Explanations Make You Look Stupid

If March has done anything for me, it’s remind me of how foul people can be outside of the holiday season. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and report that I’ve dealt with more snob nosed customers with a sense of entitlement in March than I did this past December. Ranging from the dumbfounding responses to donation requests, to the attitude-cancer replies to answers of questions…customers apparently forgot they’re people too this month.

My biggest pet peeve is customer reactions to donation drives.

I want to be very clear about something here. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE that you are unable to donate $1 at some point in time during any donation drive for any reason that doesn’t violate your beliefs. You can’t sit there and tell me that. I work bottom of the barrel hours, have a car payment, insurance, credit card payments, student loans, and then some to pay on…I even still find ways of at least donating some change, if not a dollar to a donation drive. $1 means you don’t get the super sized fry at McDonalds, the extra shot of espresso at Starbucks, or that Pepsi from the soda machine one day. God forbid you drink some water from a water fountain or bring your own beverage from home.

People seem to believe that just because they’re helping out some organization of any obscure variety – that means they’re immune and doing their part for the community, and not a single penny more is necessary. I hear this all the time in the pet industry, people saying “no thanks, I already donate to some other animal shelter.” Fantastic lady, but this is going to another shelter in the same community that wasn’t blessed by your $20 donation this month, do you think you could at least donate $0.64 in change to make your total an even amount so a dog or cat doesn’t starve to death over there? The other favorite “contribution” that people seem to think makes them infallible to donate is “we volunteer/donate our time.” Folks, if as many people volunteered for these places as I hear are volunteering…these organizations would never need another volunteer ever again. Not to mention the fact that your volunteering, doesn’t stop Fido or Mew from getting killed at the end of the month. Your presence does not increase the boarding space for animals, nor does it supply funds to build additional accommodation for any animals.

Folks, lets be clear about something – I’m not going to lie. I work with a 501(c)3 organization. I work with an animal shelter. I donate during drives to my shelter, and drives that are not for my shelter – because everyone needs help. Volunteers are important, but funds are just as important. There are physical reasons why some people can not volunteer 15 minutes of there time, there is no financial reason why you can not donate $1 of your funds once. Again…bring your own water bottle to work for A DAY. Seriously, it’s that easy.

If there’s one thing to remember about donation drives – regardless if you can or can not afford (for some reason) to donate…this is the most important thing to keep in mind: DO NOT EXPLAIN YOUR REASONS FOR NOT DONATING. NEVER…EVER…EVER…NEVER.


Here’s the reason:  have you ever listened to yourself making an excuse for why you haven’t done something?  Stare in the mirror and say it to yourself.  You look stupid.  You sound greedy, and every single person around you picks up on that – and for those of us behind the counter, you piss us off like crazy.  We seriously would love to jump over the counter at you and shake you, screaming “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

We don’t care how great the reason is.  We don’t care how much you’ve done.  It is a yes or no answer.  “Would you like to donate?”

Some people go as far as to make up sob stories too.  I really am sorry about your former pet, but would it kill you to donate fifty cents so that another dog or cat doesn’t have to die?

Another rule to remember:  use proper grammar when replying.  I am so sick of hearing “that’s okay”, or even better yet, ignoring the question.  USE YOUR WORDS, and USE THEM APPROPRIATELY.  It is not grammatically acceptable to say “that’s okay” to a question that has a yes or no answer.  When these people come through my line, trust me, it takes a lot of will power to not just add the donation – since they didn’t say “no.”  What can I say?  You didn’t say “no”, so the default response is yes.  USE YOUR WORDS.

“They should donate to me.”  Oh my– shut up.  You’re wearing a Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt, Nike shoes, and are driving a truck with wheels bigger than my car.   You can afford it.

For the pet lovers out there, here’s a great reply:  “My house is an animal shelter.”  Oh really?  Fascinating.  So what you’re saying is that your animals are all that matter, because again…you insist on having your cola to drink, or that extra cheese on your sandwich instead of ensuring that another animal you’ve never met might actually get a fighting chance.  Yeah, really smooth and logical response.

These don’t just apply to animals, but it’s the first thing that is at the forefront of my mind, since it’s my daily life.


Let’s move away from donations now.  You’ve got the picture.

Shopping Courtesy 101 – Why for all that is good, would you ask a question and get mad at the answer, when the answer is honest?  Answer:  Because you’ve already answered the question in your mind with what you want to hear, and are mad because we won’t verify that answer.

Not all of us out there are stupid high school students that are working there “just cause.”  Some of us are passionate about our work, some of us make a living out of it, an entire career.  As surprising as it may sound, some of us actually decided that what we want to do in life is serve a snot-nosed, self-centered, egotistical brats like you.  Well actually, we want to serve the sweet passionate customers, not the derps.

Bottom line:  not all of us bull shit you.  Not all of us are stupid.  Not all of us are just going through the motions.  Some of us actually care, and know what we’re doing.  Need help identifying that?  If the response is authoritive with respect, you could assume that information is genuine.   If it’s sarcastic, assume it is not genuine.  But then again, those that get offended at correct answers generally can’t detect sarcasm, can they?

102 – Do not ask for help, and not expect questions.  As customer service people, our job is to make sure you don’t have to keep coming back for something that should have been addressed in a single trip.  The experienced reps will ask many questions in order to make sure you don’t have to keep running back and forth.  I seriously have had people get mad at me for asking too many questions about their fish tank at home before buying a fish.

The best part about that last sentence is that about 60% of the readers just said – “why?”  30% of you said “of course you had to.”  The other 10% asked why I should have to ask any questions.  I’m going to leave the 10% in ignorance.


Lastly I’m going to give you all a piece of advice – pick your battles, but don’t do so blindly and put innocent people in the crossfire.

You know when you’re asked if you want to sign up for a savers card, or if you have one?  Yeah, most associates get marked down or howled at by corporate because you wouldn’t sign up for one, or produce your card or information.  Same goes for donations, service plans, things like that.  I know…I hate the savers card.  It’s something that I’ve always been against.  Service plans as well, I think a product should just work, and a company should stand behind it – and I think the product should be cheap, without my information being handed to a company.  However…

Unless you’re prepared to go out and stand with signs in your hands in front of the corporate office or write harsh emails about policy…you’re only hurting the associates, and you aren’t sticking it to anyone but us.  Corporate doesn’t give a rats behind about what you’re rebelling against, because all they see is an associate that is “apparently not doing their job”, instead of a customer that doesn’t want to be involved in the crap they’re pushing.  So really when you’re saying “I’m against it, and am making a stand by not participating”, what you’re actually saying is “I’m against it, and am making a stand against you by not participating, lots of luck to you in your new job someday.”

Use your brain, please.  Use common sense.  Be polite, and expect politeness.  Give respect, and receive it.  You are not better than anyone else, after all…in the grand scheme, it’s just not worth the rudeness.

One thought on “Explanations Make You Look Stupid

  1. I applaud you for writing this! I hope more people will read it! There is never an excuse for rudeness, disrespect or dishonesty. Customers should treat store employees with the same respect they expect and vice versa. If everyone would do this, our world would so much be a better place.

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