I always get a laugh seeing memes and jokes on the internet or in tv sitcoms about the typical attitudes you come across when being a retail worker. Recently I’ve been lucky enough to start a new part-time job that I’m really looking forward to because I’ve missed having little fast-paced tasks to do to keep my hands and mind busy. When I was younger I always had a weird habit of tidying shop displays whenever my parents dragged me around Tescos and in my new job I get to constantly serve customers and organise displays which keeps me busy, so it should be great for some experience!
However typical satire about retail working is never wrong! There is many little things that happen whilst working on a shop floor that all sales assistants have come across. You’ve got the customer who thinks the stockroom is Narnia. You’ll sometimes get asked by customers to look for things ‘in the back’, even when you tell them that for definite either an item is out of stock or discontinued but they get more agitated. I’m sorry to break the myth, the stockroom is not made of magical trees that grow every product we have sold when a customer clicks their finger. My favourite is always the customer who bitches to you about prices. One of my favourite stories to tell is once in a past shop I was an assistant in, I was minding my own business tidying a display when a customer came up to me and told me how one product she was looking at is ‘well cheap somewhere else, these prices are ridiculous!’, the look on her face when I went to the cashier to serve her was hilarious to me.
But there are customers who make my day. Whenever a customer tells me to have a nice day it does make me smile! Customers who are patient and appreciate the most you can do for them without huffing or expecting things that aren’t possible. So I decided to share some secrets, from someone who has been a sales assistant to anyone who are constantly in stores..
- If staff come up to you constantly in a shop and ask if you need any help, don’t get angry at them. Some people really do not like being bugged and I am the same sometimes when I’m window shopping cause I don’t want shops to expect me to buy something, most of the time I’m broke! But never get angry at these staff please – it is our job to do this! It is literally in our policy and sometimes the managers will really get on our backs if we just ‘ignore’ our customers. It’s also a policy to ensure customers know we are there, to try and prevent any shoplifting!
- Try to make an attempt to fold clothes/displays back up after going through them. I’ve discovered this pet peeve when doing my recent job. I understand t-shirt displays where everything is folded do get messed up cause people want to look at what they are buying but I have more of an appreciation for customers who fold it up or put it back where they found it. It’s just plain rude if you literally chuck the clothes back at me or chuck them on the floor. If you really can’t use the energy to put a t-shirt back where you found it at least just give it to me so I can put it back and we can both get on with our lives.
- If a sales assistant says they can’t do anything without a manager, don’t shout at them – we can’t lie to you! In some store policies there are genuinely some routines only managers can do, for example in an old workplace only supervisors or managers could deal with returns and exchanges and sometimes I’d get the odd customer who would get proper huffy and puffy with me when I told her I couldn’t so I’d just ‘take a min to get the manager’. I wouldn’t lie to you ma’am, I really want to do my job well.
- We don’t appreciate your little gifts of litter. The other day I went into The Body Shop with my dear boyfriend and I noticed some utter arse had chucked their left over Costa cups in the baskets! They’re not bins! I was so angry about how gross some people can be. In my new job I’ve found half full Starbucks cups hidden under displays too and it is soul crushing. Can you guys really not carry your cups for a few more minutes to go and put it in the bins outside? If it’s REALLY that much of a strain for you to hold them just ask a member of staff to throw it away for you. We’d love that much more than you leaving it somewhere – cups with drink still in them are a slip hazard as well please remember that!
- Ignoring us whilst you’re on the phone when we serve you is kind of, sort of rude. Tell your bezzie on your friend to hold the story about how drunk they got last night for 5 seconds whilst I check you at least know what your purchasing, if you want the receipts etc., we are humans too! Just giving us a smile, putting your phone down from your ear and talking to us for a second and giving us a thanks and then going back on your phone when you’ve paid and left is enough to keep our annoyance levels down.
So yeah, follow these tips and you’ll never have to be that one customer that makes retail workers get on the verge of crying. We really want to do well at our jobs and follow all the policies correctly! Think about if you were doing these jobs!
Thanks for reading!
Lenah x x