This story is sort of a retail, customer service, call center tale combined, but since it physically took place inside a call center, that’s where I’m posting it.
About 10 years ago I worked in the small call center of an online retailer that sold wigs, extensions, pieces, falls, etc, and all sorts of hair-related accessories. I took calls from customers who had all sorts of questions, but most of the people who called were just looking for a Return Authorization number so they could send something back.
When people placed orders on the website, they would stack up on a list, and at around 1-2pm, they would be “processed”, meaning one of the grumpy girls I worked with would call each of the wig manufacturers one by one and order the wigs from the list. When people chose regular shipping, the wig manufacturers would send us the wigs all in one shipment, and we would send them to customers individually, along with any accessories they might have ordered (we stocked all the accessories in the call center). If someone chose expedited shipping, we asked the manufacturer to drop ship directly to the customer, and we would ship them the accessories separately. Expedited shipping was guaranteed in 3 businesses days.
One day I answered the phone and there was a man on the other end. He was calling for his wife, who he said had placed an order for a wig and some accessories with expedited shipping, and while the accessories had arrived, the wig had not come, and she had ordered a wig, so she was very upset and wanted compensation. He was very calm and polite, and had the order number ready when I asked for it, so I could look up the order and verify what he was telling me.
Sure enough, what he told me about the order was correct, a wig and accessories with expedited shipping, placed two business days before. I explained to him the way our shipping worked, and that the wig would be coming separately, which he understood just fine, and tried to explain to his wife. I could hear her in the background. “Unhappy” was an understatement. She was pissed that when she placed her order she had not been told that it would be arriving in two separate boxes. The husband relayed this to me in the most diplomatic way he could muster. Ok, sure, that was our bad, the website should have said to expect more than one shipment, and I apologized for that. But then there was still the fact that her wig was late.
But her wig wasn’t late! Expedited shipping was guaranteed in 3 businesses days, and today was day 2. So it wasn’t that her wig was late, the accessories had simply shown up a day early. I even contacted the manufacturer to make sure her wig would be there the next day, and the tracking number they gave me indicated that this was, in fact, the case.
The man on the phone was nothing but cordial to me and had the patience of a saint as he tried to explain this to his angry wife, but she would have none of it. She was yelling and ranting in the background, screaming that we were trying to take advantage of her because she had cancer and was in a vulnerable state from her chemotherapy. She was so angry about the whole thing that she had her husbabnd get an RA number from me, so that when her wig arrived the next day, on time, just like we guaranteed, she could make her husband pack up the entire order and send it back for a refund. He apologized to me and his wife started yelling at him for taking my side.
I wish I could remember better what all she had said, but mostly I just remember the resignation in that poor man’s voice. I wonder how often he was in that position, having to apologize to an innocent customer service person who was honestly trying to help, only to be the recipient of completely irrational diatribe from a woman who thought the entire world was conspiring to make her miserable.
When we received the return, the man had written a very sweet note thanking me for being so patient and helpful. I wonder if they’re still married, or if she’s even still alive. I wonder what she was like before she got sick, and if her personally ever recovered.
TL;DR A woman was so upset that she hadn’t been told that her order would arrive in two separate boxes that she sent the entire order back for a refund.