The Four People You Meet In Customer Service

Name: The Tightwad (aka, The Cheapskate)

Basic Traits: Clutching coupons, purse/wallet overfilled with paper

Will Try To Barter

Caution: The Tightwad doesn’t show it’s true form until the last minute.

I’ve spoken about the Tightwad before, and I’ll talk about it again because this person is a constant. The Tightwad has a scissor attached to her arm for maximum clipping. Before you’ve even had your morning coffee she will have calculated the exact amount of change she will need to buy the item she covets. If all goes as planned, the Tightwad is calm and courteous. You’ll barely remember her coming in.

But it’s very well known that nothing really ever goes as planned.

There you are; Unsuspecting, clean, pure, and simply waiting for the clock to say, “Hey there, silly. Time to go home!” But what’s this? A customer just entered your line. You smile brightly, “I’ll take care of this last customer and head out. Nothing to worry about.” Naively you say, “Hello there! You find everything you needed?” She’ll smile back, teeth showing, “Yes, I believe I did. Now, I have a coupon. It just came in the mail, and the date is good for today.” You smile even brighter. “No problem, ma’am. I’ll just scan this, and the computer will calculate it just fine.” You scan away happily, excited for that lovely apple pie your mom has waiting for you at home. You barely register the confused look on her face. “Okay ma’am. Your total will be…” Wait a second… something’s wrong. You scan the coupon again. Surely this isn’t happening. Surely the computer just didn’t catch it the first time. You watch her face, and your heart sinks.

She’s no longer smiling, and her hand is at her hip. You look at the coupon. What’s wrong? WHAT’S WRONG? You’re panicking, your brow is sweaty, and your eye starts to twitch. “Um, I’m sorry, ma’am. This coupon is only valid for the items it lists.” Your hand is shaking as you point to the disclaimer, it’s tiny letters mocking you. You can only avoid her eyes for so long before the inevitable. “I just got this coupon today, what do you mean it’s not valid? This is ridiculous. Why even send the stupid things if you guys aren’t going to even let me buy whatever I want? This isn’t even possible. Why did you send this to me if I can’t use it? What if I don’t want to buy what’s on the list? How do you expect to keep customers if they can only buy what you want them to buy? Well, can I use any of these?” And she’ll proceed to show you every coupon she’s ever collected from your store in the hopes that one of them will be the one to work.

The Tightwad is always sharp and on the look out. You can’t get anything by her. Did you scan an item twice? Why? What possessed you to do that? Did you forget her free walnut with her purchase? How could you? Why are you trying to blatantly sabotage her? She can’t use 5 coupons on one item? Can you be anymore shameful? What’s the point of even giving them to her? Don’t you know discount technically means “For Free?!”

Name: The Firestarter (aka, The Instigator)

Basic Traits: Comes in with a snooty attitude,  Scowl, tight-lipped, usually rich and/or cheap, doesn’t respond when you say Hello, or is completely sweet until…

Will Assume

Caution: The Firestarter will not always possess these qualities, and usually comes out of nowhere

The Firestarter is deeply passionate about his/her service. He shops so much that he knows exactly how he wants his day to go while browsing your store.

This person also comes in at just the right moment to completely annihilate you.

At your busiest? There he is. Don’t have the right change in your drawer? There goes the incessant fingernail tapping. New to the store? You bet your ass he’ll be the first customer you have to deal with.

The Firestarter doesn’t care about you, your job, your family, or what you have to deal with on a daily basis. The Firestarter only wants one thing: To say the words, “God, this is ridiculous. You guys need more cashiers.”

The second something goes wrong, the Firestarter is there to point it out, and loudly. “You know, I have things to do. I can’t believe this,” is his trademark. If everyone starts to agree with him, you can be sure that he will get even louder.

He’ll even go as far as calling you names. The second he starts bitching, you get nervous and the amount of mistakes you start to make are monumental. He’ll call you stupid. “You must be new,” he’ll state, and despite the fact that this should make him realize you’re only human, he’ll instead bitch some more and spout his rehearsed line. “You shouldn’t be here by yourself if you don’t even know what you’re doing.”

He is the voice of the people. He didn’t come in to start a commotion, but he will stand for what is right. He will speak and be heard. He WILL riot, and claim for all to hear, “I want to speak to your Manager!”

Name: The Pusher (aka, The Insistent One)

Basic Traits: Looks Haggard

Will Guilt You

Caution: The Pusher can cause sudden bouts of rage

The Pusher  knows your store inside and out. He comes in so often that he knows where every single item is, and just how many steps he has to walk to get to said item. He knows that other people who come in are obviously better than you are, so they won’t misplace an item, or take something and leave it in the wrong place. He knows that the public keeps everything so shipshape that when you set a location for an item, whatever is in that location will cost exactly what it says on the price sticker attached to the shelf. The Pusher will not lower himself to your level by reading the price sticker to see if the item matches, nor will he bother himself to make sure no one moved it from it’s original place. He will come to your register and assure himself that you won’t dare give him an issue.

You did, didn’t you?

The Pusher’s common phrases are “I was here two days ago, how do you not have it?” His method of thinking is “No store ever runs out of things. There’s no possible way someone else wants the exact same thing I want. It’s not even remotely possible to think that someone else could have had the same idea I had when I decided to use the wooden sphere and wooden cone shape to make a little person. Surely, they have more somewhere.”
Which brings me to his next phrase, “Don’t you have some in the back?” The Pusher knows “the Back” is a completely magical place that has everything set up in little conveyor belts for when you need to refill. And those conveyor belts come from god knows where, but he knows it’s there and he won’t believe you otherwise.

The Pusher also likes to tell you that he was here yesterday, and the cashier let him walk out with all his items to go get his wallet from the car so you should too because if that person believes him, how could you possibly not? He likes to point out that the other store he went to said he was allowed to use all of the coupons he had in his bag, so why are you giving him a limit? No one else did, and everything went fine. He claims that everyone else lets him get away with things, and you should really do the same because not doing so can carry serious consequences.

The Pusher implores you to reconsider because he talked to another cashier on the phone whose name he can’t remember right now, and that person said that you’re an idiot who constantly chooses to not believe anything anyone says.

Where the magical conveyor belt comes from.

Name: The Sympathizer (aka, The Identifier)

Basic Traits: None, Can take any form

Will Claim to Understand

Caution: Be Wary Of False Prophets

The Sympathizer is the coolest of people. He knows mistakes happen. He knows that you’re human. He knows that sometimes things really hit the fan. You can catch him agreeing with your coworker about “that douchebag who complained about the bathrooms that one time.”
At your register he’s quick to say, “Man, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes,” as the line finally simmers down, nearly bringing you to tears.
He’ll even totally agree with you that the customer who just left was such a stick in the mud, how could anyone ever possibly get mad at you, you cute little thing, you?

So why am I bringing him up? In your head, you’re obviously saying, “Man, he sounds like a swell guy compared to everyone else.” And you’d be right.

If you weren’t wrong.

The Sympathizer is very helpful, but can also be the most deadly.

Scenario: You’re at your register. Everyone is angry with you because the computer went offline for 5 minutes, and they had to wait for it to come back. You obviously did it on purpose. You should be burned at the stake.
Finally everything is calm again. Your angry customers are leaving and you only have two people in the line. Your heart can now stop hammering in your chest. The last person comes up to you and heaves a sigh raising his eyebrows. “Man, that was crazy! How do you do it? And that first lady? Total bitch. I wouldn’t last here. I’d knock some people over, man. Jeez, I’d hate to be in your shoes. You’re so patient.” You sigh in relief. This guy gets you. You’ve finally witnessed it. The One; the lone person that so wants you to be happy. He’s said all the magical words. “Oh yeah, I have a coupon. I don’t even know if it works, but I mean, whatever, just see I guess.” He brings out the coupon and old feelings come back, your knees start to shake. But no, no way. This guy gets you. You’re just letting past experiences get to you. He will be cool with whatever happens because he’s just that guy. You smile, no problem. You scan his item. Then the coupon. You’re almost home free. You look up at him to talk some more, but stop before you can utter a sound. There’s a scowl on his brow, and his hand is on his hip.


He looks at you, “I just found this over there. That wasn’t the price on the price sticker on the shelf.” You keep your cool. There’s still no problem, just get a price check. This happens all the time. You call someone to give you a price check, and he starts to jingle his keys. You’re getting anxious. But he said the line! He said he’d hate to be in your shoes! This can’t be happening. Your coworker comes back with the answer and your heart sinks. “What?! But over there it said…” He sighs. “Well how much is it with the coupon?” Your palms are sweating, “Actually, this coupon expired yesterday.” He stares at you, and you cower under his gaze. You know what’s coming. The hair at the back of your neck stands on end. “What do you mean? I just got it two days ago in the mail. And that shelf it was on said a different price. I come here every day, and I was just in here yesterday! This is unbelievable, and I’m going to be late. I have shit to do, what the hell? I want to speak to a manager, right now!”

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3 thoughts on “The Four People You Meet In Customer Service

  1. Amazing! So funny and so true that I will probably have server nightmares tonight. I haven’t waited tables in almost 10 years and I still have anxiety dreams about it. Thanks for the future nightmares and the laughs.

  2. Cafe23 says:

    Hahahahaha!!! Omg I would be rolling on the floor laughing out loud if it were not for the fact that I am sitting in Starbucks right now. SO hilarious! I’ve worked many customer services jobs before (including Starbucks) so I totally get this. Man, one of the most unappreciated jobs but takes so much damn character and skill to be good at it and not stab one of those four people in the eye when they give you shit!

  3. edrevets says:

    And so often there are more than four of them that come a day. This is the real tragedy.

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