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Archive for September, 2012

Retail Rudeness


You know, working in retail, you sometimes meet really bizarre people.

By bizarre I mean bizarrely rude.

Sure, you usually meet a stream of quite lovely people. In fact, even if someone looks a little fed up, I just put a big smile on and make a silly (sometimes self-deprecating) joke and they usually break into smiles and forget their fed-up-ness.

But some people, you just cannot get through to.

Here are some of the downright rude people encountered by myself and my colleagues over the years. Just another day at work, guys. Right?

1. Defensive Diana 

This is the lady who hates being greeted by or making small talk with sales assistants. For example:

Me: “Hi there! Have you been into *store name* before?” (we sometimes ask if customers look a bit lost).

DD: “YES. I. HAVE.” (glares)

Me: “O…kay.” (scuttles away)

2. Insulting Ingrid

This is the lady who for some reason needs to say something mean and insulting to the sales person. This actually happened to my colleague who is a lovely, lovely lady, but on this particular day she had a few small breakouts on her face due to her period – nothing out of the ordinary or even anything people would normally notice or point out. Everyone gets them, right? But for some reason, this is what happened:

Colleague: (observing customer trying out products as though customer is familiar with them) “Hi! I see you’ve used some of our products before!”

II: “No, I never use your products, that’s why my skin doesn’t look like yours.” (referring to my poor colleagues minor breakouts).

Colleague: “…” (walks away, puzzled)

3. Grumpy George

This happened to me yesterday. I just got back from my 30-min lunch break. As I walk into the store I see a man squinting at the shelf of moisturisers. I smile at him and hurry into the back room to dump my bag, put my apron on and re-emerge help him out.

Me: “Hi there, how’re you going?”

GG: (ignores me)

Me: “Do you need any help with skincare or moisturisers?”

GG: (sarcastically, without looking at me) “Oh, no. I don’t want to put you out.”

Me: “Okay!” (walks off)

I could probably have tried some more, ignoring his sarcasm and hostility and trying to sweet talk him. But I really do not need to take people treating me rudely. I mean, come on, perhaps I didn’t serve you straight away when I saw you but I had my BAG and no apron on, having just finished my break. Take a chill pill, hey? Sales assistants are not your slaves.

4. Basket Case Barbara

Sometimes, customers walk around the shop with their hands full. We offer them baskets to pop their things in and free up their hands to touch, pick up, and smell stuff and make it more convenient for them to shop. Occasionally, though, there are weird customers who do this:

Me: “Hi there, would you like a basket to put your things in?” (holding up basket to customer)

BCB: “Yes, please, thank you!”

And…she proceeds to put her stuff in and walk off, expecting me to follow her around the shop carrying her basket as she picks up other items and puts them in. At times I can’t help thinking they do it on purpose. But what I try to do is then sort of hold it up and smile and sort of go, “here you are” and hope they take it. Sometimes, they are just absent-minded and become very apologetic which is fine. But yeah. Once or twice, I’m pretty sure they did it on purpose – and took pleasure out of it.

5. High Maintenance Harriet

These are the customers who spend 2 or 3 hours at the shop, expecting you to spend all that time with them and them alone, and take them around and demo EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT on them. Never mind that there might be other customers who need a hand with something. No, you must take them on a personal tour of the shop, tell them stories about the history of the company and all the merchandise, give them suggestions on what to wear on their anniversary / first date, how to seduce their other halves (what songs to choose for their striptease), and basically plan their wedding as well. Often, they walk out having spent either $9.95 or nothing at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I love tending to customers and hearing their stories and giving them advice and suggestions. But not for TWO. WHOLE. HOURS.

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