Posted by: Nathan | January 11, 2009

One Crappy Customer

The other day at the bank where I work, I had an exceptionally rotten customer come through my drive-up. We usually have customers who make dumb mistakes such as forgetting to sign their checks, not sending in their IDs, or asking for things we cannot do (“Can I have a cashier’s check made through the drive-up?’). This woman, however, committed none of these usual mistakes.

Our transaction began with the usual greeting. She was depositing a check and getting cash back. She managed to send in two forms of ID and had everything signed, which is always a great start. I sent out her receipt and the $500 or so and gave her the traditional goodbye: “Is there anything else I can help you with today? Thanks, have a good day!” I sent out her tube (tube #3) and had already started on #4’s transaction when I go the dreaded “DING!” Every time a customer presses the “call” button, we enjoy an unexpected and shrill “DING!” to let us know they want to converse with/yell at us. I pushed the button on the intercom.

“Yes, ma’am. How can I help you?”

“I want the cash back in bills smaller than fifties, please.”

It would have been nice if she had mentioned that fact before I sent out her money, but as far as customer demands go, this wasn’t too bad.

“No problem,” said I. Since I had already begun the transaction for #4, I asked my cohort if he would send her twenties for me. He, too, was in the midst of helping a customer, but he said he would. He put the money in the envelope and sent it back out. I thought that was the end. Then…

“DING!” It was she again.

“Yes?” I said.

“I said I wanted bills smaller than fifties!” She slammed the tube into the slot and pushed “send” for the third time.

“What did you give her?” I asked my co-worker.

“Fifties and twenties.”

“Didn’t you hear what I said before?”

“I guess not.” I was not mad; these sorts of mix-ups happen daily. I quickly made the change again as soon as I had finished another person’s transaction.

By this point, the lady in #3 had been there for five minutes or so and had seen several people leave who had come after she did. She was angry. When she got the canister this time, she opened the lid, took the money, and slammed the canister back into its place without closing the lid. Our drive-up containers have lids that twist open in such a way that the lid sticks out if it’s not closed. Thus, #3’s canister fell out of its spot as soon as the lady’s angry hand had pounded it in. It rolled under her car.

I saw it roll under her car. I hesitated. Should I call her and tell her that the tube was underneath her sedan? Surely she already knew that, right? Before I could act, however, #3 put her car in drive and pulled forward. The canister was directly underneath her left-rear tire, and the car began to rise slowly into the air*. She put her car in reverse, and rolled back to her starting point.

By then, I was thoroughly amused. Customer driving mistakes are always a great source of joy for all of us stuck inside the bank all day. I had seen customers drive over cement dividers (at least once daily), scrape their vehicles against polls (several times), and almost nail each other while trying to leave**, but no one had ever attempted to drive over a canister before. My mirth didn’t last long.

“DING! DING! DING! DING!”

I had anticipated this and got on the mic: “Yes, ma’am.”

“DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!”

“I’m talking to you!” I said.

“THE TUBE IS UNDER MY CAR!”

As this certainly was the case, I said, “That’s correct.”

Then there was a pause. I didn’t know what to say. Sane people in this situation open their car door, take two steps, pick up the tube, put it back, and drive away. No way did this woman expect me to come outside, walk around the building, and move the canister a few inches so she could leave.  But she didn’t say anything.

Finally, I said, “Do you want me to come outside and get it out from under your car for you?”

YES!!

Thus it was that I found myself walking through the double doors on a chilly January Monday to move a customer’s container a few inches on her behalf. Of course, I was irked. In my mind I went over a few things to say to her and rejected them in the name of good customer service. I had to say something, though.

I got to her car and picked up the tube: “You know, if you had just closed the lid, it wouldn’t have fallen out like that.”

“Is your name Nathan?” she asked me. I assured her it was. She peeled away.

By asking for my name (which was printed on her receipt anyway if she had bothered to look) I knew she wanted me to know that she was going to complain to my superior. She was unaware that irate and unstable customers whining about employees aren’t often taken seriously. I take care of my customers, and my bosses know that. I was not worried.

A couple of hours later, I the phone rang. “This is Nathan; how may I help you?”

[Click]

*Canister #3 survived intact and unscratched. I have a new-found respect for the construction of our drive-up tubes.

**Sometimes I send out tubes 2, 3, and 4 at the same time, and we guess who will win. I always hope they’ll pull out simultaneously and have the battle of polite waving hands: “You go ahead.” “No, you.”

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Responses

  1. I used to work at a bank. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with customers anymore.

  2. Your story brings back bad memories of my retail jobs.

    I always use the ATM or go inside. The whole tube and intercom system makes me uncomfortable.

  3. That was the highlight of my day.

    Coincidentally, I now own a drive-up tube because of a white elephant exchange. A friend drove away with it still in her car and felt too embarrassed to take it back.

    you can look forward to recieving it at next year’s Christmas, as a memory of your great service at the bank 🙂

  4. Very well told, my friend. Your job is much more entertaining than mine. Had I encountered this lady, I would have had the urge to give her back fives and ones. Lots and lots of ones. Just to be snarky.


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