20 Confessions Of A Former Macy’s Sales Associate
The nation has many prominent retail brands with hundreds of stores at which debauchery, lunacy, and theft all occur. One of these retailers is Macy’s. I worked there from 2008-2010. Here are my confessions (but keep in mind some of these may have changed since I departed).
1. The Black Friday sales aren’t that special. The merchandise is marked down but A. It’s marked down from an inflated, artificially high price and B. It’s not as marked down as it is on other days. Macy’s knows that many of the Black Friday shoppers are there just because it’s Black Friday. The majority of these shoppers aren’t in the store for the other times of the year. Thus, they automatically assume they’re getting the best deals because it’s Black Friday, but they’re not.
2. From my experiences, the last weekend before Christmas has better sales than Black Friday.
3. Any item whose price ends in 98 cents is what’s called an “Every Day Value” or “EDV” item. Coupons cannot be used on these items. Associates cannot override this.
4. Sales associates can change prices on the POS (it stands for point of sale, get your mind out of the gutter) and do other little tricks in some cases. In other cases the POS will literally not let them make any changes. Please don’t ask them to “just change the price for me” because even if the computer will let them, they’ll get fired if/when management finds out.
5. Because price changing is do-able, some employees price-change either to appease nasty customers or just to steal. One of my former coworkers used to have his father buy items from him and he’d change the price. He ran this racket for about three months before getting caught.
6. There’s a credit card quota. One of the worst things about Macy’s is getting a credit card pitched to you when you walk within 10 feet of an employee. Nobody likes dealing with 1,000 hard sells per minute. Please don’t hate on the employees for this though. They have to open so many per week or face unemployment.
6. Management shames employees who don’t open credit cards. In the store I worked at, there was a giant piece of oaktag in the lobby of the employee entrance. At the top was the amount of credit cards we had to open that week. Beneath that were two columns, one titled “Who’s helping” and one titled “Who’s not.” Management would also ask you questions like “Why don’t you want to help your coworkers and open cards?” in front of the whole team. It was horrible.
7. Suits are required, at least for men. Showing up to work in a suit that cost $400 only to get paid $7.75 per hour was surreal in the worst way possible. Right as I left, they loosened the dress code a bit. You were allowed to not wear a suit if you wore a black dress shirt, a tie, and black dress slacks. Yay, I got to take my suit jacket off! What a difference!
8. The employees aren’t instructed about fashion or clothing or really anything other than how to operate the POS and how to pitch the Macy’s card. The first time someone asked me to measure their neck I wanted to refer them to a legit tailor. I’m sure there are people at Macy’s who know these things, they just didn’t learn it from any training program Macy’s had.
9. We had to call customers “guests.” We’d get written up if we didn’t do this.
10. We had to ask open-ended questions to guests. If we asked “Can I help you find something?”—a question that can be answered in a yes or a no—the grumpier managers would write us up. The nicer ones would subject us to a half-hour long lecture about salesmanship. I preferred the write up.
11. It was totally normal to run out of boxes and shopping bags. Please don’t yell at the sales associate if they don’t have any left. This happened countless times when I worked there. Yes, the store operations manager should’ve done a better job making sure supply stockpiles were adequate but he didn’t. Don’t ruin some innocent cashier’s day because of it.
12. Only some departments are on commission. Customers, sorry, “guests” always implied I was being disingenuous when I was nice to them. They thought I was on commission and was just looking for a sale. While all associates had a sales goal, only some departments got commission—shoes and furniture. That could be different now, though.
13. Macy’s expected us to solicit more than just a credit card. If you’ve ever worked for Macy’s, the terms “Shop for a Cause” and “RIF ticket” will make your heart race. Shop for a Cause was awful. Basically, we had to sell these crappy coupon books. They cost $5 and could only be used on one day of the year. The hook management instructed us to use, knowing it was a shitty deal, was “charity”. It’s true that Macy’s donated a “portion” of the money to charity, but they were doing it to get a tax write off from someone else’s money.
RIF stood for “Reading is Fundamental.” We had to sell these raffle tickets that came with a $20 coupon, though my memory of these is a little hazy.
14. Alfani, I.N.C., American Rag, Club Room, and a few other brands are all pathetic attempts at making Macy’s store brands sound trendy. Generally, these items are of inferior quality and are overpriced.
15. Customers doing horrible things was a routine occurrence. One lady put her used tampon into a handbag on the sales floor. Some teenage punks nearly burned down the third floor when they detonated a bunch of firecrackers. One guy pulled down his pants and shit right in the center of the home goods department. Insane things like this happened a couple of times a month.
16. Generally, anything with a tag that looks like a receipt was returned merchandise. When you pick up a shirt and see that the tag is atypical, that it looks like a receipt and not a proper price tag, it usually means that the item was returned. However, it’s also possible that the tag just came off and an associate had to print new one.
17. Fitting rooms are disgusting. I worked in every department save for furniture and lingerie. After cleaning out men’s fitting rooms and women’s fitting rooms, I laugh when people tell me that women are cleaner.
18. Stores aren’t as cleanly as you think. The store I worked at had a mouse infestation. It wasn’t uncommon to see mouse turds on some of the fixtures throughout the store. Management did their best but the mice came from the mall and the mall didn’t care. They told us to clean the turds with Windex.
19. Employees are forced to be overly friendly. Getting annoyed that an associate is asking for your name or possibly coming onto you? That’s part of the policy. We have to name exchange. That was part of “STAR” selling which stood for “smile, talk about the merchandise, ask for Macy’s STAR rewards card, regard the customer by name.” The fact that I still remember that 3 years later makes me depressed.
20. Cosmetics employees have it extra rough. Not only do they have to deal with a sales goal from Macy’s, they have to deal with a sales goal from whatever cosmetics line they peddle. That means getting chewed out twice as much every week from two sets of mangers. So have a little consideration next time one of them is trying coerce you into buying something.
Sourced from thethoughtcatelog.com