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Re: 8/11 "When Times Get Tough, Laugh"

Dear SeafoodSource News,

I used to work for the Maine Sardine Council in Brewer, Maine. Every year we attended the Lobster Festival in Rockland. We manned a booth in the Marine tent where we would serve Maine sardine products to festival visitors.

One time a lady, obviously from away, was eagerly enjoying our sardine offerings. Pointing out to the Atlantic, she asked if these fish (herring) came from that big lake out there?

Biggest lake I have ever seen. Lake Atlantic, I guess.

Mike Strang
Quality Control Manager
Ducktrap River of Maine
Belfast, Maine 04915

Dear SeafoodSource News,

Tails from Dirk's Fish Market…those customers, you have to laugh!

Early in the week a customer called and asked the price of live lobsters for a dinner party. She thought they were too expensive and said she could get them cheaper online. She then called us on Saturday morning and asked if she could keep her lobsters in our lobster pound for the day (lobster boarding) until her party. Being the good fishmonger, I said yes. She brought in the box that had arrived via Fed Ex the day before (Friday). She apologized for using our pound since she had purchased her lobsters elsewhere (and saved money). I said no problem but let's open the box just to be sure your lobsters are in good shape. Upon opening the box a dreadfully bad odor emerged! I asked her if she had kept the box in the refrigerator overnight and her response was, "Do they have to be kept cold?" Apparently she left them on the kitchen table overnight disregarding the "keep refrigerated" notice on the box. In the end she purchased her lobsters for her party from us, thereby paying double for her "cheap lobsters". Two women were spotted shoving lobster tails under their dresses by another customer who quickly reported the theft to us. When confronted, the women ran out of the store into a waiting car and sped off. Fortunately we got the plate number and the police caught them a few blocks away, in their stolen car!

Another customer was interested in trying softshell crabs for the first time. I went through all the details of how we cleaned them and what he had to do to cook and serve them. I told him to let me know how it worked out. He returned the next day and said the crabmeat was very tasty but it was too much trouble taking the meat out of the shell!

A gentleman wanted a big lobster to impress a date. I pulled a large live one from the tank, about 2 pounds. "I want a bigger one" was the response. I found a lively 3 pounder. "That's too big but it has nice claws. OK I'll take it," he said. The next day he returned the lobster, which had been cooked but minus the "nice claws". He claimed that the lobster was bad. I asked, "What happened to the claws?" His response: "They were bad so I threw them away." Turns out he had eaten the claws and I don't think his date went as planned. Since the lobster was good he did not get a refund.

A lady bought a 3-pound bag of raw peeled shrimp from the freezer. These bags are labeled with size, origin, ingredients and say, "raw shrimp" clearly on the bag. She came back the next day, with an attitude and without the shrimp, to report that the shrimp were bad. When I asked what was wrong with them she said that had eaten some but they were soft, mushy and grey. "So how did you cook your shrimp?" was my response, and she said, "cook them, you have to cook them?"

A woman wanted some special cut salmon steaks and she was a bit difficult but left satisfied. A little while later one of the guys collecting shopping carts from the nearby grocery store came in with one of our bags that he had found in a cart out in the parking lot. Inside the bag were the special cut salmon steaks. It was during the heat of the summer and this bag had been out there for a while so the fish was hot and of course no good. The woman called later on to complain that she did not find the fish that she had purchased and wanted us to replace it. When informed that she left it in the parking lot, she insisted that it was our responsibility and that since she needed the fish for dinner, felt that we should cut her new fish and deliver it about 10 miles away. We disagreed.

A regular customer came in for a refund on 3 pounds of our cooked cocktail shrimp. We cook these shrimp fresh every day as needed and we sell lots of them. When I asked her what was wrong with the shrimp, her snippy response was: "I buy shrimp here all the time and they are always the best. I sent my husband in to buy some for a party this weekend and the shrimp were slimy and tasted bad. I can't believe that you would sell such bad shrimp!" I told her that she was the only one to complain about the shrimp but since she is a good customer and not happy that I would give her a refund, about $75. She was satisfied and left. A couple of days later she was back in again and asked to see me. She sheepishly informed me that when she told her husband that she came back to my shop for a refund on the bad shrimp that he confessed to buying them at the local grocery store and then claimed that the shrimp were from my shop. She handed me back the $75 and apologized for doubting us. She probably went home and kicked her husband's butt!

A customer special ordered an 8-pound snapper for a dinner party. We acquired the fish, processed it for her, and she made the purchase and left. She returned about 30 minutes later very irate. She said that someone had stolen the fish from her shopping cart at the grocery store next door while see was shopping. She showed us her receipt and insisted that we replace the fish since it was her main course for dinner. We said we were sorry that she lost her fish but we were not responsible for the fish once it had left the shop. As the fish was a special order, we did not have another one that size. We offered her some substitutes but she left without purchasing another fish. Makes you wonder, right?

Finally, this happened just this month, August 2008. A customer (non-frequent, apparently) says she purchased live lobsters for New Years Eve dinner on Dec. 31, 2007. She brought in her charge slip for $123 and said it was her live lobster purchase. She did not have her itemized receipt from the purchase. She claimed that her lobsters were bad. When asked what happened to the lobsters she said that they threw them away and still wanted credit for them. Mind you now, this is August 2008, eight months later. She claims to be a "regular customer" and forgot to mention it when she had been in before but that she "knows" Dirk and that it would be OK if she just ran a tab for the credit. This was on a day that I wasn't in the shop, so the guys told her to come back when I was there. I'm off on Wednesdays and Sundays. The first time she came in was on Wednesday and the next time she had her sister call and look for the credit on Sunday. I guess she only shops here when I'm not around. I still have yet to meet or talk to this woman but needless to say she will not get a credit.

"Is everything in the freezer frozen?" (one of my favorites!)

Dirk Fucik
Dirk's Fish Market


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