Difficult Customer Situation

We had a difficult customer situation yesterday which given that we’re retail surprisingly doesn’t happen very often. We are very much customer service driven and try to help everyone have success, so in this case I got confused with what the guy was asking for and tried to help him with his plant, while he really didn’t want any help.

He wanted to return an expensive plant he bought from us 5 months ago and had not taken care of and get a different one instead. He came in pretty much ready for a fight. Anyway, we don’t take plants back, and nobody takes anything back 5 months later, so I tried to help him through the issues.

His story was that he came to us asking for an Ocotillo with small leaves, and had a photo too, so we showed him 2 possible species, neither of which were leafed out at the time, but both have the same leaves, and he picked one. All our plants have the name on the pot. 5 months later he comes in, having not taken care of the plant and complains that the leaves are too big and he meant the other species.

So I try to help him – how to take better care, what to do to make it look like he wants. This is where I went wrong. He wasn’t looking for help – he was demanding we take back a damaged plant after 5 months. I should have just said no, it’s been 5 months, we don’t take returns after 5 months. I think that would have been a better response.

Anyway, then he starts in threatening us. He says he worked on the TV show that we had some plants on once and he’s on the board of a garden club in Sacramento and he’s going to bad mouth us to everyone out there. I really didn’t take offense at this, and just kept trying to help him out, offering a discount on any new plant, etc. But my co-workers all afterward told me they got angry at this point – He was threatening us! I suppose at that point I should have told him the conversation was now over and he needs to leave the nursery.

So it’s a learning experience. These really are very rare for us, so it’s hard to be prepared when they happen. And now I’ll be keeping an eye on Yelp and Google for his negative review.

And for your trouble to follow this to the end.. a pretty picture! Yay!

Jovibarba heuffelii

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September 2023

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