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PROOF OF PURCHASE, a short story

In customer service, it’s practically a law that when someone asks for the manager an unfortunate outcome is on the way. The question then becomes, who’s outcome? Fran was hoping it wasn’t going to be hers as the steaming red-cheeked man came storming towards the counter yelling: “Manager! I need to speak with a manager, now!”

Fran sighed. She’d dealt with this man before. Numerous times, actually. He was what Planet Mart defined as a Disgruntled Customer. One she was supposed to handle with a level of finesse.

The Disgruntled Customer slammed his fist down on the marble countertop that stood in front of the employees. “That’s it! I want my refund and the full one. Not store credit, not a gift card and not an exchange. A F-U-L-L refund!” the man demanded.

“Sir, once again, I apologize for whatever inconvenience you’re—” Fran began to repeat the protocol for dealing with such a customer but the employee manual didn’t account for the Interrupting Customer.

“Inconvenience? Are you some sort of comedian? My planet is riddled with airborne diseases, affluent bastards who disregard the marginalized and the rest of ‘em? They’re all addicted to their damn gadgets! Keep your apologies and give me my refund!” The man threw his arms up in the air flagrantly. It was clear he’d been stewing in his misfortune the entire way to Planet Mart. He was like a soda pop bottle shaken up and the lid had finally popped off.

Fran’s co-worker approached her from behind and asked if everything was alright.

“It’s fine,” she whispered away from the frantic customer. “He comes in all the time.”

“Excuse me? What’s your name? I want to file a complaint,” the man said as he began pacing back and forth in front of the counter. Other customers were slowly forming a line behind the man and Fran knew she could only entertain this for so much longer before she herself would be in trouble.

“Sir, my name is right here.” Fran tapped the laminated shiny badge pinned to her polo shirt which spelled her name out. “I’ve told you this before and it’s the same thing my manager will inform you of. I will need a receipt to prove your purchase before I can do anything for you.”

The man threw his hands over his head and pulled at his hair to the point where it stood up straight afterwards. “I lost it! I told you that the last time. Don’t you have a database or something? I bought it last year.”

“Once again, sir, if you have even the transaction ID number I’d love to try to look it up for you,” Fran said as calmly as she could even though her heart was assaulting her rib cage.

The man slammed his fist into the counter again. “Your establishment is absolute garbage! I knew I should’ve gone with One Stop Planet Shop. They know how to treat customers!”

Fran nodded her head peacefully and extended a warm smile to the customers behind the anguished man.

After knocking over the BOGO sign and almost slipping while doing so, he finally left the store. The next customer stepped up to the counter shaking her head.

“What was his problem?” she asked.

“He bought Earth,” Fran said with a chuckle.

“Oh, jeez. I don’t blame him, I’d regret that purchase too,” she said.

“Yeah, I wish there was something I could do but we’ve been trying to get rid of that product for quite some time now,” Fran said. “It was inevitable, someone was bound to be stuck with it. Now, what can I help you with today?”

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