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Is Client Courtesy Dead?

Recently, while reading the news, a trend in headlines stuck out to me. “Airlines report record number of unruly, aggressive customer interactions” “Restaurant workers quit over violent customers” “Business owners post signs asking customers to be polite” And, sadly, they gave me a bit of relief. Because it meant that the piercing industry wasn’t alone in facing these issues. For a while, I had thought we might be, but it seems to be a larger issue effecting any and all customer service or retail businesses recently. Covid has put a large amount of stress and strain on everyone, and things all look and work very differently then they did a year or two ago. And many times, people end up taking this stress out on customer service workers.

On social media I am friends with a number of piercers. The posts they make recently read like this-

“I’m not sure how to handle this. A client called today about getting pierced. We are fully booked with appointments and must operate appointment only per the health department. When she found out I couldn’t fit her in she started yelling and screaming, asking why I didn’t want her business. I explained I was sorry, we were simply already booked today, But I could get her in next week? She cursed and hung up. I can just feel the bad review coming.”

“We had a client show up a day early for his appointment, he must have misread the day he booked for. He demanded we take him anyway since he was here and drove from far, and when we informed him we were already booked he started screaming and calling us names. I almost called the police, I was afraid he was going to become violent the way he was yelling and storming around.”

“I’ve gotten three one star reviews this week because people tried to walk up and come in to get pierced, and when I’ve explained there’s customers ahead of them and they need to wait outside per my states capacity guidelines they have left in a huff and wrote online I refused them service. I don’t know how my studio is going to survive- I don't want to deny anyone service but I have to follow the guidelines.”

And I’ve experienced the same in person. It’s a regular weekly occurrence at my studio for someone to come in wanting a nostril piercing, and us to explain we aren’t working under the mask currently. The client will then angrily huff and say “Well it doesn’t say that ANYWHERE online how should I know?” And when I show them the website, the FAQ, the pinned post on facebook, the regular instagram posts, and the notes at scheduling that all mention our covid policy and no under mask work they usually just call me a “fucking bitch” and walk out. I’ve been yelled at. I've been spat at. I’ve been called horrible names. I’ve had clients leave false negative reviews and insinuate that the content of their tattoo or their age or body was why they were turned away, rather than their refusal to wear a mask or their lack of appointment. I have cried over how I have been treated by people. My staff has called me crying or scared after clients have threatened them or screamed or called them names. Bad reviews have become commonplace, people leaving single stars and horrible comments because we must follow the guidelines, because we ask them to wear a mask, because we already had some staff members get covid, because we don't want to die.

Piercers are people. We are human beings. Your tattoo artists are people. Our front of house, any customer service or retail worker is another human being. And we are currently trying our best to navigate this difficult time of existing in a non essential public business during a global pandemic. Health department and government guidelines and restrictions limit what we can and can’t do. And many of us opt for even stricter limitations to keep ourselves and our staff safe- I’ve had covid myself and I have lingering symptoms and issues from it. I don’t want anyone else on my team to experience that.

I know that things are different then what you are used to. Your studios are now appointment only, services are limited, extras can’t be inside, everything has changed. And it’s frustrating. And it’s easy to forget to check new policies or skim while reading over everything or do something out of habit that now doesn’t work. But please- treat us with respect when this happens. We aren’t excited about having to change our business models and deny you service. Most of us LOVE what we do. I love piercing, I miss piercing nostrils and septum and busy days and big groups in my piercing room and having a blast. I miss it so much. But I also don’t want myself or any of you to get sick. I want to follow the health department rules. I want to be safe. And I am so, so incredibly tired of getting called a bitch and given 1 star reviews for wanting to be safe.

Myself and most other piercers are no longer excited to come to work. We are stressed. What client will scream at us today. Who will leave us a bad review for following policies we must per the state. Who will no call no show their appointment and leave us wondering how we will pay the bills. I love piercing, I will always love piercing, but this year many clients have shaken that.

If you are reading this, go leave your piercer or tattoo artist or studio a 5 star review. Go tell them they are awesome and you appreciate them working hard to keep you safe. And next time you go into a studio for work, please take the time to check their website or social media, confirm their policies, wear your mask, and if something does go wrong or isn’t what you thought, please treat us as fellow humans. Please don’t scream and call us names and threaten us for doing our jobs. We are all just trying to survive this strange time together, we are all tired, and we are all stressed. But don’t take it out on us.

Sincerely yours-

A very, very tired piercer.

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