Excerpt from "Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow":
"Appearing throughout this book are little life lessons. They are addressed to Emma. That’s because, instead of writing a chapter on my bucket list, or all the things I want to do before I die. I’ve been creating a Life List for Emma. A list of all the things I want to make sure she experiences in life. The stuff I want her to learn along the way. Some of them are big, some of them are small. But these are the things I want her to know."
Obviously I wish that I wasn’t sharing it in this way.
Lesson #46 is the first in a series I'll be sharing. These are Life Lessons that weren't printed in the book.
46. Stand up for people
Tom DiMauro was one of my Assistant Managers at the Circuit City Express in Copley Place. He encountered a particularly difficult customer one day. This customer wanted to purchase a specific Sharp organizer but was fairly short regarding the transaction. The customer mentioned he was replacing a similar model and Tom suggested purchasing a performance guarantee on this new one. I know what you’re thinking! Extended warranties are for chumps. I generally only recommended them on items that had a lot of moving parts, were portable, or had an LCD that couldn’t be replaced. I also trained my staff in the same manner. This item happened to hit two out of the three criteria. The customer became pretty insolent and was rude to Tom. In the manner of “The customer is always right,” Tom closed out the transaction quickly, thanked the customer and moved on. Dealing with abrupt customers is part of working in retail, but I could see this interaction bothered Tom a bit. He shook it off as any good retail person would.
Lo and behold, the customer came back in shortly after leaving the store. I was behind the counter as he boldly walked up. He wasn’t happy with his purchase because the organizer wasn’t working and wanted to return it for a full refund. I had been managing Circuit City Express stores for about five years and had a gut feeling that something wasn’t entirely on the up and up about this return. I opened the box. The organizer was, in fact, not working. It didn’t look abused, but something told me this wasn’t the organizer the customer purchased earlier. I searched all over the box to find the serial number to try and match it against the organizer’s. I didn’t want the customer to think I suspected anything, and tried to do this quickly. I couldn’t find the serial number and rather than make the customer to continue to wait, processed the refund.
As the customer left, my other Assistant Manager, Alan Ware, walked up behind me and deftly pointed out the serial number on the box. Crud! The serial numbers didn’t match. The customer had scammed us and in the process, had made Tom feel pretty badly.
I decided on a course of action. I would be fired today if I did this, I am sure. At the very least it would make its rounds on the internet.
I called the customer. He had given his actual name and phone number during the purchase. I left a message. “Hi, this is Garth Callaghan, the manager of the Circuit City Express Store. You just returned an organizer that wasn’t the original one you purchased. What you did constitutes fraud. I am going to call the Boston Police if I don’t hear back from you in the next 30 minutes.”
30 minutes passed. I called the customer one more time. He answered and after a slightly tense conversation, he agreed to come back in to the store. He would return the organizer that he purchased and take back his old, broken one. I had one other thing planned.
As he came back in to my store, I brought Tom back up to the counter. The customer and I exchanged items and I confirmed that I would not be contacting the police. I looked at the customer intently. “While you were in, you were pretty rude to my employee, Tom. In fact, you bordered on belittling him for suggesting that you might want to purchase a Performance Guarantee on the organizer, which in hindsight was a good recommendation since you were replacing a defective one. I am going to ask you to apologize to Tom, please.”
Both the customer’s and Tom’s eyes were wide. Neither one believed I had just asked what I had. The customer sheepishly apologized and left the store. Tom was beaming and incredibly excited! “This is the best day in my career!”
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