The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #21

People who don’t read their emails properly.

Our computer system automatically sends someone an email when a book they’ve ordered has arrived. It also sends emails about once a week with an update on the order status if the book has not yet arrived. Although each email clearly states per book what the status is, quite often people don’t seem to be able to distinguish between something like “Your book has arrived and is ready to be picked up” and “This title is still on backorder”. People come in and ask to pick up a book they’ve ordered, which we then can’t find, so we have to retrieve their order from the system, and then tell them they came for nothing. Some of these people get annoyed about their time being wasted, so I’m always very careful in pointing out that they’ve misread their email (and obviously I never literally say “It’s your own fault”). But I tend to quietly get annoyed at the fact that their haste/idiocy wastes not only their time but everybody else’s as well.

Last night a girl comes in to pick up an order in the name of Bakker. I can’t find the book, so I turn to the computer to look up the order. She says she is picking it up at the request of someone else, and she doesn’t know his postcode or email address. Considering Bakker is basically the Dutch version of Smith or Jones and therefore there’s dozens of Bakkers in our system, I can’t do much without the postcode or email address. Luckily it’s a slow evening, because it takes her almost ten minutes to recover an email address from her phone. I look up the order in the system, and indeed, as I suspected, the book is not actually here, and the email never said it was. So this guy sent her all the way here for nothing. Nice going, Mr. Bakker.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #20

Guy comes in, about my age, asking if I would please gift wrap this nice wooden box he’s bought somewhere else. Strange request, but it happens sometimes, and I almost never refuse if there’s enough time, because we place high value on customer service.

So I’m gift wrapping this box, and he starts to comment on how I seem to be doing it wrong and how I’m supposed to be doing it.

Now, I gift wrap practically everything. I gift wrap the book vouchers. Sometimes I even gift wrap a postcard. I know how to gift wrap (rectangular things, ahem). That’s not the point.

Hello, I’m doing you a favour…? Where does he get the temerity to complain? If he wants it gift wrapped some other way, perhaps he should buy a roll of paper and do it himself. Bloody hell.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #18

Man comes in to pick up a language book he’s ordered. While I’m looking for the book, he says some things in a language I can’t understand. Seeing as it’s a book used to learn Dutch, I assume he must be trying to tell me something but doesn’t know the words in Dutch. When I say “Sorry, what did you say?”, he doesn’t respond. Never mind. I find the book, we move to the till. He still keeps saying things in this foreign language, so by now I figure he’s talking to himself. Happens, whatever.

Suddenly, I notice that tucked in his brightly coloured scarf is a brightly coloured phone.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #17

Man asks me about a management book concerning sales. I tell him we don’t have many books on the subject, give him the one book off the shelf I can find, and ask if perhaps he’d like me to check if I can order anything. He says yes, please, so I move over to the computer and enter a search.

At this point, the man moves some books off a low table, sits down on said table and starts examining the book I’ve just given him.

About two feet away from him, there’s a four-legged stool.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #11

Man wants to buy a 2015 planner/diary, which since it’s already 2015 we’re selling with a 30% discount. The cash register shows the price as considerably lower than the one on the sticker, so I assume one of my colleagues has already changed the price in the system. Because it is quite busy and there are several people waiting in line, I decide not to waste time re-doing the math, and instead tell the man the diary costs €16,90. That may have been a mistake on my part, but his reaction was just childish.

Man: “That’s not right. It should be around €14. When I was in school they still taught you how to count.”

I’m sure when he was in school they also taught you how to be successfully snotty and condescending.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #10

Man walks up, looking quite normal though perhaps slightly disinterested, and puts a book on the counter. While I scan the sticker he gets out a gift card for €25, but doesn’t hand it to me yet.
Me: “That’ll be €27,25 please.”
Man, looking angry: “I don’t think so.”
Me, slightly confused, checking the sticker: “No, really, it says €27,25.”
Man hands me the gift card: “What about this thing?”
Me, calmly: “Yes, that takes care of €25, but the price is €27,25 which means I still need €2,25.”
Man, raising his voice: “Then why do you keep saying €27,25?!”
Me, making a good attempt at not showing my irritation and instead being perfectly clear: “Because that is the price of the book. Your gift card is for €25, so I still need €2,25. I was merely trying to explain that the gift card does not cover the total sum.”
Man pays the remaining sum by pin.
Me: “Would you like a bag?”
Man mumbles something long and unintelligible which I ultimately take to mean no, so I offer him a small paper bag instead.
Man: “No, I want a bag.”
I’m by now trying very hard not to shout at him for being either deliberately obtuse or deliberately annoying, but I manage to remain polite. I offer him a receipt, I wish him a good day, and he leaves.

Five minutes later he comes back, saying he wants to return his book because he is dissatisfied with the service he received from me. I’m ready to smack him in the face with a sledgehammer, but I help him, politely, apologising, giving him his money back, with another receipt and everything.

I swear, the next time he comes back and behaves like a perfect jackass again, I’m going to ask him to leave and never come back. Very politely.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #9

Man on the phone: *asks me to hold a calendar for him until he can come to pick it up in two weeks*
Me: “Absolutely, no problem. What is your name?”
Man: *gives me his name*
Me: “Right. We’ll hold it for you until you come by, then.”
Man: “And who have I spoken to?”

Now… I may be a little paranoid, but it seems to me that the only logical reason to ask that question is if you expect to come to the shop in two weeks to discover that your stuff is not actually there, and you want to be properly prepared so you have someone to blame. I wish people would just accept the fact that I know how to do my job, dammit.

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #8

Me: “Would you like a bag?”
Man: “Do you have a bag?”

Would I be offering you a bag if we didn’t have any? Are there places where the salespeople go “Would you like a bag? Yes? Just kidding, we don’t have bags, you’ll just have to stuff The Complete Works of William Shakespeare in your coat pocket, haha!” or something?

The Joys of Working in a Bookshop – #7

Those moments when a very official-looking guy walks in, comes up to your desk and says, “I’m here from the Faculty of Law, about the law books,” and you go through five minutes of “Did you order them? Did you send us an email? Did you speak to one of my colleagues on the phone? Which books do you mean, exactly?” until you find out that he’s not, in fact, a member of the faculty staff, but a slightly more mature freshman who’s in the shop for the first time ever, just looking for his study books.