Retail jobs: the dumbest customer question you've been asked?

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i work in customer service in the electronics department of my store, a surplus store no less. we get some very interesting customers both for the good and bad, but we do get a lot of very uneducated questions.

around when i started my job there, an old couple came in asking why their computer couldn't get past the BIOS post, and the woman literally asked "does my computer have dirty windows?". as i began the next sentence i cut myself off just to give her a weird look for a moment, then kept asking more questions.

now i get that, they're old, not familiar with newer technology and especially not computers, but one thing customers do that irks me on a regular basis is ask if i'm employed at the store. i'll be wearing the company shirt, and a nametag that says "Sales associate", and i'll be standing behind my counter sweeping the floor or fixing something, and a lot of people still come up and ask "Hi, do you work here?" as i pause to look at the wall of paintball guns behind me, then look back to them and say "well i would certainly hope so sir, what do you need?"

i can probably think of better examples, but these 2 really stick out.

if you work in retail, you've probably been through similar things. what is the dumbest question you've ever been asked at your job?

funkyjiveturkey:
snip

I don't work in retail, but I do help convert older machines to Linux and attempt to fix machines that have viruses and other issues. Considering that most of the people I help are rather tech illiterate, it's to be expected. But the dumbest question award has to go to the person who thought that she didn't need empty files on her computer. So she deleted them.

Turned out she deleted the entire Windows folder. All of it, not just System32. There's been some Linux mishaps, like the chap who thought it was a good idea to blow away the root filesystem, but the System32 one cracks me up as this is a decade old Windows joke that even most non tech illiterate know. I laughed quite a bit after I got done fixing it.

And oh? You're new? Welcome to the Escapist, stay out of the basement, and if anything goes wrong, blame Kross. Always. :-)

thesilentman:

funkyjiveturkey:
snip

I don't work in retail, but I do help convert older machines to Linux and attempt to fix machines that have viruses and other issues. Considering that most of the people I help are rather tech illiterate, it's to be expected. But the dumbest question award has to go to the person who thought that she didn't need empty files on her computer. So she deleted them.

Turned out she deleted the entire Windows folder. All of it, not just System32. There's been some Linux mishaps, like the chap who thought it was a good idea to blow away the root filesystem, but the System32 one cracks me up as this a decade old Windows joke that even most non tech illiterate know. I laughed quite a bit after I got done fixing it.

And oh? You're new? Welcome to the Escapist, stay out of the basement, and if anything goes wrong, blame Kross. Always. :-)

thank yo good sir :) i figured i've been using this site long enough i might as well join :P

I've had some people, though three come to mind. One is this old lady, and while it wasn't a stupid 'stupid' question, it was stupid in another way. She came up to the counter and asked, "Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, I'll try to--"
"Why do you only have cashiers on THIS side of the store? How come they're never over on the other side." For three minutes I stood there and listened to her complain about how our people were set up. Funny thing is, last week we had them down at the other end and she complained about how they weren't over on the current end. It's kind of hard to do when there are only two cashiers and it's nine in the morning.
Another time a parent came up and wanted to buy God of War for her eight year old boy for his birthday. I looked at her and explained that the game was full of violence and gore and stuff that tend to give kids nightmares.
"Oh, I'm fine with that," she said. The she lowered her voice and leaned in closure. "But I heard about a certain part of the game where you...you know. Is that true?" I immediately realized she was talking about the sex mini game. My imaginary eyes rolled in my head. Blood, gore, and violence doesn't bother her, but the thought that her son might be exposed to sexual stuff worried her.
Finally, and this is the most recent, some old guy came up to me and asked me some weird questions that I couldn't really answer, but gave it my best shot. He wasn't asking about store questions, but state questions, directions, and just weird stuff. Finally, he asks me, "Do you want to make a lot of money?"
"Uh, excuse me?"
"Do you want to make a lot of money?"
Baffled, I responded, "I don't think I'd be allowed to keep it," because that's store policy and I didn't want this guy handing my a large sum of cash on camera.
He throws his hands up and walks away, shouting, "Never mind. It's clear you're not interested." Just...what?

At a Staples:

"Can you help me with a printer?"

(I am not only in the office supplies but also on the other side of the store AND tech isn't even in my department)

Yeah I had the whole "Do you work here?" question aswell. Not only am I wearing a red fleece jacket (which as far as I know no one else had worn into the shop) but it does have the company named stitched in yellow thread on the left side at the front part of the jacket.
Granted I don't hold it against them as I once overheard a customer asking that same question to another customer...

Other than that I can't think of a really dumb question asked by a customer. Sure there "do you got..." when it's behind that customer but to be fair the store does change its stock around quite often.

I work at a coffee shop/store thing. I once had a customer walk in, stand directly in front of the big menu we have, and ask "Do you all serve food here?".
Now, I'll admit that the menu isn't the most simple thing. It's all arty and written in fancy chalk, but a few seconds of reading will clarify that yes, we do serve food here.

"Why is it so crowded in here?" Asked on Friday, November 26, 2010

Which, as some of you may have picked up on, is BLACK FRIDAY. At a craft store that was selling $300 die-cut machines for $99, and $500 sewing machines for $200, among other insanely good deals.

Others from the same day:

"Stop trying to cut in line." Said to me as I was trying to get INTO the store, two hours before we opened. Naturally, my apron was inside, and they would not accept that I was supposed to be in there until I called my boss and made him open the door for me from inside.

"Where are those sewing machines?" Asked around noon. Note, I got there at 4 AM. The doors opened at 6 AM. How can anyone possibly believe we'd still have them six hours later? He then tried to insist I didn't want to sell one to him. Because, you know, I hated him or something.

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

"You're not a triplet, right?" That one was actually funny. Remember when I said I was almost literally everywhere in that store? I pretty much ran from one job to the next. So I had helped a woman in the yarn section, then again over in patterns. It was only when she got to the register, where I was ringing people out at the time, that she realized that the store wasn't employing twins.

Aris Khandr:

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

triggrhappy94:

Aris Khandr:

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

Well I'm not American but I have worked retail sales before. I'd assume that the management's response to that on Black Friday, being the busiest shopping day of the year, would be "Do it or you're fired."

It's illegal but pretty much accepted as that's what'll happen.

I work in a movie theater, I've had people ask "What's 3D mean?" People who were at most in their 30's.

The amount of people who complain about prices annoys me too. I agree, the prices are extortionate, but I have worked in 3 different movie theaters over the past 6 years. Most our prices are the same now as they were then, anything that isn't hasn't gone up by more than a euro since 2006 and it's pretty much the same in every other theater so it's not like people don't know this when they go. Also stop shouting at the guy who's hourly wage is less than the price of the popcorn and coke you just bought about the price.

Amethyst Wind:

triggrhappy94:

Aris Khandr:

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

Well I'm not American but I have worked retail sales before. I'd assume that the management's response to that on Black Friday, being the busiest shopping day of the year, would be "Do it or you're fired."

It's illegal but pretty much accepted as that's what'll happen.

Where the hell do you live? You can only get fired on the spot for gross misconduct. You could show an employer a picture of your solicitor and they'd shit their pants if they tried to fire you for that. It's actually quite difficult to fire people. They'll more than likely make your life hell until you quit but then you just keep a record of unafair treatment, get a few testimonies from co-workers and report them for harassment.

Spot1990:

Amethyst Wind:

triggrhappy94:

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

Well I'm not American but I have worked retail sales before. I'd assume that the management's response to that on Black Friday, being the busiest shopping day of the year, would be "Do it or you're fired."

It's illegal but pretty much accepted as that's what'll happen.

Where the hell do you live? You can only get fired on the spot for gross misconduct. You could show an employer a picture of your solicitor and they'd shit their pants if they tried to fire you for that. It's actually quite difficult to fire people. They'll more than likely make your life hell until you quit but then you just keep a record of unafair treatment, get a few testimonies from co-workers and report them for harassment.

I know that. My point was many people, such as the young teenagers who take such retail jobs as their first employment, do not. The threat is often enough for them.

You seem to have reacted very strongly to this. Why?

Amethyst Wind:

Spot1990:

Amethyst Wind:

Well I'm not American but I have worked retail sales before. I'd assume that the management's response to that on Black Friday, being the busiest shopping day of the year, would be "Do it or you're fired."

It's illegal but pretty much accepted as that's what'll happen.

Where the hell do you live? You can only get fired on the spot for gross misconduct. You could show an employer a picture of your solicitor and they'd shit their pants if they tried to fire you for that. It's actually quite difficult to fire people. They'll more than likely make your life hell until you quit but then you just keep a record of unafair treatment, get a few testimonies from co-workers and report them for harassment.

I know that. My point was many people, such as the young teenagers who take such retail jobs as their first employment, do not. The threat is often enough for them.

You seem to have reacted very strongly to this. Why?

My first bosses were dicks and not enough people know their rights and they get away with being dicks. I wasn't reacting to you, just the mistreatment of workers.

Yeah, we have the same laws here. But we had people call out, one was in a car accident, and another collapsed in the middle of the store and we had to call an ambulance for her. So while I could have said "Hey, the schedule says I am taking my lunch now, so sod off", I stuck it out for the good of the store and the ease of my coworkers, who would have just been short another person at a tough time if I had gone. I actually ended up working two full shifts that day to cover the people we lost, but didn't take my lunch break until we got more people in the store to work. That may not be the law, but that's what my work ethic says is the right thing to do. Thus my objection to being called lazy when I finally did get a break.

thesilentman:

funkyjiveturkey:
snip

I don't work in retail, but I do help convert older machines to Linux and attempt to fix machines that have viruses and other issues. Considering that most of the people I help are rather tech illiterate, it's to be expected. But the dumbest question award has to go to the person who thought that she didn't need empty files on her computer. So she deleted them.

Turned out she deleted the entire Windows folder. All of it, not just System32. There's been some Linux mishaps, like the chap who thought it was a good idea to blow away the root filesystem, but the System32 one cracks me up as this a decade old Windows joke that even most non tech illiterate know. I laughed quite a bit after I got done fixing it.

And oh? You're new? Welcome to the Escapist, stay out of the basement, and if anything goes wrong, blame Kross. Always. :-)

I've done work like you do, back in the day when they used to have those pop up ads that would appear too big for the screen and you'd have the drag the window over to click the X, I had a client who didn't know how to get rid of them so she would restart the computer each time she got a pop up. She would start 15 to 20 times a day before she came to me with the problem. But the best clients are the ones that know just enough to be dangerous.

This isn't exactly retail, but I worked in a call center as tech support for a mobile phone company. A guy had broken the screen on his phone. He could not understand why I wanted him to take it into a store for repair. He wanted me to fix it over the phone. Honestly, a broken screen "Can't you just fix it now", "Why not?", "Why do I have to take it to a store?". I eventually got him to go by comparing his situation to ringing a mechanic about getting his car fixed, he would need to take it in. He finally got it. The call went for nearly 20 minutes.

I was working on Boxing Day this year at Future shop, and ended up trying to ring through a man and his wife who spoke very limited English. Normally there wouldn't have been any issues, but the man didn't know his PIN number for his debit card. He tried asking me what it was, so I explained what the PIN number is, and how they should have explained it to him, and let him choose one at the bank. He then steps away and tries to get me to input numbers into the debit machine before the woman with him pulls out a wad of cash (totaling around $1000) and tries to hand it to me.

Other than that, I had a guy (again, on Boxing Day) grab the collar of my shirt and yank on it because I was helping another customer before he got there. When I turned around and told him I was helping someone else, he started yelling and demanding I help him. I apologized and mentioned that we were insanely busy, and that either I or another employee would help him as soon as we could. The moment I turned back around to face the customer I was originally talking to, he grabbed my shirt again and pulled me back, and started to yell at me again. At that point I snapped at him and said a few things a person should never say quite as loud as I did, and he left me alone.

Edit: I suppose these weren't really questions so much as stupid things that happened, but each of them DID technically ask me something.

1. *Translated as best I could from how he said it* What is my pin number? "What account is it in?"

2. "Hey! I need help with a computer!" Followed by: "F***ing do your job and help me!"

triggrhappy94:

Aris Khandr:

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

strange in ohio it only if you are minor you have to take a break for every 5 hours you work
O.T. manager had this little gold coversation with a lady in the drive through
L: "what sizes do your soups come in?"
M: "2 sizes a cup which is 8 oz and a bowl which is 12 oz"
L:*pauses for a moment* "which is bigger?"
(manager just walks away)
M: "I'm done you deal with her"

I work at a small time coffee shop in my small town, so I get "stupid questions sometimes.

"What kind of food do you have here?" We have a bakery literally attached to the counter where we take their orders. You would have to try to ignore it.

"What is the difference between Mocha and White Mocha?" Okay, this has got to be a prank TV show, but it wasn't.

As I've never worked in retail, I'll just post a link to Not Always Right and leave my opinion at that.

Maybe not the stupidest question I have ever been asked, but I had a client walk up to me, point at an article on the shelf and ask me where he could find that item. I stared at him for a few seconds and said "Right there." He thanked me, grabbed the item and left the store.

I don't understand people sometimes.

Worked at Walmart in electronics back in 06 had a person ask if we Nintendo games at first I thought they meant game cube or Wii but they meant NES.

w9496:

"What is the difference between Mocha and White Mocha?" Okay, this has got to be a prank TV show, but it wasn't.

Other than one being white, what is the difference?

Do they taste the same? One more fatty than the other etc...

Worked at Walmart in electronics back in 06 had a person ask if we Nintendo games at first I thought they meant game cube or Wii but they meant NES.

I used to work at Disney and the dumbest thing I was ever asked was if there was a bathroom nearby when we were right next to a bathroom.

Amethyst Wind:

triggrhappy94:

Aris Khandr:

"Why are you so lazy?" Asked of me as I was eating lunch outside the store. At 3 PM. Eleven hours after I got there, that was my first break. My Pokewalker said I'd walked twelve miles that day. I was, almost literally, everywhere in that store. So yeah, I wasn't giving up my lunch break to help anyone else.

Where do you live? I don't know if this is just a thing in California or national, but it's illegal to work past 5 hours straight without a half an hour "uninterumpted meal" break.
You are technically allowed to wave your meal, but then you have to punch-out after 6 hours.

Well I'm not American but I have worked retail sales before. I'd assume that the management's response to that on Black Friday, being the busiest shopping day of the year, would be "Do it or you're fired."

It's illegal but pretty much accepted as that's what'll happen.

Well if they do fire you, all you have to do it bring it up to the court system, and they'll take it from there for you.

Aris Khandr:
-snip-

Unrelated to what you are saying here, I just have to say The gunners are going to lose to Bayern..just so you know =P

On Topic: I was working in the electronics part of my target, and someone asked me "Is there anyone working at Starbucks today?" Now...I don't know why they think someone wouldn't be working there during the regular operating hours, but I don't know why they would ask me. I'm on the other side of the store.

This was not so much stupid as funny

I had an woman that was over 40 and knew very little about computers
She wanted to know if a 4gb flash drive would hold a "big" word and excell document or if she needed to get two or more.
She thought the flash drives held about the same as the floppy disks and did not trust me when I said it would absolutely hold her word document.

I finally got it in terms she understood by putting it in physical units.

Me:pretend your word document is about 20 pounds.
Her:ok
Me: That flashdrive will hold about 4 tons.
Her: O my

I'm a bank Teller, so we get a few. Stupid statements are just as common.

Like after I refused to accept someone's expired Drivers Licence as ID: customer- "You mean I have to DRIVE all the way home to pick up my current one?"
Yes she did.

Or the goddamn jokes that we hear constantly: me- "is that from you savings account?" customer- "Well actually it's more like a SPENDING account!"
Fuckin hilarious.

And of course there are the people who are just looking to complain: me- "I'll do it like this because there's no fee involved." customer- "Well you didn't tell me about any fees so you can't charge me!" me- "... alright then. I won't charge you any fees for this."
We get a lot of people like that.

Welcome to the escapist! I'm still relatively new as well.

Many years ago--I'm thinking about 1996, I was working in the sporting goods department of a K-Mart.
Hunting season (buck deer) was starting the next week, so we had all of our hunting supplies full &
prominently displayed. I spotted a customer who looked puzzled and asked if he needed help. He asked,
"Do you carry reversible hunting vests?" He was standing less than two feet away from some. So I pointed
them out to him. He said "Well, I was looking for a reversible orange vest." I again explained to him,
those were the vests he was standing right next to. To which he replied "Those are camouflage that reverse
to orange. I want an orange vest that reverses to camouflage." I looked at him as levelly as I could, and
in the flattest tone I could manage said "Sorry sir, we don't carry those." As he walked away shaking his
head, all I could think was "My God. That man is going to be running around the woods with a *gun* next
week."

I've had a customer ask "Do you work here?". The question itself wasn't stupid. The fact that I was in the Dairy Cooler (she asked me through an open door), in uniform with my name tag in clear view, while stocking milk made it stupid.

Aww lol. I could write a novel from Goodwill.

"Do you work here?" as oft mentioned already. No, I'm just wearing this goofy blue smock thing, a nametag, and cleaning up shelves because I have no fashion sense and some sort of OCD.

"This is scratched/scuffed/whatever, can I get a discount?" No, you're in a thrift store. That scratch/whatever is why the shoes are 5 dollars, and the dressers 20 dollars and stuff, instead of ya know, 100, 500 etc.

"Do you test this (insert electronic item that would incredibly time consuming to fully test)" No, cause we aren't gonna brew 7 pots of coffee, make ten sets of toast, watch six movies, and iron sheets all day. The lights turn on, beyond that its your dice to roll.

"Do golf clubs count as furniture?" (During a furniture sale). Sit on it. Please.

"Why are you charging X-amount of money for stuff you get for free?" Uhm. Lights? Heat? Employees? Rent? Garbage disposal? Charitable cause? Take your pick?

"Which cash are you on? Are you on this side? Is this cash open?" Frequently including a counter without a cash register, a counter filled up with displayed items, a cash register obviously open and not loaded with cash, the opposite cash from the one you're standing at.

It's also fairly common for people to ask us to check the inventory to see if we have whatever, or to request holds on things. Neither of which makes any sense in a thrift shop of more or less random items that usually aren't in multiples.

There's a by-law here that makes it so that any retail outlet containing pharmaceuticals cannot sell cigarettes. Most people know about this, and the ones who don't tend to get that it's not our fault that our grocery store/post office/pharmacy doesn't sell cigarettes. We tell them to try the gas station at the street corner, and off they go.

There's always an exception, of course. But while you'd figure the exception would be some dude who doesn't give a damn about "laws and stuff" and demands we sell them anyways, it wasn't.

It was a man who looked me in the eye and asked "Then why don't you close down the pharmacy?"

Me: "..."

Him: "Look, I want to talk to a manager about this."

Me: "...Ma... Manager... one sec..."

[I call the manager]

Him: "Thanks. I'll get that pharmacy shut down, so you can sell me my smokes."

Me: "...Ah... I... OK."

I have no idea how that meeting went down, and quite frankly, I don't want to know.

The stupidest has to be "Do you work here?", but since that has been said, I will have to say:

"Where is the store's parking lot?", The best part? I was standing literally 5 steps from the exit door, within view of said parking lot.

And for one that made me want to punch someone in the face:

"Why should I listen to someone who's balls hasn't even dropped yet?" "Entitled" WIC customers are a different brand of sub-human...

EDIT:
This is from an experience at a store I DIDN'T WORK AT. I went over after work, still in uniform, no name badge. The store's (employee)dress code was black shirt and khakis, my work uniform is blue shirt and khakis.

A customer comes up to me and asks me to help them get something off the top shelf, i told them that I don't work there and I go back to browsing. They come back with a manager still complaining that I'm "Not doing my job.". I turn to the manager, he looks at me and to the customer, and tells her again that I don't work there. She throws a fit threatening to call corporate over it.

The manager leans in close to me, asks me my name and if he can "fire" me. So we stage this "firing" and I finish my shopping, and I end up getting a gift card for my "troubles".

Very interesting to say the least.

Sniper Team 4:

Finally, and this is the most recent, some old guy came up to me and asked me some weird questions that I couldn't really answer, but gave it my best shot. He wasn't asking about store questions, but state questions, directions, and just weird stuff. Finally, he asks me, "Do you want to make a lot of money?"
"Uh, excuse me?"
"Do you want to make a lot of money?"
Baffled, I responded, "I don't think I'd be allowed to keep it," because that's store policy and I didn't want this guy handing my a large sum of cash on camera.
He throws his hands up and walks away, shouting, "Never mind. It's clear you're not interested." Just...what?

Actually it sounds like you dodged a bullet there. Some con artists do a thing where they quiz retail employees
about seemingly random stuff, then ask the "Do you want to make a lot of money" or "Would you like a much better
job" question. If the employee answers "Yes" the con artist tries to rope them in to an "Opportunity" where the
employee would supposedly get a lot of money/better job but needs to pay for registration/training/startup fees--
I'm sure you can guess where that goes.

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