Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The 10 Most Annoying Customers Part 1 (2 parter)

I understand, working in retail, that people have bad days. There are times when you cannot help but be annoyed, ticked off-- or what have you-- and your mood reflects on most of the things that you do, especially when you're being pestered by sales clerks about if "you're finding everything OK" or "if you need some help".

We all know that we have those days. Everyone that works in retail has those days. Your (the consumers) experience with a employee having a bad day probably spawn the 10,000 articles already in existence on what NOT to do as a retail/waitress/sales associate.

What I'm here to talk about are the people that are not having a bad day, but are innately, down to the core, the worst and most annoying customers in the world. Starting off with number 10...

10. Flirting or coming on to employees

I understand that in this modern world, most people get up, go to work, sometimes go shopping, and then go home to sit in front of their respective time wasters (be it T.V. or computer). So most of you are of the assumption that, if you are single, you may as well try and find love wherever it seems to show an opportunity.

So you're out shopping. You are at your favorite store for your specific hobby, be it tech (Radio Shack/Best Buy), Movies (Blockbuster), Books (B&N), Video Games/RPG Games (insert local geek store) or some other obscure entertainment. You lock eyes with the cashier/sales associate. You feel a spark.

Here this person is, working in a store devoted to your favorite subject. They must share a common interest! They smile brightly, ask you how you're doing, if you need anything. You feel your loins stir. Is this a come on? How can you be sure if it isn't--or is?

Listen, consumers--we're just being nice. Even when we're coming on to you--when we actually are flirting with you (VERY rare)--we are just fulfilling our employee duty. The ONLY time you can assume--correctly--that the clerk/sales person is really wanting to get in your pants is if they actually give you their number or drop some hint on when they get off work--WITHOUT being prompted.

I cannot even describe the number of times I or my coworkers have been awkwardly asked out while on the clock. We're being nice because it's part of our job description. Most of us, almost all of us, are involved or otherwise not interested.

When you decide to ask out or hit on someone that is at work, you're putting them in that strange place of trying to be nice to the customer, but very much wanting to tell you to fuck off. This puts a strain on our work lives, lives that are already strained as it is. Please do NOT add to this conundrum. We remember you. Oh, yes we do. Even if you come in a year later, we remember you--and this is not pleasant, for all parties involved.

9. Loud Talkers -- Individuals and Groups

We all have lives. There is no need to broadcast this. You come in to your favorite store--or just a store, you may be wandering--and you decide to point out every item of interest or every item of interest loudly and without finesse.

That's nice, really. We appreciate that you like our products. But, really, we're trying to create a peaceful and comfortable environment for our all of our guests. You are contributing to the very negative side of the retail experience, all so that you can feel special. You're not--get over it. Everything that you're exclaiming over, someone else has exclaimed over.

When a group of people wander in to a store, usually on the main strip of a "fashionable" part of town, they are generally loud, most of the time drunk, and scare away all of our potential spenders. You piss off the employees by being needy and boisterous. You almost NEVER buy anything.

Do us all a favor, and leave the partying in the streets.

8. Talking at length about your personal life

You bring your merchandise to the counter and my usual question is either "Did you find everything OK?" or "Hi, how are you doing?". If the latter, I--and my coworkers--are simply being polite.

We do not want to hear about your divorce, your children, your job or your friends ad naseum.

The correct responses are:

  • Fine
  • Great
  • Fantastic
  • OK
  • Been better
  • Oh, you know
  • etc.
Any other, lengthy explanation is both tiresome and awkward. I am payed to give you some measure of happiness and to show you some slight interest in who you are and how you are doing. But when you go into tremendous detail, you leave me in the position of wanting to charge you more and not giving a shit.

Plus, you hold up the line. And if you've ever been behind one of these people, you know that this can be exceedingly annoying.

This is a place of business, so act professional. We don't want to hear about it. We really, really don't.

7. Leaving food/trash around the store.

Cleaning up the store is part of every retail employees job description. When we have to throw away seven Starbucks cups, two crumpled up--used--tissues, toenail clippings, toothpicks and lollipop sticks, we start to get really, really angry.

Retail is one of those jobs where most of the people working in are exposed to the worst of all the viral plagues going around. People come in sick, they bring in their sick kids, and we have to grin, show them products, and check them out without complaint, all the while praying we don't have to take unpaid sick days because we really cannot afford it.

So when you leave your trash lying around--even if you honestly "just forgot about it"--it puts us employees in a higher state of anxiety. We wash out hands more than most people in the world as is, but you leaving your sticky, saliva-drenched trash items around the store is nasty. Not only does it make other customers uncomfortable, it's just plain unsanitary.

And, seriously, who leaves tooth picks and toe nail clippings around the store? I know you're out there, and I only have one thing to say:

You're fucking disgusting.

6. Arguing about/challenging store policies

Ok, so you go to return that throw pillow you bought last month and realize you are a day over the stores return policy. Do you realize that you've made an honest mistake, you should have returned the item when you realized it didn't fit your decore two weeks ago, and so you're stuck with your decision?

No, you get mad. And who do you get mad at?

The store employees. The grunts. That's who.

You tell us that the policy is bullshit. You raise your voice, you get red in the face. You repeat the same sentence about fifty times. We try to remain placid, telling ourselves we will be fired if we really give you a piece of our mind. You shout for our manager. They calmly explain that the policy is policy. It's up to the corporate heads, and you cannot change it. You continue to get angry, shout, and raise the general anxiety levels of yourself, the employees, and any customers within earshot.

Thanks. Thanks a lot. You have now made my day at work completely unlivable.

Just to be clear--I DO NO MAKE UP THE POLICIES. Almost no one you will talk to regularly in a retail store does.

You're talking about the collective decisions of a bunch of corporate heads with big business degrees that think they know what they're doing--and usually DO know what they're doing. But shouting about it, arguing about the logic of it, is going to do little good. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do to solve your problem except be your verbal punching bag for the next twenty minutes.

Do yourself, and me, and all the retail persons around the world a favor and:



The final 5 most annoying customers will be posted tomorrow. Please stay tuned for more insights including; cell phones, children, and body odor.

Thank you and from all of us at
You Piss Me Off You Really Do
Have a nice day!

1 comment:

  1. Well, I have definitely done #10. Several times. Probably will again. I make it a point not to do it until any sales transaction is completed, and only if there's some degree of privacy. It's never worked.

    I have had several cashiers talk at length tho me about their personal life. Any of them who do, and who appear to be over 18, are fair game for #10.

    I have also done #6, several times. But in every case I was arguing on the side of the store policy, not the made-up policy that the manager or other employee was arguing - like the assistant manager who insisted "We have NEVER taken the Discover card" after I had been using it there for many years ( or the visiting regional bigshot who attempted to block my return of a vacuum cleaner that broke on its first use, on the grounds that it had been used (apparently the 30-day policy only applies to unused items - and as soon as she was out of earshot, a team of employees leaped into action to get me a new one), or the guys at the chain hardware store who told me I should just tighten down (for the sixth time) the blade on the lawnmower that came loose after one use (I invoked the manufacturer's warranty on them.)