good. A snake riding a unicycle, don't see that every day.
posted by ovvl at 3:57 PM on December 20, 2017

Another former bookstore worker here. Adding this to my pile of treats on top of Black Books.

(The cattle entering at closing is correct)
posted by doctornemo at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Gee, I was wondering why bookstores are complaining about a lack of customers...well, repeat ones anyway

You've never worked retail, have you?

I haven't dealt with customers face to face in decades, thank Dog, but I still work with them over the phone and it's quite often MADDENING.

"Surname?" has me cackling into my pillow and trying not to wake my husband. I have this conversation AT LEAST five times a day.

"Thank you for calling [employer], my name is Missy! How may I be of assistance?"


"It's Missy. How can I help?"


"It's Missy. What can I do for you?"

Oh, MISTY!! Listen, I tried to order tickets, and you guys just sent me a text or email or whatever.

"What did the message say?"

I dunno, it just said to call you.

(N.B.: We ALWAYS tell you why we need you to call us.)

"OK, no worries! Let's get you sorted out. Are you calling me from the number associated with your account?"

It's for the Dubs game.

"Sure, let's look that up! Are you calling from the phone number associated with your account?"

(N.B.:. By this time, I have determined that they are not.)

I think we're in 215?

"I'd be happy to look it up. What is the phone number associated with your account?"

Have you found my order yet?

"What is the telephone number associated with your account, so I can locate your order?"

The game is tonight!

By this point, it is all I can do to not scream "WHAT THE CHRISTING FUCK IS YOUR GODDAMNED PHONE NUMBER???"

I AM the Wolf unceremoniously leaping over the counter and eating the guy who won't give me the information I need so I can assist him. We WANT to help you get what you need. We really do! We can't do it if you can't be bothered to pay attention when we ask for more info. Come on, people. We're good, but we're not psychic.

There's a reason I sleep for an hour and a half after work, even though I work from home. "Surname?" illustrates it perfectly.
posted by MissySedai at 9:36 PM on December 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

Comment after the comic, "I’m not like, ALLERGIC to stupid questions - they just make me tired and angry." Needs to be a t-shirt.
posted by JParker at 10:21 PM on December 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Come on, people. We're good, but we're not psychic.

We had a customer once who came in to buy a particular kind of cake. These weren't made to order or anything, we were a big chain that sold party cakes in the food section. This particular day we didn't have any in stock, so he grabbed one of my colleagues and asked her about it.

"I'm really sorry, our delivery hasn't arrived yet this morning. We've had -"
"Go and check the stockroom."
"There's nothing in the stockroom, sir. Our delivery drivers are stuck in the traffic on the motorway after an accident this morning. They're due to get here around eleven, so -"
So she went to check the stockroom, which was of course empty, and collared me to go back with her and speak to him.
"I'm afraid we don't have any of those cakes. What we can -"
"I want THE CAKE WITH THE BALLOONS. The orange one. I told this girl!"
"I know, sir. I'm very sorry. What we can do is, we know we're getting some with the order that's coming in today, so we'll put one aside for you and we can give you a call when it's in."
"I need that cake NOW."
"I can put in a call to our other branches and see if -"
"If you'd like to speak to a manager -"
"The orange cake WITH THE BALLOONS."
"If you'd like to come with me to the customer service -"
"I am not coming anywhere! I am going to stand RIGHT HERE until you get me that cake!"

We gave up in the end. Last time I saw him he was standing in the cakes aisle, arms by his sides, staring straight ahead in defiant silence. He's probably there still.
posted by Catseye at 1:05 AM on December 21, 2017 [9 favorites]

The stockroom thing is interesting, because I know from decades-ago retail experience (hilariously, in a book store) that there used to be a back room, and then at some point I guess that stopped being as much of a thing? But I don’t really know when or why.
posted by corb at 5:58 AM on December 21, 2017

The stockroom thing is interesting, because I know from decades-ago retail experience (hilariously, in a book store) that there used to be a back room, and then at some point I guess that stopped being as much of a thing? But I don’t really know when or why.

Oh, there is a back room, and there's a lot of stuff in it which could be what you're looking for. It's just, there are lots of times when you don't need to go to the back room to know it's not there. Like if the stock count says zero, or if you are one of the people in charge of the back room and you happen to know. So it's not unreasonable to think certain things might be there. What's funny is people's belief that there is this vast magical room containing that obscure out of print book they want and that the employee is withholding it for some reason.

Not to mention a cake, like in Catseye's example.
posted by BibiRose at 6:41 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Most booksellers are really good to customers. Unless you are really weird, super-annoying, smell foul, or are mean, no one is making a cartoon about you. Shop in book stores. You will get better recommendations, and there is really no substitute for browsing actual books. The Back Room has more copies of stuff that has 25 copies on the floor, and possibly boxes that have yet to be unpacked. Unless its very quiet, we're very well-staffed, and you are really nice, we aren't going to unpack that box from that publisher for you, but if you special-ordered a book from Treefrog Press, and we can see the package, we'll grab it.

We had a bookstore customer who was smart, interesting, and bipolar. One Christmas Eve, I'd closed up, locked up, and was at my car, en route to a Christmas Eve dinner that was waiting for my arrival to begin. It was at least 6; customer was shocked that we closed at 5 on Christmas Eve, and genuinely expected me to open the store for him.
posted by theora55 at 7:05 AM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

I work in a wine store. This happened yesterday.
Customer: I’m looking for a specific wine.
Me: Cool! Do you know what it’s called?
C: Yes. It’s from Washington .
M: Neat! What’s it called?
C: It’s in a black bottle.
M: Okay. You said you knew the name?
C: It’s a peenwah (retiree-speak for Pinot Noir, I guess).
M: We don’t have any Pinot Noir from Washington. Could it have been Oregon? Also, you mentioned a name? What was that?
C: I don’t know. Don’t you know? You’re the professional! It said online you have it! I need it for Thanksgiving!
M: Thanksgiving was weeks ago, sir. Here. Try this Pinot Noir. It’s from Oregon, and I’m having it on Christmas, myself.
C: No. The one I had was white!
M: *smashes bottle on own head*
posted by The Potate at 7:21 AM on December 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


I got this so much when I worked brick and mortar retail. It was even funnier when I worked for a couple years for HSN as an at home Sales Agent for both HSN and their upscale catalog division, Cornerstone Brands (Frontgate, Grandin Road).

"Good morning! My name is Missy, what can I help you find today?"
I need that Woodland Santa!
"I'd be happy to place that order for you. What's the item number?"

(Customer gives me the item number.)

"Oh, I'm so sorry! That item is on back order and isn't scheduled to ship until January 15th."
But...Christmas is this week! I need it shipped NOW!
"I'm so sorry! I know it's frustrating, but it is not currently in stock and won't arrive from the manufacturer until January 14th, and won't ship until the 15th."
That's unacceptable! Go in the back and check!
The stockroom! Go in the back and check the stockroom!
"Ma'am, I'm sorry, I'm not able to do so. This item ships from our California warehouse, which is approximately 3,000 miles away."
Why can't you go check the warehouse??
"...because I live in Ohio, Ma'am."

I work in a wine store.

My heart is with you. I've been volunteering in a small winery in SE MI for 15 years. I became a Junior Partner last year. We make wine on site from grapes from the Great Lakes watershed regions. I mean, it even says so right on the building! And on the tasting notes! And on the labels!

Customers sometimes get really, really, really ANGRY about that!

"Hey, welcome to [winery]! Are you here to taste? I'd love to pour something delightful for you!"
Do you have anything from Napa?
"We make all of our wines right here, with grapes sourced from all over the Great Lakes watershed regions! We're bottling today, if you'd like to head over to the rail and watch for a bit!"
I'm looking for a Napa Chardonnay.
"Hm. If you'd like, I can call Erika at [cute market across the street] to see if she carries any."
No, I want to buy one here. What Chardonnays do you have from Napa?
"We don't have anything from Napa. We make all of our wine right here, with Great Lakes grapes."
"I'm a partner here, so I guess I'm a manager. We don't have anything from Napa. We source all of our grapes from the Great Lakes watershed regions and make the wine right here. In the cellar. That you can see if you go look over the rail. We produce Great Lakes wines and don't carry anything from competitors."
This is ridiculous!

When we lock the doors at closing, we all go down to the cellar and drink.
posted by MissySedai at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2017 [12 favorites]

The public have a lot of loons and if you are good at customer service you really should be able to take your ego completely out of the picture, that said sometimes you cannot and god knows they generally don't pay enough for the amount of skill and generosity that it takes to be really good at making difficult people feel good. Going around with my Alzheimer's afflicted mom I have had a sampling of difficult customer service interactions and we've been eighty sixed sometimes. I am always extremely grateful for the rare customer service person who has the insight and compassion to deal with unreasonable requests from a woman whose mind is melting. And I pay, like a 50 percent tip if I can, or at least come back in the store and personally thank the person.

That Mein Kampf story though, I'm not sure what you do with that.
posted by Pembquist at 10:03 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who had a retail store when I had a bookstore. She was kind of amazed that I was looking forward to meeting with a publisher's sales rep. They were almost all terrific, well-read, helpful. One rep repaired a chair in the store. They were fun to go to dinner and/or drink with. Apparently this is not necessarily true for other retailers' manufacturer's reps. When I could, I frequently stayed open if someone wanted to keep shopping. Bookstore customers are as flaky as any, but generally nicer and certainly better read. I shouldn't have married that one guy, though, turned out to be a bad idea. not jokingist.
posted by theora55 at 12:22 PM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Decades later, I still remember at least attempting to pacify UNREASONABLE LOUD GUESTS™ by going to check the stock room - meaning I'd walk back in to the back, find the spot where said inventory would have been if we'd had it, twiddled my thumbs for a minute or two and go back out with a polite, "No, I'm so sorry, it seems we really are out of stock on that."
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:51 PM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Eventually even fuckwit customers will realise that getting books from anywhere but a high street store where the staff hate you is incredibly expensive and slow.

I mean, this reminds me vividly of going into an independent record shop and trying to buy a record the conceited young git behind the counter didn’t approve of.
posted by Segundus at 2:09 PM on December 21, 2017

I recently called our local independent bookstore to ask if they had a book I wanted to get for our sixteen-year-old. The customer service person said that the computer showed it was in stock, but put me on hold for a minute while he checked whether it was actually on the shelf. It was, and he held it at the customer service desk until my partner could stop by and pick it up after work.

A satisfactory experience all around.

I like to be mellow and kind to retail workers. Before I got sick, when I did all the family errands, I especially liked being mellow with the people at the pharmacy, because they were always getting yelled at by people whose insurance didn't cover a certain med, or whose doctor's office hadn't actually called it in. I was so successful in being mellow and kind that when I got sick and my partner started going to pick up our prescriptions, one of the young men who worked at the pharmacy told him, at length, what a good person I was and how lucky he was to be married to me. My partner was like, "What the hell have you been up to with the guy at the pharmacy?"

Recently, after a customer service phone call to one of our utilities, the rep said to me, "I wish all our customers were like you."

I am bragging because I am really proud of this. It is a deliberate thing I do in the interest of making the world a better place. Also, I am continually trying to atone for the time seventeen years ago when I was pregnant and hyperemetic and I yelled at a customer service rep from our phone company, and she was really calm and kind, and she resolved my issue, and I felt bad about making her life harder.
posted by Orlop at 8:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

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