Arts & Leisure

Dear Mari: Don’t let customer bully you

A GRUMPY CUSTOMER can be a lot to deal with.

Dear Marilyn,

I am writing to you for advice. I have just been hired for my first job. I was very nervous about the interview, and I was very excited when I was hired. It is a sales job in a shop. I am really enjoying it. I get to meet lots of different people. Most of my customers are very nice.

   Some of them are complainers. They complain that the store is too cold, or that they don’t like the merchandise. But, most of the time, the customers are very nice. However, there is one customer that comes in frequently. She always buys lots of clothes, and then she brings them back about five days later, and asks for a refund.

I asked her why she returns the things, and she says its because they don’t fit her correctly, or that she doesn’t like them after all.  When this woman brings the clothes back, I always explain that I can’t give her a return on the items, since there is nothing wrong with them.

She then says that I am giving her very poor service, and that she will write a letter to the owner of the company, or call my boss and tell him that I am giving her poor service.

I am from another culture, and I have only lived here for a year. My parents have told me that I need to work hard, and that I must always please my manager and my customers. They said that I must be a very good employee, and that I must never bother my managers.

I do not want this woman to complain about me to my manager, so I have been giving her the money back. I am not sure if I am doing the right thing. Do you have any advice for me? I do know what I should do. I don’t want to get into trouble at work.

Signed, My First Job

Dear My First Job,

   Congratulations on getting your first job! That is just terrific. You are going to learn a lot of things about people. You have already learned that there are many kinds of people. This is a valuable lesson.

   The next thing you need to learn is that when you have a question about how things should be done at work, that you need to ask your manager. Do not worry that you are bothering the manager, when you ask questions. If you don’t know the right way to do something, then the only way that you can learn is to ask.

   In this case, please ask your boss what the policy is on customer returns when there is no defect in the item. Also let your boss know about this customer that frequently returns things that she has recently purchased.

   Some stores do not allow returns. Others only allow a store credit. Some do allow returns no matter what the reason. Once you know the policy, then you will know exactly what to do when this customer tries to return things. Your boss will probably give you advice as to how to handle her as well.

   Just follow the store’s policy, and you will not have to worry about her threats about complaints. An unjustified complaint will not be counted against you. You sound like a very good employee. Do not be afraid to tell your boss exactly what is happening here.

Dear Marilyn,

My roommate’s boyfriend has an “I know everything and you know nothing” mentality that drives me crazy. My roommate is a bit submissive to him, and she does not like conflict, so she does whatever he tells her to do.

I, conversely, am much more assertive and independent, and I don’t like to put up with his nonsense. This is both my roommate’s and my first apartment.  I don’t have a problem listening to other people’s suggestions, but his advice is asinine.

For examples, we were deciding which cable TV company to contract with, and he tried to tell us how to “steal” the cable service, so that we wouldn’t have to pay for it. I told him there was no way that I would do that, and he said that I am foolish. My roommate just looked sad, and I could tell that she didn’t want to take sides.

I really don’t know what I should do. Please help!

Signed, Irritated Roommate

Dear Irritated Roommate,

   You have two choices. You can either move out, or you can stay, and not allow yourself to get into arguments with him.

   If you choose to stay, remember that you cannot control what other people do. You can only control how you react to it. So, when he starts making “suggestions” about things that concern only you and your roommate, you can be very noncommittal, and thank him for his advice.

   Don’t let him drag you into a further discussion. Simply end the conversation, or even leave the room, and discuss it with your roommate later. For both of your sakes, I hope that your roommate breaks up with this guy. He sounds like trouble.

   In the meantime, only you can answer the question of whether you will be happier if you remain there, or move to another place.

Dear Readers, please send your questions to Make sure to put “Dear Marilyn” in the subject line.




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