11. Learn how to answer, “how are you doing today?”

I never knew the question, “hi, how are you doing today?” could cause so much confusion until I started working in retail.  I’ve learned that about a quarter of people have no idea how to properly respond to such a seemingly simple inquiry.  Here is a list of responses that don’t count as suitable answers to the obligatory greeting here in the United States:

  • “Just looking.”
  • “No.”
  • “Yes.”
  • “Where is [insert product here].”
  • “I’ll get you when I need you.”
  • “Fine.”
  • “I’m not stealing anything.”

Nonverbal replies that don’t count are grunts, sighs of annoyance, and total silence.  But the one that completely irritates me is a swat of the hand.  Don’t you dare silently swat your hand at me a few times to tell me to go away when all I did was greet you.  I’m not a fly you need to swish away so please open your mouth and use your words if you’re going to be so barbarous.

So remember, the polite answer to “how are you doing today?” is something along the lines of “pretty good, thanks.”  I didn’t personally create our culture’s insistence upon inquiring about your mood as a form of a polite greeting, but I participate in this absurdity anyway.  Since I do count as a human being (contrary to popular belief that salespeople are people too), proper etiquette dictates that you give me a polite reply.  I don’t want your life story; I just want some respect.

Why hello! My company hires hotties to get you to stop blowing us off.

10. It’s not our fault when you do something REALLY stupid.

Yesterday I saw something in other workplace that was too funny not to share.  I was at a small coffee shop that has a large glass pane at its front; it stretches from the floor to the ceiling and it can look like a door at first glance.  The employees had posted a sign on it reading, “this is not a door.”  I asked them if they had a lot of customers who would walk into the window and they said it would happen multiple times a day before they put up the warning sign.*  This would be funny enough to watch and walking into a glass pane would definitely be a stupid move, but most of us wouldn’t really judge you beyond laughing since accidents do happen; besides, we all have done something equally mindless and embarrassing.

However, the employees added that their main motivation for putting up the sign was due to the occasional flustered glass-smasher who would further humiliate himself by blaming the coffee shop afterward.  “This is unbelievable!  How was I supposed to know it’s not a door?  You guys should really put a door right here!  I’m going to call your owner and give him a piece of my mind!”  Of course, anyone in the shop who didn’t see him face-plant into the glass was now aware that he just did so after he announced his indignation at the top of his lungs.  Supposedly one (in all likelihood former) customer even threatened to sue.

The moral of the story is:  if you make an ass out of yourself while shopping, don’t blame the employees or the store.  It’s YOUR fault.  Causing a scene and trying to shift the blame just makes you look obtuse since no one else believes you’re a victim.

Businesses are out to get you with deceptive doors.

*Apparently it did happen one time after they put up the sign.  The customer bumped into the glass and then testily scolded them that they should put up a warning sign before someone got hurt.

Being perky comes with the territory of working in retail. It’s not so much that I’m being fake; it’s just that most people would rather be helped by someone who is friendly and upbeat instead of someone who is jaded and crabby.

However, that does not give you the liscense to openly mock me back by mimicking me in an exaggerated manner. It doesn’t make you funny or clever; it makes you a douche. Does it make you feel good to treat people who can’t defend themselves like crap? Do you miss being the junior high bully?

Now I get to have the last laugh. See, I won’t help you now. I get to watch you frantically look for something that’s sitting right in front of your face. Too bad you’re too stupid to find it in your own.

 8. Think before you speak.

Me:  “Hello, what can I help you find today?”
Customer:  “I’m looking for something I know you guys don’t even carry anymore.”

I just don’t know how to respond to these types of customers.  Did she expect me to magically pull whatever she was looking for out of my ass?  All I could manage was an, “oh…I see,” but I guess that’s much better than asking her back if she ever powers up her brain before opening her mouth.  Besides, I already know the answer to that is a resounding no.

7. Stay out of the doorway.

Next time you walk into a store, look above or at the sides of the doorway. See that small box with a blinking light? That’s called a traffic counter. It counts every person who walks through the door and calculates a store’s conversion by dividing the number of transactions by the number of traffic. Most businesses are absolutely obsessed with conversion; they think that each person who walks through the door will do so only once and has the potential to purchase something. Most people with average reasoning skills can realize how illogical this is, but then again I have a theory that most businesses are run by chimps.

So please don’t come into our store four times before you decide to buy something. I know you’re only one person but our company considers you to be four potential customers at this point. And don’t bring in your two other friends when you need to make a return; they can wait outside for you. If you really need to drag your husband shopping, don’t let him awkwardly stand in the doorway since his rocking back and forth makes it look like I’m doing my best to offend potential customers instead of meet their needs in the moronic eyes of my company. Please don’t hang out in the doorway on your cellphone, I know it’s “quieter” but you’re really screwing with our store’s numbers for the hour. And you may think it’s cute that your kid keeps running in and out of the door, but guess what? My company counts him as a potential paying customer each time he passes the threshold.

It’s a ridiculous idea, but apparently my Regional Manager doesn’t consider it to be when she comes in screaming. In the retail world, low conversion obviously must mean we’re too busy trying to fit our heads up our own asses instead of attending to customers. So please be more considerate when walking into a store. Something that small and simple transforms my Regional Manager into a banshee and can ultimately cost me my job.

Conversion: worst idea since The Holocaust.

Some of you think the phrase, “can’t you just look it up in the system?” can persuade us to access our all-powerful and all-knowing database that keeps track of every single piece of information that has ever been relevant to our company in the history of time.  I’m sure our company bigwigs would be flattered, but such a system does not exist.  Our “system” (if one could call it that) is about as technologically advanced as a Windows 3.0 computer hooked up to Usenet and I’m sure we’re better off than many retail businesses out there.  If you want a cutting edge “system”, go to the Apple Store; you won’t find it here.

So no, we can’t look up your gift card in our “system”.  I don’t know how that would be possible even with the Apple Store’s technology since gift cards aren’t linked to personal information.  Repetitively insisting that I look it up in our “system” isn’t going to change the fact that what you’re asking is completely absurd.  Now, by chance did you happen to memorize that sixteen digit number on the back and the three digit pin?  No?  Sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you.

Hi, I’m a gift card and I’m not in the “system”.

5. Keep your ridiculous requests to a minimum.

Me:  “M’am, I’m really sorry but we’re all sold out of the product you’re looking for.  Now we have a few options–“

Customer:  “Can you look it up in your computers and see if another store has it?

Me:  Yeah right, as if our company would ever realize we’ve left the 80s and implement an electronic inventory. “We actually don’t have a way to look it up.  What I can do is call a couple of our stores nearby.”

[I call a few of our local stores and fortunately one about 10 miles away has what the customer has requested.]

Me:  “Our store in ________ has some in stock.  I had the associate put one on hold for you under your name.  Just ask for Andrew, he knows you’ll be coming by.  Do you need directions and the store’s phone number?”

Customer:  “Well, can’t you go pick it up and bring it here for me?”

Me:  Wait…what. “I’m sorry, I can’t actually do that.”

Customer:  “Why not?”

Me:  Because what you’re buying is only $6 and it would cost me more in gas money?  Because it would take me about two hours right now thanks to rush hour traffic?  Because the company would not reimburse me for making the drive?  Because that’s absolutely ridiculous? “It’s against company policy and I’m the only person in the store right now.  If you really don’t want to make the drive, you can always make the purchase online and have it shipped to your house.”

Customer:  “You guys have done it for me before.  Sarah at _________ went to _________ and brought me what I needed last January.”

Me:  ???  There’s no way she did that for you. “If she did do that she went against company policy.  And besides, those two stores are a five minute walk from each other.  If you want I can give her a call and ask her if she did do that since I know she’s at work today.”

Customer:  “No no no, don’t do that.  I don’t think I want it anymore.  Whatever happened to good customer service?  You guys are horrible; I’m never shopping here again!”

There’s no way in hell I’ll drive to pick something up for you.

4. Don’t expect to make impossible returns.

I don’t care how much you whine, call me a liar, and threaten to never come back, but I cannot give you cash back when you’re returning something you bought with a credit card.  Don’t try to persuade me that you do it here all the time; you don’t.  Don’t try to convince me that we’re the only store that won’t let you do this; that is complete crap.  No one thought you looked cool when you ripped up your receipt, threw the pieces everywhere, yelled about how much you hate us, and stormed out.

I cannot give you cash back when you don’t have your receipt.  No, I can’t just “trust you.”  No, I don’t care that you would have no use for merchandise credit since apparently you’re a freak of nature who never uses any of the thousands of every day things we sell.  And no, you can’t hang out in the store for fifteen minutes while trying to sell your merchandise credit for cash.  How the hell is that acceptable behavior?

Yelling at me isn’t going to change the fact that the item you’re trying to return is only worth $0.50 now.  Maybe you shouldn’t have waited 2.5 years before getting around to returning it.  No, I don’t believe that you originally bought it for $45; I know for the fact it sold for $25 full price.  No, I don’t believe you just bought it in our store last week since we haven’t had this item for over a year now.

I don’t make the rules so stop acting like I’m out to get you.  It’s not like I’m making commission by refusing to do your ridiculous returns exactly how you want them.  Where is this so-called return policy, you smugly demand?  It’s on the front of your receipt, the back of your receipt, next to the cash registers, and online.  Now get the hell out before I tattoo it on your face too.


3. Signs are for reading.

You walk into the store, oblivious to the huge posters in the windows and multiple banners hanging inside.  You start looking at your product of choice while ignoring all six of the promotional signs just within your line of vision.  You start complaining loudly to yourself about how the products you want are not on sale.  The salesperson recognizes that it’s probably not your fault that you’re illiterate and explains the promotion that applies to your coveted products.  You still don’t understand.  The salesperson walks you through it three more times, using detailed examples and your desired products as props.  You snap back that maybe they should just put up signs.  The salesperson kindly points out the closest sign, which is sitting at eye level about two feet away.  You attempt to read it over a few more times and complain that you still don’t understand, so a nine-year-old shopping nearby explains it to you.  You’re still confused, so you drop your shopping basket in the middle of the floor and leave the store wondering why they couldn’t just put up a couple of signs.

Reading is way too hard.

2. Finish your sentence.

Don’t answer “can I help you find anything?” with “yeah, I’m uhh, [unintelligible mumble] mmm…”  Is that a yes?  A no?  Now you’re just staring at me blankly and I have no idea what to do.  I don’t want to interrupt you just in case you’re eventually going to finish your sentence.  I don’t want to make you irate just because you presume what came out of your mouth was coherent.  Or maybe you forgot I was even talking to you?  The awkwardness of this encounter is excruciating.

Also, don’t do the trail-off while walking away from me.  Are you wanting me to follow you or are you going to snap at me when I try to figure out if what you were mumbling was intended for me or oh, maybe say for your purse?  Of course, you were talking to your purse.  I should’ve known.

Is this seriously how you communicate with most people?  If so, I can’t imagine how you’ve managed to function up to this point.

1. Stop sniffing the packaging.

Don’t hold a sealed product up to your nose, take a deep whiff, and then complain that you can’t smell anything.  Of course you can’t smell it; IT’S CALLED PACKAGING.

Or worse yet, don’t tell me that it smells like plastic and not “Island Tropics” as labeled.  Really?  Unopened plastic packaging smells like plastic?  Have all of those pthalates you’ve inhaled eaten away at your brain?

Next time you go into a store, try opening something before you smell it and make an insightful comment.  The salespeople may certify you as a genius on the spot.

Apparently it’s much more difficult than it looks.


Sourced from retailpolice.wordpress.com

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