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Bookstore brain stoppers.
  #1  
Old 07-05-2008, 09:35 PM
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Red face Bookstore brain stoppers.

So, I saw this new section and giggled, because it's the perfect place to put some of the conversations I have with customers that aren't necessarily sucky, but they do make me wonder about the direction humanity is going. For those who don't know, I work in an off campus college bookstore, and these are some of the common, and uncommon conversations I have with customers on a fairly regular basis.

What's my class again?

It never fails. Right around the time we start taking reservations for the next semester, I get the brilliant shining examples of academic excellence calling me to ask questions about how to fill out the reservation form. It's actually pretty simple. We ask for department, course number, and class number, all of which are very specific to each section of a class or classes. i.e. ENGL 1234 12345 for an English class. Here are a few of my favorite gems from the confused customers.

Me: <Spiel>
CC: yeah, uh, I'm on your website trying to fill out my reservation form for books. I'm trying to fill out my professor's name, but he isn't on the list.
Me: Ok, well, if you can give me your class number, I can look that up for you in our system. sometimes it takes the website a little longer to update.
CC: It's English 1111, and the class number is 1.
Me: No, sir, that's the section number. I need the five digit class number.
CC: Oh. English 1111
Me: No sir, that's the course number. I need the class number.
CC: Oh! 11111
Me: Ok...it doesn't look like a professor has been assigned to that section yet.
CC: But my schedule says it's TBA. You don't have a professor named TBA on your list? (He actually pronounced it Teeeba)
Me: ... sir, that's T. B. A. meaning to be announced. just fill out the class number, and we'll be able to match up your books on the reservation that way.
CC: Ok, thanks! <click>


Or, scenario 2...

Me: <opening phone spiel>
CC: yeah, I'm an incoming freshmen, and I'm trying to reserve my books online, but the form is confusing me.
Me: all right, I can walk you through it. Which is giving you trouble?
CC: Well, I'm just wondering how to enter my English class. What department would I put that under?
Me: ... <Hits mute button and giggles hysterically before answering> Um, I think that'd be English, sir. You'd enter it as E-N-G-L, then the four digit course number 1234, then the five digit class number, 12345.
CC: Great, thanks! So, that means I'd put my math class under math, right?
Me: Yes, sir. Exactly.
CC: Ok, thanks for your help! <Click>

My brain cells peed themselves laughing at that one.


"You know, the book! With the pages!

And then there are the students who come in to look for their books in person. Now, considering I stock the books when they get here, I'm ok if you don't know the exact title, but please, please gods, have SOME information to go on for me to search. I'm not psychic! These are some of the questions I've been asked in the years I've been at the store.

"hey, do you guys sell textbooks?" (Asked while I'm standing in the textbook section)

OR

CC: Hey, can you look up a book for me?
Me: Sure. Which one are you looking for?
CC: The blue one.
Me: ...
CC: You know, the one with the penguins on the cover.
Me: ...
CC: Do you have it?
(Now, I can search by author, title, ISBN, course #, department, even by the professor's last name. But I can't search for "Blue book with penguins on the cover!)

OR

CC: Hi, I don't know what book I need, but can you look for my class?
Me: Sure! What's the class number?
CC: ...
Me: ...
CC: Uh, it's a psychology class
Me: Great. <Enters a search for the psyc department> And do you know the course number?
CC: No.
Me: What about your professor's last name?
CC: Oh, I don't know. But he's old guy.
Me: ...
CC: He wears glasses, does that help?
(See above parentheses on what criteria i can use to search. Same applies to "old guy with glasses in psyc department")


Well, this ended up kind of long, so I'll stop here, and start another thread later about the questions at the registers and in the clothing or school supplies sections.

I have lots of stories...

  #2  
Old 07-06-2008, 12:59 AM
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CC: The blue one.

It's ALWAYS the blue one!

  #3  
Old 07-06-2008, 02:58 AM
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It's ALWAYS the blue one!
I know it is!

Sad thing is, I've been asked that question SO many times, that I actually know immediately which book it is, which classes are using it, and when it updates to a new edition.

Just the other day, a coworker was doing a buyback and held up an anthropology book to me, asking if it was being used (I'm an anthropology major, so I always go through that section, looking for new, interesting stuff to read there)

My response? "Nope, it's a new edition. It's the purple one. With the Mayan on the cover.

I've started to use the customer lingo!! I refer to books by COLORS!!

  #4  
Old 07-06-2008, 07:19 AM
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Quoth lupo pazzesco View Post
CC: But my schedule says it's TBA. You don't have a professor named TBA on your list? (He actually pronounced it Teeeba)
Wow! That TBA guy really gets around. It seems like, every year, he's booked on almost every music stage at Summerfest!

  #5  
Old 07-06-2008, 01:10 PM
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Yeah...I worked in a regular bookstore for three years,and there were always people coming in looking for "that book."

"You know, that new book. I think it's new. The cover is white, and I think it has a picture of a dog on it. Or maybe there's just a dog in it. It's about 200 pages. The main character's name might be Jack, and I think he's a lawyer or something. It was mentioned on [insert name of small local radio show with very limited audience here] like a month ago, so you MUST know what I'm talking about! Don't you know ANYTHING?!"

Well, I know that I can do book searches by author, title, ISBN, or subject...and you aren't giving me any of those things. Let me ask my co-workers and see if the info you do have rings a bell. The really scary thing? There were times when that was enough information to actually track down the book in question.

These same people also patronize movie rental places - "That new movie with that guy...you know, the actor who was in that other movie, with the dog."

  #6  
Old 07-06-2008, 03:19 PM
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It's ALWAYS the blue one!
At least it's never lupus.
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  #7  
Old 07-06-2008, 05:11 PM
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They didn't tell you that psychic ability is a prerequisite for working in a bookstore?? Yeah, they didn't tell me, either.

Just out of curiosity, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but is your store a Barnes & Noble store by any chance?

When I went for my interview for my old job in Philly, my friend met me at the train station, and since I was way early because of the train schedule, she suggested I could hang out at the UPenn bookstore to kill time. I walked in and saw the category signs, and even though they don't say B&N, I immediately recognized them as B&N signs....and nearly ran away screaming! (OK, not really...)

Quote:
Quoth Difdi View Post
It's ALWAYS the blue one!
But WHY??? WHY is it always blue??!

Quote:
Quoth Quillsilver View Post
The really scary thing? There were times when that was enough information to actually track down the book in question.
Yeah, that's when working in a bookstore really gets scary...and you know it's time to go...or at least take a vacation!
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:11 PM
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Sheesh! And these people are studying with the aim to be the future entrepreneurs, business leaders, chief engineers and head scientists of America? Oh...my...gawd!

NB: I'm certain that the bookstores in the UK get precisely the same thing! We're all doomed, I tell thee!

  #9  
Old 07-06-2008, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Quoth lupo pazzesco View Post
CC: Hi, I don't know what book I need, but can you look for my class?
Me: Sure! What's the class number?
CC: ...
Me: ...
CC: Uh, it's a psychology class
Me: Great. <Enters a search for the psyc department> And do you know the course number?
CC: No.
Me: What about your professor's last name?
CC: Oh, I don't know. But he's old guy.
Me: ...
CC: He wears glasses, does that help?
(See above parentheses on what criteria i can use to search. Same applies to "old guy with glasses in psyc department")
Been there.

My wife and I both spent time working for our university's testing center. At least once a day, we got one of those.

Student: Hi, I need to take a test.
Me: Well, you're in the right place. That's all we do here. Which test?
Student: The test for my class.
Me: ... And which class would that be?
Student: English.
Me: ... Okay, that narrows your selection down from about 200 tests to about 35.
Student: I only need one!
Me: I know, but we have about 35 English tests on file right now, and I'm going to need some more information to know which one to give you.

At that point I go through asking for the professor's name, the course number, the subject of the course, and other such questions, all of which are generally met by a blank stare or another vague response. Most students would finally come up with something (like showing us a textbook or looking up their class schedule in the computer lab across the hall), but one or two in my year there actually gave up and didn't bother taking the test at all.
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  #10  
Old 07-06-2008, 11:04 PM
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Quoth BookstoreEscapee View Post
Just out of curiosity, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but is your store a Barnes & Noble store by any chance?

When I went for my interview for my old job in Philly, my friend met me at the train station, and since I was way early because of the train schedule, she suggested I could hang out at the UPenn bookstore to kill time. I walked in and saw the category signs, and even though they don't say B&N, I immediately recognized them as B&N signs....and nearly ran away screaming! (OK, not really...)
Oh dear GODS no!!

The campus bookstore is a B&N bookstore. I went to apply there...and didn't.

No, I work for the off-campus bookstore, which is owned by a completely different company.

don't get me wrong, I order from B&N online, and am thankful for the membership discount, but I don't like venturing forward into the actual stores themselves... <shudder>
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