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classicist lass classics_lover wrote in customers_suck
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A Remembered Suck Based on Two Recent Posts
A quick reminder, I work in an Irish branch of Huge British Department Store in an affluent suburban shopping centre.

In October 2011 there was rain, rain and more rain. Ok, this is Ireland, we're used to that, but this time around we got a month's worth of precipitation in under 24 hours. Our shopping centre got hit with a MAJOR flood (Look it up on Twitter and Youtube. Hashtag whatthefliuch). This is relevant.

The Flood hit Monday night (about 25mins after I went home, thankfully). Tuesday the centre was closed to the public so that cleanup could go into effect. Wednesday the centre opened, and was reported on national radio to be so, but "individual stores may remain closed."

Our store is located on the Ground, Lower Ground and Dungeon Staff Only Deeper Underground levels. We got hit very badly. We were not open. I arrived for my shift wearing my uniform that day, and was sent outside our shutters to explain to customers that we were doing damage control and had a plan, but were uncertain of how long before we could open (potential structural damage being one problem, a lack of functioning alarm systems being another, but they are just two of a myriad of reasons we were staying shut). We were not the only store on the Ground/Lower Ground Level shut, but some places opened (either less badly hit or didn't care about safety issues) and some were even having Flood Damage Sales (most of which were sales that had alrready been planned, with extra discounts on soiled goods).

My day on the door went pretty much like this:

ME: "Hi, we're sorry but we can't actually open, today."
Most Customers: "That's ok, do you know when you will be?"
ME: "We hope next week, but we'll need to make sure we're safe to do so. Our nearest other branches are X, Y and Z."
Most Customers: "Thank you, hope you get back running soon! KTHXBYE"

Occasionally someone would ask if any staff had been hurt, and one kindly older gent reminisced about a local flood years ago (before SC ever opened), which was ... nice. The nice ones were few and far between.

But the Majority of my day went like this:
Me: "Hi, we couldn't open today-"
Me: "Um, well, you may not have heard. There was a massive flood--"
THEM: "I'm AWARE of that! Why are you not open!?"
Me: *fairly sure I just explained why not* "Well, we were flooded quite badly-"
Me: "No, what the news report stated was that the *centre* was open, but that there would be individual store closures due to the flood hitting." (I was never so proud of being able to recite by rote in my life.) "We hope to be open by next week, but our other branches..."
THEM: When's your Flood Damage Sale?
Me: I'm not sure we can sell that stock...
THEM: When is it?
Me: ...

(As it was, that stock that wasn't sent back to the insurer and was salvageable was not fit for sale to the general public, and so staff were given the option to buy it on the understanding that they wash the Hell out of whatever they got before wear. Food was destroyed.)

Also, you know how Hallowe'en is, like, only the most important day, like ever, in a child's life? (I don't remember it that way, myself) Well, our stores do kids' and adults' Hallowe'en costumes. Which were inaccessible due to our being closed to repair structural damage and clean up. So when customers arrived to pick up their little darlings' cossies there was all but murder.
One woman *actually* told me that we'd ruined her kid's childhood. Nothing I said sank in, I think I had the same three sentence conversation with her three or four times.
It was all I could do not to say that that had been my plan when arranging for the flood to happen :P
In the end I told her that all costumes had been shipped to our branch on the other side of the M50. And then I added sweetly that at least nobody had died in this freak accident of nature, and wished her a good day.

This next one is the one inspired by the recent posts ;)

One day a customer made it past both staff and the extra security that had been hired to guard the half-closed shutters (the electrics had fried when they were about halfway down, and they didn't dare shut them fully in case they trapped people inside) and picked her way past debris, through the strip-lit, stinking (literally - that river water was NOT CLEAN) shopfloor to the Customer Service Desk - where all our belongings were (our staff only level was shut for a week longer than the rest of the store) - and started asking people to fetch her order.

She was surprised and irritated to be turned away, because, "it'll only take a minute!" No, it will take considerably longer than that, because we're on emergency generator power, and ALL the tills are offline. Not to mention all orders were diverted over the M50. So not even in this branch.

Wow, this got long fast.
TL;DR God said to Noah "there's gonna be a floody-floody", and so the store is closed. People's brains do not compute store flooded with store closed.


2013-02-15 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)

a) People are awful. I'd say I can't believe they'd act like that but...I worked retail for too long :-P

b) Thanks, now I have that damn Noah song in my head. Grrr!


2013-02-15 10:08 am (UTC) (Link)

I was going to make more or less the same comment. Those people are ridiculous and that song is CATCHY.


2013-02-16 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)

There's a song?


2013-02-16 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

"God said to Noah, 'there's gonna be a floody floody'" is a line from a children's song, "Rise and Shine."


2013-02-17 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Never heard it. Thanks for the title. I'll be sure to google it.


2013-02-17 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)

We're doing Noah in Sunday school this term and guess what song I taught to the kids last week...


2013-02-15 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)

I used to work in a grocery store with multiple locations in the greater Houston area, which can be very flood/hurricane-prone at certain times of the year. Yet, because we were a grocery store, we were expected to remain open even in the hardest-hit areas, even while the weather was occurring. About a decade ago during hurricane season, one of the stores which had stayed open ultimately had to turn off the automatic electric doors because so much rainwater was coming inside. The water continued to accumulate, until it was at least six feet high on the other side of the automatic door. Finally the force of the water burst the doors open. It was the better part of a year before that particular location finally reopened.

Edited at 2013-02-15 02:46 am (UTC)


2013-02-15 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)

I live in a city right on the Atlantic Ocean - as in, I walk four blocks from my door, I'm going to be in the ocean. We get at least one hurricane a year and shops stay open as long as they can before it becomes a safety issue for staff and customers, and then they re-open when it is safe to do so. 90% of the population understands this. The other 10% goes out, come hell or literal high water, and demands to know why the grocery store isn't open because TIM HORTON'S UP THE HILL IS OPEN! IF TIMS IS OPEN, EVERYONE CAN BE OPEN.
I just don't understand people sometimes.


2013-02-15 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)

During the same hurricane season I referenced above, although the storm had passed there was still enough standing water that many places were still closed, and there were still travel restrictions in place--don't go out unless you absolutely must, for job/medical reasons. An elderly couple and their teenaged grandson died when their SUV was submerged in the standing water. Neighbors later told authorities that the teenaged boy had been whining because there was "nothing to do" without power/phones in the house, so the boy had pleaded with his grandparents to take him to the local bowling alley. Three people died because a teenager couldn't bear the thought of living without electricity.


2013-02-15 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)

must have been during ike? we were in an apartment then and i remember being irritated to all hell because out of 8 windows, we had screens on TWO of them. the two in the spare bedrooms that were not actualy LIVED in. *eyeroll*

but yeah. the teenager was a PITA but the grandparents were idiots for indulging him and not sending the little berk out to pick up twigs or something.


2013-02-15 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)

I think it was actually Tropical Storm Allison, now that I think about it. I was still working at the grocery store then. Ike didn't happen until after I got married and wasn't at the grocery store anymore.


2013-02-15 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

I remember hearing about that and thinking "Here's how NOT to raise a child."

My family used to go off every summer and spend a week in a house that had no electricity and no running water, and was a mile from the nearest town. I survived.


2013-02-15 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ahh! I remember being told this story by someone! I'm glad I live in more Northern-y Texas. Though everyone is like 'But the tornadoooos' and I'm like 'Psh. You know what happens when there's talk of a tornado brewing? We and the rest of the trailer park go outside and take bets on if it's going to hit us or not. It's yet to hit.'. For technically being on the edge of Tornado Alley, we've never seen one in my town since I moved down here.


2013-02-15 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Many of hubby's relatives live in Amarillo, where it snows during winter. Hubby's convinced he'd rather have hurricanes than snow. I grew up in Chicago. I'm not sure I agree.



2013-02-15 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

I would rather deal with snow too. :)


2013-02-15 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

I know this feeling (and the ones about snow just above). I'd much prefer to have tornadoes (or is tornados?) than hurricanes. As it stands, in the past 15 or so years, there's been a whole two that have ever hit where I've actually lived. Snow is much a bigger issue and that's easy enough to deal with if you actually prepare for it. But a hurricane? Now that sounds terrifying.


2013-02-15 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)

They sound like a rather infamous branch of our family that decided to just drop by unannounced at my step sister's...while there was a hurricane coming. She lives right off the Chesapeake bay. No. NO.


2013-02-15 11:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

My aunt lives in Maryland. I knew when there was a hurricane coming up the East Coast when she came to Vermont for a visit and it wasn't a nationally-recognized holiday.


2013-02-15 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Is it weird that all I could think about was the living mannequin episode of Dr. Who when you mentioned the dungeon? :)
That sounds terrifying. I live in south Florida, so hurricanes are a way of life. My old Penultimate Purchase location got wrecked, with a lake ending up where the appliance department was and a loss of $250k in product from the roof leaking so severely. We were closed for a week afterwards and people came by to shop. The traffic lights weren't even functioning. But we made the best of it and did hand tickets, cash only, to sell batteries and flash lights, etc.


2013-02-15 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm a situation like that, would your store rather sell, say, major appliances "as is", presumably at a discount, rather than take a complete loss by not selling the product at all? In other words, if you have a refrigerator that got "flooded out", but it might work if you just changed out the parts, I would think they'd rather take the "as is" sale than take a complete loss. True?


2013-02-15 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

According to a documentary C4 broadcast here (UK) on Tuesday, it's not just the electric parts but the near-impossibility of decontaminating items to the point of total safety - given what's in flood water (oil, sewage, dead rats...) it becomes a gloop of evil very very quickly. For a fridge or a freezer, that's nasty, and it's honestly easier to write them off and claim insurance than spend time and money cleaning them to an acceptable standard. (And the insurance companies agree.)


2013-02-15 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. Yeah, I didn't even think about the mold, etc. I imagine it's true that you wouldn't be able to "decontaminate" a flooded-out appliance to acceptable safety standards. Even if you had someone willing to buy it, who knows but that they might come back later and try to sue because of the nasty things growing inside the appliance.

A friend of ours is a Katrina refugee. When he went back to his old apartment, just off Canal St, he discovered that several of his music CDs had mold growing *inbetween* the outer label and the CD itself!


2013-02-15 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

The warnings went out right away about 'Sandy cars.' I'll be reminding my Sis & BIL of this fact in a few months. By June, they'll have an 8-3/4-year-old, an upcoming one-year-old, and Sis will be due again.

Sis drives a Fuckus, BIL drives a Tercel held together by the bumper stickers. Both four-seaters. They'll be looking for the cheapest people-mover they can find.


2013-02-15 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

One woman *actually* told me that we'd ruined her kid's childhood.

What the fuck is wrong with people? You ruined someone's entire childhood because you couldn't sell a Halloween costume. People need some fucking perspective.


2013-02-15 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

When is the cheapest time to visit Ireland?


2013-02-15 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

In my wildest fantasies, I can't imagine having the overwhelming desire to navigate the destruction just to get my *whatever it is you sell*. There's no WAY it would be that important, not even if it was my wedding dress. I've lived through tornadoes, and I find it's very nice to just sit in my house afterwards, and let everyone else deal with it. When there are no more trees in the road, I go grocery shopping. It seems very easy from where I sit. But then again, I have the power of logic and reason.


2013-02-16 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)

I was working in the middle of London when the bomb attacks on the London Underground happened. The next day I was able to get into work by leaving really early, walking a large portion of the trip, then getting an overland train not affected by the attacks. I made it to work only half an hour late, which was pretty good going considering most of the people in my office either got in hours late or couldn't get in at all.

One of the women in my team (whose journey was unaffected so was able to get in on time) told me that someone called for me and when she told him I wasn't in yet, he went off on a rant "WHY ISN'T SHE IN THE OFFICE I NEED TO SPEAK WITH HER THIS IS RIDICULOUS IT'S SO UNPROFESSIONAL WHY ISN'T SHE THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!!!".

My colleague was so pissed off she told him really sarcastically "as I'm sure you must have heard there were a load of bombs that went off yesterday and people were killed, and the whole of the London transport system is affected, you know? THAT'S why she's not here yet." He was pretty embarrassed apparently, and normally I wouldn't have been too happy about her speaking to a customer like that, but all I said to her was "good job".


2013-02-17 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Your colleague is awesome.


2013-02-18 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Best tl:dr summary EVER.