Thursday, December 01, 2005

How may I ruin your day?

Ever work retail? It is tragic the way the quality of customer service has deteriorated, but there are lots of reasons for it. For one thing, it sucks working for some megalo-mart where the pay is low, the work is hard and unchallenging, the hours are bad, you have no identity as a human being, plus customers can be real jerks sometimes. I found a forum where people who work with the public can blow off some steam called "Customers Suck". Note: there is a "Blueberry" posting over there but it's not me.

I found a link there to an article about customers getting cashiers fired because they forgot to verbally mention an Xtreme Value item to the customer. If the customer points out that they forgot to mention it, the item is free! Trouble is that after 3 slip-ups on the cashier's part, the poor schmuck loses his or her job. Of course, the main blame here resides with the ruthless employee-unfriendly policies of the retail giant, an easy way to replace an old warm body with a new one. This story is disturbing and is going to change my attitude about taking advantage of a big retailer by legitimately claiming stuff. Sticking it to The Man is a fine concept, but it's good to keep in mind that The Big Guy is going let The Little Guy take the fall for him without feeling a thing. Ruthless.

I generally have a tolerant attitude toward the working person ringing me out. It helps if everyone tries to remember that we are all human and just trying to get through the day. Did you accidentally cheat me out of a dime? That's OK, it's not worth going ballistic over it. But, if you are a cashier, don't be mean to me for no reason. I realize it sucks to be you, but passing along your mis-directed aggression and frustrations onto an innocent victim like me is not going to get you anywhere. It's also not going to get me anywhere to do that to you.

So if everybody from the customer up to the fat-cat CEO would just make a few allowances for humanity once in a while, daily life would suck a whole lot less... especially this time of year when hostilities peak (where's that Jesus when you need him?)

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Neil Shakespeare said...

"SUCKS 2 B U" I bet somebody's already got that band name, huh? And the name of album is "RETAIL HOSTILITY"? (You're right about all this, of course.) Happy Hostilities!

Blueberry said...

"Happy Hostilities" is the perfect religiously-generic-secular greeting for both unfortunate people with few benefits who will be given no time off at all this year because the actual holidays fall on the weekend... and for people who work with the public and have to work the holidays because "somebody has to be there". HALLMARK? Are you paying attention?

Jeen Lilly said...

Yes, most of my working life was in retail -- mostly because working in an office would have killed me. And a few co-workers, as well, I would imagine.

I usually end up in management, since the Peter principle RULES all businesses where the business is business -- and there's nothing more business than retail, Baybee.

I was the empathic, understanding, intelligent, reasonable, friendly, non-threatening customer relations specialist who calmed the tempest storms of customer tantrums. The vast majority of people are grateful just to get a sympathetic shoulder and eye contact with someone who cares.
and I was paid pretty well to care.

I also loved what I was working with. That helps. (and sometimes a good chunk of the paycheck went back into the store... narf..)

People at this time of year are not interested in shopping -- they want to BUY what is needed, and get the hell home. And yes -- they hold the store staff personally responsible for not having whatever it is in stock. This is because holding themselves responsible for not buying the effing piece of crap when they first saw it or heard it was available is too punishingly depressing to bear.

I just saw the Depp / Burton CATCF (finally) and laughed hysterically at JD's performance. I kept seeing Fay Dunaway as Joan Crawford. Muahahahaha... His Willy Wonka reminded me of the shopkeeper's adage:

"show me someone with a deep loathing for all mankind, and I'll show you someone who works in retail."

a saying which only applies to people smart enough to know they could be doing something more rewarding -- if only those pesky demands from utility companies, landlords and growling stomachs didn't make employment for a paycheck of SOME kind a necessary evil.