Raiders Of The Lost Dress...

Sometimes a phone call can be epic in scale. The stakes are high, and the quest is often impossible. If this is a product search, you're in the middle of Raiders Of The Lost Dress. Basically this is any call where the caller is basically clueless about how to acquire the item they apparently called in to order, but know exactly what they want. This can be for men's products as well as female, though the female treasure hunters appear to be much more prevalent. The men really don't deserve a separate category because this title is appropriately offensive to such searchers. What often happens is the customer will call in about a dress they saw in Lucky Magazine, or whatever, provide generous descriptions of said dress, but provide no useful information (such as item codes or SKU numbers). They just assume you have every issue of whatever magazine they ask about and have all the related information just ready to pull up on a moment's notice. Or, in some cases, they will just show you a picture of a purse and ask you to imagine the dress that came with it and expect you to find the imaginary dress. And then they will sit there on the phone indefinitely, waiting patiently for you to locate the mythical item. If you tell them you can't find it, they will provide more and more fantastic details, rather than give up their quest for the grail. These people seem to be bent on ruining your call handle time, as attempts to dislodge them from the phone prove unsuccessful.

If it's something unique, that's one thing, but if it's a "black dress" or a "blazer", you've got to sift through at least a hundred items.


  • Whenever you are asked about some item that's not online or in the system, and the caller says "you have to find it."
  • The customer is given a useless product ID number, with an incomprehensible color or item code or UPC code which they keep repeating over and over again as if it helps.
  • A drunk calls in, demanding you find a dress that was taken off the website yesterday, but has no relevant information, and keeps rambling on and on about how it was next to another dress she doesn't want, and that it cost only $50.
  • "I'm looking for the Zathura shoe that just came out. I went to the store and they told me all I need to tell you is the style number, which is BKG." (And that's all the information they have). For the record, Failstation does not recognize short letter codes like BKG, and searches for the shoe produce only the sandal the customer doesn't want.
  • The customer wants to buy a bag. It was a "blue bag", "the only blue bag that you guys have on the website." No further information. Then he calls his girlfriend and keeps calling for ten minutes...without hanging up on you first.
  • "There is a one shoulder pink dress in the August issue of Lucky magazine, on page 192, and I don't see it anywhere on your website. Dammit, I want that dress!"
  • "I went to France a few years ago, and bought this hat from your company. It had a duck bill, and a cloth cover over the bill. I didn't see it on your website, and I don't have a style number, but I do have the serial number and the little number that appears above the washing instructions. Surely you can find the hat with that information, can't you?"
  • "I saw this dress on Kate Hudson in the movie How To Lose A Guy In Seven Days, and I searched online and found your company made a similar dress. I don't have the SKU or the style number, but can you find it anyway?" And if you say you can't find it, they ask if you can ask someone who can, or ask the designer, who magically is supposed to be down with the peons in the call center.
  • "Look on the website. See the model wearing the dress? No, I don't want the dress. I want that handbag in the bottom corner. You know, the one that you can barely see? The one that the cameraman accidentally set down there while he was getting his coffee? I want that bag!" And it turns out the bag is either from a competitor, a prototype, or went out of stock ten years ago.
  • The customer saw the mannequin wearing a certain dress, but the back of it was ripped so she couldn't buy it. She got the UPC code, the price, and the name of the clerk who told her she couldn't buy it, but has no idea what it's called, only what it looks like.
  • The customer saw a pair of shoes in a store, and loved them, but they were for display only, so she couldn't buy them. She asked the clerk what they were called, and the clerk just made up a name for them, and that's what she asks you to look up in the system. P.S. The system doesn't have a name search for products, unless you count the website, that doesn't do old items.
  • "I want to see if you've got this jacket that I'm interested in. It was in a magazine, and it had poofy sleeves and holes all over, and it was in sort of a tannish color. I think the magazine I saw it in was called `C-o-s-m-o-'"

Possible solutions:

  • Putting them on hold and getting other work done instead. It's not like you can find it, anyway.
  • Give them a number to something that's kind of, sort of like it.
  • Just say you can't find it.

Useless product codes: