“You either love it, or you hate it. There’s no in between.”
This quote is very much true when it comes to working in retail: it can be the fun, exciting and dynamic experience that young, impressionable teenagers see which makes them want to work in retail, or it can be painful and God forsaken and it can turn the best of people into world-loathing cynics.
Speaking of the latter, it’s not the work that turns them into fun-suckers… it’s the customers. As someone who works in retail, I can say that there are customers who need nothing more than a good frying pan to fall out of the sky and squash them into the ground (subtle Snowboard Kids reference).
While it is true that there are some lovely customers that you would be happy to go out of your way to accommodate, the truth is that there are too many unpleasant customers that retail workers have to deal with on a daily basis. To give you a fair idea, here are some of the types of customers that every retail worker loathes to deal with (and provided examples):
The Ignorant Questioner
These are the ones that ask the workers questions, which they are perfectly entitled to, except they keep asking the same question over and over to the point where the worker might believe they’re talking to a malfunctioning fembot from Austin Powers. An example:
Customer: Is this garment on sale?
Worker #1: No, it’s full priced, so it’s 29.95.
Customer: Okay… (five seconds later). Excuse me, is this garment on sale?
Worker #2: No, it’s full priced.
Asking someone else isn’t going to get you the answer that you seek. I honestly don’t understand the logic behind this.
“But this top was on the sale rack even though there is a whole set of them placed on the other side of the store marked correctly… I demand you give it to me on sale or so help me I will complain to your manager.” If you don’t think these types of people exist… they do. They will go to extreme lengths to get what they want, even if what they want is absolutely ridiculous. The Complainer will argue with you until the cows come home and will effectively forget that people have feelings.
Customer: Oh the music is so loud and awful in here! I can’t shop in this environment!
Worker: Sorry, the volume is always like this and I can’t change it.
Customer: Well, you’ve just lost a customer!
Because I’m sure that $5 top you were considering was going to have a huge effect on the ultimate sales for the day.
The Slave Driver
On workers job descriptions, it’ll list them as “Retail manager” or “Sales assistant”. Nowhere does it say “Personal shopping basket” or “Other size fetcher”. Technically speaking, people who work in retail don’t have to offer you any kind of personal assistance at all, really; they choose to. Certain people, however, choose to take advantage of this general sweetness and put workers to slavery.
Worker: Is there anything I can help you with?
Customer: Well, I want to try these pants on. Could you be a darl and babysit my baby, watch my trolley, and stand here in case I need another size? Actually… just get me the size up, just in case. Thanks. Oh… here’s the baby.
This may come as a shock to some people, but people who work in retail are human beings as well. Human beings like to be treated as human beings sometimes. What a nifty little idea!
So you want to try on three pairs of pants and three matching tops? Fair enough. You’re within your right. But you don’t like any of them… so what do you do? The Grub leaves their tried-on garments inside out on the floor of the change room in a pile of mess, and expect the workers to clean up after them as if they’re some incapable toddler who has gone for a run about.
Customer: Whoops… I accidentally knocked over that table display of shoes. Oh well. Better walk out now and leave it for the workers.
Worker: (chronic swearing in fifteen different languages)
If it’s that easy to take off the hanger, I’m sure it is as easy to put back on. Weird concept, right?
I understand that some stores may have the privilege of altering prices to make that ultimate sale, but most don’t. So there really is no point in trying to bargain an item if the price tag is set in stone.
Worker: These ones are $49.95.
Customer: There’s a tiny, almost invisible mark on these boots. Can I get a discount on them?
No. You can’t.
The Indecisive Douchebag
This may come to a surprise to some people but putting a refund or exchange through the store’s sale system is a long process. It isn’t just a snap-of-the-fingers-and-it’s-done type thing. So when a customer buys something and then all of a sudden decides they don’t want it, no amount of apologies will make up for the half hour you just wasted of their lives.
Customer: I’ll just buy the pink scarf, thanks.
Worker: Thank you. Have a good day.
Customer: Actually, no; I want the orange one.
With exchanges, it’s also important to note that you can’t just take the new one and walk out. That is called stealing.
If there is one thing I want to leave at the end of this, it’s this: people who work in retail are human beings as well, so treat them like you want to be treated.
– by Noah La’ulu