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So, She Came Into My Booth, And That's When The Trouble Started


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#1 clay lover

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:19 AM

How should I have handled this? Worst customer I've ever had.
She spent an hour in the booth, picking up and discarding many pieces, "Is it in another color?" "do you have it smaller? etc. At the same time, texting and tweeting and talking on her phone. I would wait on other people , make sales take payment wrap, but she was still there. She made a pile of pieces she wanted me to 'hold' while she continued to look, adding and subtracting from the pile. That in itself does not bother me. At one point, when I thought she was about finished, she suddenly darted out of the booth and across the room, saying, " I just NEED to go over here and buy this scarf" !!!!

Finally she seems ready to finish her business with me. Now she needs me to hurry with the totaling and writing the receipt. In the middle of this, she changes her mind after I have written the receipt, subtracts an item and wants the receipt written over. Suddenly, she has to "go right over there " and grab something from a friend in another booth and will be right back. I put the wrapped, unpaid for totaled package under my table and went on with other customers.
After 30 minutes a customer asked for an item I was out of except for the one in the yet to be paid for "I'll be right back". I called the missing woman, I had the for sight to get her name and number before she dashed off. I left a message saying I could hold the package another 10 minutes, but would be putting the pieces back on the shelf after that. After I did not hear from her or see her, in the 120 minutes, I put the items back out for sale . After about 45 minutes from the time she left, she reappears, I have several people in the booth. She goes ballistic, saying how offensive my message was, how rude, how insulted. Now she is saying she told me she was "Going out to lunch with a friend and would come back after their lunch" NO WAY would I have agreed to that deal. Was not said. My partner and I tell her we are sorry there was a misunderstanding, and reproduce her chosen pieces, still available, and the receipt. She flounces off , saying over her shoulder she does not want this crap now. I told her I was sorry she felt insulted, It was not my intention, but that I was there for business and needed to operate in a business manner, no offence in tended.
She leaves the booth, but stays close, talking and chatting loudly with show management who were around the area. At one point she comes back to the front of the booth and makes another comment. I tell her, here are the pieces you chose,it is your call, I will be happy to sell them to you, or happy to not sell them to you, something like that, very courteous to her, (while gritting my teeth ) but not groveling. I don't grovel well.
Finally she decides to purchase, I have my partner do the deal, I need to step away from her, still smiling. He has to do 1/2 cash, 1/2 credit card after one of her cards was declined.


Sorry, long story. Still fuming. At what point would you has asked her to just go away?

Do you hold things for people without payment? She took off before I could get her to pay!

My partner thinks I should not have left that message on her phone. I thought I was doing her a courtesy, telling her I would need to put the pieces back out after a certain time. Her behavior prior to that was so flaky, I had no reason to think she was reliable. Should I have left the bag under the table and lost the potential sale of those items? It was at the end of the not extremely profitable day.
Purchase was one of the larger of the day, but I wish I had never seen her.

#2 Wyndham

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:34 AM

This may, and I say, may be the rouse to divert attention from your booth as another tries to shoplift or bait and switch money in a cash sale(flashing a large bill while palming it back before purchase with a bag or papers). You get so distracted that someone else gets away. This has happened once in our shop but we caught it in time. Not saying this is what happened but always be on the look out.

As to holding pieces at a show,"Never" because this is the type of customers that you have to deal with. "Nit it in the Bud" as Barny Fife used to say. :)

Wyndham



#3 JBaymore

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:36 AM

This is why galleries are worth every penny of what they make on the sales of our work.  ;)

 

Sorry you had to deal with this idiot.  No right answers on this one... only wrong ones.  No matter what you did for her...... she would not have been happy.  It was not about sales... it was about "control".  She was controlling you.  Exerting power.  The more you bent to her wishes, the further she wanted to see you would go.  Sick individual.

 

best,

 

.......................john


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#4 clay lover

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:54 AM

John I think the reason she got so mad was that I put the onus on her with the call, "Lady, you've got 10 more minutes."


Would you have told her early on that you did not think your work was what she wanted and she should shop in another booth?

#5 TJR

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:55 AM

I agree with John. This person is mentally ill, and not very happy. She was trying to manipulate you to see what she could get away with. I have held pieces for people at a show, so that they can go get money or something, but not for her to eat lunch.Once you have made the committment to hold the work, you are stuck until she comes back. Back situation, bad feelings for you. You have my sympathies. It might have been a con or a bait and switch type of deal, but more likely just a ;"let's see what I can get away with here."

You could have said; "I'm sorry ma'me, but I do not wish to sell to you." Then see what hits the fan.

TJR.



#6 JBaymore

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 12:13 PM

Probably at the " Suddenly, she has to "go right over there " and grab something from a friend in another booth and will be right back. " point I'd have looked her very straight in the eyes and said, "I'm sorry but I will not be able to hold these pieces for you anymore.  If you return and if they are still here, I'd be glad to sell them to you then when you are able to devote some time to this".  Disengaged eye contact, and "moved on".

 

If she then started to go ballistic I'd have taken the initiative away from her and brought her to the show's management (away from the booth) or as a last resort brought the show management folks to the booth and get them to get her the hell out of there. 

 

best,

 

........................john


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#7 GEP

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 12:29 PM

I think you handled it correctly. The phone call was appropriate. So was putting the work back out on display. And there really is no "happy" way to have dealt with her. And unfortunately, if you has showed your anger towards her, that would only hurt you. She would likely have raised a stink with show management, and then you'd be in an "I said, she said" situation, and those are excruciating. It's part of the job to sometimes deal with morons, endure and then forget. 

 

Sorry this happened to you :-(


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#8 Chris Campbell

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 12:47 PM

Sorry this person ruined your day. The only 'win' here is you can learn from it so when you see this happening again you can turn it around, or at least stop it from gobbling up hours of your day. Cheap lesson.

In a craft fair situation you say NO to holding it. Very politely you explain that you only have today to earn your living and you cannot hold popular work that will sell to others. In other words ... The onus is on you Madame ...you snooze, you lose. BUT ... If you do not want to carry the heavy package around I will keep purchased work here until you call for it.

Even if you do decide to hold work, you set the time limit. "I will hold it for one hour then it goes back on the shelves." Even large service oriented stores tell customers how long they will hold items. They know how few people actually return. If she had seen another booth she liked better, or her friend has asked her to go somewhere after lunch ... You never would have seen her again.

As to her ranting outside your booth ... The only classy move is to ignore her and if that does not work call over the show organizers to speak to her while you get back to sales.

UGH ... The worst part is she is still out there shopping!!

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#9 pattial

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 01:20 PM

A sign by your pottery explaining your policies could be your answer. Short and to the point. When you have this type of customer again just point to the sign and say our policy is..... As for the switching up and changing her mind,,,,,,,,I've dealt with this type of customer before and after awhile I tell them nicely I'll let you look around and let me know when your done. Re-writing the receipt.... Probably a good thing for you so she doesn't come back and accuse you of changing it. Her nastiness,,,,, I think you handled that well.
For every customer like this I hope you have a hundred that are appreciative of your work.
I know I have had customers in the store that have adult 'ADD' and act this same way with the flitting and running around and don't let you talk ,,,,that doesn't excuse the behaviour though.

#10 Diane Puckett

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 04:42 PM

The most entitled, obnoxious customers I have ever had are often ones whose credit cards are denied and whose checks bounce. Be glad she did not pay by check.

I would post a sign saying you will be happy to hold purchases after they are paid for. You will look generous and gracious while setting an appropriate boundary.
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#11 Mark C.

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 04:46 PM

Do not hold work unless it is paid for-Just state this as a policy.

If you under extreme conditions need to hold work set a time limit-10 minutes-20 minutes. I would not go this route but its an option

I also have refused service to a few over the  past 4 decades selling pots with bad attitudes-its always been men.

Mark


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#12 TJR

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 06:22 PM

A sign by your pottery explaining your policies could be your answer. Short and to the point. When you have this type of customer again just point to the sign and say our policy is..... As for the switching up and changing her mind,,,,,,,,I've dealt with this type of customer before and after awhile I tell them nicely I'll let you look around and let me know when your done. Re-writing the receipt.... Probably a good thing for you so she doesn't come back and accuse you of changing it. Her nastiness,,,,, I think you handled that well.
For every customer like this I hope you have a hundred that are appreciative of your work.
I know I have had customers in the store that have adult 'ADD' and act this same way with the flitting and running around and don't let you talk ,,,,that doesn't excuse the behaviour though.

The sign should say in bold letters;"No crackpots allowed. Thank-you."

TJR.



#13 Mudslinger Ceramics

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 07:47 PM

Appalling experience!!  Don't fret, you did all the right things, you could not have made it better for her at all no matter what you tried.  The phone call was quite appropriate.

 

Had one of these many years ago when I was working in the cosmetics section of a very upmarket department store in Sydney......a loud flurry of bored, inadequacy and self obsession working her way across the counters trying to spit a bad mood out on someone else who 'can't' fight back because of their commitment to professionalism.  Unfortunately she finally stopped at my counter and focussed her attention.

 

She spent about $200 while telling me all the way through that the company really needed to hire people who 'knew' how to treat their customers with courtesy and service......I could not say anything back but I did have an overwhelming desire at the time to mash her in the building's revolving door!

 

John's right....control nut!!  Let it go.

 

Irene


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#14 clay lover

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for the words of support.
I had not intended to hold the pots while she went out to lunch, they were wrapped and bagged and had a ticket written, when she just took off. I was lucky to have gotten her cell #. The 'going out to lunch' was something she invented after she came back 45 minutes later, fuming over my phone call, saying "How dare you give me an ultimatum?" I had plenty of things I wanted to say to that, but stayed cool and kept a neutral expression on my face. I think I did tell her, ever so politely, that until pots were paid for,they belonged to me and I would be who decided what to do with them.

I would like to be able to excuse people that seem to be jerking me around earlier in their performances, but am afraid that legit customers , overhearing what might be said, would not understand why I was being bitchy to a customer.

#15 MikeFaul

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:28 PM

I taught sales people for years, and one of the greatest myths we had to dispel was the myth that everyone can be satisfied. No one can make everyone happy or satisfy their needs. This woman "needed" someone to bend and twist in every direction, she "needed" someone to manipulate their principles, she "needed" someone who pump up her ego while assuaging her ill feelings about making a purchase. You, and most folks without a doctorate in psychiatry were not and are not equipped to deal with her needs. If I would suggest one change in your approach it would be this...

 

When you hold product without a deposit, explain your boundaries at that moment. "I can hold this for you until..., and then I'll need to return them to shelf." You might have even write an "expiration time" on the back of your card, explained your policy, and asked her to call if she won't make it back by that time. Also, there is nothing wrong with not holding anything that isn't paid for... I don't think I would hold wares that weren't paid for...

 

Either way there is no phone call when she is off being "important" to someone else that makes her feel intruded upon and therefore "unimportant". Ten minutes was probably a short time frame from her perspective, which did not include the idea she was rude and selfish to begin with, she probably saw herself as doing you the favor of a purchase.

 

But, it's probably also true, that she would have blown up before leaving had you set the boundary at that time too. And, that's the important lesson, sometimes you're in a no, can't won't and will not win situation. It's important to know that in sales, which is a matter of human relations, you can't always win, you can do everything "right" and still not succeed. So, you win on the averages. 

 

On average, you did well. Your own story says so... You were busy, you were helping other customers, you were wrapping the purchase of other customers, you had customers buying consistently and continuously enough that you wanted to keep your inventory on display. I would suggest that these are a greater barometer of your salesmanship and skills as a potter than the one who got away. 



#16 MikeFaul

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:45 PM

I just remembered I had this guy at our booth this past weekend. He was looking at our cappuccino mugs, in particular a color scheme we call Mocha. It has a dark espresso brown glaze on the rim and a Cocoa colored body. Both glazes are rather beautiful, but if hold the spray gun just right and for exactly the right amount of time, I get a beautiful oxford grey line where the two glazes overlap. I can get this affect on about 8 out of 10 pots. I was down to two pots sporting this look, but on one the grey line was about 1/8th of inch higher on the form than the other. And one was about maybe an 1/8th of an inch larger in diameter than the other. He wanted a perfect match, and was rather concerned the two mugs were "so different"...

 

I explained about the nature of "hand made", but he was insistent... I would really like them to be precisely the same... Logic would not win the day. So, I knew this had nothing to do with the difference between the mugs, it was him. So, I told him about my three favorite cups for my morning French Press... All by a potter named David Voll, who's work I love. Every cup is slightly different. I explained that's the fun of it for me, noticing the difference and appreciating what made each of those three cups unique and different. I told him that while all of David's work was of the same shape and generally the same size, each gave me it's own special pleasure that the other two could not. And sometimes I would look forward to a drip, smear, or feel of finger ridge I knew belonged to one cup, but not the other two. In short, I told him it was OK to enjoy the differences... He purchased both mugs.



#17 clay lover

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 08:32 PM

Thanks, Mike. I truly can not think of any way I could have pleased her. But I also know I never lost my cool, spoke in carefully chosen words, remembering that other customers were surely listening. I didn't take her bait and get mad.
Wierdly enough, I have made some effort to track her in the community, it's a small town here. Today, I find out, she has been until very recently a SHOP OWNER! dealing with the public and in sales, a gift shop actually, with a couple of potters having an exclusive in her shop. How could she have stayed in business with those behaviors?

#18 MikeFaul

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 05:49 AM

UGH ... The worst part is she is still out there shopping!!

 

"Shoperzilla", coming soon to a craft show near you! Perhaps we should post wanted posters!?! Or, would that be "Not Wanted" posters?  :rolleyes:

 

Made me think of a guy who sat next to me at my first wheel class... We were struggling to learn how to center clay, all of our cylinders were different size, different shape, different thicknesses, but all were rather wonky and weird, no two were the same, so we called them "art"! And, that evolved into a running joke about a reality TV Show entitled "The Great American Potters". The show featured the wacky and frustrating moments of learning to be a potter and bring your wares to market... I think this craft show experience must have been a scene from episode 10!



#19 RuthB

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:08 AM

Segueing a bit.... what do you say to Browsers who make some sort of bigoted comment about race, gender, etc.... At this

point I really don't want them to own my work; my friends cover the full spectrum of human possibilities and even if they didn't

I still can't justify staying quiet in the face of hate. So I say something on the lines of all humans being capable of both bad and

good behavior and that said behavior just doesn't have anything to do with the customer's particular bias. These are all browsers;

none have wanted to purchase anything. Has this happened to any of you? With a purchaser? I would love to be able to open 

their eyes and hearts, even just a tad. 



#20 Pres

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:20 AM

I am reminded of a customer years ago, that in the beginning I thought was going to be a real pain in the nether regions.  He came down the road at the Penn State festival carrying a large bucket. Stopped at pottery booths and drew a crowd at each one. At that time the Penn State show put locals together in one area as they alotted so many spaces under a different jury set up. This man wanted local ware, and was interested in teapots. The bucket carried water. When he got to my booth, he looked at several of my teapots, pulling some off the shelf. When I approached him he loudly explained that none of the teapots he had purchased in the past had poured well, and that he wanted to test before he bought. I said go ahead, but if any broke they were purchased. He filled each of the pots, tested them out, set them aside, and then had a problem. All that he had chosen poured well. We talked for a while with me explaining things I knew about a good teapot, the spout, lid, opening, and handle etc. In the end he bought 3 teapots from me, after raising quite a crowd. That weekend I sold out all of my teapots, and could have sold many more if I had had them.  The crowd, his early beligerant and loud manner, his test, and my taking a teachable moment at hand turned my sales day for me.


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