Tuesday, 13 March 2012

dear customers

I work in retail and some days I just feel like getting some customers and taking them to a seminar or some boring lecture of sorts on how to be a good customer. I am not saying that all customers are bad. Gosh, I am a customer a lot of the time and I would hate to be thought of as a bad customer, but some people SERIOUSLY need a lesson in being a normal customer. So I felt a public service announcement of sorts might be necessary. Here goes. My letter to all those terrible customers out there.

March 13 2012

Dear Painful Customers,

It has come to my recent attention that there is an increasing level of rude, arrogant and just simply painful customers. I am not sure whether the issue lies with the increasing availability of technology, the decreased level of common courtesy or just simply a complete lack of common sense/increased moron-ness (I don't think that is a word but it is now).

My role within the 'retail sector' is to 'assist you' in finding the most suitable product for your needs (within reason) - this is according to my position description. It also includes things like 'maintaining a tidy store appearance' and 'reconciling the point of sale at the end of the day'. NO-WHERE within my position description does it say 'putting up with customers crap'. However, the vast majority of the time I do, because I suppose that is what retail is all about.

What I feel is necessary in order to achieve a good service to the public and my fellow retail assistant is make this proposition: That everyday, when I go to work, I will do my best to be the politest, most helpful and patient person I can be on the condition that you will attempt to follow the following five 'guidelines'.

Number 1: Say hi back when I say hi to you and ask you how your day is before you bombard me with questions.

Within the retail sector, we have 'steps' that our company enforces for us to 'engage' with the customer. 99.9999999999999% the first step is to 'warmly greet said customer'. I have to greet hundreds of customers everyday and general do so with a smile. What I don't appreciate is when I have put all this effort in to provide you with a fantastic opening line and you just shut me down. I know a lot of people know the feeling of having a cracking opening line (aka Joey from Friends "How you doin?) and then just having it totally squashed back in our face with "_______________ (blank face)" or "I'm looking for (insert product/thing/stupid thing we would never even stock). We are just saying hi. Following procedures. Just say hi back. PLEASE. It makes me feel ten times better about having to repeat myself consistently. I will not bombard you with the latest products or sales or whatever. I personally hate being hassled so will leave you to wonder the store by yourself UNLESS you need help. I will always ask if I can help you find anything if you look lost/confused. Just say hi back.

Number 2: Get off the phone/take your headphones out if you want to talk to me.

I cannot begin to understand the amount of times that people ask me a question and then return to their phone before I have even answered and then look at me blankly when I don't answer them. I have been raised to not interrupt others. If I have taken the time to listen to your question, PLEASE take the time to listen to my answer. Secondly, TAKE THE HEADPHONES OUT! It is like talking to a person with ear plugs in. You can't hear me when I give you an answer and I really don't enjoy repeating why the glue you have selected is going to eat the polystyrene foam ball you have because it contains acetone. I prefer to do my grocery shopping whilst listening to music because it seems to make it go faster, but unless that track you are listening to is instructions on how to breath (inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale) I don't think it is necessary to keep them in whilst you are talking to me.

Number 3: Take note of the refund/exchange policy.

It is there very a reason. To protect you. And to protect us. Please don't try and return things simply because you bought too many or that they were the wrong thing especially after we have told you that you have more than enough or that it won't work. We tend to "know what is best" as this is generally our area of expertise. We are kind of trained to know the products we are selling. Further more we will not return/exchange the following items: Products you have destroyed by not following the instructions properly (instructions are there for a reason) , products you have simply destroyed by not looking after them, paint that is the wrong colour (seriously, it costs $2.99 - its not that much of a disaster), your 1c refund because you bought the wrong size and paid cash and the credit not takes into account not cost of the product and not the fact you paid cash and finally the oil based paints that require turpentine to clean up that you gave to your four year old (who has now destroyed your couches) which you bought because they were on special and we warned you not to let a child use them.

Number 4: Listen to our advice/let us help you (it's kinda our job) and keep an eye on your kids. 

We know where the products in the store are so please don't insist on attempting to drag your dual child carrying monster truck of a pram through the store. We will go and get the product for you and show you all the options. We also know what is appropriate for your needs and that plasticine is not the same as silicone mould compound and that I wouldn't recommend pouring plaster into it. The alternative is screaming children, broken fixtures/products and you getting cranky with us for having a store that is too small for your needs. In reference to children, please supervise them. I swear that the number one cause of lost stock in our store is not from theft, but from stupid children (I love children, I promise) insisting on squeezing the paints all over the aisle floor whilst left to run loose. I have also seen children pull the stock pegs off the shelves and bash siblings with them and another child who insisted on using a shelf as a stage and then fell off, smacking her head on the concrete floor. Not cool.

Number 5: Don't expect me to be an information bureau or a tourist information desk. I am not the Yellow pages/Google. 

I will happily tell you where the toilets are in the shopping centre (because I go to them and the alternative of a child busting for the loo in my store is something I don't even want to think about). I will probably be able to tell you where a lot of shops in my shopping centre are. I am not however, Google. So please don't look at me like I am a boring because I have no idea where to by "that thing that you use to do that thing". Also, if you don't like my suggestions because you have already tried there/they are too far, don't ask me if I have any more ideas as to where you could get said "thing" from. I have already exhausted my information services. Furthermore, don't ask me if we sell bathmats, phone credit, prescription glasses, corn cob holders, novelty mugs, batteries, light globes, cutlery, calendars, diaries (dates etc), greeting cards or invitations that are already made (then again, products that are already made/painted/created/ready-to-go). Please read the name of our store. It does quite clearly explain the products we contain. We are not a dollar store. We are not Mary Poppin's carpet bag.

I trust that you will take the above advice without being too offended. I am fortunate enough to get at least one customer every day who is like an angel sent from Heaven. The perfect customer. Thank you to those customers that make my day seem a lot less painful. I also apologise for the length of this letter however, for my fellow retails assistants, it had to be said.

Warmest Regards,


Retail Assistant




  1. It really makes you wonder how some people treat their loved ones if they can be so rude to a complete stranger

  2. HAHAHAHA oh Lindsay I loved this! you had me in fits of laughter the whole way thru! if only we could print this out and hand it to any of the customers that "broke the rules" as you know I can compleatly relate to every cicumstance in your letter. Well said! xxx