I lost my temper with a customer today

Tannin

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I lost my temper with a customer today. First time in ... oh .. I don't know, maybe five years, maybe 10. I have no excuse.

It was a perfectly pleasant morning, I was well rested, had enough work to keep me occupied, not so much that I was having trouble coping with it. No problems at home, in a pleasant, relaxed mood, the weather outside has just a hint of clear blue spring about it: life is pretty all-round good right now.

Guy comes in about half-past eleven, a regular, one that Kristi and I used to take turns dealing with cause he's such a time waster. I mean he's OK, just not very bright, and he tends to ask the same stupid question three times in a row. I don't have a problem with him, except when I'm busy and can't spare the time. But I wasn't especially busy this morning, just medium-calm. Quiet, happy, productive.

He bought a video card the other week. Came in and paid $20 each fortnight until he had paid enough to buy the card. (Yeah: this means you have to have 10 conversations with him just to sell one lousy $55 video card - ten because he takes about three visits to decide what he wants, then a couple more because he's changed his mind and needs to be talked back into whatever it was that you and he figured was best in the first place.

Still, he's always happy to wait around until you are finished with more important customers (i.e., all of them) and he's always pleasant enough. Doesn't smile much, but he's OK.

Originally, he was going to have a 128MB Gforce 4MX. (Yeah, I know, not exactly the last word, but still a lot better than his old card, and given the ancient old Athlon Classic 700 he has - coddled up from an ill-assorted collection of old and ugly parts- and the Win98 he runs, not to mention his restricted budget, a sensible choice.) Then we stumbled across a box of Albatron Gforce 4000s with 64MB going cheap. Perfectly decent little cards, passive cooling, just the thing. So we told him he could have one for $30 less than he was originally going to pay for the 128MB version of the same card and he was happy. Put it in, end of story. But that was a couple of weeks ago. This was today.

"Hi Mr K" I said, "what can we do for you?"

"I'm not happy with that video card."

OK, what's the problem?

Oh well ... yeah ... you know ... it's not good enough.

Not good enough for what? What are you playing that you are having trouble with?

(Thinks: What can you play on that elderly old machine? I mean, you could put a Gforce 7 in it (well, you could if it had more than a 2X AGP slot) and you still couldn't play anything much released in the last year or three. But I didn't say that.)

This went on for about three questions, each one getting a vague-as-dishwater answer that didn't tell me anything. That's normal for him. But then he came to the point, rather more rapidly than he usually does.

It doesn't ... wait for it .... it doesn't look good enough.

Huh? I got him to repeat it.

It doesn't look much like a real video card.

Yeah. This perfectly innocuous little $55 video card has been tried and found guilty because it doesn't have a big enough heat sink, or it's the wrong shape, or it doesn't have twin fans .... or something, anyway.

I mean, we are takling to a father of four here, not some amphetamine-crazed kid with the Monster from Kluthu V4 making his eyes go buggy. The guy is maybe 40 or 50, tall and kind of gawky, talks quite slowly, has never showed the slightest sign of being a games freak or wanting a shiny new case to put his ancient Athlon in. Hell, I'll take four to one he's still got a 15 inch monitor.

No huhu, it's just Mr K being obtuse, same as usual. I must have misunderstood something, so I ask again, "what things do you want to go faster than they do now?"

Nope, I heard right: he wants a video card that looks more like the real thing.

"Like this, you mean?" (I hold up an FX 5700 with a round bit of flywire covering the fan. Even second-hand it's worth vastly more than he will be willing to spend, of course.)

He nods.

"Or like this?" (I hold up an old 256MB Gforce 4 Ti with twin fans and GT stripes painted on the heatsink. Even something this old will take him an extra month to pay off - I mean he probably earns more than I do, he just likes to spend it $20 at a time, possibly because it feels like it goes further that way.)

"Yeah" he says, harking back to his perfectly functional new Gforce 4000, "Well, you know ... It just doesn't seem like it's good enough."

The whole conversation had been conducted in a perfectly pleasant manner. Well, boring as hell, but when you are taking to Mr K that's normal. It's not as if I haven't known him for maybe five or seven years and long since become used to it. Just part of the job.

At this point it finally dawned on me that, no, I was not mistaken, his sole, entire, and complete objection to his new two week old video card was that it didn't have enough chrome on it.

It was at this point that I lost my temper.

I don't give a fuck what it looks like! I don't care if it's green or bloody purple. It's functional. It's working. It does everything you wanted it to do. It cost you less money than you originally expected to pay. There is nothing you are running that remotely needs anything bigger, and even if there was you couldn't afford it. You don't even take the lid off your case so you can't even see the bloody thing!

I didn't raise my voice or anything (well, maybe it went up an octave and I spoke faster than usual, but I didn't get any louder). I didn't wave my arms around or go red in the face. I don't think my heart rate even went up more than 5 or 10 percent. I was perfectly calm and normal, then I said something (details above), then I was perfectly calm and normal again.

Like a switch: Jeckel, Hyde, Jeckel. Flick, flick. (Where the f* did that come from? Did I really just say that to a customer?)

Either Mr K didn't actually notice that I'd just completely lost it, or else he was so stunned that he went into shock and carried on rambling away as normal out of force of habit. I don't know which. Or care, come to think of it.

Then the phone rang so I went out the back to answer it and left Cyril to deal with him. Cyril only started here last week so he probably thinks I'm a maniac.
 

P5-133XL

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Now you know something, about him, that can be useful (for your pocket book). He's, like so many shallow people, interested in flash rather than substance.

Start selling him clear cases with UV sensitive stuff and LED fan's. Don't forget to remind him of his need to keep up with the Joneses: Expensive upgrades (Sell him a Nvidia 7800GTX) and then upgrade his PS because it isn't powerfull enough; and, of course, his motherboard because it doesn't have PCI-e.... Before long you will have made a mint by selling him each component part at a parts price with installation rather than as a package price.
 

Tannin

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Don't joke about that!

I rather suspect that something rather like that process - the totally unpremeditated flick, flick, flick between completely different mental states - is what sometimes goes on in the mind of murderers. One minute you are eating breakfast and saying "yes dear" for the 17,454,391th time, the next moment you are slipping the bread knife into a vital organ, then a moment later you are calmly returning to your corn flakes. I've read about incidents like that.

Not that I was ever tempted to take the precision impact adjustmet tool to Mr K. It was just one short and golden moment when, for reasons entirely unknown to me, I failed to wear my professional mask and simply spoke the unvarnished truth.

Dangerous stuff, truth. They ban it in some countries.
 

Buck

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You certainly aren't alone Tony. I'm sure many of the computer resellers and retailers here could tell you similar stories. Heck, any business owner can relate something like that. Just don't let it happen for another 10 years. :D
 

Will Rickards

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It seems like you are more concerned with the loss of control than with the incident itself. In that case I can only say that this is probably commonplace for a person of your ... err... vintage. I'm kidding of course.

Seriously, I don't think you are going crazy or anything.
 

Tannin

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Not for another ten years. You mean the truth-telling, Buck, or the bread knife in a vital part?

(Tannin!)

(Sorry Tea. Only joking.)

(You should have let me handle him.)

(Are you kidding? You'd have told him to -)

(And you didn't?)

(Hmm .... you've got a point. Next time he's all yours. Try not to leave a mess on the floor.)

P5-133XL said:
He is, like so many shallow people, interested in flash rather than substance.

Sound advice, P5. But he can't afford the clear cases and the UV sensitive stuff the LED fans, Mark. Or rather, he would want to pay them off $20 at a time once every second week for the next 10,000 years, taking ten minutes of my day every time he dropped in to make a payment. Besides, I don't stock the bloody things, not if I can avoid it.

Flash rather than substance ... yeah. It's a perennial refrain of the current decade, and grows stronger by the month. I think maybe the thing that threw me into truth-telling mode was that I was so surprised by it. Yeah, you expect it from some pimply-faced kid with an SLI board and delusions of RAID 0, but it simply never occured to me that Mr K could be so stupid. I mean, I knew he was a bit slow and not exactly a technical genius, but .....

Ahh, to hell with it. Where did that NEC DVD burner thread go?
 

Tannin

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You are right, of course, Will. Although maybe the most concerning thing is that I'm not concerned about it. Not something I'm likely to do again anytime soon, at least not without a conscious and at least semi-reasoned decision first, but I don't regret it in the slightest. Didn't regret it for a single moment. I should, but I don't. I just completely surprised myself.

Don't trouble to hide the bread knife, it won't happen again.
 

Handruin

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Check out the recent thread Mercutio posted with the long read on making business in the tech support market. One item I grasped is when to let go of clients who are a PITA. Can you refer them to another local shop, even if it hurts your pride to send away business? I know it's different for a free-lance tech support person to let clients go, versus a brick and mortar shop.
 

jtr1962

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Mr. K kind of reminds me of all the customers I used to encounter when I worked at the taximeter place. Not too bright, not too articulate. To add to it most couldn't even speak English that well. They would come in mumbling something in a thick Jamaican or West Indies accent like "$%&@#@ meta not working!" Usually you could find out what was wrong with the meta (i.e. taximeter in their jargon), repair it, and give it back without asking them any more. The real "fun" started when the meter bench tested OK and then you needed to ask them exactly what was wrong. The conversation might go something like this:

me: "What exactly did you say was wrong with the meter?"

customer: "Piece 'o sh*t meta not f*cking work, man!"

me: "Yes, obviously it's not working since you bought it in for repair but I need to know exactly what's wrong so I can make sure you don't come back."

customer: "How the f*ck do I know? You the meta expert, not me"

me: "Look, I'll be honest with you here. I bench tested this meter and I can't find a thing wrong with it but maybe you're having a problem I've never seen before. I'm not asking you to help me fix the problem. I just need you to tell me exactly what the meter is doing wrong."

customer: "Look man, I said meta not work right."

me: "Well, maybe you can show me what the meter is doing wrong. Let's go in back to my bench."

(a minute or so later, customer is trying to show me what's wrong)

customer: "Meta working OK now."

me: "That's what I told you before. What was wrong with it when you bought it in?"

customer: "Meta no print."

me: "Oh, it wasn't printing. That was because it was out of paper. First thing I did was put in a new roll before I bench tested the meter because I noticed you had no paper. After that I just couldn't find anything wrong."

customer: "But meta working now?"

me: "Yes. The meter is working. Next time it stops printing you just need to put in new paper."

customer: "But have no paper so I come here."

me: "OK, but all you needed to do was buy some paper instead of saying the meter wasn't working."

customer: "But f*cking piece of sh*t meta not working!!!"

me: "Yes, because it was out of paper. All you needed to do was buy some paper when that happens."

customer: "But I have no paper so I come here."

me: "Fine, but next time this happens you don't need to bring the meter in. Just ask us for some paper."

customer: "OK. Next time I buy paper."

Now I'll add that as a taxi driver it's not like you don't know that the meter won't work if there's no paper. All this time wasted, plus additional time writing up the paperwork (which the TLC requires whenever a meter comes in for repair), putting new seals on the meter, etc. all on account of the customer just not realizing he needs to buy paper. :x

I won't even get into the times that the meter really does have some obscure, intermittent problem that you need the customer's help to track down. It's really fun when they come back for the third time in as many days with a broken meter. By then most of them are homicidal maniacs ranting things like: "This mother f*cking sh*t meta busted again!!! You a$$holes don't f*cking know what the f*ck you doing!!! I want my god damned meta fix!!!!" Now I never lost my temper but then again I didn't deal with these customers on a daily basis. Almost everyone who did sooner or later let one of the "customers" have it. Sometimes it was the guy who was actually giving them a hard time. Other times it was some poor slob who came in right after a problem customer.
 

sechs

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When I was working for support at Electronic Arts, I (*I*) would get at least one call a day of someone with a problem with their Sims speaking [Spanish|Japanese|Dutch|Chinese|Arabic|French|you name it]. For those of you not in the know (and I hope that's all of you), Sims speak Simlish... which is complete jibberish. The sound is identical in every language version of the game....
 

Mercutio

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I've had customers like that a time or two myself. I don't mind so much when they're MY customers, but at my trainer job, where I'm part tech, part network administrator, trainer, copy-editor for business communication and the all-round only competent person, some people really do just drive me to a point of insanity.
The people I hate the most are the ones who think they are entitled to, oh, everything. When someone says something like "I paid $350 for this computer you damn well BETTER give me everything I want!" (accompany this with head-shaking and finger-snapping to get the full mental image), that is someone who is going to cause a "light switch" reaction for me.
 

Santilli

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I've been known to be a pain in the ass, when I'm trying to find out enough information about something to decide on buying it. 25 pages of correspondence over a 45 Linebaugh come to mind.

Still, I made the decision, and got a quality product, with only one problem, that was later fixed.

I think you could have taken another tack, and explained that he has a 2X AGP board, and, those flashy cards aren't even going to work.

Yelling at the guy, justifying giving him an excellent product, without finding out what he was really after, was your problem, as much as his.

I would also cut out the time payment stuff, but, that's just me.

And, I just went through hours of research before buying a new video card, so, you might suggest he do the same. Or teach him how to do it, so he doesn't have to drive you nuts with questions you probably don't know the answers to.

If worst came to worst, you could print the video card thread we have here, give it to him, have him read it, and then come back and ask questions.

I would certainly apologize to him, since he's going to tell 4-5 other customers, who are going to tell 4-5 more customers, etc.

But,, that's why we are humans, and not machines....

Weird what triggers different reactions in humans.

Maybe you should have Furball deal with him...

:wink:


G
 

LiamC

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if he is so enamoured of form over function, suggest to him that an Apple (TM) (C) (R) (freakin' enough already) might be in his future.
 

sechs

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Mercutio said:
When someone says something like "I paid $350 for this computer you damn well BETTER give me everything I want!" (accompany this with head-shaking and finger-snapping to get the full mental image), that is someone who is going to cause a "light switch" reaction for me.

These are the same folks that you see on airline who go ballistic when they paid for a cheap airline ticket -- and received it!
 

ddrueding

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I actually snapped on a guy yesterday. He was completely computer illiterate but wanted to get started. He had a decent budget and reasonable needs, so a Dell Inspiron 6000 was his. Per my instruction, he brings it to me the day it arrives still in it's sealed box. I spend about 3 hours removing all their crap and doing the usual optimisations. I even put together a "How To" document and stuck it to his start menu. This included step-by-step instructions on everything from Word to Outlook to DVDDecrypter. His office had WiFi and it logged on fine. He seemed happy as a clam and went off to work.

4 hours later I get a call...here it is:

Him: "Hi Dave? This fu*king thing sucks man! I want to return it and get a better one."

Me: "What isn't it doing?"

Him: "After I installed AOL for their 90-days thing, it said that webshots wasn't working...then my iTunes music wasn't working, and now there's a whitish spot in the upper-left part of the screen."

Me: ")*^%*^%#$^*%$ When I do work for you, don't piss on it. Either return it right now or give it back to me right now."

I then re-ghosted it back to the way I'd made it and gave his user account guest privaleges. I feel better now.

Me:
 

tazwegion

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Geez! I'm sorry you lost control Tannin :eekers: it sounds like perhaps one of the 'lights-in-cases crowd' whom Merc' just loves to hate, may have gotten into his ear (possibly an in-law?), and confused this poor individual further still as to his requirements (BTW it wasn't me :p)


At 275/350Mhz that card doesn't sound too bad, certainly got more grunt than my modified TnT2pro (160/183), and even my GeForce2 @ 200/350Mhz... despite it's passive cooling, perhaps he could be persuaded to go with this modified setup :mrgrn:


mx4000mod0al.jpg



I added a 'tri-colour' LED fan just so he wouldn't need to make a decision relating to fan illumination colour :roll:

Guaranteed to get an extra 10% performance due to the LED's just ask Merc' :p :lol: :poke:
 

Tannin

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Don't be sorry, Taz. I'm not sorry. In fact I feel much the same way about it as I feel about the 19th of June last year having been a Tuesday (or possibly a Thursday). Shit happens: if you talk enough of it for long enough, even someone with my legendary restraint and paitence with total idiots will hand some of it back to you.

Undoubtedly you are correct about some lights in cases idiot haven gotten to him. Good! With any luck he will go away and bother the lights-in-cases moron from now on. I have real customers to worry about.

Having had some time to think about it now, I may consider supplying him with a replacement card. I'm sure I have some VESA Local Bus cards lying around somewhere. What's more, they will look quite impressive. Only trouble is, I'm not quite sure which slot (or more probably orifice) I ought to stick it sideways in.

Thankyou gentlemen.

Next question.
 

Santilli

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To put this in perspective:
It's been around 98-100 for the last 3 weeks. I'm waiting in line to return my WONDERFULNOT Sony DVD writer to costco. I'm reading a book since the line is taking 3.4 of an hour, on a Saturday. The person I'm following, goes up, and, I follow. While I'm waiting, some prick I play basketball with comes up, and says, you cut in line, fuck you, go to the back of the line. I said something like, ok, you folks who said I cut, go ahead, you, with the mouth,be careful, that's enough.

The asshole waited outside, and, I called security. He finally departed, but, I'm waiting to see what happens when it cools enough to play ball. The prick is in his early 20's... and was trying to impress his young boy friend...

s
 

tazwegion

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Tannin said:
Don't be sorry, Taz. I'm not sorry. In fact I feel much the same way about it as I feel about the 19th of June last year having been a Tuesday (or possibly a Thursday).

Hmmmm... that begs the question (dare I ask?) what happened on the 19th June last year? :-?
 

tazwegion

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Handruin said:
One item I grasped is when to let go of clients who are a PITA. Can you refer them to another local shop, even if it hurts your pride to send away business?


There is actually a local PC wrecker/recycler who deals predominantly with 'pre-loved' system components, Tannin would know of him I assume... he's got a little 'bricks & mortar' shop down South St. way (doubles as an internet cafe) ;)

While referring 'clients' elsewhere may have an effect on the hip pocket... the safeguarding of your sanity should be paramount! either that or Cyril can deal with him exclusively from now on (though that may prove to be a sadisitc solution) :mrgrn:
 

Tannin

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I have absolutely no problem with sending customers to the competition. It's not like we are starving and desperate for every last dollar, and the reality is that some customers really will be happier and better served by a different shop. We can't be ultra-good at everything, nor can Competitor X or Compeditor Y. Everybody has their own particular strengths.

I've been sending people to two or three other places for years. Sometimes they send me people. It all works out in the end.

And then, of course, there are the ones that everybody sends to somewhere else - anywhere else! Luckily, there are not too many of them. Very few, in fact.

And, naturally, you never send your best customers to the competition!
 

tazwegion

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Still, all-in-all good experience for your new employee dealing with the likes of Mr. K. as he wont always be able to deal with pleasant/easy customers eh? ;)

Oh and if you can't find that VESA Graphics card... I'm sure I can *looks around* hell I'll even get out the angle grinder and sharpen up the edges so it'll remain in the desired orifice :p :lol:
 

cquinn

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All I could think from reading this thread is that Tannin had a Basil Fawlty
moment, and it's alright to have one of those every now and again.
Some of us quite look forward to them in fact.

Mr K sounds like one of those customers who comes in as much for
the company as for the product, or maybe more. Which makes me
think that Santilli's suggestions may not work as expected, since
you would only be providing him with more ammunition with
which to hold a conversation on his next visit.
 

casmith

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Tannin said:
Hopefully, there won't bloody be a next visit!


I Hope Your Right :D Cyril does not deserve to have him passed on to him he's only a newby :lol:
 

Santilli

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What spieces is Cyril?

Ocean bottom dweller?

Furball?

With Tannin's collection, you never know...

s
 

Tannin

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Rather a strange one by my standards. Cyril is human. Or at least I have always assumed so.

He is not, repeat not, imaginary. He is not, repeat not, one of my sock puppets.

Cyril has been a customer of mine for ... oh .. maybe 5 or 8 years. Long time anyway. He's been helping out here since Kristi moved to Melbourne. He also does a little computer bulding and servicing on his own account in the small town where he lives with his wife and children. (Which is why he has been such a regular customer: been buying bits to on-sell to his own customers. Not to mention to satisfy his wife's insatiable appetite for ever bigger monitors.)
 

casmith

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time said:
Welcome, Cyril.

So, what's it like to work for an evil overlord?

Thankyou time for your welcome,

I have known Tannin for some yrs now its more like working for a gentleman than a evil overlord well

cheers
casmith
 
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