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That's right, you're wrong! - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
That's right, you're wrong!
An interesting article based on the old "The customer is always right" phrase and why it shouldn't be applied to business at all.


Having worked in retail and also as a freelancer, I stand by not ever using this policy. While working in retail, time and time again I was cussed at, spat at, belittled, and when I ran to my managers for help, they would give the customer everything they wanted and then some, in front of me, and I received smug "victory" glares from the unruly customer. It made my time there absolutely /miserable/ and hate my bosses more and more to the point where I didn't even care who they were going to have to beg to replace me if I called in sick to work. If they treated me better, I would probably have felt guiltier about them being a man short.

In the freelance world, I refuse to take shit from /anybody/. I /will/ cancel your commission if you're an unruly asshole to me. I love money, yes, and certainly like everybody else I need it, but honestly you couldn't pay me enough to accept the kind of abuse I've gotten. Hell, I once even canceled a commission outright, no excuses, hands down, because the commissioner was treating my /boyfriend/ like absolute shit, and had the nerve to call me unprofessional because I was letting personal matters affect my business relationships. ;)

I encourage artists to not take shit from anyone, and if you work in a job where your managers are constantly making you look like the jerk in front of the customers, I suggest printing out this article and pinning it to their office door ala Martin Luther.
18 comments or Leave a comment
turbinerocks From: turbinerocks Date: March 17th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
THAT is why I picked a health care gig over retail. I'd much rather change diapers than deal with The Public. :D
quatres_star From: quatres_star Date: March 17th, 2008 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
My job's pay is crap. Not minimum wage crap, but not very good at all. But I stay in the job because it's fun and there are NO customers to deal with. At all. Sure you're gonna get dick leads and senior leads once in awhile and coworker conflict but there's no customers to talk to or be insulted by.

I've never understood why we'll let people get away with being assholes. Let them insult employees, give them free things and practically beg them to come back just so that there might be some return business. :\
dragoncreator From: dragoncreator Date: March 17th, 2008 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn straight!
westly_roanoke From: westly_roanoke Date: March 17th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I have actually laughed out loud into my phone when someone said this to me.

"Always right?" I said. "Unfortunately in this case you're wrong."

Way too amused. I love my job. ::Grins::

My job will side with me, almost always.
From: captainq Date: March 17th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)
This is why I cannot stay in my current job for too much longer. Being subjected to "customer always right" kind of policy grinds down one's soul...if I cannot tell a customer no, then eventually I feel less than human.

If I may add, you are an absolutely wonderful person to request commissions from. There's no reason anyone should want to abuse you aside from wanting to share the hate.
thepalomino From: thepalomino Date: March 17th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree completely with this. Unfortunately the company I work for doesn't. It drives me crazy that a client here can outright lie , and yet management bows down to them.
skorzy From: skorzy Date: March 17th, 2008 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I worked my way through University at a bank. My first position there was as a customer service rep. aka a "teller". My fellow employees, from the District Executive Officer to "Mr. Plant Man" who came in once a week to take care of the branch's potted plants, were all good people to work with. The great majority of my customers treated me well, a small handful of them got to know me personally and became friends. 99.9% of my job was enjoyable.

Then there was that 0.1% that reminded me this was a customer *service* job. Awful people that treated us like we were their personal serfs. Normally I just bit my tongue and tolerated their attitudes.. get them in..get them out..as quickly as possible with not one bit of extra "effort" to assist them. There was fellow who stands out in memory to this day. Something I did upset him so much that he yelled at me in a loud voice during the Friday afternoon rush: "Goddamit you're a moron!" That was my final straw. That crossed the line.

I lowered my voice, looked him in the eye and said. "You are going to leave my window right now and never ask my help again or so help me I will take off my tie, follow you outside and turn your head inside out with my sand wedge." (I had golf on my mind, as I was playing nine holes right after work!). At that point, I didn't care.. for precisely the reasons mentioned in this article, if I got fired or not. The asshole bitched at the branch manager..and apparently did not state his case well. After he left, she came over to me and instructed me to close out his accounts and mail him a check for the proceeds; that she had gotten district permission to remove a undesireable customer!!! (Believe it or not, banks can.. and do.. remove customer relations for whatever reason they want, just like restaurants can refuse you service.)

She stood up for me. :) Though.. I did worry that I might incur some legal trouble over a threat of that nature, but it never happened. Never saw the guy again.

Now, as a caveat to this whole tale, are the times when I witness employees treating their customers poorly for no reason at all. The whole "customer's suck" mentality has people who don't care about their jobs, so why should they do it well? I am disgusted with people like that.. whatever you do, do it well! Work ethics are an increasingly rare.

Why... just today I was in Staples buying something and the cashier didn't look me in the eye once or say a single word to me... no excuse for *that*.
doodlesthegreat From: doodlesthegreat Date: March 17th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the problem with that Staples employee is likely to have been months of abuse of this type prior to your arrival. From my personal experience, retail establishments are notorious for letting customers walk all over employees, and remember that the article does state that such treatment results in exactly the sort of encounter you had. What's more, when you read in the papers or see on TV news about corporations treating their staff as dismissable serfs, it breeds a lot of bad feelings all around before you even submit a resume. "Why should I care about work ethics? I'm just another cog in a machine."

When I run into employees like that, first thing I do is SMILE. Ask them how their day is going. Treat them like you want them to treat you. It's amazing how many of them break out of the grumps when they see you're in a good mood.
thrivis From: thrivis Date: March 17th, 2008 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
"When it’s a choice between supporting your employees, who work with you every day and make your product what it is, or some irate jerk who demands a free ticket to Paris because you ran out of peanuts, whose side are you going to be on?"

Agreed all over the place. I wish more managers would think of this.
wolf_goat From: wolf_goat Date: March 17th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's very true. But more than that, I adore your icon. :D
twilightsocks From: twilightsocks Date: March 17th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant. My husband and I were talking about this just yesterday.

This sort of thing made my year at a drugstore an absolute hell. Way too many people think that having your name on a little badge is their ticket to treating you like crap, and too few managers are any help. My manager even tried to guilt me into staying when I put in my two weeks notice. Whatever, they should have made sure I was treated better if they wanted me to stay.
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: March 17th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
IT'S ABOUT FRIGGIN' TIME! Why was this so difficult for people to figure out?
desertwalker From: desertwalker Date: March 17th, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, finally a blossom of truth in the business world.

Luckily at my fast-food job, I had cool managers who only catered to unruly customers to get rid of them during busy hours. As soon as a bad customer drove off or walked out the doors, they'd let me know what a liar/asshole he or she really was.
yelth From: yelth Date: March 17th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man, doesn't that bring back memories for me.

It's a very good point that by rewarding such appalling behaviour in bad customers, you are essentially enforcing the mindset. And we wonder why people keep getting ruder nowadays. :/
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: March 17th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh totally. It goes both ways. Lately I feel like I /have/ to be a bitch to get good service. I don't like to be that way, but when I call the bank or fed ex or something that they made a /serious/ error on (and later admitted to it), the whole time I'm nice and they tell me to kiss off (no, really...my bank was outright rude to me) but it wasn't until I turned into a bitch that they respected me. :/ It really sucks because I try /so hard/ to be a good customer.
yelth From: yelth Date: March 17th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I totally agree with you there as well. Been in the same boat myself. Though I hate bad customer service, I hate it more when it's company policy to behave as they do in the name of a few extra profit bucks. Worse still is when they can easily fix the problem, but choose to put you through a circus to achieve it in the hopes you'll give up. Even when it's their mistake!

I run into this a lot with the government. Big surprise.

Edit: typos, gotta love a drifting mind...

Edited at 2008-03-17 08:55 pm (UTC)
doodlesthegreat From: doodlesthegreat Date: March 17th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've run into this problem as well. An animosity instilled by greedy MBAs who want to fuck over everyone. I had an epiphany one time when I ran into an old acquaintance from my high school days not long after we had graduated. He was in college as a business major. The first thing his instructors taught him was that business majors get to learn how to screw the public and the government over legally. That was 20 years ago, and I've never forgotten it, or what it meant to my outlook on life.
eski From: eski Date: March 17th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
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