I feel a rant coming on. This one is entitled: Things I Wish Customers Would Learn, or Why I Always Get Headaches Every Afternoon.

I am not a knitting robot. I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of every yarn and pattern in the world. I don’t even have an encyclopedic knowledge of the yarn and patterns we sell in our shop. As with all humans, I tend to recognize and remember things that are unusual more than things that aren’t. So if you ask me whether a pattern exists for a hot water bottle cover, I might know that. (In fact, a customer asked me that yesterday and I pointed her right to the only book in the shop.) If you ask me for a kid’s jumper with a giant snail on it, I can help you out. But this, this is what I hate: “Do you have any patterns for a cardigan? A nice one.” ARRRGH! (I especially like it when they specify a colour, like we have pattern books with just red sweaters in them.) If you ask me a stupid, non-specific question like that, I’m just going to point you in the direction of our 600 pattern leaflets and ignore you. I need something work with, people!

On the same note, I am not a mind reader. At least once a week some idiot customer comes in and says that she saw a great pattern last week but didn’t buy it, and now she can’t find it. Oh, and she can’t remember what it was called, or what number it was, or what yarn it used, or even what was on the cover. And then she gets mad at me because I don’t know which one she’s talking about. A similar thing happened a few days ago with wool. This lady came in and insisted that she’d seen the most beautiful skein of charcoal grey New Zealand merino in the shop just days before and now she wanted to buy it. I showed her every bit of New Zealand yarn we have and nothing matched up to the idealized picture in her head. She repeatedly insisted that it was a skein, not a ball, in spite of me telling her that we’ve only ever sold, like, four things in skeins and I showed her every one of them. She dragged me around for half an hour and even at the end I think she still suspected I was secretly hiding the extra-beautiful grey wool out the back. She was looney tunes.

And lastly, look at what you’re buying, lady. I know at fancy bookstores, they let you “purchase” books and then return them for a full refund later. We’re not Dymocks and we don’t do that. We know that Rowan and Debbie Bliss books are expensive. We know that you’d like nothing better than to take them home, photocopy the one pattern you want, and then bring the book back for some other sap. But that just means that we become a library, and the books get progressively more handled until nobody wants to buy them at all. That’s why we have big signs up saying that we don’t exchange on patterns (or knitting needles) at all. There has to be a rule, and that’s it. So when some lady comes in like this morning and claims that she didn’t realize til she got home that the Debbie Bliss book she bought yesterday was “so expensive,” and that she really would only ever “make one thing out of it,” she’s not gettin’ any sympathy from me. What, did you just pick the book out at random? Did you even look at the total when you signed your credit card receipt? If she’d said at that point, “Whoa! I didn’t want to spend this much!” we’d have cancelled the sale, no problem. I might have even let her swap it if she’d come back that same day. But 24 hours later? Nuh-uh. And I’m sorry, but protesting that you really didn’t copy anything “because I don’t have a photocopier at home” doesn’t cut it. That’s what everybody says. I’m not a judge and I don’t want to be in the business of deciding who looks honest and who doesn’t. That’s why we have a rule. Most people don’t have a problem with it, but then most people don’t claim to drop $40 on a tiny book without flipping through it.

Whew. Nice to have that off my chest.


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  1. It’s so true. I love the people who pick out glasses they loooove one week, then when they pick them up “hate” them. Really? You HATE them. Of course you do! Please, pick out something else and let us eat the cost. I understand that things aren’t exactly like you may remember them in your crazy little mind, but how would me changing your order after you left help make my job easier? Yes, someone actually said we changed the frame on her order after she left. Because that’s what I do for fun. Yeehaw

  2. Hahaha… Like she had a really glamourous understated pair picked out, and you thought it would be funny to give her big Austin Powers glasses instead. 🙂

  3. Update: The lady with the book sent through an official complaint via e-mail. She’s claiming that an employee told her she’d be able to exchange the book. BZZZT! That has never been store policy, and our employee would not have said that. Maybe I’ve been watching too much House, but the lies people tell are just making me so cynical.

    The funny part is that she specifically mentioned talking to the Knitting Manager, and that she thought I might be Canadian. HA! That shows you how courteous I was actually being.

  4. A recurring question from customers when I worked at a video store: “What do y’all have in that’s good?” That’s it–no other information that might have helped me pick something out. I hated this question (and bitched about it at home so much) that my mom (!) would prank-call me at work and ask me the same thing, just to stress me out.

    Kris, I love your criterion for courtesy! New compliment: “She wasn’t just nice, she was CANADIAN nice!”

  5. Have you thought about finding a knitting job that doesn’t involve customer service? It doesn’t seem like it’s something you enjoy.

  6. Oh, but it is. The problem is that I don’t generally blog about all the lovely people I serve; it’s only the evil ones that stick out in your mind afterwards. But there are some truly great customers and I enjoy helping them learn to create something with their own hands.

    And really, I’m not serving customers very much these days. Usually I’m in the office working on the website except for the lunch hour rush. That just always tends to be when we get the idiots… 🙂

  7. Aaaah, I sympathise, what is it about TC and stupid people?
    What I really love is when people look at me and tell me I can’t knit because I’m too young. I’ve had ladies look me in the eye and tell me that I don’t know anything about knitting.
    But yes, it can be fun, occasionally. Like when you get people who actually value your advice and teenage guys who want to learn to knit and giggle when I get excited about selling them yarn. That happened last weekend and it was priceless.

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