How would you handle this....


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Mar 10, 2004
A customer brought in an old, old oval photo (early 1900's)that was in very poor condition along with an old oval frame that it had been in. She wanted glass for the oval frame and for us to put the photo in the frame. When my employee went to shoot it into the frame, the photo cracked along a line where there was a very slight crack when it was brought in. I've only had this business for 7 months, but my employee worked for the former owner for several years and has displayed excellent work skills. She never anticipated this possiblity; how can we begin to foresee all possible problems????

We explained what happened to the customer, and offered to have a local photo lab replace the photo - they do restoration; but the customer, who had an attitude from the first time she came in (should've been a major clue to me - UGH!), wouldn't even hear me out and consider my offer. She huffed out exclaiming loudly how she'd never step foot back "in this place".

So how do you recommend this be handled? Call or write her expressing our regret and again offering to pay for the restoration. Or just chalk it up and continue to remind myself that people with that attitude aren't worth it?

Sorry that you're getting your trial by fire so early in your career. We all get them, it just goes with the territory.

When I was only 19 I was MADE manager by a very smart man, Norman Greenstone. One day when a problem arose, I wanted to do nothing but run away or duck the ire of the customer. It hadn't been my fault, and I don't even remember what it was, but Norman made me go up front and deal with the customer and "fix it" while she waited. Mrs Ballard and I communicated after that for many years. Including bringing me her framing after Norman retired.

The point is, you tried while she was there. It didn't work. So now, if it were me, I would send her a $25-30 bouquet of flowers along with a note once again apologizing (sp?) and asking her to allow you to get the picture restored, repaired, or copied. (Photocopy your note and attach to the reciept for the flowers). If she sues, your on good ground that you not only offered to make good, but you went above and beyond just the offer. She would look like an ogre to sue and not give you a chance.

If you don't hear from her, move on to helping the nice people in the world.

In that situation, I would have gotten out the chalk. But Baer's suggestion has real class while incorporating a nice CYA feature. I like it.

It is a little after the fact now, but what I do when someone brings something really old like that is to offer them severel options of people who do restore work BEFORE I ever touch it. Then before I proceed I tell them I am not responsible for it if it "falls apart" or self compust into dust.

As for the attitude, I try be always be as laid back as possible. If a customer comes in and cops a 'tude with me I always refer them to ACMoore or Hobby Lobby. :eek:
Baer - GREAT 'PR'!! In this business, I'd be fairly certain that a situation like that would happen to all of us, sooner or later (sorry yours was so soon Janis....but you are so much more experienced now!!) :rolleyes:

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.......oh to have had a customer signature on a release, but we've all heard they don't carry their complete weight.

I LOVE Baer's approach and rationale for it! That should definitely be in one of the Framer's Help Books at the PPFA bookstore!!

Forgive my ignorance, I am braindead today.. what do you mean, "get out the chalk"?
I don't know exactly what Kit was trying to say,but I have seen chalk used to outline the position of corpses in crime scenes.LOL I know what I'd feel like doing though.LOL
Am I close Kit?
If I were going to "get out the chalk" it would be to see how well I could "fix" the problem using a piece of chalk or maybe some water color pencils.
Originally posted by Janis:
Or just chalk it up
My initial thought was also to "chalk it"...

Along with Baer's idea I recommend that you document and conclude what caused the fault, follow this up by documenting how it could have been avoided and including it in a training manual (even if it's the first thing in the manual) so as to show that you have indeed taken action to avoid any recurances. This may also be useful if legal proceedings come about.
Zing! Clarity from New Zealand!

Thanks, Lance, I got it. Must read more carefully, and get more sleep. Or more coffee. I always vote for the latter.

Originally posted by Gumbogirl:
Zing! Clarity from New Zealand!

Somehow, the Kiwi always seems to understand what I'm on about. I'm not sure this is a good thing.

"Chalk it up" is what I originally meant.

But having read Buddy's explanation, I've decided I like that better. So I'm changing allusions in mid-stream - Captain English assures me I'm allowed to do that.

I really appreciate all the input! Thanks! But it has led me to another questions - Baer's suggestion seems like a very good one. However, I'm really questioning whether it's to my benefit and/or worthwhile to attempt to appease the huffy customer only because she appears to be the type who may alays be difficult. This makes me wonder if I even want to mess with trying to retain her as a customer or just let it go.

I will definitely do the documentation of the incident - hadn't thought about that, so thanks for that input as well!
Janis, maybe she was having a bad day - or a bad month. If she shows up again with the same attitude, just quote the next job high enough to cover the florist's bill.

Janis, There is that one about the covers and then theres the pages that lay between. What is written on those pages is not all that tells the story.... If you're confused now... think about me as I grew up in that kind of rational from my mother, rest her and bless her soul.

Mom was a very sweet and kind woman. She had patience that made Mother Terri look like a b****h. She drove school bus, raised 4 helliens, and was a forest rangers wife. She only raised her voice to call us to dinner.

When she was 57, we were riding our motorcycles into town to get dad. She blew through her usual stop sign at about 50, (I at least slowed to 30). Lt Frankie Crom pulled us over. He also rode a bike and occationally with mom because us boys wouldn't ride with her. He hadn't said 8 words when she wound up and let him have a full face of finger pointing and visceral diatrab. He dressed him up one side and down the other for not doing his job correctly, being born on the wrong day, having hair, being male, etc etc. Verbally she walked him backwards back to and into his Patrol car and was still screaming at him as he left at Mach 10. I never said a word and we continued in silence the last 2 miles to town.

I took dad home and mom said she would be along.

She went to the flower shop and sent Frank a big $40 (1978) arrangement and a little note that said "Sorry. It wasn't you, and you didn't deserve to see me that way."

Bishop is still a town of 3,000 people. By Sunday, the whole town knew she had cancer. Frank came to her church just to give her a hug. He beat her to the grave by 14 hours.

Mom gave me a little insight. When a conversation starts with emotional words, you're only coming in on the last of it.
That lady, probably was already having a bad conversation already. You just caught the last of it. The flowers, and a note might open the door to a fresh conversation that ends in friend.

good luck. I have something in my eye and have to go.

More than once I have found that if you can really please someone who appears at first to be difficult, you may end up with a fiercely loyal customer. Or she may just be a b and you may be sorry. But I think it's worth a bouquet to find out....
You're right, Ellen.

Sometimes an apparently nasty individual is so completely unaccustomed to good customer service that they don't know quite how to deal with it.

Once they learn to accept your kindness at face-value, they often decide they really like it.

That's been my experience with a few stray dogs and more than a couple of difficult customers.
Well, after considering everyone's advice, I've decided to try the kindness approach - am sending flowers along with a letter offering once again to pay to have a new photo (checked w/the local photo lab and should she take me up on my offer it's going to cost me a minimum of $30 and up to $70 - UGH!). I guess I'll "chalk it up" to educational expenses. Will let you all know if there are any results.