Holly Cogitates... Tales of Customer Stupidity

Published: 12th March 2002

One of the great things about having a job has to deal with customers whose intelligence can be seen as severely lacking. Quite frankly, I have started to have my doubts as to the validity of Darwinism because some of these people are too stupid to survive, except by the grace of some sort of omnipotent being. The names have been withheld to protect the guilty and I have also withheld the name of the newspapers in which I sell advertising space. Below are tales of some of my favorite examples:

Dr. Cheapskate

Dr. "Cheapskate" is always looking for something for free. He feels that the world owes him a lot of things, especially free advertising for his chiropractic business. According to Dr. Cheapskate, we're just a big, greedy corporation out to take advantage of the little guy. While, there may be a little ring of truth to his complaints, his reasoning is most definitely faulty. His main complaint is that we stick to a publicized rate card and don't cut him special deals, which he feels he deserves since he spends so much money with us (It's all relative). Among his arguments (besides us being so expensive and him deserving special treatment because he's well...Dr. Cheapskate), are "Your rate cards are too confusing to understand and I have no idea what I'm getting. I have a PhD and I can't read this stuff, so how do you expect your other advertisers to?" I was so tempted to say that I didn't have any problem reading the rate cards and figuring it out...they're pretty straightforward. But I didn't comment on his willful lack of intelligence.

Instead I argued that I would be happy to explain anything to him that he didn't understand and that the reason we use rate cards was to ensure that we were fair to all of our advertisers. If we didn't have official rates, then how would he know if we were being fair and not charging him what we wanted to charge? To which he responded, "Tell me this. Why should you be fair to me? I spend so much money with you, I deserve special deals." Hmm...can't win for losing. I think I need the Dr. Cheapskate rate card: charge him twice the rate everyone else pays and tell him he pays half the rate everyone else pays. Then we can both be happy.

The Time Machine

One time a customer called on Wednesday, January 16th wanting to know if he could get his ad into January 16th's paper. I told the customer that the deadline was the Friday before (in fact I had called this customer on Friday and asked if he wanted to run and he had said, "no."). He told me, "Well I didn't think I'd need the ad on Friday, but now I'm kind of needing the work." I was so tempted to tell him that of course we could get his ad into this week's paper, but there was an extra fee for any ads that involve time travel in order to make the deadline. However, we'd waive the fee if he'd also buy an ad in last week's paper. It was tempting, but unfortunately my boss was around so I asked him if he'd want next week's paper (the 23rd). He declined, saying he was going on vacation that week. Sadly, I told the tale to other sales reps and he wasn't the first customer to try to get into today's paper...scary, isn't it?

Best of all: the Forgetful Psychic

Never trust someone to tell you the future who can't remember the past. One lovely Friday about ten, I received a phone call from a psychic who wished to advertise her services. She did palm readings, tarot cards, and other dubious things of the sort (forgive me for my skepticism, though when I'm finished with this tale, you shall surely see why). Now she had been my customer and advertised with us before a few months ago. Her ad never did stay in the paper very long, for despite her self-claimed psychic abilities she could never foresee that she wasn't going to get the desired response from the ad or have the money to keep it in the paper. But generally, she did remember that I was her sales rep and occasionally she would call up and give it a go.

Well I took all of the information for the ad, read it back to her, and confirmed just what papers the ad would be running in and on what dates, as well as the price. She also advertised a couple of other services - a seamstress business and a housecleaning service (interesting combination to say the least, but I just take the ads). I put all the paperwork through and thought I was through with her. However later in the day, I heard one of my co-workers on the phone explaining the rates and papers to a new customer. He then turned to me and asked, "Holly...do we take ads from psychics?" I replied that yes, unfortunately if a customer gives us their money, we're obligated to take the ad (with the exception of pornographic ads). He said, "good because I have a psychic who lives in Cambridge for you."

"Interesting," I replied. "It's a small world out there. I already took an ad from a psychic in Cambridge this morning. I don't think we've ever had two psychics advertise in the same week."

"Fine," the coworker said. "I'm going to put the customer through to you."

"Hello," I said, as I answered the phone. I heard a strangely familiar voice; one that I had heard in the morning. The customer started to describe in detail what sort of ads she wanted and when she wanted to run.

"I already took these ads this morning," I explained to her.

"Oh," she said. "You must have talked to my sister." Sister? This was the first time she had mentioned a sister before. She then proceeded to consult her "sister" and then come back. She said, "Oh okay. I'm all set. Go ahead and run the ads."

I ran them...but I will never call a psychic. Later I did talk to her "sister" whom had a different a voice altogether and was NOT the woman I had talked to in the morning and was also referred as "the new girl she hired who had good references." Interesting family they have going there.

Your Credit Card Was Declined:

I've heard some interesting reasons for why credit cards have declined. Probably my favorite was, "The ATM ate my card and I'll have to get another." That one was said by a customer who gave me three, count them, three different credit cards that all declined for a $33 ad.

Then the above mentioned psychic frequently had declined credit cards (something else she was never able to foresee and generally the reason behind her ads not being in the paper very long). She once told me that she didn't know why it always declined, but that she was going to go to the bank and see if they would increase her limit so that her ads could stay in the paper. Apparently, the bank didn't because she didn't call back and it still declined. Surprise, surprise.


Well these are my best ones so far, though I'm sure as I continue to work, I'll have more volumes to write.