The Things Bookstore Customers Say

Angry customer

Where is my copy of Twilight?!!

I don’t keep my identity secret on this website, so my employer is welcome to see who I am. On that basis, I need a disclaimer:
I’m not suggesting my employer’s customers are in any way lacking. Some customers know less about books than I do. It is my job to educate and serve them. That education and service has, on occasion, begun after the following questions.

1. Do you sell diapers?

My answer: No. No, we don’t.

Answer that would get me fired: Not yet, but since people want to buy pretty much everything other than books from us, we may have them soon. Call back in about 6 months, we’ll likely be selling them out of the Child Adoption Department.


2. Is this book 20% off?
No, the sale only applies to children’s books
So this doesn’t qualify, then? *holds up “Laptops For Seniors For Dummies”
N…no. No.

Answer that would get me fired: Only if you buy it along with a book on re-incarnation.


The Unicorn of Killimanjaro3. Do you have any books about Unicorns?
You mean, like, a kids book? Or a Fantasy fiction book?
No, I mean non-fiction.. photographs of Unicorns
I don’t think unicorns are real

Customer returns about 30 minutes later carrying a large hardcover ‘coffee table’ book called The Unicorn of Kilimanjaro by Robert Vavra featuring photos of a unicorn (photos of a horse that had been either photoshopped or had had a prosthetic horn attached to its head). She then engaged another employee (me) in conversation about the beauty of unicorns, showing me each individual photograph and seeking my critique about each. Meanwhile, the original employee is hiding in the back, practically in tears of laughter.
To this day, I cannot be sure if the customer genuinely believed in Unicorns or whether she was a comedy genius.

Answer I actually gave that should have gotten me fired:
Her: *shows book* It’s called “The Unicorn of Kill-kill…Kill-er man….”
Me: Somewhere in Africa…


4. I’d like to return this book!
Is there a problem?
Yes! It’s upside-down!
*looks* The book is fine, ma’am. The dust jacket is just on upside down.

Response that would have, retrospectively, gotten me fired:
*Shoots self in face*


Deckled Edge Book5. Do you have any copies of this book that aren’t damaged?
Sorry? How are they damaged?
The edges of all the pages are uneven kindof torn?
That’s an intentional design, it’s called deckle edge paper.

Answer that would have gotten me fired: Wow, good eye. I don’t know *how* we missed that. Take them. Take them all.


6. How much is this book?
Why is it $12.99 in Canada but $9.99 in The USA
Because books are more expensive in Canada

How this conversation continues to the point it nearly gets me fired every day:
Customer: But our dollar is worth more than the US Dollar
Me: You don’t understand what the word ‘cost’ means. Books cost more in Canada.
Customer: But our dollar is worth more than the US Dollar
Me: Sir/Madam, we are not a bank. We are a bookstore selling a product that costs more in one country than another, we are not here to provide you with a competitive FOREX service. Did you know cars and Big Macs are also more expensive in Canada than The USA?
Customer: Can I pay you in US Dollars?
Me: Yes, but you will still be paying the Canadian price at this Canadian bookstore for this book that is marketed in Canada while you are here in Canada.
Customer: Well, that’s just ridiculous.

Answer that would get me fired: So is your face


7. Can I have a bag, or are you going to charge me for it?
In Toronto, we have to charge you 5c – it’s the law
Pfft, law.
Yes, sir.
Show me the law!
Show it to you? I don’t have it written down…

Answer that would get me fired: But then, I also don’t have it written down that murder is a crime, but most customers would accept it.
(Incidentally, I now have the precise name of the Toronto Municiple Code By-Law memorised. Sadly, I haven’t been challenged on it – yet!)


8. I’m looking for a book [it has a red cover/it has a miserable face on the cover/it was on this shelf a year ago]
Do you know who wrote it? Or the name of it?

I understand that part of my job is having product knowledge, but there is a delicate balance between how far my product knowledge goes and how much information the customer is giving me and how correct their vague recollection might be. My product knowledge (and my wage) do not lend themselves to remembering what was on a given display 365 days ago.


9. Look! [I Am Number Four/Twilight/Harry Potter/The Help etc…] They made a book out of it!

And the question that customers are most upset regarding?


Because were are sold out/Because we don’t stock it

Answer that would get me fired:
Why are you sold out? – Because several other people were more organised than you, and you are late to the party.
Why don’t you stock it? – This is a bookstore, with stationary walls. It is not the Tardis.

image credits: cepascalphilobiblon


If you think this was bad, you should see my e-book.

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