Meerkat Musings

The Man, the Laptop and the Stupid

The Man, the Laptop and the Stupid


I would like to consider myself to be a patient man. I don’t get angry easily, or often, and am quite easy-going. However, the customer who came into the store today was sorely trying my patience.

He bought a laptop from us over a year ago now, and at one stage ran into trouble with it. The laptop had to go away for repair (at this point it was under the jurisdiction of the manufacturer’s one year warranty – industry standard stuff), and he kicked up a huge fuss, insisting we, the retailer, were responsible, that we owed him a new laptop, blah blah blah. Heard it before, that’s not how it works, and no amount of foot-stomping or whining will change this.

After a time, his laptop came back, he collected it, and off he went. Case closed.

Or so I thought.

Today, he came into the store again. He wanted me to deal with a software issue. Being the easy-going person that I am, I began to have a quick look, thinking it might be something I could deal with easily. However, as I explained to him, store associates are not trained technicians and we are not qualified to fix serious errors.

After eventually overcoming the language barrier (he is eastern European and English is clearly not his first language), I realised that he wanted the icons and programs that kept booting up with the laptop to be turned off. He didn’t want them. I explained that some of them (such as anti-virus software, volume control, battery status) always come on at start-up and that, to be honest, that’s a good thing. The other stuff that he’d installed… well, given that half the info coming up on screen was in a foreign language, I had no idea, and nor did I have an option to disable them.

Cue the customer becoming irate. ‘You just want my money, you are no help’. ‘I have extended warranty, you should help me, you are not helpful’. Well, the extended warranty covers hardware, not software, and we are not responsible for user misuse creating problems. He wanted me to phone the manufacturer too (never going to happen, they would probably refuse to help, since almost no manufacturer deals with software problems, and certainly not ones that happen outside of warranty – at least not without charging a fortune).

After informing him thus, he stormed off, got into a van, ranting to his (presumably) wife, and drove away. He did not come back.


Unfortunately this sort of thing is not uncommon. People often think they know more than we do about the operation of our shop and business than we do. They think that we, the store staff, have the power to make decisions about our own stock file – sorry, but the heads of the multi-national company I work for decide such things, not us.

We get similar grief over our opening hours. Our hours are 9am to 7pm, which is marked on our website and also by several signs both outside and inside the store. A few years ago, our hours were 8am to 8pm, and when they were due to change, we placed several signs at prominent locations around the store for a couple of months to make sure everyone was aware of the change. On the very first day our hours changed, the first customer in the door (who happened to be a regular who went to nearly every one of these locations) complained we hadn’t advertised the change very well.

We still get customers come up to the doors as we’re closing, reacting with shock that we’re closing. ‘But the site says 8pm!’ Actually, no, it doesn’t, and I know it doesn’t. Some third-party sites still give out the old hours, but we’re not responsible for those.

I can’t help but suspect the laptop guy will be back – or we’ll get a call from customer services about the whole sorry affair. He’s wrong, I think he knows he’s wrong, but I doubt that will stop him.

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