Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is There Etiquette For Rejection?

While the topic of etiquette is fresh in our minds (from our last post), we thought we could cover rejection etiquette this time (if that concept even exists).

Abby says:
I went to Village Pantry today (for those of you who are not Midwesterners it’s similar to a Circle K) to get gas. I pulled up, got out of my car, opened my gas cap and swiped my credit card. The sun was shining very brightly, so I could not see the pump screen. Suddenly, a very loud voice came through the speaker with this booming statement: “Your card has been DENIED. Your card has been DENIED. Please try again.” I crouched as low as I could next to my car. There were customers at every single pump. They heard those words. They saw me. I was a loser.

I tried my card again and it went through, of course. Ok, I had stupidly swiped it backwards. I glanced around at the other patrons, embarrassingly smiled and laughed. How humiliating.

While my gas was pumping I went into Village Pantry and sought out the female voice who had broadcast to the entire neighborhood that my “card had been DENIED”. I found her to be a meek and quiet woman. I said to her, “I have a customer service suggestion for you.” She politely inquired, “Yes, how can I help you?” I said, “You screeched at me twice my card had been DENIED loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. And, just to set the record straight, it was not denied. I swiped it improperly. If it had actually been denied I would want that to be between the two of us – not the entire world.”

She apologized profusely several times. That was all I needed. I told her so and thanked her. It was nice to have someone be accountable and actually take responsibility.

This is not the first time my credit card has supposedly been “DENIED”. It’s happened in restaurants with clients when I am paying the bill. And, at the department store when buying that black pair of shoes I really don’t need. I know American Express has not cut me off! Is there any etiquette for this circumstance? For those of you in retail, how about using one of these phrases: * I’m sorry, Miss; can you try your card again? We were not able to read it.
* I’m sorry Miss; we were not able to capture your card number. Do you mind trying again?

Whatever you choose, be discreet and quiet so those around you don’t think you are a criminal or you have not paid your bill.

Sheri says:
Unfortunately, “denied” and “rejected” are words I’m used to hearing. Like Abby, I don’t enjoy having it broadcast across North America. Unlike Abby, it is usually my own fault. I’m a little scatterbrained about that bill-paying task. It often gets me in trouble.

We’ve all been rejected and it doesn’t just happen with credit cards. I’ve wasted countless tears because some boy or man rejected me. I’ve stomped and fumed when I was denied a job or project I thought I deserved.

Manners help but I’m not sure there’s a kind way to say, “Not you.” It stings no matter how it’s phrased. Discretion is crucial.

By the way, American Express has occasionally cut me off and Abby does not need any more black shoes.

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