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Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to Keep Your "Coolatta" With Difficult People

It is very rare for me to talk about events in this blog that are fairly current in the news. And, it's especially rare for me to offer up some social commentary in regards to a breaking news story that is currently making headlines in North America. And, yet, in this Thursday Diary entry, I'm going to be tackling both. And, fair warning to those of you who may be under the age of 16...this blog is going to contain some rather strong and offensive language that DO NOT reflect the opinions of this author. Hence the reason why this blog is rated T for Teen. I'll warn you ahead of time when we get to that section. Are we cool with that?

And, now...on with the Thursday Diary entry for June 13, 2013.

June 13, 2013

As someone who currently works in the field of retail, I'm not lying when I tell you that as far as horror stories go in regards to customer service, I thought that I had seen it all.

Apparently, I thought wrong.

I just want to make this declaration first and foremost before I continue on with this Thursday Diary entry. I'd say that whenever I have dealt with customers either on the sales floor, on the telephone, or behind the cash register, I'd say that about 89% of them have been sweet, kind, courteous, and happy-go-lucky people. Sure, some of them might not have been happy that we were out of a particular item in the department, but sometimes you can't help it. The point is that I've been lucky in that the vast majority of the customers that I serve are wonderful people who I would happily go out of my way to help.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to remember the other eleven per cent. The ones who stand out in your mind for all the wrong reasons.

I suppose it can be considered human nature to remember the ones who made a bad impression. I still have vague nightmares of that one man who threatened me bodily harm because I tried to enforce the store limit on bricks of cheese. I also remember having to dodge flying produce one night we ran out of orange juice.

And, of course, if you read last week's Thursday Diary, you already know about Pennygate '13.

I'll be the first one to admit that knowing how to handle difficult customers is an art. And, sometimes there have been circumstances in which I handled situations incredibly sloppy. But like many things, the art of pleasing the people who simply won't be pleased is a difficult skill to master. I've gotten better at dealing with difficult customers, and I think that I am able to handle them better now than I did...oh...five years ago. That's progress.

Still though, I am far from being an expert, and whenever I am confronted with an irate person on the other side of the register, or next to a display of kiddie rakes in various shades of lime green, teal, and fuchsia, I can't say with confidence that I would handle every situation like a pro.

Truth be told, I admire those people who can deal with the cranky, the abusive, and the frustrating with the greatest of ease. I know that the motto that a lot of people cite is that the “customer is always right”, and for the most part, I do believe in that motto. But I also feel that when a customer verbally berates an employee, threatens them with violence, or uses racial slurs, or sexual harassment against them, they forfeit their right to be...well...right.

It takes a real class act for someone to stand in the face of such vulgarity and continue to do their job impeccably. And, today in this blog, I want to introduce you to one such man.

By now, I'm sure you all have heard of an incident that happened at a Florida Dunkin' Donuts location. I'll admit that as a Canadian, I have never stepped foot inside of a Dunkin' Donuts location, as I really don't know if that chain even has any stores in Canada. And, why would I go to Dunkin' Donuts when Tim Horton's has the clear monopoly in this country?

Although, I admit that I do think that Dunkin' Donuts product known as the Coolatta looks pretty good. And, speaking of Coolattas, 18-year-old Abid Adar certainly kept his coolatta as he worked behind the counter on the morning of June 8, 2013 at one of the chain's Fort Lauderdale locations.

It started off as any normal shift would on that Saturday, with people marching into the store to purchase coffee, donuts, and other sweet treats. But then all hell broke loose when a young woman entered the establishment with a mission and an iPhone in hand.

According to “The Smoking Gun”, the woman was since identified as 27-year-old Taylor Chapman, whose previous job experience included filming local television and online commercials. Here's an example of her in action below.

Now, just judging her on the video up above, you probably wouldn't think that this fresh faced lady would be at the center of one of the biggest scandals to come out of the retail industry, and that by the end of it all, she would become public enemy number one. But, as we all learned, looks could be deceiving.

So, just to set up the story before I post the...well...smoking gun, so to speak, I should tell you about one of the policies that Dunkin' Donuts has in place within their corporation. As you well know, many big names in the food and retail industry have their own rulebooks filled with their own policies that are designed to help the customer enjoy a better shopping experience. Certainly my workplace has them firmly in place.

Well, I did a little research on this case prior to writing this blog entry, and I came across something quite interesting in regards to the store's policy on receipts. According to store policy, all customers are entitled to have their receipt handed to them whenever they order anything on the menu. If the customer is not handed a receipt upon their purchase, then they are entitled to a full refund of their purchase. Personally speaking, I think that policy is very generous, and I could probably see some people taking advantage of that very policy, but alas, it's not for me to make a judgment call on another store's policy. That is how they run things over there, so who am I to say anything?

Well, as it turns out, Taylor Chapman did NOT get a receipt the last time she dined at Dunkin' Donuts. And, she was not going to let that battle die without a fight. Here is the video of the confrontation below. And, it is here that I inform you that this is where the salty language and vulgarity come into play. This video is very, VERY NSFW. You have been warned.

Okay, so where do I begin with this one?

Clearly, this “customer”, for lack of a better word (and for all the effort it is taking within me to not go off on a profanity-laced rant against her) is a livin' la vida loca. And, I'm not talking about the song lyric. Not even Ricky Martin can make this scenario a happy, carefree one.

Between the racial slurs this woman utters to the poor guy behind the counter, the bizarre references to the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the barrage of threats that she is going to post this video on YouTube to get a million hits and that she is going to get a lawyer involved to ensure that she gets a lifetime supply of strawberry Coolattas, it's clear to me that she is either not in her right mind, or she gets great delight in going inside random coffee shops to terrorize the baristas behind the register.

Either way, that is NOT cool.

What IS cool is the way that Abid Adar handled himself in this situation. Although he was not the server who served Ms. Chapman the day that she never received her receipt, he certainly faced her rage head on. And, yet, he completely handled himself with dignity, grace, poise...certainly a lot better than I probably would have handled myself in that situation. And, this is from a man who is almost HALF MY AGE!!! I offer him major props!

As of last report, I hear that Dunkin' Donuts is planning on doing something special to honour Abid Adar, as well as the unfortunate co-worker who also happened to be working that morning, and I think that's fantastic. Personally speaking, if I were the owner of that Dunkin' Donuts franchise, I would definitely offer him not just a raise, but I would write him a glowing letter of recommendation to the school of his choice, just so he could make his dreams come true. After putting up with what he had to put up with that particular Saturday morning, I think it's the least that could be done to reward him for staying so cool under pressure.

As for Ms. Chapman. Well, words can't really describe the level of immaturity and obnoxiousness she displayed with that eight minute clip that she shot on her iPhone in hopes of getting a million people to click on the video so that she could gain a following as she consulted a lawyer for something as trivial as not getting a receipt back with her purchase. In fact, I'm not even going to subject myself to lowering myself to her standards by letting her know exactly what I think of her. Truth be told, thousands of people are already doing that.

What I will say is this.

I'll be the first one to admit that in my time working retail, I have not been one hundred per cent perfect. Sometimes I may forget to give someone back a nickle. I may have told customers that we were sold out of items when in actuality we weren't. And, sometimes, I may not know where every single item is located in the store. Guess what? We all do it. We all make mistakes. And, I'm almost certain that customers walk out of Dunkin' Donuts all the time without being given a receipt for their purchase. It happens every single day. But, I'm also making the assumption that for most customers, not being given a receipt for their coffee purchase is hardly going to make an impact in how the rest of their day goes. So, the very fact that Ms. Chapman would react the way she did over the lack of a receipt at that particular store makes me shake my head in disbelief. There was no reason why she should have even kicked off this confrontation to begin with – especially since the staffer who wronged her was nowhere to be found on the day in question. Her behaviour is inexcusable, and she is one of the reasons why I feel that the slogan “The customer is always right” should be modified to read “The customer is always right...unless they forfeit that right when they become a complete jerk”.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the people who work behind the counter of Dunkin' Donuts, or any retail establishment for that matter are people. They're human. They work hard to service the people in the community while supporting themselves and their families. And, in a lot of cases, many of the people who work in retail often have to take on a second job in order to make ends meet. The last thing that they really want to have to deal with is having people screaming obscenities at them, or calling them names, or threatening them with lawsuits because they happened to forget a store receipt.

What it all boils down's all about respect. Respect for the individual. In the case of Chapman v. Adar, the case is clear as to which one truly showed respect...and which one just ended up getting served a nice slice of humble pie along with their Coolatta.

At least the prophecy that Chapman proclaimed about her video getting millions of hits came true.


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