The Complaints Are In; Summer is Officially Here

Well, I can officially put on my sunscreen to deflect the summer season complaints.

We got our pool and hot tub area up and running on April 1, great day, right?  It only took 13 hours of the pool being open for the first complaint to come in about it.  Let me give you a little back story: it was already about 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so it was a bit cold to go swimming, in my opinion, anyway.  But, whatever, I guess when you have kids, it doesn’t matter if it’s super cold outside, you’ll let them swim if there’s a pool available.

This particular family decided to complain about the ceiling fans that were on.  Because it made it too cold to swim.

Are you serious?  The fact that it’s still winter outside wasn’t too cold for you?

Nevermind the fact that I couldn’t find the switch to shut them off.  I’ve gotten good at bullshitting my way around doing mundane things for guests.  Maybe that makes me a cynic or a terrible customer service rep, but I don’t care because if I put forth the effort that I am trying, even if I’m not, people will still smile and say “Oh, it’s okay, thank you anyway” with a smile and we’re all happy for the time being.

Ah, since the season is upon us, I’m sure this won’t be the only one I get about the pool.  Just wait until all those summer storms start rolling in and I have to shut down the pool.  That is going to be a whole new barrel of fun, isn’t it?

A Little Story About a Hotel Called SHUT UP

As an employee of a hotel, I get a lot of people who want to talk to me.  Some people just want to tell me about their day, others want to tell me their life story.

And then there are those who want to use me as a therapist.

It’s nights like that when I wish the phone would ring off the hook or someone would come in to try to rob the place.  I mean, I don’t really want us to get robbed, but I would like to be saved from the chatters.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like to hear about people’s lives or the awesome things that they have gotten to do or see, I actually like that a lot.  For a moment, I can vicariously live through this person’s past or present experiences and it’s rather cool and exciting.  Sometimes other people have way cooler lives than I can ever dream of having.

Like for instance, several weeks ago, a guest came to stay in the hotel that legitimately wrote music for Nat King Cole back in the day.  His stories were amazing to listen to and I even managed to get his autograph for my mom who is a big fan of Nat King Cole’s music.

An example of something I don’t want to hear is when you are experiencing relationship issues that are no one’s fault but your own.  I don’t care, I don’t want to listen, and I most definitely don’t want to listen to it multiple times a week.  There’s a big difference between a one time thing and something drawn out.

Iv’e had guests want to sit in the lobby while they drank their beers and then proceeded to cry into the bottom of the can or bottle.  Before things got out of hand a few months back, it really wasn’t a big deal if a guest wanted to have a beer in the lobby, because it was normally later at night when no one was walking in very often.  Especially because they would normally finish a beer and leave.

Now it’s a big deal and because of issues I’ve had in the past, they have to keep that crap in their room.  I don’t want to deal with it.

I will make polite conversation because it’s my job, or I will let you continue your story because I am too polite and nice for my own good sometimes and have even let people talk my ear off for two hours because I couldn’t find a polite way of saying, “Please shut up, I really, honestly do not care, and I’m trying to watch Netflix in between guests. Oh, and I suppose I could dust something. But just, please, go away.”

Oh, it gets bad, and it seems the slower the hotel is, the more people want to talk to me.

I get it a lot on the phone, too.  Someone will call to ask about availability and rates and five minutes later, I am finally giving them the cost.  Because, oh my, they just had to tell me why they are calling me, where they are from, where they are going, and WHY before they can actually get around to letting me do my job, which is to try to rent out a room to them.

I don’t want to know how many grandchildren you have, I don’t want to hear about how you are being stepped all over by your partner, and I most certainly don’t want you to hang around in here and try to hit on me when you see a ring on my finger.

Go home, go to your room, go to sleep.  Hotel Shut Up is closed.

When My Desk Gets Slammed

Now, I realize now that I am not nearly as much of a hardass as I used to be when it comes to guest service, and part of me is saddened by that because I have seen how I have let people walk over me a bit in the hotel industry.  However, I do still manage to keep the creeps and cheaters away.  For the most part.

One evening, I had a guest come in who I know has stayed with us at least twice before since I started working there back in July.  He comes in every few months for a room.  Well, he probably won’t be now and that is just fine and dandy with me.  He came in inquiring about a room and wanting to know if he could have the same special that he had the last time.  I asked for his last name so that I could look up his previous stay.  I discovered that the deal he got his last stay was a special for that weekend and no longer available.  He was a bit perturbed, but agreed to the current deal anyway.  I told him that his previous stay he was in a room with two bed, and he asked about a room with a king size bed and I explained to him the difference in cost.  He decided on the type he stayed in the last time, and it just so happened that the exact room that he stayed in previously was available, so I put him in that room.

He gave off an air of superiority, but I figured that was just the type of man he was, and during his previous stay, I hadn’t experienced problems with him.  Well, goodness me was I wrong!  Not even three minutes later, he comes back into the lobby and is absolutely irate.  I mean, I could almost literally see the steam coming out of his ears.  I calmly asked him what i could do to help.  

He was angry because there was no desk in his room.  Again, trying to stay calm at his now beligerent yelling, I told him that this was the room he had stayed in before according to the computer system and that he had not had this complaint before.  He demanded to be moved to a room with a desk.  Well, the only rooms with desks are the king rooms which were more money than he was paying.

He lost it.  He absolutely lost it and started bitching and moaning about how he is a member of our rewards program and it is ridiculous that he gets treated this way and blah blah BLAH.

Oh, I was pissed, and the woman who runs the gift shop in the evenings was there as well, and she SYMPATHIZED with him.  Which pissed me off even more.

With quite the edge in my voice, I told him to calm down and realize that it is not my fault, I am not the one treating him like this and if he is so angry, he needed to call the customer service line to complain that yelling at me wasn’t going to change anything.

Then he slammed his hand down on the counter.

That was it.  I yelled at him and said “You can either take your things and go find another hotel or you can suck it up and pay extra money to get your precious desk.  Which will it be because quite frankly, I am done dealing with your abuse!”

I should have kicked him out right then and there or even called the cops, but I was feeling so angry that I would have rather taken his money just for being such an asshole to me than let some other hotel get his money.  Then again, it would have been amazing to have the cops escort him off the property.

The gift shop woman stood and looked between the both of us as I told the man that he was going to be paying more money and that he would have no right to try to fight it later if he tried.  I make sure to cover my bases when someone will be paying more or less than I originally stated.

After he left and moved to his room, the woman from the gift shop went on to tell me how she felt sorry for him.  I shot her an icy glare and told her to never tell me she felt sorry for a guest who verbally abused me like that again.  She apparently didn’t see how he was in the wrong.  It was apparently all of our parent company’s fault that he was feeling that way.  I frankly told her that no “It’s his fault for being a greedy, entitled asshole.”

And then I wrote in his guest folio that he was rude, abusive and that I refuse to deal with him again.  And he has since been placed on the Do Not Rent list.  However, I know he will not be back, and if he comes back while I’m there, I will simply tell him that we have no room left, even if I don’t have a single guest in the hotel.  

Oops, Lost My Kid, I’ll Just Keep Shopping

Kids get lost in stores all the time.  It’s just a fact of life.  It brings on fear and panic from wondering where your little tot has toddled off to.  Though, in my years working in retail, food service, what-have-you, I have never encountered so many parents who just don’t seem to give a shit that they lost their kid.

We once had a little girl, dirty face, no shoes, hair in knots get brought into the store.  She was found trying to cross the busy street outside the store.  Apparently her parents were shopping in the store and she had wondered off, all the way out the doors.  They either never noticed or never cared.  We reunited the three and they continued shopping.

Later, they came up because the mother wanted to make a credit card payment.  These parents looked like they were barely even 16, covered in tattoos and badly colored hair in many different rainbow hues.  As the parents were facing me while I processed the payment, the little girl wandered off again.  I pointed this out and the father turns around unmoved and goes to fetch his spawn without a care.

“Ha ha, we lost you once already, ha ha,” he says as he drags her back to where we all were.  She begins to wander off again and they don’t pay attention.  And quite frankly, I hoped a nice family would pick her up and take her home.  Poor child was dirty.

And recently, the first day back from my six-day vacation we had a child turn up wandering around on his own.  He spoke Spanish only, we thought, since that’s all he was responding in.  We asked him his mother’s name, he would only tell us the Spanish word for Monster/Ghost (I honestly cannot remember it now).  I did an overhead page and we also did a code yellow trying to find his mother.

Finally, after about ten minutes, one of our boys working in softlines finds the mother and brings her to guest service.  I watched her come up.  She looked irritated.  She did not look concerned or worried, nor did she have a single tear in her eye.  She looked pissed.  She calls out his name and he looks at all of us and then reluctantly begins to walk toward her.  She begins chiding him in Spanish and one of our Spanish-speaking team members talks to the mother.  I had guests so I could no longer listen in.

From the moment the mother touched him, he began crying and yelling.  She picked him up and put him in the shopping cart and they rolled off toward the girls’ section.  Once I could no longer see them from my perch, he starts screaming again and one of my cashiers tells me that she’s pretty sure he was yelling “no, stop.”  He cried for the last twenty or so minutes that they were in the store.

Then, miraculously, when they came to check out, the mother spoke perfect English to the cashier and to her son.

So, why the hell could she not have responded to my overhead page asking for someone to come meet their party at the service desk?

She had probably lost her child for almost 15 minutes before she came up to the service desk and I’m pretty sure it’s only because she was flagged down.

How do you just not care that your child is lost?  I’m not much of a kid person, but come on!  You don’t just shrug it off like you lost the ugly dog you inherited from your dead neighbor.  No.  This is your child.  People do terrible things to small children.

The fact enrages me so much sometimes it’s hard to see straight.

So, next time you’re out shopping, don’t worry about your children.  Just keep shopping and don’t pay attention to them.  The employees are your babysitters, too.  Which, by the way, that will be $25 per hour, thanks.

Gifts Suck

Aside from the fact that I can be a huge hard-ass when it comes to people returning things, sometimes I do genuinely feel bad when there is no way I can return an item for a guest.  What sucks the most is when someone has baby clothes that they received as a gift and the gift-giver bought them on clearance and didn’t give them a gift receipt.  Baby clothes usually fly right off the rack once they are marked down, so therefore they will salvage more quickly in some cases when the stock runs out.  This in turn means that the item will no longer exist in our system.  Which also means that after that has happened and it’s gone from our store, the guest can’t even get store credit for the item.

Gift receipts really are your best friend.  I find myself talking guests into at least getting a gift receipt with their purchases quite often in the hope that they will give the receipt to the recipient.  I’m sure most of them don’t, but at least I helped, you know?

Not that it matters if the purchaser never made the move to give a gift receipt in the first place.

I actually felt bad a few weeks ago when I could not find the gift receipt I had printed for a few items I bought for someone.  I’d left the receipt with the items until they were sent out and suddenly it was gone.  I preach about the importance of gift receipts (mostly in my head when people come in without gift receipts) and the one I had was gone.

So, there’s one set of guests I feel bad for.  If you’re giving a gift, give a gift receipt.  So many kids end up with the exact same toys or same clothes, or you got the wrong size, or the kid grew more than you thought.  It’s not that the recipient wants to be rude to return it, sometimes they just don’t have a need for several of the same thing for themselves or the kid.

Like, really, you’re going to a wedding and you really think that Aunt Sue maybe didn’t buy them the exact same thing from their registry that you’re buying?  Those registries can take a whole day to update at some stores and even that, most people don’t even USE the gift registry for the item.

So, it sucks when there’s a monetary limit on how much you can return at a store without any kind of proof of purchase and the person you gave things to is stuck with the item.  Then they bitch at me and tell me how it’s all my store’s fault for having a shit return policy.

You know what?  How about it’s shitty that the person who gave you this stuff didn’t give you a gift receipt?  Oh, no, Uncle Tom can’t be blamed because he’s old and that’s not how they did things in his day, no no.  You didn’t get no dad gum gift receipts!  You took what you got and you liked it!

Maybe if people weren’t so shitty and liked to steal everything and defraud everything and everyone, we wouldn’t have to have such rules in place.  So now, because of that, our policies suck to you because someone couldn’t give you a gift receipt out of the kindness of their hearts.

So the next time you’re buying someone a gift and it’s a big event like a birthday, a wedding, a baby shower, something where a lot of people you may not even know existed could be buying them gifts, do that person a favor and give them a gift receipt.  It’s not that they don’t like what you got (not all of the time anyway), it’s that they don’t need 8 food processors.  Seriously.  Who does?

The Wonder-er

Yes, that is intentionally misspelled, so please, leave me be.

Sometimes I wonder if I have repeat guests that I have refused returns to before come back to me.  There are some people that I see that look really familiar, but I can’t tell if I’ve seen them or not.  Some people are really easy to remember because I see them in the store every time I’m there.  I know exactly what they will be doing and the order they will do it in.  I know their attitude and what to do to piss them off or what to do to make them happy.

We have quite a few regulars in our store, and they are typically big spenders, but they are also big returners, too.  They will spend upwards of $600 or more a week at our store, but one woman in particular returns at least $100 of that every week.  I suppose it’s a shopping addiction, which I’m pretty sure I’m developing, by the by.  Why else would you drop so much money at a store every single week and then return a big chunk of it the same week?

With the regulars, it’s easy to remember what I have and haven’t allowed them to do, I see them almost every single shift I work, so why would I not remember it?  However, I know I’ve seen guests come in who look very familiar and seem to be on edge when they come to me.  Either I haven’t let them do something in the past or maybe they’re just an edgey person.  Who knows.

But I wonder… have I gotten a guest that I refused before who got mad about it come back to me and I have allowed them to do something?  I’ve realized that sometimes what I will and won’t allow depends on my mood, too.  Sometimes I’ll let it slide that you probably wore those shoes for a day, and other days I won’t.  I never did tell you about the band-aid shoe story.  I’ll save that one for another day.

I wonder what they think.  Do they think I got in trouble for not letting things slide, or do they think I was just being a bitch that day?  Which, I probably was, so I suppose that doesn’t matter.  For the most part, I try to stay consistent with what I will and won’t allow to pass as a return.  I am steadfast on my electronic returns, because you really never know what someone did to something.  Clothing I’m more lenient on unless it’s very obvious that it’s been washed and returned.  Baby items depends.  People try to return little swings and bouncers after their child is too big for them.  And hey, if they still look brand-spankin’ new, then yeah, I’ll do it.  If they look dirty, then I won’t.  That’s just disgusting.  You could at least clean it off first, you know?

I know, though, that there are times when I am Positive Polly and I just turn a blind eye and I am the sweetest, most charming thing you would ever meet.

Too bad I can’t ask people if I’ve refuse them before or not.  That would make for an interesting conversation starter, eh?