“The customer is always right!” While the origin of this enduring principle cannot be known with certainty, one thing is certain: the customer is NOT always right. To believe otherwise is to be prepared to live with some pretty egregious and outrageous behavior on the part of customers, most often directed at employees who are in no position to defend themselves. Such was the case at Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Alamogordo on Wednesday.
My mother-in-law ventured into Walgreen’s to pick up a prescription and, while waiting in line, witnessed a rather nasty confrontation between a customer and a young Pharmacy tech. The customer, a man in his 70s, was told by the Pharmacy tech, a young woman in her 20s, that his full prescription was not ready as promised. He was handed a bag containing a partial prescription and was told that he would have to come back the following day to pick up the remainder of his medicine.
Needless to say, the man was not happy. We perhaps have all been in that situation where we were told that an item would be ready at a certain time, only to discover upon our arrival that said item was not available for pick-up as promised. Whether that’s picking up a pizza or picking up a prescription, one can become easily frustrated with what appears to be a lack of competence or a simple failure to communicate more accurately.
The customer at Walgreen’s was right to be frustrated and even angry that his prescription was not available as promised. However, the customer crossed the line from being right to being totally wrong by how he responded to the news concerning his medicine. When the older gentleman man realized that he was going to have to return at a later time to pick up the rest of his pills, he took the bag containing the partial prescription and hurled it at the young Pharmacy tech, striking her in the face. The young woman, having been rudely talked to and then battered by the customer, was understandably in tears.
Almost immediately, another employee of Walgreen’s, perhaps the Manager of the entire store, came up to talk with the grumpy old man. While my mother-in-law does not know what transpired, I can tell you what I believe should have transpired. The manager of Walgreen’s should have told the customer that not only was he no longer welcome in the store, but that if he did not leave immediately, that the police would be called to escort him out of the building.
Even if a customer has a good reason to be frustrated, when he begins to verbally abuse an employee, he should politely be shown the door. If the customer resorts to physical abuse, he should be shown the inside of a police cruiser! The customer may be many things, but always right is not one of them. Never say always. If you do, you’re liable to get the customers you deserve, but no employees to serve them!