Writing Prompts: The Angry Goat

I don’t refer to a literal goat (that might have been easier to deal with). I refer to a particularly angry customer that darkened our doorway a few weeks back.

To give him the bare minimum of credit, a problem with delivery is the original source of what unfolded next, but that in no way excuses his behaviour. The delivery team damaged one of his items, and he subsequently decided he’d rather cancel the whole order, which had already been delivered. Now, with any business, a refund will not be issued until the goods have been returned/collected and booked back in. Organising a collection of most bathroom products is not an instant process; much depends on van schedules and availability. As such, there was a small delay with the collection, but hardly anything substantial. When the customer phoned up to ask if his refund was available, we informed him it was, and that due to the value, head office would have to process it, but the refund request was in the system and he’d get a call within a couple of days.

This was on Thursday afternoon, and he seemed happy with this during the initial phone call. A short time later he phoned back, talking about how this was in fact unacceptable, and that he would be coming to the store to discuss it, and if we wouldn’t give him his money, he’d be back the following day with 10-20 friends, who’d go around the showroom touching everything, and telling everyone to come through the door that we were going bankrupt. I spoke to our finance team, who called the customer and actioned the refund (effectively letting him jump the queue), but he was still raging that it would take a few days for the money to reach his account. In fact, the lady at head office hung up on him, such was his unreasonable behaviour.

I can’t speak for everywhere, but in the UK, card refunds take longer than card payments. It can take 3-5 business days for a refund to reach a customer’s account, but that’s the remit of the banks. The money would have left the company account when head office processed the refund. There’s nothing further that anyone in the company can do at that point, so the customer’s demands were unrealistic (to put it mildly). He looked like he was going to start foaming at the mouth at one point, but I can’t force the bank to process the payment any quicker, and I can’t pull £2,000 from any given orifice on a whim (if I could, I’d be both very rich, and a case study for medical science). His mini tantrum did not impress me, and nor did his accusation that I had hung up on him in an earlier call (his phone kept cutting out).

As my manager was off, my colleague and I informed her of his planned visit the following day, and whilst I was off that day, she called me to advise he had indeed come in, albeit on his own, having also made another unpleasant phone call. By all accounts, he continued to furiously demand his money and issue threats, to which my manager stood her ground, and even went as far as to mention if he felt good about himself for screaming at a woman like a lunatic. In the end, he left, threatening to return if the money was not in his account by Wednesday (at the time of writing this, Wednesday has not yet come to pass), with his ‘people’. What we’ve done is blacklist him from the business, advised the police, and frankly, if it appears he’s on his way, I’d lock the door to barr his entry, and call the police about a trespasser, though in the end his money was with him on Tuesday, and that was that.

What to make of it all? I can’t help but wonder if this guy assumes the worst about us and the company because he would play games with a customer’s money if the roles were reversed. Perhaps his foot-stomping molten-rage is an act, designed to intimidate others into giving him what he wants, and because it works on some occasions, he mistakenly believes it will work on all occasions. Maybe he never learned emotional maturity, and has believed/been taught that unchecked bluster is going to get him more out of life than kindness, patience and reason. Unfortunately for him, nether myself, my manager, or the company is going to be tolerant of his efforts to cajole us. I’ll update this entry based upon what happens on Wednesday, but regardless, this guy (who must be in his late 50s/early 60s) needs to grow up.

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