I’m severely hungover and running on caffeine – why are you shouting at me?
I’ve worked in retail for the past two years to help fund my concert/tattoo/clubbing endeavours and have had to endure the equivalent of war. Most customers are pleasant and kind, so please don’t feel offended if you are a frequent one. However, having boxes of perfume thrown at your head doesn’t really convince me that ‘the customer is always right.’
Two years of super valuable experience for my English and History degree have taught me a lot about people, more specifically, my dislike for them. If you’ve said or done any of these seven common customer blunders, you’ve probably made a member of staff want to (graphic warning!) shove two pencils up their nostrils and slam their face on a desk.
1. Click or wave at me from a mile away instead of saying ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’
Funnily enough, if you’re at the other end of an aisle and begin to shout and summon me with hand gestures, I’m not going to be skipping down like a Disney character who loves living on the bayou to come help you. I’m more than happy to answer a customer’s question – but if you’re rude to me then don’t expect me to be kissing your feet and wiping the sweat from your forehead.
2. Expect me to know every tiny detail about the shop
Why are you waving a random packet of wipes at me and asking me how much they cost? With all due respect, open your eyeballs and take a look at the big, beautiful tag underneath every item which I stayed till 10pm last night putting out just for you. Multiple customers get personally offended at some of our shop’s prices and policies. My nametag clearly states ‘Sales Advisor’ and I am obviously younger than the other employees. Yet, people seem to believe that I’m at the head offices in London deciding every price and policy out of spite to ruin a customer’s day. I do what I am told by my managers to keep my job and no, I will not illegally sell you more than two packets of paracetamol because your dog has a headache.
3. ‘Do you work here?’
I’m wearing a bright pink uniform, headset, lanyard, name badge, camera round my neck, and am unpacking boxes of delivery. Yes, I work here.
4. Expect the 10% student discount to solve your financial problems
Contrary to popular belief, retail workers have brains. Holding up the queue because you don’t think I can count £2.50 in change, or that your 10% student discount didn’t take a whole tenner off the two things you bought is frustrating as it is patronising. I of all people understand how desperately we need student discounts (those precious pennies easily add up to a pint, actually saving you money if you think about it #girlmath). However, if the 10% saved doesn’t pay off your rent, get mad at your landlord. Not me.
5. Make any sort of personal comment or raise your voice at a staff member
We are not in POP! and we are not circling – please stop shouting at me. Customers seem to have this fascinating obsession with giving me a personal dig when something doesn’t go their way. I was once told my service was disgusting and I was not intelligent enough to work because we didn’t have an Ariana Grande perfume left in stock. It was two days before Christmas, and I had rung two local shops to see if they had any. Frankly it is your own problem if you are that last minute with your daughter’s presents – buy her therapy classes instead.
6. Think that you are the centre of the universe
At any time that I’m on the shop floor, it’s because I have a job to do. Be that unpacking delivery, tidying, or standing on the front door with security, I’m a busy woman. If you ask me for help with anything, I am happy to do that but be aware I may have to quickly ask permission to leave where I’m stood or pause whatever I am doing. You are not the centre of my universe, contrary to the belief of econ boys, so please be a tad more self aware.
7. Make a mess!
I know it’s an obvious one but please put things back where you found them. Dumping a pair of socks in the shampoo section just adds an extra job for me, multiplied by seventy. It’s exhausting and unnecessarily long so save me those precious minutes when I could be napping and pop something back if you decide you don’t want it. The shop is not a Rootes kitchen so be kind and helpful to the staff.
Reminder: Most retail staff are more than happy to help you. Don’t feel intimidated or embarrassed to ask for anything! Just be polite, kind, and be aware that they’re probably very busy; that way we won’t want to make your limbs into a ‘3 for 2’ offer.