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When a customer is literally crazy

Try to help or not?

10:16 pm on Jul 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I hope it doesn't seem stupid or inappropriate to ask this. I have a customer who has called me a number of times now and it has become apparent that he is delusional. He isn't a pest or anything, so I'm not asking how to get rid of him. He hasn't asked me for any help outright, although he has commented about how he is sometimes fearful about going outside of his house (for delusional reasons) and says he has no one to talk to. I know that he has alienated some normally very tolerant people on account of his craziness. I usually feel like if a delusional person is functioning more or less okay, then just leave them to their delusions. But I feel concerned that this person is getting to the point where he might hurt himself (not by suicide but just stupid acts based on delusional ideas) or his animals through neglect (he has a farm).

I could use some ideas and/or feedback for how to respond to this. One friend recomended I try to contact some local agency to see if they could check up on him and see if he is okay. Like who? Has anyone had this kind of situation, and if so, what did you do?

I should say that in my business a certain amount of craziness is accepted, although usually it is really more like spectacle. This is beyond that.

10:53 pm on July 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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First, it's commendable that you care enough to look into this--it really could make a difference for this person and others if this person goes off the deep end. They could have schizophrenia or some other mental illness or be on some drugs.

Then they could unintentionally hurt themselves and others without realizing what they are doing. I've seen it happen, and it affects not just those people but the family and loved ones as well. So it's definitely good karma to raise a red flag.

What can you do? It depends on the persons location, but many police departments (or perhaps the county sheriff) have a "crisis intervention" unit which has specially trained people for handling people with psychological issues (usually delusional or suicidal people). It's called different names depending on location so you have to research it some more. You can call them to notify them of the issue. If you can't find the agency just call the Police and tell them the exact situation as you described here.

Whether they do anything is another question. If there has been nothing illegal suspected or no threats then they probably can't do anything (animal neglect could be a reason though). But at least there will be some record somewhere. And if other reports are made then if police do have to deal with this person down the road there will be a record that they may have mental issues.

11:57 pm on July 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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As far as the animals, you could always call the ASPCA. You don't have to say you think he's doing anything wrong, but maybe just hint for them to stop by and see what's up. If something is wrong, they would also have direct contacts with other organizations that could also help him.

I've gotten a number of older people over the years that seemed to be a little off. On one hand you want to help, but at some point you realize you can only do so much. I actually just had one the other day... This guy drove me nuts over three weeks going back and forth with at least a dozen emails. I answered all of them, send out the product, and then he tells me he's changed his mind and is going to refuse the package. Sometimes when people get like that, it's almost like you're dealing with a little kid... You just have to be firm and help guide them a little. It's almost like they want somebody to tell them what to do, because they can't figure things out on their own anymore.

There might also be some sort of meals on wheels/church type thing that does welfare checks on people in the area. You could call a local church near him.

1:01 am on July 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Take it from an ex-Chief of Police: be careful! There is an old saying that "no good deed goes unpunished." In my 20+ year career, I have dealt with this type of situation more than I can recall. Generally, there is no potential for problems, but it's that small percentage you have to worry about. Enough warning.

Depending what area you are in and the age of the person, you could consider an agency that deals with aging. There are also many charitable organizations, such as religious, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc., that may be able to assist you. I strongly suggest you turn this over to a "professional" as soon as possible. This way, you will be helping this individual and protecting yourself.


12:14 am on July 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I really like the ASPCA suggestion. They are good people. I will try that.
11:51 am on July 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is a strange e-commerce post, nevertheless it is an e-commerce post. I'm actually glad to see guys are dealing with it.

It is commendable that you recognize the moral obligation to intervene and agree with the cop above that it should be done by a 3rd party, not only for your own safety...but to keep the customer :)....Come on customers are customers, crazy or not. lol

11:55 am on July 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If you are not bothered enough and in case you don't mind it, you could be his friend and talk to him. This will make him fell better for sure. Come on! We are all human beings. But there is one thing that scares the **** out of us - we get born on this planet alone and we go through this alone. Same thing with death. No matter how many friends and relatives you have you die alone, nobody dies along with you. A person goes through this all by him/her self. That is why every person seeks for approval and friends all the time so that their lives start making sense. Maybe the case with this dude is something like it.

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