Sarcastic Saturday :: 10 ways the customer is not always right

14 Nov


10. You, the worker, should not have to smile along and play nice when the customer says racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist/etc. things.
You hear more than those than you might think in retail.  I could list off the horrible things I’ve heard, either in conversation or when accidentally eavesdropping, but I don’t feel like making myself sad or making you guys sad either.  But hey, just because the customer says it?  Doesn’t make it an okay thing to say.  Alas, trying to actually call them out on it can often lead to difficulty, but you don’t need to pretend like it’s hilarious or the honest truth or… something.

9. You, the customer, should not take company policies as a personal slight, or take it out on the workers.
If the employee tells you something you want is against policy, or that they’re unable to do it, don’t throw a fit or demand a manager. (With the potential exception of safety issues, of course, but those are a different category than, say, wanting more than four iPads on Black Friday at Target.) The employees are only doing their job, and do not get paid enough to endure you screaming at them.

8. You, the worker, should not have to take verbal assault or haranguing from customers or act like such a thing is all right.
This is true either in the way of you shouldn’t have to go along with it when customers, say, try to flirt with you or you shouldn’t have to go along with it when customers berate you, as in the above point.  Again, you can’t always react to it as you might find appropriate, but at the very least you should not be made to feel like you are as either objectified or incompetent as the customer might want to make you feel for whatever reason.

7. You, the customer, should not decide to air your dirty laundry or argue with your loved ones in a place of business.
The thing is, sometimes shit happens.  Workers get that.  But workers also don’t always have a desire to hear about your dog’s bowel problems or your sonovabitch neighbor or something, and although nobody’s going to say it, workers do not like to listen to parents yelling at their children or couples snapping at each other or etcetera.  Maybe just be more cognizant of how you treat people in any environment, but workers do not get paid enough to endure your drama, either.

6. You, the worker, should not have to act like everything is peachy when the above situation occurs.
The sad thing is that there’s not really anything you can do when you have to be nice to a mom that’s just been yelling unduly at their child for what amounts to issues of taste.  But in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to just sit there smiling placidly like you weren’t severely disturbed by the fact that a kid wanting to pick out their own whatever instead of wanting the one their parent suggested is apparently grounds for beratement.

5. You, the customer, should not assume that what you want is more important than what others want.
The thing to keep in mind is that everyone else in the store is there for basically the same reason you are: they need or want something and they’re looking for it. Some people’s reasons for being there are objectively more important than others: they’re ill and they need medicine, they haven’t eaten in X hours, they’re looking for a gift that they need that day. However, none of those reasons, or indeed the majority of customer motivations, make it okay for a customer to act as if they are the most important person in the entire store. With the exception of medical emergencies, even the customers who are in a hurry should treat fellow customers and workers with enough respect to not, for instance, cut in line or interrupt a worker who is busy with another customer.

4. You, the worker, should conversely not talk down to your customers.
If you’re working in a specialized part of retail that not everyone knows about it, it’s fine to ask customers if they need help and start with the basics, but don’t assume they know nothing either. This is especially true if they look like they’re outside your usual demographic. I’ve never personally had this experience, but I know many women who’ve felt like employees in comic book stores have been patronizing towards them because they don’t “look” like they read comics. Another example is women going to male-staffed auto parts stores or mechanics. It does neither party any good to make assumptions based on preconceived ideas of your career.

3. You, the customer, still shouldn’t talk down to the employees.
Yes, they’re working in a likely low-paying position that may not require much “skilled” experience.  But you don’t know them.  You don’t know their lives. You don’t have any way of knowing that this lessens them as a person, because guess what?  It doesn’t.  No matter what their reason for being in that position is, it does not make them less than you.  And they work there, which means that unless you have a virtually identical job they actually probably know more about their particular job than you do, so it’s not yours to tell workers how to do things.

2. You, the worker, should not have to overexert yourself to cater to the unreasonable demands of a particular customer.
Enough said.

1.You, the customer, should not go around making threats to call management/write bad reviews/etcetera every time something does not go your way.
Enough said.

–your fangirl heroines.


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