The Customer is Alway Right

One of the worst business principles I know of is “the customer is always right.” It’s just another way of saying “a fool and his money are soon parted.” For some reason, making a customer feel superior, almost god-like, makes him willing to spend more.

And there is the occasional customer who actually believes he’s always right; such as insisting it is okay to leave ice cream in the bread aisle. It is, after all, a long and difficult trek all the way to the freezer section. I mean my god! It’s the store’s fault the customer decided not to buy it in the first place, right? So it’s their fault the ice cream melted and soaked 48 loaves of Wonder Bread.

And there’s often a snotty attitude that retail service clerks must face to earn enough paycheck to afford not running out of toilet paper.

Take working in a grocery store deli, for example. Some people think they’re better than you because they’re not behind a counter wearing a hairnet. Like the time a customer whistled for service as though he were calling a dog. So I cheerfully bounced up to the counter and wagged my tail for him.

It’s often assumed you have no intelligence. Once asked if I ever finished school, I answered, “Yeah. In fact, I keep my kindergarten diploma on the refrigerator. It’s right next to my drawing of Mommy and Daddy. It’s in crayon!”

Or if you’re a cute girl serving customers, old men feel compelled to offer relationship advice. They insist she must choose a good boyfriend, as if they just know she’s actively trying to marry a rapist or something. She’s thinking, “Thanks, but I like being dragged by my hair every night.”

Every once in a while a customer comes along that has “connections.” Like the one who asked for three pounds of black forest ham, but there was only two and three quarter pounds. “I asked for three pounds!” he huffed, “I golf with your boss Wednesdays and he comes over to my house for beers. He listens to me and you’ll be in trouble. Why, he even uses my stock tips!”

“Oh, that explains why he drives a 1974 Gremlin.”

Then there was the lady who looked at the cheese section and quipped, “Where’s the turkey?” I showed her it was on the opposite side of the display and, with some irritation, she said, “Why did you move it?”

“I saw you coming.”

“That’s just rude!”

“Well, we like to keep our best customers confused.”

“Aw, thanks. Wait — what?”

“We have to. Otherwise, you’d think you were always right.”