Thursday, April 19, 2012

Every Possible Combination

I haven't done a mean post about customers lately. See? I can be good! Except I had one the other day that I just can't resist being mean about.

She came in and let me know she was from out of state, which apparently in her language is code for don't hassle me with my return. (Now now, don't have too much fun guessing what her home state is. Be nice!) Whatevs, it's not like returns bother me unless they're clearly user-damaged and/or a form of free rental. Anyway, she puts a headlamp, like the kind you'd wear in a cave, and a very sticky hummingbird feeder--the easy fill kind--on the counter. "This doesn't work and this leaks," she told me. "I just want another headlamp, but the hummingbird feeder is my mom's and she decided she just wants her money back."

"What's wrong with the headlamp?" I ask, truly and purely innocent.
"It doesn't work."
"Maybe the batteries are dead. Here, let me test them." I start to open it up.
"Actually, I think they put in the wrong ones. Both of them are positive, and it needs one positive and one negative battery."
Luckily she didn't notice my eyes popping out of my head. I put them back in discretely. "Maybe we can try flipping one of them over," I suggest very, very gently, trying not to fall over and roll around on the ground laughing. And I feel bad for wanting to laugh, because seriously, lots and lots and lots of perfectly fine and smart people do just fine without knowing the first thing about batteries and how they work. But ... still. I would have laughed if I wasn't trying to figure out a way to help her without embarrassing her.
"Oh no," she said. "I tried that. I tried every possible combination and it still doesn't work."
"Okay," I said. "I'll tell you what. I'll test the batteries to see if one or both of them are dead, and you can go get another headlamp. Okay?"
"Okay. I'll want to test it first to see if it works."
"I don't blame you. We can do that."
So she leaves and true to my word, I test the batteries. And they are whack the top green, fully charged. I put one of them + side up, and the other I flip over. They're the flat kind with the rough bellies, so the stamp showing what pole is what is only stamped on one side. I close her up, click, and voila! There is light.
It's like magic. Seriously.
I knew then that the hummingbird feeder was perfectly and utterly fine. I bet that when they put it together after they filled it, one of three things happened. They put the gasket and the washer/bar thingie (see? I don't know what it's called but I'm not stupid!) in the wrong order, they misthreaded it when they put it together, or they either forgot to set the bar to 'feed' or put it together in such a way that the feed/fill bar were in the wrong place and couldn't be adjusted.
Was I going to say crap to her? Heck no! That would be truly stupid.
"Hey," I said when she came back. "I fixed it!"
"How'd you do that?" she asked, amazed.
"I flipped one of the batteries over. Do you want to see?"
"No, thanks."
"Did you want the new one instead?"
"No," she said, hopefully pleased that I was giving her power of choice and treating her like the good customer she was, "if it works I want it." She took the headlamp and clicked it on and off several times to satisfy herself.
We did the return on the hummingbird feeder, and she went on her merry way. And that's when I realized that she had said something kinda dumb.
She'd tried every possible combination, she'd said.
Sorry, dear. You should know better.
But again, to her credit, I have this terrible fear of electronic things blowing up if I put them together wrong. She may have been afraid of shorting it out or something if she put one of the batteries in upside-down. I don't blame her.



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