Thursday, May 20, 2010

Retail Wednesdays!

Okay, so maybe it's not Wednesday, per se, but it is pretty close, and I HAD to post this up for you guys right away, and when you read on you'll understand:

Hello all! No, this is not AchingHope writing. You can call me Mountain Mouse (yay internet anonymity!). When AchingHope asked me to guest write this week's Retail Wednesday, I was quite thrilled and honored. You may wonder how I am qualified to write such a post. I happen to be a (now former :-( ) coworker of Aching Hope's, at the very same store that has entertained you all for the past several weeks.

Yes, I totally cheated and asked my friend to write my post for me. No, I've never done this in college with a paper, silly. But because I'm currently not in retail and not in my home state, Mountain Mouse graciously agreed to be my slave... I mean, agreed to be my guest. Any comments in brackets are mine, and I dug out the pictures from the web as well.

Clearly, then, I've seen my fair share of, erm, interesting customers. Seriously, I've considered writing a book. It would be a manual on how customers should behave, so as not to drive their friendly neighborhood sales associate insane.

Which is what I've decided to do with today's post. (It's easier than going back and making sure I'm not repeating anything Aching Hope has said!) So sit back, relax, and, if you recognize yourself in any of the following examples, I'm sorry. Please don't feel too judged. [Aw, see how nice she is. I go out of my way to try and offend people.]

Things a Good Retail Customer Should Know (or, How Not to Make Poor Low-Wage Teenagers and Young Adults Cry at the End of Their Shifts)

1. Know and Follow Store Hours.
Believe it or not, most stores are not open 24/7. We don't live here, and we don't sleep behind the register at night (okay, there have been times when I've wanted to lie down on the carpet, but I've never done it, I swear). [I came seriously close once. I was sitting on the floor and leaned over... And then my co-worker warned me that I would get fired if I started snoring on the floor. Ha! I never snore.] Most of us have to go home and do something better with our lives like catch up on sleep, finish homework, or stalk people on Facebook.

If I was a cat, this would've been me.

So, when you enter a store, especially at any time that can be considered "evening," take a look at the hours posted. They're usually right on the front door. The one you had to open to come into the store. Really, we're not hiding them. Even better, call us up before you come! And when we tell you what time we close, please take us seriously. The following actually happened to me last week:

(phone rings at 7:41)
Customer: Hi, what time do you close tonight?
Me: 8:00.
Customer: Oh, we live 15 miles away. If we get there at 7:55, will you stay open for us?
Me: We close at 8:00. (I say the most simple response possible because, otherwise, my response would be to cry.)
Customer: Are you sure? You can't just stay open?
Me: No ma'am, I have to close at 8:00 (So that I don't lose my mind).
Customer: Oh, so it's like that.

I later found out she came in a few days later and complained to my coworker that I had said that we "wouldn't even answer the phone past 8:00." Whoops. [Sadly, this happened to me as well. *sigh*]

And people thought our store hours were bad

2. Know what you're trying to buy.
No, I cannot tell you what CD you're looking for by listening to you hum one line of a song you heard on the radio. No, I can't point you in the direction of the book you want if the only piece of information you can give me is that it has a blue cover, [Why is it always a BLUE cover??] the author's first name is Steve, or that when translated from Spanish, the title has the word "Heavenly" somewhere in the middle. I'd tell you to go research it on the Internet, but then you'd probably buy it off Amazon or something, and I'd be out of a job.

And sometimes what they're looking for isn't even a book
But a CD only sold on websites.

3. Know the return policy.
And for Pete's sake, save your receipt. No matter what. The minute you throw the receipt out is the minute that the item will break, spontaneously combust, or somehow become the exact opposite of what is wanted by the person for whom it was purchased. Most stores either post the policy somewhere near the registers or will print it on the receipt. Which is another reason you should probably hold onto it. Because saying you didn't know the policy is really a poor excuse for trying to get us to bend the rules for you.
Luckily, the store where I work has a system where we can look up past transactions if you're on our mailing list. Sometimes, however, this actually works less in customers' favor.

Customer: I'd like to return this item.
Me: Okay, do you have a receipt?
Customer: No. It was a while ago. (This sets off Red Alert signals in my mind, but I still have to go through the steps.)
Me: Oh, okay, well, if you're on our mailing list, we can look it up.
Customer: Sure, my name is _________.
Me: Ma'am, the last record of a transaction we have from you is over a year ago. Our return policy is 30 days.
Customer: Oh, really? Are you sure you can't just let me exchange it?
Me: Well, seeing as we stopped selling it months ago... No.
Customer: (walks out as angrily as possible.)

4. Know how you will pay.
If all you have in your wallet is an Amex card, you should probably find out if the store takes them before you spend an hour walking around and picking out items that you absolutely can't live without. If you want to write a check, make sure you have your driver's license with you. And if you're planning on paying with cash, it' usually a good idea to have enough bills and coins.
American money is usually preferred. I'm serious. The following is really true.

(A woman picks out about $3 worth of merchandise, and I tell her the total when she brings it to the counter)
Customer: (places a Canadian $5 bill on the counter)
Me: Sorry ma'am, I can't accept that.
Customer: B
ut it's five dollars! (Note that at the time, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the American dollar. I was actually trying to save her money!)
Me: I'm sorry ma'am, but our store cannot accept that bill.
Customer: Why not?
Me: Because this is the United States?
Customer: But our stores take American money all the time!

Sorry, Canadians, but I can't do proper conversions at my register. Needless to say, she didn't complete the transaction. [Yes, I had a dude offer me South American money once, and I didn't know what to say, and we stared at each other blankly a moment before he said, "Oh, you don't want that." No. No I don't.]

As pretty as these are, I want the more boring American variety.
Unless it's American Express.

5. Know where your children are and what they are doing if you bring them into the store.
Someday, if I ever have a store of my own, it will have a nice big sign that says, "All customers who leave their children unattended will be charged a babysitting fee." [That is an AMAZING idea!! You could get rich!] If I had a dollar for every time a customer walked in, told their children, "Don't touch anything!" and then proceeded to ignore them for their entire time in the store, I wouldn't have to work retail anymore.
If you have children, and you decide to bring them in public with you, please please please do not allow them to run around like crazy people. End of story.

Yup... That's pretty much Mountain Mouse
The Mum is somewhere off camera pretending to be embarrassed

So, there's five things you should know if you ever find yourself needing to walk into a store to buy something. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to smile back at the sales associate. We like knowing that there are people out there that acknowledge us as fellow human beings!

There you have it! I hope y'all enjoyed, and Mountain Mouse is new to the blogosphere, (kinda') so here's a link to her blog that way she can be forced to write another blog post over there. Mwahahahahah >:)

We curtsy in your general direction


Palindrome said...

Now if we could just staple this list to annoying customers foreheads, we'd be set.

I don't work retail anymore but 13 years learned me something.

I was once complaining to a friend who has never worked retail and they were confused why I was annoyed (i forget why) but after I essplained through clenched teeth, they got it. Or they pretended to get. Either way, I made them feel stoopid so all is well.

great guest post! I shall climb the Mountain post haste!

AchingHope said...

Ahaha! I would love to print up this list and staple it to people's foreheads, but that's probly illegal somewhere, and then they would send me to the Special People place my mum threatens me with.

Falen said...

ohhh retail. how i miss you.
but not really.
not really at all...

AchingHope said...

@Falen: Yup. I know what you mean.

Francesca said...

i'm strangely drawn to that cd! thanks for your comment over at my blog achinghope or mountain mouse.

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Heheheeee! Oh I mean... whew! I am not guilty of those things! But I have been behind many a crazy consumer in shopping lines and have witnessed many a poor retail worker's eye rolls, lol... :)

No job is ever as simple as it sounds to other people!

AchingHope said...

Ohmygoodness... I haven't been over here in forever.

@francesca: I think that was me, AchingHope, and no problem. I like the patterns. They're pretty. :)

@LilMissDangerous: Haha... People indeed are crazy.

So true, so true.