At some point, many of us have worked (or still work) as retail staff. It’s a job like any other but with a lot of oddly specific challenges. Whether you work in a corner store, Starbucks, Tesco or an indie label music shop, dealing with the customers can be one of the most delightful and infuriating things you have ever experienced in life.
If you have ever stocked a shelf or manned a till, you can absolutely relate to the points mentioned below!
1. We can’t change the price for you.
We are mere employees. It’s the retail company or the manufacturer who sets the price. No matter how nice, flirty or angry your demands become we cannot quote you a new price out of the blue! But we can give you the head office’s number and you can try your luck in persuading somebody there.
2. We often have terrible schedules.
Have you ever heard of the “Clopening“? Well that’s a dreadful practice of having a closing shift and getting back to work the next morning (most often without being at home for more than 7 hours). Most of us inevitably get those at least once a month, or once a week in the worst-case scenario. Sure, the rumors say it soon may become a thing of the past, but for now, we never really get a full weekend. And on those rare occasions we do, we try to get the max out of it and end up being even more exhausted.
All in all, we work 40+ hours per week, often put work over social life and are damned proud of what we do. Being a retail worker is a real job. Don’t ever tell us the opposite!
3. We don’t like telling you that your card was declined.
Yes, we often feel as awkward and embarrassed as you are and make that “strange face” not to mock you, but to hide our feelings.
4. We know about your complaints to other workers.
Don’t you ever try to rat us out to other retail staff! It’s a game you are likely to lose. Think for a second, why would anyone throw friends under the bus for some demanding (and often rude) stranger? In fact, working in retail has taught me to be more patient, kind and tolerant towards your co-workers, as you often work with a very diverse group of people. Even that annoying girl who can’t stop complaining about the lack of love life can save your back on another day!
5. We don’t know every single item in the store by heart.
If you approach us with something like: “Can you quote me a price of that silver fancy couch I’ve seen in your other store the other day?”, we probably won’t be able to help. Save everyone’s time and frustration by penning down the product code, brand or some less vague characteristics.
Can you imagine what it’s like to get through thousands of products that change monthly if you work in a big store?
6. We hate when you come five minutes before closing.
Yes, you’ve got a job with fixed working hours. But so do we! We want to help, but we anticipate you staying for over an hour after the closing time, meaning our seven hours of rest will turn into five.
7. We are okay with refunds, but it does not always mean you will get one.
No, it’s not that we don’t feel like giving you back the money or filling in return papers. It’s just that there are certain goods that cannot be returned according to numerous policies, e.g. undergarments (esp. worn!), gift cards, products that have obviously been in heavy use or those returned after the return policy warranty.
Spare everyone from making a scene before you have carefully read the return/refund policy. It’s always clearly outlined.
8. We are used to most of your usual “threats”.
Including: “I’ll shop somewhere else” (Okay. Good day!); “Let me speak to the manager!” (I wanted to speak to him for 3 days about my holiday too); “I will never come back” (but most probably you will). Being rude and aggressive will get you nowhere, really.
9. We hate add on sales, too.
But our job is to smile and offer you something totally irrelevant — like a nearly expired Aero bar — and explain what an amazing deal it is.
10. We have certain issues when it comes to making a payment.
The worst-case scenarios include getting a mountain of change. Coins are money too, we get it. But it’s absolutely frustrating counting all of those when there are ten more impatient folks in line! “Can I pay part card/part cash?” is the most dreadful question in the world — especially when your sum is $15. Why do you need to make things so complicated for everyone?
And last, but not least — swiping your card or entering your pin code too early or too late, resulting in one huge mess at the payment stage.
11. We wish you would just ask us for a size.
Do you realize it takes just two seconds for us to bring you the right size? In contrast, it takes a good half an hour to refold all the sweaters in the pile you have just dug through. Don’t forget that it’s our job to clean up your mess and make sure the store looks nice at all times.
Make our lives easier by voicing out your request to dig through the piles for you.
12. We perfectly know the consumer law.
Probably, much better than you do — as not having certain items in stock is not a breach. Neither is refusing to issue you a refund without a receipt. Before showing off your great legal knowledge, make sure you know what you are talking about.
13. We don’t like unsupervised children.
It’s not that we don’t like kids in general. Most of us love them! It’s just that your little fellow left out with no attention potentially means a huge mess. You see, all major accidents at the shop usually involve a child, with their parents just two steps ahead glued to their phones or paying zero attention to what their child is up to.
Please, keep an eye on your child and hold their hand or do something to keep everyone out of harm’s way.
14. We notice when you ruin an item with your makeup.
Please, be careful about getting your makeup on the garments. And if it happens, don’t try to score a discount because you’ve been careless. Secretly putting back an item and taking a clean one instead to purchase will not come unnoticed as well. Instead ask us about any tips of removing makeup. We now know plenty!
15. We can’t be in control of everything.
We are not in control of stock, but we can give you the head office number if you still want to inquire. Also, we can’t just give you something from the floor stock or an item the other customer has a hold on. Same goes with catalogues — we can’t guarantee the product will still be there when you come to shop for it.
It’s our job to sell you things, so we are not trying to fool you by saying the item is not available right now.
16. We do not size the products.
And no, we don’t know why size four is so tight. It’s okay to go up a size. Please, do not try to squeeze into a smaller one no matter what. We are being nice, not judgmental, when we offer our assistance in finding the right fit.
17. We hate when people leave things where they don’t belong.
Are you happy when somebody messes up your work desk? Exactly, we aren’t either! It takes just a few seconds to hand over an item you have no intention to buy, rather than place it somewhere random in the store. Don’t forget it’s our job to make the shop look neat and keep all things in order.
18. We try very hard to cater everyone, but…
We are not super humans. We cannot attend to everyone at once. If we did not approach you immediately, it doesn’t mean we are avoiding you or not doing our job properly. Most likely we are already dealing with other customers.
Please, keep patience and we’ll come back to you in just a few minutes.
19. We have to greet everyone.
Yes, our smiles may seem somewhat fake as it’s part of our job. And saying hundreds of “hellos” a day is somewhat annoying. But please, don’t smirk at us and pretend you didn’t hear. That makes things even worse.
20. We are not therapists.
Yes, we can help you with a lot of things and give some advice…but only when it comes to the products we sell. We can’t listen to your personal problems for half an hour, especially when the conversation happens during peak hours or at the checkout.
21. We tell you our name for a reason.
Please, don’t forget it as it often results into such a great thing as “commissions” that help us pay the monthly bills. Don’t make us regret helping you so zealously.
22. We dream of a normal life sometimes.
With a fixed nine to five schedule, usual weekends, breaks lasting over 30 min a day and less rude people to deal with on a daily basis. We want to be able to hang out with our friends in the evenings and spend more time with the children. We leave the house at six a.m. to return at midday, absolutely exhausted and able to do nothing except for roll right into bed.
23. We are humans too!
We try our best to be nice, helpful and cater for you in a timely manner. Please, be respectful and polite to us too! At the end of the day we are doing a job just like you do.