At one of the companies I work at, we operate a car wash area. Some time ago, a customer had his 200 yen worth of coins stuck in our vacuuming machine and called our office. We apologised for it and told him to use the next machine while we bring 200 yen to compensate him for the ones stuck in the machine. At that time, I was tasked to bring it over.
When I got there and apologised to the man again and handed him the 200 yen, he went to his car and took out a can of coffee and told me, “you have to buy this coffee from me.” I was confused. He then proceeded to explain that because his coins were stuck in the machine and he didn’t have extra coins, he had to use his 1,000 yen note to buy the coffee at the nearby vending machine so that he could get change for the next machine. And he repeated, “Buy it!”
I found that ridiculous and didn’t fancy his attitude, so I told him, “Sorry, I don’t have more money on me apart from the 200 yen.” He got pissed and shouted, “I didn’t buy this because I want to drink. I got this because of your machine. You better buy it from me!” and he threw the coffee into my hands.
That pissed me off. I repeated that I have no money on me and politely told him, “please have it” and handed the coffee back to him. He took the coffee, slammed it to the ground and said to me, “Don’t fuck with me!” and proceeded toward the vacuum to resume vacuuming his car.
I walked away and drove off.
When I returned to office, my colleagues asked me if the customer was alright. I told them what happened and my boss said to me, “it’s just a hundred yen, don’t get yourself in danger for that. And also, we have to maintain our company’s name.”
That issue ended there.
Recently, I received a phone call looking for my boss. I didn’t know what happened and referred the call to my colleague. She dealt with the call and explained to me what happened with this guy. Apparently, he was vaccuming his car when he pulled the handle and it hit his Audi, scratching its body. He decided it was not his fault that he scratched his car, called the manufacturer of the machine and tried to get them to compensate. They wouldn’t entertain him because it is just ridiculous.
He then decided to bring it to us. He told us we should be responsible for it because we own the machine. Crazy right? I asked my colleague what’s the resolution to the matter, and she said my boss decided to pay for his body coating which cost about SGD$300.
“WTF?” I thought. That’s just ridiculous. Why let an unreasonable man bully us like that?
The colleague then explained that because this guy is crazy enough to do something like that, they think the $300 was worth avoiding the trouble. Otherwise, it’s going to take a lot of unnecessary time dealing with him. I couldn’t understand why my boss would make that decision. First, it was definitely his own responsibility that he scratched his own car with our vacuum; second, there wasn’t even proof that the scratch really did occur as he described. What if this gets out and people start to think if they scratched their cars by accident, they can just come to our car wash area, make up some story and claim from us?
I don’t think it was necessary to preserve the business relationship with this man because if we think about lifetime value of a customer, it’s worth it to lose this one because for his $3 per vacuum, we had to pay him $300 for something to no fault of ours. And he very likely wouldn’t come to us to request for other services in the future. I’m quite certain because our company does body coating too and when he first called us about the scratch and wanted us to pay for the coating, my boss offered to do it for free at our workshop, but he refused and wanted to do it at the workshop of his choice. I’m not even sure if they verified the scratch so this could very well be a scam.
The manufacturer was smart to not entertain him but fortunately for him, our company decided to pay for it.
Moral of the story? Be crazy.
8 years now and Japan still fascinates me.