ReTales: Experiences In Customer Service, Chapter 1


Based on many years working in various retail environments, I have compiled the world’s unofficial list of laws which all are subject to in every retail environment on Earth.  They are assembled in no particular order.  Here we go. 

1. Your “But” Is Fake: When a customer says things like “I don’t mean to be a pain, but…” or “I never complain about this type of thing, but…”, they are simply full of crap.  If they really never did say such things, they would feel no need to defend their statement or provide any explanation up front.  You are a pain and, yes, you intend to be.  Otherwise, keep your mouth shut.

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me: Whenever anyone makes a mistake, be it the cashier who scans an item which rings up a different price or a sales person finding out an item is out of stock after thinking it was on hand, people always take it personally, as if this person-to-person exchange was crafted in advance to specifically screw them over.  These things happen and they aren’t planned.  Sometimes, it’s just human error.  Try and keep perspective when this occurs.  No one did this to you because it’s you.  You’re just not that special.

3. Change Would Do You Good: Old people always have exact change when paying cash. If their hair is white or silver, they will count out enough coins to cover whatever the amount after the decimal adds up to be.  You can count on them to pay with exact change.  Maybe they have so many coins because they’ve been saving them their whole lives.

4. Stealth Bummer: Many retailers hire “secret shoppers” to go through a store like the average customer and later rate their experience.  I have never found these to be anything more than a gauge for what the employee did wrong.  Silly details like not making enough eye contact or wishing them a joyous holiday season are highlighted in red to identify what criteria was not met.  Everything which was done correctly is noted by checking a box next to the word “yes.”  These people are paid to shop, then rate their interactions, and still have reason to take exception to anything?  Get a life!  You’re being paid to shop so enjoy the spoils of it and stop bothering people who are doing actual work.

5. Inconvenience Store: Few things on the job are as entertaining as watching someone walk into a store, take a quick look from side to side, not see exactly what they need, ask someone where the item can be found, then scoff when they learn it is more then seven feet from where they walked in.  How dare they not make the isles revolve so all the customers’ needs are right by the entrance!  Why should anyone have to actually look for what they want?

6. Time To Split: People always spend a disproportionate amount of time browsing when out and about in stores.  A customer will spend two hours looking at everything on the shelf, from reading to back of a DVD they probably have no interest in purchasing to checking the calories on a bottle of spring water (zero, by the way).  After all this meandering, when they finally decide to checkout, that is when the customer’s time suddenly becomes scarce.  When they’re in a hurry to leave, there are never enough registers in the store or enough cashiers to operate them.  Guess what?  The world doesn’t move at the speed of you.  If you shop on a Saturday afternoon, odds are stores will be crowded and you’ll have to wait on line for a short time.  Suck it up.

7. Omissionary Position: Frequent customers always feel the need to suggest improvements about every way the store could run better, from what products should be carried to how frequently shipments should arrive to when employees need to be retrained.  As much as you think your opinion matters, it doesn’t.  Keep your suggestions to yourself.  Spending your money there doesn’t entitle you to a say in how things operate.  You don’t work there.  You buy what you want and you leave.  If you like it that much, you’ll come back.  That is the role of a customer.  If you have so many ideas about how a solid business should be run, go start your own.  Otherwise, don’t tell us how to do our job.  It’s our job, not yours.