Hello, Goodbye

You know how when you go to Subway or other order-at-the-counter restaurants or fast food joints they ask that you refrain from talking or texting or playing on your cell phone in ordered to be seen to properly?

Yeah, well, I wish we had that at our store for the service desk or for the check lanes.  I understand that our guests are busy and they have things they need to handle and sometimes that means they have to shop and set up doctor’s appointments or set up work meetings or have work calls going on.  But that doesn’t mean you should disrespect and alienate the person who is helping you get in and out.  In fact, I’ve gotten slowed down by people on their phones more often than those who give me their full attention.  Because, when you give me your full attention, I give you mine.  It’s simple.

I try to work with people and try to be polite, but sometimes it’s hard to do when people are flat out rude.  I’ve made more refund mistakes with guests who aren’t paying attention to me than to those who are.  If you would just get off of your damn phone, maybe I’d be able to have a conversation with you as to why your refund has to go back to a gift card instead of any other way.  Maybe if you’d get off your phone, I’d be able to help you out, but no, you insist on being a rude little twit who doesn’t think twice as to the extra work you might be giving others because you refuse to put your damn phone down for five minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty attached to my phone, too.  When I work at the service desk, its in my back pocket at all times.  When I cashier, I tend to keep it in my purse.  I know that my co-workers and so forth play on their phones.  Most people do.  Most people will whip their phones out and text or play when no one is around.  It’s modern human nature.  When I’m at the service desk, at least I have a wall I can go behind so that my guests don’t see me.  Nothing pisses me off more than when I go shopping some place and the employees, especially the cashiers, have their phones sitting right out in front of everyone.  I’ve even gone so far as to complain to a store manager about one of their cashiers playing on their phone the entire time she was ringing up my items.

It’s simple respect.

Sometimes I really wish I could put up a sign that said “In order for me to serve you better, please end all phone conversation before approaching the counter, thank you.”

But that would be considered rude.  I can’t ask my guests this.  God forbid I ask for a little respect at my job, you know?  Because, at my job, we give the guests all the respect, it doesn’t matter if they give us any.  Where I work, management’s number one priority is to fix the guests problem before asking questions.  I think that’s totally unfair and its teaching guests that they can come in and make demands or false claims to get discounts and coupons.  The employee’s side of the story doesn’t matter.  Not until they’ve give the guest 50% off of their ticket, anyway.

My store seems to hold onto that old saying that the customer is always right.  People ruined that saying a long time ago.  The customer is not always right and sometimes the customer just needs to be escorted from the store and told the shut the hell up before I punch them in the face.

Now, not everyone I encounter is plastered to their phone.  I’ve actually had guests come in and hover just outside of my service desk line while they finished up their phone conversation.  Those people are showing me some respect and I can show them some.  I can give them my full attention because they gave me theirs.  However, I still always get those people who walk right up to the desk and howl something like “Yeah, giirrrlll, I’m at the custama service desk noa.  I be return’ dem jeans that I wore to Kiki’s dinna partay.  Nah, they don’t curr that I wore dem.”

Yes, yes I do.  And now since you’re on the phone, I’m just going to act like I’m returning them and then stand here and wait until you tell your friend to hold or you end the call.  I’m not returning these now, thanks, bye, leave my sight.

It just rattles my chains when a place like Subway can ask you to show a little respect to the employees, but a store like mine can’t.  We can’t ask such things of our guests because that is alienating their rights.  You know what?  We may be working their to help them, but we are not their slaves, we are not their grunts.  They need to show us a little respect in order to get some from us.  It’s one of the biggest rules that we are taught as children, but once we  grow into adulthood, it’s like that shit doesn’t matter and we can throw anyone down in the gutter that we please.

What’s worse than that, though, is the guests who CALL ME and continue to have conversations in the background.  I’ve even had people ask me to hold.  Are you fucking kidding me!?  You called ME!  I’m the one offering a service, I should be asking you to hold!

My favorite is when I answer the phone and it takes the guest approximately 30 seconds to answer me back because they didn’t hear me; they just happened to notice that the other end wasn’t ringing anymore.  Yeah, maybe you should shut up and listen when you call someone.  I’m not your pal Rita who doesn’t care, I’m an employee at a business, I have shit to do and don’t have time to wait for you to stop griping at your husband for picking up the wrong size diapers.

I’ve even had people tell me to “hang on a sec” as they go beat their kid’s butts in the background.  I’m greeted with deafening howls and cries.  That’s the best.  I love feeling like my workplace is smack in the center of a daycare.

It’s not too much to ask is it?  For employees at the store to get a little respect from the customers and guests?  I mean, it’s common courtesy, right?  Probably a little more than half of people working in retail aren’t doing it as an after-school job or a job to get them through college, they’re doing it to live life and get by because they couldn’t get a job that paid better.  The least you idiots could do is show them a little respect when you go shop in the store that gives them a paycheck.  You might be surprised at how much better you get treated when you show them respect and thank them for their time.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

After extensive research involving shopping at other stores and watching the one I work at, I’ve come to the conclusion that express check out lanes tend to take twice as much time to get through.

Some stores with self-check outs have better wait times, but others… Well…. You know.

I saw a comic online the other day that depicted two lines. One line was labeled “For those who have the time” and the other was labeled “For those who do not have the time.”

In the first line was one person. In the second were probably at least a hundred people. Do you think anyone in the second line would be smart enough to step over to the bare line? A few were shown looking at the other line, but there is no drawn suggestion that anyone was moving over.

Why is this? It’s because our society is in such a hurry these days that we will waste more time trying to save time than actually getting things done.

Express lanes are much the same. When we have ours open, they are the biggest source of our front lane back ups. People will pile into those lanes with their 10 or less items thinking it will be speedier. Little do they know that two people ahead of them has a lot of coupons, is writing a check, is talking on the phone, will not move on once their transaction is complete.

I’ve watched people stand in a long express lane while several other nearby check lanes held only one or two guests. Or sometimes even none.

It’s our job as a cashier to stand at the end of our lanes and seek out guests who are ready to check out. But you know? Sometimes it’s just funny to stare at these people piling into one lane when two other cashiers are standing at the end of their lanes just waiting.

What’s even more laughable is the fact that there are times when another lane is open or another cashier will say they can help the next person and no one moves. It’s like they’re frozen. I’ve called people over to another lane before and only had one person take advantage of my speed. I’m sorry, but if you can’t move over when I call, you don’t really deserve my help.

But you will get it anyway as I sigh heavily and wish I could hit stupid people.

The Guilt-Tripper

I get these people at least once a day when I work.  They guilt-trip me and make me feel horrible when the register won’t allow a cash refund for them.  Most of the time, I can tell that they are simply returning their items because they need the money, not because they’re just not satisfied with their purchase.  In some cases, these people made the original purchase with a gift card or a credit card.  When this is the case, the register will only allow the refund to go back exactly the way it was paid for.  So, if they paid with a credit card, it can go back to the credit card or in a store gift card, and credit card refunds can take a week in some cases to be credited back to the account.  So, for those people who are looking for quick money, it’s a bad deal.  When a store gift card or “disposable” gift card (visa, mastercard, or amex) was used in the purchase it must go back that way (or in the case of a disposable card, it can go to a store gift card, too).

Neither of these options help the guest who is returning to get gas money.  Or the guest who is returning to get money to buy food to feed their kids for a night.

This is where I want to cry.  I had a woman one time come crying to the desk one day about how her store credit card was denied.  She had called the card service number and they told her it was because her card was maxed out.  The lady told me how her and her husband were getting a divorce, and to get back at her, he had essentially stolen all of her credit cards and maxed them all out and left her with no money in their account.  She had two kids under the age of 6 with her.  All she had been trying to do was buy them a personal size pizza at our cafe to feed them.  She was so, so, so upset.  I told her anything she could do she’d have to do with the people she was already on the phone with.

After about half an hour, she finally yells into the phone and comes stomping back up to me.  She throws her credit card at me, tears streaming down her face and says “throw it away!  It’s useless to me!” and left the store with her kids in tow.  I felt so horrible.  I wanted to run and grab money out of my wallet to give to her so bad, but she was already gone.

In other cases, I’ve had adult children come to return things for their elderly parents who had told them to take the money and use it for gas as a payment of returning the items for them.  Most times, the parent paid in a credit card.  Which I can only return to the credit card or a store gift card.  Neither of which does the adult kid any good with getting gas as our store doesn’t have a gas station.  Part of me gets angry that these people get mad at me for it, but the other part feels bad because I know how it feels to be out of money and wondering how you will fill your tank or get food until your next paycheck.  You get this glimmer of hope of being able to have gas money only to have it taken away because our system doesn’t allow cash returns on credit card purchases.

Partly it doesn’t make sense because it’s money, so it should go back however, right?  But you have to think about it like this, a credit card purchase isn’t exactly “real” money until real money is paid toward that bill.  And I think that’s how our system recognizes it.  No, that doesn’t mean that once the person pays their own bill that it becomes real money, it will always be a credit card return.

I watch these guests’ faces go from mad to sad to mad again.  Some of them totally take it out on me and others will call their parents and yell at them.  It’s heart-breaking, really, but there’s nothing I can do.  Nothing at all.  I can attempt to call our refund authorization number, but those people are mean and are very, very, very set into the rule book and almost never let anything slide.  So, that usually ends up being a big waste of time for me and the guest.  And sometimes it leads to further anger in the guest.  Though, some guests feel better after I call the number because they realize that if these people say no, then that’s the definitive answer.

Some stores will do cash returns on credit card purchases, but our store isn’t one of them.  The rules and ideas behind it aren’t my decision to make, I just carry them out and do what I’m told.  It doesn’t mean I like it, but it doesn’t mean that a guest has to get rude with me about it.  I realize that a lot of you are just trying to get by and I stand in the way of that.  Because believe me, if I could help, I would.

Just thinking about people crying to me about their woes makes me want to cry sometimes.  I understand in the pit of my stomach, but man, I just can’t help.  As much as I’d like to.

The Lights ARE off and Really, NO ONE IS HOME!

I’d like to talk for a moment about this thing called lights.  When lights are on, one can assume that a store is open, that a person is home.  That someone is available to assist you, yes?

And when those lights are off, it’s safe to assume that the store is closed, that no one is home (or awake).  That NO ONE is around to help you.

This is a battle I have ever Saturday night when I close at work.  On Saturday nights, the service desk gets closed a bit early because we are responsible for setting the Ad Board.  The Ad Board is that bulletin board that you see in the front of most stores that list that week’s sales.  For the most part, I’ve done it almost every single Saturday night for about six months.  Minus probably about four weeks in there.

In order the set this board, however, I must step away from the service desk and therefore be unavailable.  So, I turn out all of the lights and head out with my gear.  But this never seems to keep people away and that simply amazes me!  The portrait studio turns it’s lights out when they close down from the night and people just breeze on by and don’t try to just stand there waiting on someone.  No, they get the hint and walk by.  But if I try to close up or leave for an extended period of time, people will stand in line and wait.  Like, seriously?  IT’S  CLOSED!  The lights are out, obviously no one is there.  Go.  Away.

I just don’t get it.  There are plenty of other retailers out there who close their customer service counters an hour before the store closes, or at a specific time every night, but God forbid I close my service desk an hour before the whole store closes.  Why is it a big deal if ours is closed?  Oh, that’s right, because we have this new Let Guests Walk All Over You Policy.

I have lost count of the many times that I have had to completely stop what I’m doing, halfway across the store, so that I can come help someone with an exchange.  Meaning I have to waste more of my time waiting on them to get back with their exchange item.  And you know, I know the whole return/exchange thing is my job, but the service desk lights were off for a reason.  It means that I’m doing OTHER aspects of my job.  It means, nope, sorry, this part of the store is closed for business, come back when we open tomorrow.  The glory of our store is that we are open every single day of the week.

It’s almost pointless to turn the lights off.  I can’t get anything done anyway.  Like the times when I’m on a check lane and I turn my lane light out because it’s time for me to leave.  Or in most cases, past time for me to leave.  People just keep moseying up into the lane.  And then you tell them that you’re closed and they look at you like you killed their cat.

One day I was so angry after several people walked into my closed check lane that I finally blurted out “The light is out for a reason!”  I don’t think anyone other than the guest I was helping heard me, but still.  Communication of all types is sometimes just totally lost on some people.  Mostly they just aren’t paying attention.  I’ve been guilty of that.  I do it quite often, just don’t pay attention, but at least I know that if a light is out, it’s probably not going to happen for me today.

And you know, if people would pay attention to the big darkened area of the store, I’d probably save myself from multiple thumb tack stab wounds to the finger tips, too.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stabbed myself trying to pin something up while also trying to respond to a walkie call to go help a guest at guest service.

Though, I will trek on.  I will continue to attempt to get everything done in a timely manner, while getting constantly interrupted by guests who can’t read the obvious signs in front of them.

Get to Know Me!

Okay, so I figured that all of you realize that I work in retail and I have a lot of complaints about it, hmm?  But what else do you really know about me?  Not much, right?

Here’s your chance to ask me anything!  It can be anything at all.  However, I will warn you, if you ask me precisely what store I work at, I will not tell you.  That is a secret that I will never divulge.

Also, what else would you like me to talk about here on?

So, go on, ask away!  I’m up for it.