06 December 2011

How to be a Good Customer

The holiday season is upon us - that time of year when, contrary to the general feelings supposed to be induced by the myriad holidays celebrated during it, everyone seems to get stressed out and is pulled tighter than the laces in a fat lady's corset trying to get everything done. It's natural to snap at some point and want to take it out on random people you encounter during your whirlwind of preparation, but on behalf of retail workers everywhere, I'm here to beg you pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease don't be nasty to the poor soul trying to help you out.

We all know the economy sucks rocks right now, despite the noises politicians are making about "recovery". You're probably making less money than you did a few years ago, so of course you want to stretch what you do have as far as possible. Coupons? Go for it. Discount cards? Absolutely. Comparison shopping? Makes sense to me. You know what doesn't? When people yell at the person behind the counter for not accepting their expired coupons. Or their 3-year-old return (when the receipt clearly states a vastly shorter window). Or for not being able to find what you want, when YOU don't know what you want.

Remember that retail workers are people, too - and due to the aforementioned sucky economy, they're more likely than ever before to be highly educated and underemployed. The person you're talking down to probably has a master's degree, but is still grateful to have a job at all. And even if they are some lazy high school dropout who only got hired 'cause their uncle knows a guy, they're still a person.

If you legitimately need help with something, ask. Don't hover. It's creepy. Do read signs and stickers - they have the info you need on them a good 90% of the time. Don't act like it's a great moral failing on the part of the employee helping you when the store is sold out of what you want - somebody got there before you, and there's not a darn thing the employee can do about it. Do put things back where you found them if you decide not to purchase them, or at least give them to someone who knows where they belong. Don't holler at someone from halfway across the store, especially if they've got their hands full or are on the phone - they're clearly busy and are unlikely to hear you anyway. Do wait your turn as patiently as possible - stores definitely value your business, but also that of the three people in front of you who have been waiting longer.

And while I've read countless articles about and personally witnessed many acts of incredibly bad behaviour and entitlement among the generation coming up the ranks (those tweens, teens and twenties everyone is so worried about), it's the older folks who come up with the most breathtaking rudeness, every single time. I don't care who you are, how old you are or how much money you have - treat people like people, not like something nasty you stepped in, and everyone will have a much happier holiday season!

Pass the egg nog...


Cruella Collett said...


Natasha said...

I'm not in retail, but I know exactly what you mean. And how do I know?

Because the PEOPLE manning the counter look pathetically grateful when I look them in the eye, smile and say "thank you" after they have done their job well. They shouldn't have to, should they?

Shaharizan Perez said...

I worked retail years ago, during the dark ages, and I can absolutely empathize. Now I just deal with a different type of customer- students. :) Great post!