Monday, October 11, 2010

We're people too.

My neon green sticky notes came in handy today. A couple people came along today and were well worth writing down.

A pet peeve of mine that I had left off my list a few posts ago, was the customer's need to want. Mostly, for the price of free.

At SLT, we have what are called Jura machines. These are coffee machines that range from $1,200 - $3,000. They're actually pretty cool. I'd never buy one, but for people who DO drink a lot of coffee, they're pretty cool. So. To help us in selling these machines, we have demos out that people can try. However, if you do not know what you're doing, it's very very VERY easy to make a mess (and believe me, do people like to push buttons). Which is one of the reasons that having these machines out is so annoying. It's fun to show people who are genuinely interested, but for the customers who want, they're a pain in the ass.

Today's charming customer was an older asian man, who didn't speak much english. I found this out when I went up to him to see if he needed help, and he shoved his paper cup in my face and said really loudy that he wanted coffee.

Okay, there are numerous things wrong with this situation:
2. I do not need you to speak loudly in order to hear you, just clearly (I had to ask him a couple times to repeat what he said.... Okay... maybe I asked him to repeat himself a couple more times after I understood him... cause he made me angry.... Don't judge me retailers-- you know you've done it too!).
3. Do you realize how rude you are being? Yes, we offer free SAMPLES, but that does not make you entitled. If I give you a sample of coffee, you want milk. If I had given it to you with milk, you want sugar. If I had given you sugar, you want a specific brand. This is why I hate this. The coffee was free in the first place, okay? If you want more, go down to Peet's coffee and BUY one. I know that providing all this is part of what I'm supposed to do, but after a while you just get sick of people continually wanting more from you.

Free stuff being handed out is awesome. We can all agree on this fact. But I've found that as soon as you say that you're giving something away, the most annoying, selfish, and ridiculous customers seem to bee line for you. Even when I'm at the knife display, standing there with some knives out and a couple carrots, I've had people just run up to be all excited and asking me what I'm demonstrating and can they have some. Really?? My job is to show you the product. Yes, I'd be happy to show you how the Jura machines/knives/etc work. Here, let me show you!

"Oh, I just wanted the coffee. If you're going to go through the whole shpeal, never mind."

I find this so infuriating. I am more than willing to show a customer a good product. It's one of the aspects of my job that I really enjoy-- the fact that we do actually sell some awesome stuff (and a lot of crap, but that's so that we can make a deal for the good stuff).

What's even worse, is when they DO make a mess with the machines (because they don't know what they're doing), they do not appologize, just quickly run away. I'm not talking about a little spill. I'm talking steamed milk and coffee everywhere. All over the counter, the machine, the cabinet it sits on, and the floor. At least have the decency to bring it to our attention, appologize and offer to help clean the mess you made!! Don't just run away like it didn't happen, WE SAW YOU DO IT, YOU IDIOT!!

Having worked in retail for quite a while now, I swear that I am now the nicest customer you will ever have. I go into a store assuming that all the employees do not want to be there. This has proven helpful in many ways. When an employee is then super helpful and nice, I am very surprised, grateful and enthusiastic in return. Also, if I'm super nice, I tend to get better service. It just makes sense-- if you're an asshole, expect them to be an asshole back. A cashier's main objective is to get you rung up and on your way. Treat them nicely because they're just trying to do thier job. We don't get to have many interactions. We just try to be fast, civil, and efficient. Having done this job, this is all I expect from them. Sadly, this isn't enough for a lot of people.

Anyway, a good example of rude behavior and the karma that ensues from that-- a woman that came in and was extremely rude about a cake stand. A cake stand. She had put it aside earlier today. Now, the procedure for this is that if you're still looking, or will be back shortly, we put a "Still Shopping" sign on top of your things. If you will be back like... in 6 hours or something like that, we write a hand written note saying that the items should stay put until the end of the shift. I guess she left for a long time and someone didn't write a note, so it got put back. Why clutter the counter with shit that's been sitting there for hours? Obviously the customer left. She came in, said she had something on hold. There was nothing behind the counter and nothing in the stockroom when I looked. I couldn't find it, so I asked her what the items were, and I would go and get them for her. Her response?

"Well, the girl in the red over there put them aside, why don't you go and ask HER where she put them??"

First of all, the girl in red? Yeah, she's been working here for a couple weeks. She would have put them in the most obvious place-- like where we put all of our holds. Secondly, you're attitude is not helping your case. Thirdly, I am going to be wasting MORE time by asking her than just pulling the item from the floor because I know she's going to say they were behind the counter.

So I go an ask her, and I end up having to pull the stand off the floor, just like I knew I would. As I was passing my coworker, I explained the procedure in a few sentences to her (I seriously was taking like... 10 seconds) and the woman stalks up to me and says "Can you finish this later, I need to catch the ferry."

Which brings up ANOTHER pet peeve, and we get this a lot being at the Ferry Building. If you are in a hurry, it is not my fault. If you are a jerkface about being in a hurry, you're going to get slower service. Plain and simple. We are human beings. If you're mean to us, we are most likely going to be mean back. Maybe you should have scheduled your time better rather than coming into my work place and putting your lack of timing on me.

I passed her off to a coworker to be rung up, because I could no longer trust myself to be nice to her. However, the item did not have a tag on it. So when my coworker was looking for a tag, I appologized for just blantantly passing her off on him. I explained that she was really rude. My coworker looked and me, then said... "Oh. Well then I'll take my time getting this sku number."  This is just one example-- Do not be rude to people at their work place. If they're blatantly being rude, then fine. There ARE occasions when the staff can be rude. However, I know for a fact that I was being nice to this woman.

I went and talked to the coworker in red about the situation, and she told me the woman said she would be right back when she placed the items behind the counter... meaning that we were in the right to have put them back.

Sigh. This was at the end of my shift, too.

Maybe this does not seem like a big deal, but it seriously happens a lot. And I get tired of it really fast. This woman could have easily said "Oh, well it was a cake stand" and I would have happily got it for her and rung her up. But instead she had to infer that I was incompetant in my job, and place whatever bad thing happened in her day, on me.

It's like watching monkeys. The alfa monkey will pick on a smaller monkey to make him feel big and important. That monkey will then go and pick on an even smaller monkey to make HIM feel important and to inflict on someone else the pain they've gone through. Have we seriously not evolved from this?

And please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm a saint. I have definitely been that rude customer. The difference is when I started out being nice and realize that the only way I will get a solution is to put my foot down. This still doesn't mean I'm a bitch. It means that I'm no longer super sweet and understanding. I know how to play this game.

As of clocking out at 6:15pm today, I am on vacation until the Tuesday after next. Oh what sweet bliss it will be to not have to deal with customers. I expect to come back to work refreshed and slightly nicer than when I left. One can hope.

Maybe I'll have a good greyhound story!!

Until then, be nice to your cashiers. We're people too.



  1. Lol, oh Brit. This was ridiculous. Love you!

  2. Britney-- thanks for a nice laugh! I have been both myself, but can totally relate to your statements---- you are very creative in your writing and expressing them! :)