- "Well, i was wearing skinny jeans, but he had no way of knowing that."
I was getting a bagel last week from Zack Bolotin, who owns Porchlight, a coffee and record shop on 14th with a loyal clientele. He put out the last Grand Hallway albums, hosts shows, and is an extremely personable, funny guy. His sassy Yelp retorts to a few rude customers have garnered him some local notoriety ("I was just joking around with them, some of them just get so offended.") Which brings up a few points, namely the marginal credibility of Yelp complaints often taken seriously by business owners unfamiliar with Internet trolls, and how lenient customer policies invite abuse from manipulative grifters demanding freebies.
Zack tells me about an incident at Porchlight last Tuesday where a customer started calling when he opened at 7 am to complain about an employee who was allegedly too disinterested in his questions the day before. Zack tried to hear him out and apologize at first, saying that maybe the girl working had been having a bad day, until the man offhandedly mentioned that he calls places often to complain. Since the shop was in a morning rush and too busy for the extended phone conversation the man wanted to have, he agreed somewhat aggressively to call back later. But after calling back three times in ten minute intervals, more aggravated with each attempt, he barked that he could "hear the smirking over the phone" and proceeded to call Zack a "hipster piss-ant," demanding he should give him free coffee to "make things right." Zack responded that he was finished talking to the man and that his patronage was no longer welcome. The man responded that "You don't even know what I look like," and threatened to come in with a bat. Feeling like he should report the incident due to the escalating hostility, Zack called the non-emergency SPD line and an officer was dispatched.
After listening to the story, the officer retrieved the number from the caller ID and proceeded to tell the man he was the Porchlight regional manager, and to come to the store and they'd settle everything. "I think the guy thought he was getting free stuff," said Zack. When the average looking 30-something man with a fluffy white dog came down and identified himself, several officers stopped him and gave him a harsh warning never to come back and to stop harassing business owners. So it leaves the question: where do you draw the line between addressing reasonable customer complaints vs. crazy people with too much time on their hands and a warped sense of entitlement?