When I used to work the phones for a big online retailer, every day I would get customers asking me detailed questions regarding products I knew absolutely nothing about. “What kind of wood is it on top of the bureau?” “Um, it’s brown, I think.” “Yes, I can see that it’s brown, but what kind of wood is it?” “Okay let me go check in the stockroom.” And by “check in the stockroom,” I meant put them on hold for 8 minutes while I called the manufacturer of the item to get the answer. My all-time favorite such conversation is this one:
An old southern lady calls in asking about an indoor putting set. Looks like one of those thin putting greens businessmen sometimes have in their offices next to their desks. The thing is, our site doesn’t list the dimensions of the putter or green or anything, and she wants to make sure it’s adult-sized. Even though I’ve never seen this thing before and I have no idea what size it is, I, trying to make the sale, tell her I’m sure she’d be able to use it. She really wants to make sure it’s made for adults, though, and she’s a nice lady, so I offer to call the manufacturer just to confirm.
“Hi, could you tell me whether your indoor putting set is made for adults?”
“Um, I wouldn’t say it’s made for adults.”
“So it’s made for children?”
“Well, no, I mean an adult could use it I guess if they really wanted to.”
Something seems mysterious here, so I decide to press further.
“Is the putter big enough for an adult to use?”
“I mean an adult could definitely use it. I just don’t know if they’d want to though.”
Still seems like this lady’s hiding something.
“Can you please tell me exactly how long the putter is?”
“Um, let me see here. Okay, the putter is four inches.”
“Four inches? You mean four feet?”
“No, it’s four inches long. The whole game is supposed to fit on your desk. It’s like a little desk game.”
I return to the customer now, wishing I didn’t have to break the news to her.
“Sorry for the wait, ma’am. So I was able to get a hold of the manufacturer, and, well, it turns out the putter is a bit smaller than we’d imagined.”
“What is it, like two feet long?”
“No, it’s four inches long.”
“Four INCHES? Are you kidding me??”
“I’m so sorry, ma’am. Evidently the whole game is made to fit right on your desk. Would you still like to purchase it?”
“Oh god no. Four inches long. I can’t do anything with a four-inch putter. How big are the golf balls?”
“About a centimeter wide, I figure.”
“Oh god no. I’m glad I called! Goodbye!”
And while I can’t seem to find the product on my old company’s site — they must’ve taken it down after receiving too many complaints, I reckon — I was able to find it here, with some dimensions listed: