Sunday, December 17, 2006

The least for now.

My new job is working out EXTREMELY WELL. My bosses seem to be just the right balance of hands-off while still directing. One is a little too concerned about making sure I'm comfortable with every step of the learning/doing process. Perhaps I should explain to her that the way I become comfortable with something is by doing it, even if it IS uncomfortable to start with.

I've had a big hand in the hiring. Being able to interview people with resumes and education is a nice change from high school students with no job experience. I've interviewed some very nice and competent people but also some really weird ones. I'm hiring only good people--no employees whose best quality is that their bodies are warm. I'm also planning on being proactive with hiring to avoid being stuck short-handed at critical times.

I had to sign probably a half-dozen agreements: confidentiality, non-compete, non-disclosure, etc. No non-blogging agreements, HOWEVER…….the nature of the business does require a level of privacy that the old one didn't. If someone did find me out, anything I wrote could severely impact the reputation of the business, perhaps in an irreversible way. In this business, reputation and trustworthiness of the staff are paramount. Even in the short time I've worked here, the owner has been entirely too good to me to risk all the time, money, and effort that she's put into the business over the last months even before opening.

I'd like to continue writing, but I don't see any way to do so without jeopardizing the privacy of our clients. Some of the situations I've already encountered are really private and no one's business, yet I have to know in order to perform the services for our clients. I'm trusted not to reveal the intricate details and problems that led them to need our services in the first place.

While anonymizing things, changing details, etc. could possibly work to protect the identities of the clients, there's still the issue of not disclosing our practices. There are a lot of company-specific terms and abbreviations that I've had to learn, so one mis-written word would make it obvious to those within the business that there was someone among them revealing company secrets and sales techniques. Even if if was in an anonymous way, I could be potentially hurting the business/my boss/a lot of other people with my writing.

So, I guess this is goodbye. I'll continue reading blogs and occasionally commenting, but writing one.....not at this time. I've enjoyed getting to "know" everyone. Have a great holiday!

Monday, December 04, 2006

No homework for me!

I'm at a training conference. My boss gave me notes to review to "help" me with the training. Tonight's homework assignment? Her notes, nearly word for word. Guess who's going out on the (small) town tonight?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Goodbye Party

About half the employees showed up to my goodbye party......the ones who liked me and I liked them. The person hosting the party may have even *forgotten* to invite a couple of employees who should have been fired weeks ago (if Boss had any kind of backbone).

We talked, joked, ate, drank (non-alcoholic drinks only, as the party was IN the store), and generally just had fun together. It's a tradition to do a late-night party for good employees when they leave. It's also a tradition to do bad things to the cars of aforementioned employees. Guess where I parked? RIGHT IN FRONT of the store where a quick glance outside could confirm that my car was SAFE and not being filled with packing peanuts or wrapped in saran wrap or having goofy things written on the windows or being wrapped in streamers or any of the other things that have been done in the past.

Everyone behaved inside the store, too. WOW! We had fun while still being grown-up! No water balloon fights or shaving cream explosions or ice down the shirt or anything along those lines. A nice goodbye. Bittersweet, but nice. Some really creative/cute stuff was written in the card and I received several funny gifts. A hug from Duh Boy, who will be leaving as soon as he confirms another job. We had some good times together.

I can't help thinking that it's Black Friday and they're all working with neurotic customers while I'm enjoying a Th-F paid holiday from New Job. I considered going out in the madness to shop, but my cozy home is so much nicer!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Customers

My last few days on the job were pretty smooth. However, as always, there were some customer issues.

One customer was upset because I wouldn't refund an item. The item was visibly used but the customer claimed she hadn't even taken it out of the package. Sure. I offered a store credit anyway. She didn't have a receipt and the packaging was over a year old, so I COULD NOT give a refund. That was unacceptable to the woman. Anything other than cash was "disgusting. Isn't there a manager around?" I'm a manager. "Well, then you should be able to refund my money NOW." Not without a receipt. "Who keeps receipts? That's ridiculous. I want to call someone RIGHT NOW!!" I gave her the corporate number and she wanted to use the store phone. I refused. That line is for INCOMING calls. Not letting her use my phone was "disgusting," too.

Another manager with her high maturity level threw something at an employee and it bounced off the employee and grazed a customer. Brilliant. I was next to her when she did it so the woman demanded both of our names. Great....that'll sound real good. "I'm outraged! Your employee THREW SOMETHING AT ME! It HIT ME!" What's the employee's name? "There were two girls, A and B." It just happened to be A's last day....maybe she was getting back at the customer.....let's not ever hire her again. Not that I'm planning on working for them again, but the door is/was open for that, and it's so stupid if the lady lumps me together with the immature manager.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


A woman stormed up to where I was straightening a shelf and whined, "Can't you open another register?" I glanced at the front and the lines were growing so I went to the front to open the register. The woman jumped in front of a couple of people who had been waiting for longer but they weren't paying attention so I went ahead and rang her. She had only one item, which she had a coupon to get free. She failed to read the small print that said "customer is responsible for sales tax." She had NO money on her so had to return to her vehicle and hold up the line still further.

Another woman was on hold for far longer than she should have been… was busy, an employee was on break, the nephew's friend was AWOL, and when I finally got around to the phone call (after attending to the customers IN THE STORE first), the woman complained about the wait and then asked her question, "How much are the {mumble mumble mumble}?" The what? "The e-nun-ci-ate eve-ry syl-la-ble. NEVER MIND" {click} So, why did she stay on hold for so long, then?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not My Problem

With one week left before starting my new job, I still arrive and leave on time, take my normal lunch break, and do my normal hard work, yet I don't want to start any involved projects or expend any extra effort. Even the routine tasks……I want to leave them in good shape so that my replacement doesn't have extra work, yet I have a strong feeling (having worked with her before) that she won't stay on top of things like I have. Why leave things in A condition if she'll keep them in C- condition?

My mindset towards problems has also changed. Things that used to annoy me and make me want to tear my hair out don't have the same effect because I know that before long I'll have a different set of things to deal with but with a more enlightened boss/company.

Customer upset because we've gone 8 consecutive weeks without a popular item, despite all manner of begging on our part to the vendor rep, corporate, and anyone else who will listen to try to get some of the item?

No longer my problem.

Vendor Rep G comes in and throws a fit about Product G not having the same amount of shelf space as the more popular Products A, B, C, D, E, F, and Q through Z and apparently because of some obscure contract language we have to give them equal space, yet that contract doesn't change the fact that we DON'T HAVE ANY space to give to them?

Not my problem.

Corporate institutes REALLY STUPID new way of doing necessary task?

Also not my problem. If they cared about their employees the way they say they do, they wouldn't even think of doing it this way. It will take about 3~4 times as long and be a ROYAL PITA this way. What were they thinking?!

Fat Girl gets progressively stinkier while also doing less and less each shift, but we can't get rid of her (Boss says) because she's cheap to pay and at least she shows up for her shifts?

Not my problem. (Unless I suffocate from the fumes in the next week. That's a possibility. But my breath-holding skills are up to a record high, so maybe I'll survive.)

New guy quits without notice and a junior manager is talking about leaving and there are NO decent applications AT ALL?

DEFINITELY not my problem!! I've been telling Boss for WEEKS that we need to hire people, primarily to get rid of Fat Girl and have some backup if someone gets sick or, what do you know, it's retail, QUITS WITHOUT NOTICE!!

Nephew's friend CANNOT tell time if his life depended on it, while discipline problems continue because he knows he's untouchable?

Not my problem.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

LAG Returns

I am trying REALLY HARD to be positive during my last two weeks on the job. But in the 1.4 seconds that it took for the news of my departure to spread, other dissatisfied employees flocked to me.

One of the junior managers (formally known as "Duh Boy") thinks it will be "weird" with me gone and is thinking about leaving the store himself. He often knocks heads with another of the senior-level managers (my level) who is well-known for being a hypocritical bitch.......I've had to intervene on several occasions because I was afraid things were going to come to physical blows. With me gone, it might be full-out war between the two.

Another employee came to me with a problem about how the shelves are being stocked. "Have you heard that I'm leaving soon?" Yes. "OK, so tell Boss because I can't do anything about it." Which is how it's been all along, essentially a shift manager I can only do so much while I'm working. If Boss doesn't care and doesn't do anything about sub-standard work on ALL shifts, then trying to change standards on just my shift is pointless.

LAG is returning to the store to fill my position. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA She originally left the store because she couldn't get along with the hypocritical bitch manager (HBM). LAG and I had our difficulties, but we acted like adults and took problems into the office and rationally discussed them until we came up with a solution. Sometimes the peace was tenuous, but we acted professionally most of the time.

LAG has a very strong personality that I GUARANTEE will rub lots of people, both customers and employees, the wrong way. How Boss thinks LAG and HBM will function as equals when Boss provides no leadership......I see a total staff change coming soon. And I don't think staffing will become stable again until either LAG or HBM leaves, or Boss leaves and a stronger or more involved manager comes to run the store. This should be very interesting……I'm glad I won't be around to witness it firsthand!! I'll have my spies update me on the progress of the war. : )

Friday, November 03, 2006

My New Job

Continued from Why I Quit

I gave 2 weeks notice to a very surprised Boss. Under normal circumstances I would have given a month, considering my management position, but two weeks is expected and perfectly adequate and I'm ready to be gone. The first thing out of her mouth was, "Was it something I did?" Oh, how I wished I could say everything I wrote in the previous post. But don't burn bridges and all that. So I replied, "No, it's just time for a change and there have been a lot of little things lately and I think I could be more effective somewhere else." OK, so I got a little dig in. I wasn't sure if she'd accept the 2 weeks notice… our store usually employees are allowed to work the 2 weeks, but in another region there are rumors of managers being shown the door upon resignation.

What I wrote yesterday is what I've been considering for the last couple of weeks since a very appealing job opportunity fell into my lap. I wasn't looking for another job and hadn't seriously considered leaving, despite the escalating problems. But when a family member recommended me for a job in a completely different field but one that I've worked in and enjoyed before, making more money than I'm making now, with a different kind of stress (perhaps less?), more vacation days, paid holidays, more respect, more input into important decisions, better (although similar number of) hours, almost no physical strain/danger of throwing out your back/cutting off a finger/falling off a ladder/etc........I had to apply. (Downside: longer commute.)

After reviewing the rules for cover letters and resumes, I sent my info in. First came the phone interview, then the real interview, which lasted nearly 90 minutes. Then the tour of the facilities, and finally the background check, credit check, criminal record check, driver's record check, contact of references, confirmation of former employers, blood type, mother's maiden name, kindergarten teacher's fingerprints, and whatever else I signed they were allowed to do. FINALLY I got the call for a "lunch meeting." That's code talk for "salary negotiations." Fifty applicants, and I got the offer. When I want to sell something, I sell it.

It's a start-up business so there will be a lot of work involved, but I'm up for the challenge. There's also some risk that it could go under, but after examining the business model and meeting the owner and director, I don't think so. I'll be working with educated people instead of just the warm bodies that I'm sometimes forced to employ in retail. I'll go through an actual training program (in another, very-cool, near a good friend's house, state) instead of a guessing game as to how the higher-ups want things done. The owner would be on the premises much of the time, seeing how things work day-to-day, working and sweating side-by-side with the employees and thus not instituting impossible standards.

I feel the slightest bit guilty about leaving my store just before the holiday season starts. Not necessarily because of loyalty to the company, for it's been neglecting its employees for some time now. But because of leaving my good employees at the most stressful time of the year without me, one of the most productive and competent employees. (Am I vain? Maybe, but also truthful.)

I hadn't told ANYONE at work about ANYTHING leading up to this. It was hard not to share my excitement at each step towards getting the new job, but I knew it wasn't appropriate to share until I had the new job. Then I made sure Boss knew first. Another manager saw me leaving the office with Boss and asked what was up so we told her. By tomorrow everyone will know.

Why I Quit

I've been getting really fed up with Boss. She is WAY too hands-off. She lets employees get away with everything--calling in "sick" whenever they feel like it, salaried employees coming in late and leaving early, people not doing their jobs yet there are no consequences. By not enforcing standards, managers are left to do a lot of the work that WE SHOULD NOT BE DOING. With proper training and standards, we wouldn't have to re-do a lot of the routine-anyone-can-do-them tasks instead of doing the tasks we get paid to do, like optimizing inventory numbers, increasing sales, merchandising more effectively, and SUPERVISING.

Employees' friends hang out at the store, personal cell phones are used on the sales floor for chit chat, etc. Boss apparently thinks that I'm too rough on employees. But I'm not…I just want them to do the jobs they're being paid to do! Further, she's hired another of the nephew's friends. Just two weeks, and there have already been problems. (And that's not counting the borderline sexual harassment or rumors of drugs. In a drug-free workplace. Right.)

Boss told me that she might be leaving next year. That would give me a good chance of being promoted and doubling my salary for very little extra work, especially since Boss is so disorganized and inefficient that I already do a lot of her work for her. Then she goes over the payroll budget by a MILE so I don't get a full bonus. If the employees weren't goofing off all day, then we could easily stay within budget. But that would require action on her part……to punish and perhaps fire the slackers. That would mean she would be unpopular…..that would be terrible. If I were to get the store, I could clean it up in 3 months, tops. Then again, they could bring someone in from another store or someone from outside the company. Possibly someone even worse than her. There are no guarantees.

Several stores in the chain have closed lately. The employees received NO NOTICE and no severance or anything. We're expected to give notice when we quit yet they can let everyone go whenever they feel like it? It doesn't show much respect for the employees. I do realize why they're doing it like that (to prevent the employees from stealing everything), but what about those with mortgages or whatever........NO notice?!

Further, the company's new customer service campaign is SO STUPID. It would work if we were some high-end store with entry restricted to only those who could afford to pay. But we're a store where lots of people browse, even more parents bring their kids as a form of entertainment, let the kids wreck the store and break things, take up lots of our time, and then leave without buying a SINGLE THING. Providing that level of service to every person who walks in the door is unreasonable.

Then I worked the whole weekend short-handed. One guy misread the schedule and I wasn't able to contact him, another guy called in "sick" (note the quotation marks—rumor has it he was nursing a hangover) and another employee worked a few hours and then quit because she was "too tired" to have a job anymore. (This just in……she quit so she could go to a local amusement park…….wait for it……with her best friend, the other manager—not Boss—who told me TO MY FACE that she didn't know anything about the girl quitting and hadn't seen or talked with her since their last shift together. Lied. To my face. Not cool.)

Retail will always have some incompetence and high turnover because, especially for the front-line crew, the pay sucks. Of course, it's not that great for me, either. Boss is the only one to get decent pay, especially considering what (little) she does.

Some of these problems are unique to my company; some aren't. Some of these problems are unique to my particular store; some aren't. There will always be shoplifters and unreasonable customers who lie to corporate to get free stuff. That's retail, anywhere. Now corporate believing the customer and rushing to chop off heads--that is, I hope, just a my company thing.

Am I willing to put up with all that? For a whole career? For another year, even?

Continued in My New Job

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Minor Stuff

Here's a little bit of the Extremely Minor Stuff that's been happening. I can't discuss the Major Stuff yet. Maybe later. Hopefully soon.

1. A customer thought she knew better than us how to do our jobs and if she didn't get her way she threatened to call a certain governmental agency that could cause us a lot of headaches. I checked with the regional manager, who confirmed that we were doing everything right, so if Miss Know-It-All wanted to call Big Bad Governmental Agency then let her. She wasn't getting her way. No matter what. No. And that's final. So far, no Big Scary Intimidating Official Visit. That's good.

2. We had both an ambulance and a full-sized fire truck show up in our parking lot. Crazy lady had been sitting in her car for so long that someone thought she was having a heart attack and called 911. Later she finally came in to shop, spending her normal three hours touching everything, moving things to where she thought they should be, and spending THIRTY MINUTES writing her check……I am NOT EXAGGERATING!!

3. We had a 3-page letter come in from a customer detailing how wonderful we are and how pleased she is by our service and how she will always shop with us from now on and never with Major Competitor because we're so much better. A copy went to our company president…..way to go us!

4. And finally, a strange bit…..specialty stores carry their specialty items. We are not a grocery store or a general store. We are a SPECIALTY store. People come in and ask for the STRANGEST things—duct tape, batteries, snacks, TV guides, band-aids……what do they think we are?!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Off Topic

Have you ever repeatedly translated a phrase from one language to another in one way and then met someone who translates it a different way and you think that while both translations make sense and are accurate, that knowing both translations adds something to the meaning of the phrase? Yeah, that happened to me today. Exciting. Thought I'd share.

Impatient and ???

Another impatient person today. There was a short line (2~3 people) for the one open register. The impatient woman wanted another register open and was being quite vocal about it. She acted like anyone can open any register at any time whatsoever. No. Employees can only open registers that they've been cleared for or assigned to. Sharing of registers is a big no-no.

I went to the customer service counter to open a register. The lady complained about having to walk 10 feet. I cleared some paperwork out of the way and took more time than required to open the register. I signed onto the main menu, signed off the main menu, went into the payroll menu to see who was working today, then into the register menu. She continued to mutter under her breath as I rang her items.

When I told her the total she couldn't find her money. She searched through her purse as the other cashier began checking out the final person in the other line. Finally she found her money and paid. When I returned her change her hand was like a limp rag and she dropped the coins. Then she stared at me like I was disrespecting her. I apologized and when I returned her bills I placed them in her hand more carefully yet she still held her hand so the money would fall right off. I applied pressure to the money until she grabbed it. She had a disgusted look on her face and told her daughter that she was never shopping with us again. ??? I am SO confused!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A "Return"

STUFF continues. For now, stories I've been saving up:

I was called to the front to process an exchange. The woman acted REALLY suspicious. She had no receipt and had already gathered the things she wanted to exchange for the item. She had figured it out nearly to the penny, already knowing that we don't give money back without a receipt, but also determined that she wasn't paying anything. At first she owed me a couple of dollars so she had me take off an item and then add another of her smaller items on until she ended up owing me 5 cents.

The item she "returned" was a bulky item with a medium-sized price. The cashier couldn't remember if the woman entered the store with the item or not. Usually I have people leave returns in the front and only THEN go and gather what they want instead. It would have been very easy for the woman to pick up the "return" as she was gathering the things she was "exchanging" it for. That cashier MUST pay better attention to the doors!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Post Coming Soon......

I've been busy with Stuff. Will be back soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Price Changes

Price changes are a PAIN. It seems they're constantly changing; I see inflation in action all the time.

  • Gas prices went up, so vendors charged fuel surcharge, so prices went up. Then gas prices went down (slightly) but vendors continued charging fuel surcharges so prices stayed level.
  • A popular item was constantly sold out, so the company got greedy and upped the price so much that demand decreased to practically nothing. So then they lowered the price considerably.

Each time prices change, something gets missed. Maybe we change the price on the shelf but miss it on a special display. Or perhaps it's an item that is priced individually so we re-price most of them but miss a few that are cross-merchandised in another section. Very few customers realize the pricing error until AFTER the transaction is finished or until they get home. Then there's the trouble of doing a return and reselling the item at the price listed on the shelf, then changing the shelf label.

My wish: change prices quarterly or better, twice yearly, as needed. Any more often than that, and it gets out of hand.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Confidential to George

Apparently you have never:

  • Had someone steal an expensive item, bring it back and demand a refund, then pitch a fit when the refund was refused. Then literally pitch the item itself AT YOUR HEAD for refusing the refund.
  • Had the power go off with only 2 cashiers in the building and a line that grows to more than 10 people in each line before the power (and cash registers) resume, and listen to the curses, threats, and blame the whole time, despite doing your best at getting prices for 20,000+ items and calculating by hand the whole time.
  • Had someone break into your store 10 minutes after you left for the night.
  • Had drunk, drugged, or mentally ill customers who tried to hurt you, sexually harass/assault you, steal merchandise, urinate in an aisle, run the cash register themselves, walk around the store yelling at their "friend," aggressively panhandle right outside your door and refuse to leave until the police arrived, ran full-tilt with a cart and shoved it into the plate-glass window, shattering the whole thing……….shall I go on?
  • Had counterfeit bills used (and deducted from your paycheck, as the office sees fit).
  • Had counterfeit traveler's checks used (see above).
  • Had stolen checks or credit cards attempted to be used, then getting yelled at because you asked for ID. Of course, people with non-stolen checks or credit cards yell at you for requesting ID, too.
  • Had people pitch a fit because their credit card was declined, "It can't be declined! I'm going to sue you! It's your fault! You made it be declined!"
  • Had forged coupons used, then when we found out and stopped accepting them, getting yelled at for that, too.

I'm glad you live in such a safe universe with such nice and non-violent customers. I don't. Forgive me if I'm a little cynical.

To respond to your comments:

1. I said I tried to extricate myself from the life story. The customer WOULD NOT ALLOW me to leave.

2. A person who has not bought anything from my store after 5+ interactions is unlikely to. They are not a customer. They are a time-waster and CHEAP.

3. Nowhere in my job description does it say that I have to laugh at stupid jokes. Do you expect me to laugh at racist jokes, too?

4. How many hours is your store open for? I bet mine has yours beat by a mile. Do you sleep at your store, too? So you can serve anyone who stops by and is "just looking, thanks" at any time, day or night?

The computers that I am required to use for EACH AND EVERY SALE take about 20 minutes to start up and a couple of minutes to count into and later about 10 minutes to count out of and 20 minutes to close. After they're closed for the night, I can not restart the system, NO MATTER WHAT.

So say I let someone in early--ignoring the security risk of having my safe open with someone in the store--what if they're ready to check out before 25 minutes has passed? Do you think they're going to wait patiently until the computer is ready? No….been there, done that. And an after-hours sale? Even if I broke the OWNER'S RULES and recorded a sale by hand to enter in the computer the next day, it's just entirely too dangerous to have someone in the store that late. There have been WAY too many robberies in the area lately from people who "just want one thing." They can wait until the next day to get that one thing. It's not worth the risk to the employees or the store.

Wow. I sure feel better. Because, you know, that's what this blog is for me......a way to release stress. You should see the comments and letters I get from customers praising the job that I do each and every day. The good customers don't need to be written about. They were pleasureable interactions but don't make for very good stories. The bad customers........the things I can't say to them, I write. Here. And thus relieve my stress and feel so much better. The bad customers, they make for good stories. That's why this blog is full of them. Make your own judgement about the job that I do or my suitability for my job. My boss, my boss's boss, my employees, and most importantly, I myself know the value of my work.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good vs. Bad: Auto Repairs

Recently I took my vehicle to get its oil changed. A day or two later someone pointed out a huge pool of liquid under the vehicle. I checked the oil, and it was low. I returned the vehicle to the dealership's service department and they corrected whatever they hadn't done before and replaced the oil. I was getting ready to leave on a 2500+ mile road trip. I don't notice things like pools of liquid under vehicles. If that friend hadn't pointed out the problem, I might have been a couple of hundred miles down the road, in the middle of nowhere and in unfamiliar territory, before the oil warning light came on. I could have been stuck in an area with no cellular service and/or had severe engine damage. I was NOT happy. Having to make TWO trips to the dealership in the final days before my trip does not make me want to visit them again anytime soon.

Another day, I was on the first leg of the extremely long road trip. My travel companion plugged one too many things into the cigarette lighter and blew a fuse. A fuse that controlled not only the cigarette lighter, but also the side mirrors and the RADIO/CD PLAYER. A long road trip with no music? Impossible! Luckily we knew where a {my vehicle dealership} was and stopped by, hoping for a quick fix but realizing that it might take a while.

The person I was traveling with *thought* he could fix the problem himself if he had the fuse. Well, fuses are harder to get to than you would think! An employee from the parts department came out to the vehicle to see if he could determine what size fuse was needed. It took him a couple of trips inside to consult his book before even he could find where the blown fuse was. With some difficulty he changed the fuse. No appointment, a busy service department, and the employee went above and beyond to help us, getting us in and out in half an hour. On top of all that, he refused any payment AT ALL. Then he wished us a good trip before returning to his official job. Impressive! They EXCEEDED my expectations. Unfortunately, this dealership is too far away for me to visit regularly. But not too far away to consider using when I need a new vehicle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good vs. Bad: Department Stores

I walked into a {mid-range department store} to return an item. Though it was in the store's bag and I had a receipt, I was hesitant to go into the store very far with the return. I walked to the unattended service desk, pushed the "help" button, and waited. And waited. I looked around, saw not a single person, and waited.

Finally I saw some sign of life from the far side of the store so walked toward the movement. I found two associates who were talking about their weekend plans. When I approached, they stopped talking and one offered to help. As she did the return she talked, and talked, and talked. She commented on my recent purchases. She asked about the store where I worked. She talked about the weather. I wasn't interested in talking. I had a long list of errands to do and then I had to go to my store and do a lot of things there. Yet she talked, and talked. I was not happy with the service because they fell far short of my expectations. I expected to have someone nearby when I entered the store, and I expected to get in and out quickly.

Another day I entered a {different mid-range department store} in need of a single item. I was out of town and the weather had changed unexpectedly and I was in desperate need of a warm jacket. The associates were visible, though helping customers. The jackets were conspicuously displayed and they had something I liked in my size. I very easily found a place to pay. In and out. While I didn't receive assistance from the employees, I could see where they were (and that they were busy) if I did need help. A satisfactory experience. Not great, but satisfactory.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Good Service vs. Bad Service

I've been on the receiving end of lots of customer service lately. Some was good, some was mediocre, while some was bad. Being at the receiving end reinforced what customers are looking for. I'll definitely keep these experiences in mind when I'm working. To make for manageable reading, I've broken it into three parts.

Hotels: of course you're going to get a better room when you pay more money. The difference between a $40 room and a $90 room is HUGE. (Hint: $40 rooms are a little scary!) But at the cheaper hotel the desk clerk said the room number aloud not once, but twice, with another person nearby. At the moderately priced hotel the clerk gave us directions to the room by drawing a line on the hotel map, circling the room number, and writing it on the bottom of the map. That's the way it's done. If I had been traveling by myself, at the first place I would have refused the room (even though it was the last of its type). With a companion, it was only slightly unsafe, and we were tired.

Restaurants: two nationally known chains, both moderately nice places. At the one with the better reputation, the waiter was overly attentive to the point of being annoying, and then argued over prices when the menu was unclear. The manager ended up revising the ticket, but will I be back? Probably not soon. The restaurant known more for family meals had a waiter who pointed out the specials, warned us that the kitchen was a little backed up, but if we were in a hurry he could speed our order through. No, we're on vacation. No hurry. Take your time. The food arrived just as fast as at the other place, with a clear menu/ticket. The restaurant had better lighting, better food, and was a better experience. The waiter was attentive, but let us have a nice conversation without interrupting every five minutes. I had never been there before, but if there's one in my area, I will definitely be back.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Life Story

Here's the situation: it was a busy day. No kidding. It's Saturday. Every Saturday is insanely busy with every type of customer imaginable, plus all the crazies who are kept locked up during the week. There were customers everywhere buying lots of stuff so there were lots of empty shelves to fill, things to clean up, etc. in between helping customers.

I was helping a woman, her problem was solved, and it was at the point in the sale where she should proceed to the registers and pay. However, she felt the need to tell me her life story.

Three times.

Every attempt by me to get her to the registers and out the door failed. Her story was so important that she must tell it to me.

Three times.

By the middle of the third time, I stopped responding and just stood there, waiting for her to finish and hoping she wouldn't start on a fourth time. When she finally noticed that I wasn't listening in rapt attention and instead was slouched over, yawning, and dying of boredom, she became angry and accused me of poor customer service. Yeah. Sure. The ten customers waiting for my assistance would probably love to receive ANY customer service if you'd stop WASTING MY TIME!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Blog

Several interesting things have happened lately. Now, you know what "interesting" means, right? They make for really good stories, but stories that are so specific to my particular store that I can't share them right now.

In the meantime, check out this blog for the behind-the-counter view from a Pizza Hut in the UK.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


I have many confused customers.

One man returned an item because it was "torn" when he bought it. Then he discovered that it was the wrong item and he wasn't sure which the right item was. He wanted to open packages until he found the one that he usually buys. I let him open a couple but then told him that I couldn't let him open all of the packages because no one will buy them once they've been open. (He had NO IDEA which of the 20~30 items he was looking for.)

But really, manufacturers, please listen: See-through packages! They're the thing of the future! Or a picture of the item on the outside of the package! That would work, too. Help make many lives easier by making everyone less confused!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Debit or Credit?

I was manning a register during a busy period. The customer scanned her card through our machine and then waited while I continued ringing her items. Since it was a small transaction, I didn't need to see/hold the card, though I got a glimpse of it. When I finished with her items, I prompted her, "Is that a credit?" since our machines don't know the difference between a credit and a debit unless we tell them.

"No, it's a discover."

Well, that would be considered a credit!

Other customers with bank cards have NO IDEA how they work. I ask, "Credit or debit?" They respond:

  • "I don't know. It's an ATM card." OK....debit.
  • "The bank gave it to me." Right. Do you want to use it as a debit or a credit? "What's the difference?" It depends on your bank. Some banks charge depending on how you use the card. "Well, which is cheaper?" It varies. Bank A charges each time you enter your PIN. Bank B charges a percentage of the sale if you use it as a credit. Bank C doesn't charge at all. "I use Bank D. What's their policy?" I don't know.....I've never had an account at Bank D. {That is, of course, poor customer service to not know Bank D's policy.}
  • "Debit." Sure. {Hit appropriate button.} Go ahead and enter your PIN. "PIN? I don't have one of those!" So it's a credit? "No! I don't want to use it as a credit." : 0 Well, you have two choices: "Can't you just bill my office?" No.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Customer: I need {Company A's Product 11} but in a smaller package.

I think: That manufacturer doesn't MAKE that in a smaller package.

I say: Are you sure it wasn't made by {Company B} or maybe it was {Company A's Product 14}?

Customer: Oh, I'm POSITIVE. It was {Company A's Product 11}. I ALWAYS buy it here. It used to be on this aisle but you've moved everything around.

Me: What did it look like?

Customer: Just like this (holding up a package)! Where's the smaller package?! I ALWAYS get it here!

Me: Follow me. Is this it?

Customer: YES! That's it!

For the record: It was Company A's Product 14 that the customer was looking for, NOT Company A's Product 11. Product 14 does, indeed, come in a small package. Product 11 does not. The two products are entirely different and in entirely different packages. The customer never realized that there was a difference. Spaceship? Ship to sail in the sea? They're the same thing, right?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Busy, Busy

It's Saturday. It's retail. It's busy.

A man came in with a school-aged kid and found all of our shopping carts being used. He shouted out in a disgusted tone of voice to no one in particular, "This is ridiculous! We're going to {Main Competitor}!" Fine. You'll pay more. I could understand the man leaving if he was with a baby or young children where a cart would be necessary just to control the children, but especially to shop. But the school-aged kid could have helped carry stuff.

After they walked out, several employees and customers shook their heads in disbelief. How petty!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Waste of Time

A woman left a cart FULL of stuff at the customer service desk. She had forgotten a coupon so she wanted us to hold her items while she returned home to get it. "I'll be right back!" she promised.

Two hours later she still had not returned, so we returned everything to the shelves. Five hours after that she returned and was upset that she had to gather the merchandise again. She arrived at the check-out, presented her coupon, and wrote a check....that was declined (due to a history of writing bad checks, though I never tell the customer what the string of numbers translates into).

What a fit she threw!

"My check is good! This is so embarrassing! You HAVE TO take my check because it's the law! I want to talk to a manager! {I am the manager.} Oh. {Pause} What's YOUR boss's name? I want your corporate phone number! NOW! All of this is YOUR fault! You wasted my time because you made me go home to get my coupon! I asked you to hold my stuff but you put it away! That is SO WRONG! Now you WON'T TAKE MY CHECK! WHAT A WASTE OF TIME! I'm NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!"

Then she stormed out the door. I didn't try to respond to her diatribe because A) she didn't really give me a chance, B) the check-out area was empty at the time so she wasn't disturbing other customers, and C) nothing I said would have made a difference. Talk about a waste of time--after she left we had to put her cart full of stuff away. Again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Unusual But Good

Overheard: a mother/grandmother admonished her 6-year-old boy for doing something he wasn't supposed to do. The youngster whined that he didn't do it. The woman replied that another customer reported the bad behavior and she had to believe the grown-up over the child. Now that's a good parent!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Customer Responses to the New Store

Although it will be some time until we're really finished putting things as we like them, the renovations are officially over. The changes are huge and the customers have lots to say about the changes.

Some responses are extremely positive.

  • An 8-year-old regular entered the store with his parents. "Wow!" he exclaimed. "What happened?!" He then explored the store with a look of awe and as he left, he told the cashier how much he liked the store.
  • Customers who were at the store when things were most chaotic have returned with comments like, "I bet you're glad it's over! The store looks really good."
  • Some customers who missed the chaotic period walk in, stop, and some then walk out of the store to check what name is on the sign. "Am I in the right place?" they think, and sometimes ask out loud. "Wow! Things have really changed!"

Of course there are lots of complaints, too. Some people just don't like change.

  • "I can't find anything!"
  • "Why did you have to move the {item}?"
  • "I liked the store how it was before!"
  • "You moved the {popular item} to the back of the store?! I can't walk that far!" Now think about it.......from a store standpoint, it makes PERFECT sense to put the popular items in the back so the customers have to walk past the accessories and less popular items to get to and from the popular items. I didn't draw up the blueprints, I can't change them, now STOP COMPLAINING!

Other people are completely oblivious that anything has changed. This is despite the new walls, floors, registers, shelves, color scheme......EVERYTHING! They walk to the area where the {item they always buy} used to be, then look around that area in an attempt to find the {item they always buy}. The fact that they're looking for {books} in what used to be the {books} department in what is now the {refrigerator} department doesn't register in their minds. "Refrigerators, refrigerators everywhere, my book must be in here somewhere."

Associates are still trying to find things. Sometimes I'll ask 3~4 of my people before someone can tell me the general area where the {obscure item} now is. We haven't NOT found anything yet, though. It just takes lots of searching and lots of asking for directions.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Two weeks has come and gone and they're not done yet. Much, much closer to being done, but not done. Probably another 3~4 days and the corporate people will leave. Then we can change things to how WE like them!


  • The floor is done.
  • The painting is done, though they ran out of paint partway through so had to get more and it doesn't quite match.
  • All of the shelves are in place.
  • The counters/registers are in place, with much more storage space than we expected.
  • Many of the products have permanent locations.
  • All of the dirty tasks are complete so we can begin to clean.

Left to do:

  • Some of the products are still in carts, baskets, boxes, thrown in a pile on the floor......and there's not much room left to put the aforementioned products.
  • The office area is quite disordered. Luckily our files were undisturbed. But office supplies? It would be faster to drive to the store and buy new ones than to find what you need when you need it.
  • MONTHS ago when the store was originally measured, Mr. King-of-Resume-Doctoring measured incorrectly. This led to the blueprints being off (they also weren't to scale and had a pillar and a door in the wrong place), which means we're a little crunched for space and may have to take out some of the planned shelves to be 100% ADA-compliant. That means more homeless items that WE, the store staff, will have to find homes for, long after all of the corporate merchandising experts have moved on to the next remodel.
  • Learn where everything is.

That last one, I fear, may take MONTHS. I had my pattern down with the old store.....if a person needed an entire set-up, I could lead them from one item to another in the most efficient way (especially the older customers who have trouble walking). Now we go to one item in the front, them go to the back, then all the way to the other side, then back to the front corner, then into the middle.....I apologize for all the walking and most people don't mind. Sometimes I explain that I'm not quite sure where we put that item, so would you like to wait here while I find it, or follow me along on a tour of the store? I get some of both types of customers.

So we're close, but not quite there. My schedule's back to normal. And I can BREATHE! We're going to be cleaning up for WEEKS, though. The air conditioning filters were so dirty (and we do change them regularly) that they became completely clogged and started whistling songs. They work much better now that they have clean filters! : )

Monday, September 04, 2006


There's a mess everywhere I look! We're renovating my store--EVERYTHING is changing. New floors, new shelves, new paint, new signs, new counters, holes in the wall patched up, entire departments trading places=CHAOS. Many of our items have been moved to storage; other items are in the store but in unlabeled boxes or thrown together into carts. Aisles have disappeared as shelves are shoved together, leaving perhaps a 2-foot space to get through. Dust and dirt swirl through the air; a layer of grime coats EVERYTHING. When shelves are moved several mice skeletons are discovered.

Despite the MESS.....EVERYWHERE.....we remain open to customers. Only some of the comments we've received:

  • "Your store is really dirty!" Yes. We know. "You should clean it up." We will. Once the carpenters/painters/floor layers/etc. finish making it dirty.
  • "Where is the ___?" Your guess is as good as mine. Items change locations on a daily basis.
  • "I need ___." Sorry, that's in storage. "But I need it NOW!" Sorry, storage. "NOW!" Storage. {No matter how much you bug me or no matter how many people you ask, there is NO WAY we can get what you "need" right now.}
  • "How much is this? This? This? You know, you really should put prices on your products. It's very difficult for me to shop when there are no prices." {Silence from me. Every day, all day, it's difficult for me to work. Do you not see the disorder around you?! Merchandise not having prices is the least of my worries.}
  • "I can't stand the smell {of the paint/glue/whatever}! Can you get {these 20 items} for me while I wait in the front?" {I can't stand the smell, either. But I don't have a choice. I'm here all day, every day. With an air conditioner that's not working. Sure I'll do your shopping for you. You can see very clearly that there's absolutely nothing else for me to be doing. Right.}

Many days I work 12 hours. When I arrive home, grime coats my hair and skin and the inside of my lungs. I'm exhausted, yet I can't sleep well because I can't BREATHE. Dirty laundry and dishes pile up to create chaos at home, too. Friends? Family? What's that?

There have been rumors that the renovation was coming for 5+ years. It was BADLY needed. Actually, it was badly needed five years ago. Six months ago we were told that it was coming in "a month or two". When it came, we had only a week's notice.

A week left (or so they say). I have trouble believing that they'll have everything put away by then. When it's over, the store will have entered the 21st century (or at least the 20th). The vastly improved layout of the store will lead to monstrously better business. There's even the possibility that we'll be able to drive our main competitor out of business! Wouldn't that be something!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A "Slow" Day

It's been a busy week both on the work and home fronts, thus the lack of updates. The most notable weekend event:

It was a somewhat slow day (for a weekend, anyway) and plenty of associates were working. My cashier rather curiously paged me to the back of the store. Huh? Where? Why? Assuming she was mistaken or I misheard, I headed to the front to see what she needed. Partway there she saw me and somewhat desperately shouted out, "The back of the store! Don't ask questions! Just go! Hurry!" I want to know what I'm going to find when I arrive at the back of the store?!

The back door was propped open, not unusual since the smokers take advantage of the rare weekend moments slow enough to get off the sales floor. Outside, one of my most trusted employees was being interrogated by a police officer. A police helicopter circled the building. Another policeman/car surveyed the front of the store.

Apparently our alarm system malfunctioned and sent a message that we were being burglarized. Now usually our alarm company will call us first before calling the police. But either they couldn't get through on our always-busy phone lines or they assumed that since it was regular business hours that we must be in trouble, thus the call to the police.

My trusted employee told me later that just as he was exiting the building the police officer was rounding the corner. The officer radioed the dispatcher with my employee's description as he kept his gun-hand ready for action. The employee offered to go and get me, the manager on duty, but the policeman quickly refused as his hand moved a little closer to his gun and he insisted that the employee step away from the building/door. The officer radioed the dispatcher again for them to call our store and send the manager to the back.....thus the cashier's mysterious page.

We quickly sorted it out. Apparently the policeman thought the employee might have been involved in a robbery or taking merchandise out the back door or who knows what. No, no illegal action here.

The policeman went back to his car and drove around to the side of the building, where he met up with the other officer to chat for at least a half hour.......must have been a slow day for them, too.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Creatures of Habit

Why do companies have to change the packaging their items are in?!

I know they probably think it keeps the items modern-looking and fresh and NEW! and IMPROVED!


It confuses customers (and occasionally the salespeople, too).

Several of our big vendors recently redesigned their ENTIRE LINE OF PRODUCTS. Within the last week I can't even begin to count how many confused people I assisted.

One lady tried to narrow the search for her favorite product, "It was purple." Key word being may very well be a new color now. Do you know the NAME of the product? One brand has 30 different but similar items. "It was purple" is not a big help. There are two purple ones, one purple patterned, one maroon, and one dark pink that some people consider purple. After I showed her all of those choices, to hear her respond, "No, that's not it," to EACH ONE, suddenly she remembered that the product she was looking for was actually GREEN, her husband's favorite was purple. Then we started all over with the 5~10 shades of green products.....that all have names......that have not changed. Only she didn't remember the name.

Another woman wanted to know the difference between two products. I flipped them over, saw that the item numbers were identical, and told her they were the same items in different packaging. "They don't look the same," she insisted as she demanded to know the difference between them and which one was better. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE, only different packaging. REALLY! I PROMISE!

Yet another woman (are men not as picky about getting the same item each time?) was looking for some {soap}. What kind of soap? Liquid? Bar? Hand? Antibacterial? With lotion? Can we be more specific?? When we finally narrowed it down to the lavender body wash with massaging beads, there was still the choice of dry or oily skin. In the past they only made one formula for all skin types. She acted like it was my fault that they changed the products. "I want what I always buy!" Well, they don't make that product anymore. This is what they make now. Still angry, she wanted to know the difference in ingredients between the old product and the two new ones. Well, since we don't have any of the old product left, we can't compare them now, can we?

Friday, August 18, 2006

WWW Safety

I came across one of my employee's m123y123s123p123a123c123e page. It had his FULL NAME, a partial picture, interests, his workplace, his school name, his grade. Then he linked to another of my employees and a former employee. All are teenagers. The current employee had a very safe page…..a picture, but only her first name and no detailed information. The former employee (under 18) had a picture up in her UNDERWEAR. Does her parental figure know about this???

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You don't carry it?!

A man asked me for "this product" (while holding up a 50 ounce bottle) in a 10 ounce bottle. There was no space on the shelf for it so I was 99% sure that we no longer carried it. I checked with another employee and found that we had NEVER carried that item in that size. When I told the man this he was indignant.

"Don't tell me that!! I buy it here every month!" To his wife..."Can you believe this? I buy it here all the time but she's telling me that they've NEVER carried it!"

I showed him the industrial-strength carpet cleaner in the 50 and 100 ounce sizes, to hear him complain that he would never use that much of it. I explained that most people who need a carpet cleaner that strong need a large quantity of it, as well, the reason we carried the sizes that we do.

"I don't need a strong cleaner. This is just for my home. Why would I want a strong cleaner?!"

Then it dawned on me.....he wanted the home-strength carpet cleaner, which DOES come in a 10-ounce size. At that point I was needed to perform a management function so I asked another employee to show him to the correct product. That employee later told me that the man asked him if I was new since I didn't know anything about the products that we carry. ??? The man apparently never understood that he had been asking for the wrong product.

{We also may or may not carry carpet cleaner. OK, we don't. This product substitution doesn't make quite as much sense as Monday's.}

Monday, August 14, 2006

Super Sharp Pencils

A woman came in and asked where the Super Sharp Pencils were. Trying to clarify what she wanted, I asked, "Is that a type of pencil or the name brand?"

"That's the name of it! Super Sharp Pencil!"

We've never sold a product called Super Sharp Pencil. We sell some pretty sharp pencils, but none with that brand name.

"I buy it here all the time! SUPER SHARP's in a red package with blue writing. Does someone else know more about the products?"

How do you respond to that? She was asking for a name brand product that I knew we did not carry. She assumed I was the stupid retail employee who knew nothing.

"Is it possibly Major Brand Name Pencil? In a red package with blue writing?"

Sure enough, when we got to the pencil aisle we found the Major Brand Name Pencil with the advertising phrase "Super Sharp" on it. It was NOT the name of the product. It was an advertising phrase. An advertising phrase shared by a dozen different pencil companies.

We had one package left and I could tell from the shelf label that we wouldn't be carrying the item anymore. I thought I'd be helpful and let the woman know so she could start thinking about what product to get in the future.

I shouldn't have been helpful.

"Why aren't you going to carry it anymore?! That's the only pencil I've ever used! Can't you order it for me?"

"No, I'm sorry. Either our company or Major Brand Name company made the decision to stop carrying/making the product. I am unable to order any of them."

The unhappy customer used the common threat, "Well I guess I'm going to have to find a new place to shop."

Do you really think your threat is going to change the reality of me not being able to order the product?!

Even more senseless, she didn't even buy the one we had left. Maybe it was a punishment for us not going to carry it anymore, or perhaps it was because she had such a hard time finding what she wanted or maybe it was because she had such an unknowledgeable sales associate. What has customer service come one knows how to provide excellent service anymore. Poor customers.

{We may or may not sell pencils. It's just an example of a real situation I recently encountered.}

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Morning

A cashier paged me to the front where a uniformed man was waiting impatiently. He pulled me to the side and quietly informed me that the store's power would be turned off if the bill wasn't paid by the time he got back from his (early) lunch. Uh…….thanks for the warning? By the way, how much is the bill? (Maybe I can pay it out of store funds?) HOW MUCH??? I don't have access to that much money!

I called the office… answer. They never answer their phones. Voicemail…no good, I need action now! OK, try again, so when the power gets shut off I can at least point to the fact that I left a message and tried to do something. Called the office again, same extension number…..and someone answered. I quickly explained the problem and was told that they would "look into it." What part of "OUR POWER WILL BE TURNED OFF IN LESS THAN AN HOUR IF YOU DON'T GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER AND PAY THE BILL" did you not understand?????

So that was a lot of help. Hmmm……Boss is away….again….what do you know. Better let regional manager know what's going on.

Voicemail. Lovely. "Big Boss! Help!"

Wait. Wait. Wait some more.

Thirty minutes left. Office calls. "We called the utility company but they haven't called us back yet. We're still working on it."

I am SO not impressed with the people who work in the office.

Twenty minutes left until we have no cash registers. No credit card machines. No phones. No air conditioning. No LIGHTS. Twenty minutes until we close our doors and stop making money.

Is there anyone else that I can call? No, not really. Looking back, I guess I could have gotten the VP involved, but that would mean some angry office personnel and make my life more difficult in the long run.

Fifteen minutes left and Big Boss calls, seeming unsurprised at both the size of the bill and the situation (and the response from the office staff. After all, it wasn't THEIR power that was about to be cut). Speaking with her made me feel a lot better about things getting taken care of. However, I wasn't so sure about her being able to take care of things in only fifteen minutes.

Five minutes left and I was positive that we were about to be in darkness and SEVERE HEAT. Then the office called….."Big Boss is paying the bill. If the utility employee comes back, tell him that the bill's being paid and he shouldn't turn off the power." Yeah. Right. He gives us an hour's warning (which wasn't required) and then he's going to come back into the store to warn us, AGAIN, and listen to pleas and lame excuses? I don't think so.

The deadline arrives…..hold your breath, cross your fingers…….the lights are still on. Five minutes later…..still have power. Ten minutes….cash registers continue to work. Big Boss calls, "Is your power still on?" Yes, thanks for checking. She gave me the payment confirmation number in case we had problems later on and we agreed that the office staff SUCK (not in so many words, but in those things that you can't say but you understand what the other person means anyway).

Another day. Another crisis averted. Can I go home yet?


Check out the comment on this post. Anonymous has serious problems if he thinks that I meant that as a serious quiz!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Search Terms

I can't believe how many shoplifters there are out there! Lots of people visit my blog through searches for how long shoplifting stays on their record, if they're a minor is it on their record at all, etc. I DON'T KNOW! I just try to prevent shoplifting and call the police if I witness it (which has only happened once because they're too sly).

One person searched for "get me a job, maybe driving, perhaps something in customer services, or possibly, if its a tuesday, e"…….the search engine cut them off, yet still gave search results. My advice: go out and look for a job instead of doing a wacky internet search!

An indecisive customer/web searcher wanted to know "laws about retail store return policy." I say, make up your mind about what to buy BEFORE buying it! Find out the return policy of that store BEFORE buying it! Yes it's legal for us to refuse the return! Go ahead, sue me! Sue the store! It's not against the law!

These people: "customer approaches unreasonable request what do you do" and "how to handle an insubordinate employee I can't fire"…..let me know when you find out.

Apparently someone was either having after-thoughts or was planning something: "retail manager fired for pushing an employee"……that sounds right. Completely hands-off is always safer!

And finally, "can a retail company fire employee for cursing at customer"….Yep. Been there. Done that. It was his first job, he was only 16, but he still should have known better. Curse at them after they leave the store. Make fun of them with co-workers after they leave the store. Make fun of them on the web after they leave the store. Doing it to their face is a really bad idea....if you want to keep your job.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Another new employee from last week is gone: I worked one day with him and knew he wasn't going to work out. At that point it's stupid to waste time training him further, but Boss said, "Give him a chance." Well, I did. I gave him a chance to do what I said, then when it wasn't done I gave him another chance, then I had to remind him a THIRD time of what he was supposed to be doing. He was polite enough with the customers, but extremely lazy and didn't know much about our specialty area.

A few days after he began working for us we seemed to be short on a certain item. Hmm….what timing. I ran an inventory list of what we should have vs. what we did have and unless the items got up and walked away on their own from the employees-only area, then it looked like the new employee was to blame. I expressed my concern to Boss, knowing that she might tell me I wasn't giving the new employee a chance by making such an accusation. But I was careful of how I phrased it. I showed her the inventory shortage and suggested keeping an eye on that particular item and perhaps that employee because the shortages began occurring just after he started work.

She agreed that it was suspicious and that we should be more alert.
We informed the other managers of the problem with that specific item and asked them to be particularly watchful, especially of new employees. No names were used, no accusations made.

A few days later the problem took care of itself. The employee came in to work in a foul mood, did a poor job all shift, then started an argument with a co-worker over an extremely petty matter. Luckily a manager saw the whole thing, including the part where the new employee threatened to harm his co-worker. You can't do that! You're fired!

The co-worker who was threatened wasn't at all at fault…..the petty matter wasn't anything he did wrong. When the new employee began shouting, it was clear that he wasn't logical or anything…..the co-worker kept silent in an attempt to diffuse the situation. While that didn't work, the fact that there was no physical contact is pure luck.

(May I note that I did not hire this guy or the people in the two previous posts? That's right, someone else did.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

No Notice

We have another new employee who's been with us a few weeks. She seemed to like the job and we liked her. However, she had a full-time job somewhere else. She worked at our store part-time for extra money. One day she called to get her work schedule and the very next day, just 30 minutes before scheduled to work, she called to quit. ??? If it was too much for her to work two jobs or not enough money or whatever, what's wrong with GIVING NOTICE so we weren't stuck short-handed?!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Back to hiring.....and firing. We have lots of long-term employees (long-term for retail, anyway) but when one of them leaves or increased business leads to the need for more employees, we go through SO MANY employees until we find someone who will stick around. Many times if we need one employee then I'll hire two because chances are at least one of them won't stay.

Last week's new employee: worked one week with perfect attendance and more or less punctual. He did an adequate job with minimal training, but did only what he was asked to do instead of looking around to see what needed to be done. That's OK, we can fix that.

Week two…..first day he called in sick. O…..K……personally, if I was sick with a new job I'd go to work anyway. I've had many people out "sick" for a day or two while they decide if they want to quit or not. On the second day there was a death in the family (half-brother's grandmother's sister's sister-in-law's great-nephew's wife's dad's dog) so he couldn't come to work. I've been down "excuse road" that point I started interviewing to replace him.

On the third day he actually showed up, more or less on time, and did his adequate job again. On the fourth day he didn't show up or call at all until after his shift was scheduled to begin. He claimed that his alarm didn't go off so he didn't get up on time but that his dad needed help with yardwork so he couldn't come to work at all that day…??? You're fired!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Weekend Trip

Sometimes you just need to get away. I had the weekend off and was so bored of this city that I used MapQuest to plot a trip out of town.

I went to a well-known place on Saturday. It was super super hot and very sunny. I tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible; during the hottest part of the day I visited the museums and saw the outside stuff when the sun wasn't quite as strong. I used a friend's vacation home that night.

The original plan was to visit a less well-known place but bigger city on Sunday but instead I relaxed in the outdoors with some non work-related reading. It was a nice bit of nature and much needed peace and quiet instead of the heat and noise that the big city would have involved.

After the weekend away it felt like I was playing catch-up this week.....piled up laundry and cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. that I usually do when I'm off. But it was totally worth it to get away and do something different, even if it was just for a couple of days.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Some people have a major problem with making decisions.

The other day a couple spent THREE HOURS in the store deciding whether to buy something. An associate was with them for well over an hour. Seventy-five percent of that time the associate just stood there while the people hemmed and hawed about buying.

Another day a family wanted to make a big purchase. I initially helped them. At first they just wanted to get some basic info, take some measurements, and then check a couple of other stores. Fine. They came back later that day (just before close) and spent an hour with both myself and another employee. We got out late that night, but with such a large purchase, I wasn't complaining. It's our job to help them, even if they stay late. It's also our job to load the rather large and heavy items into their truck. No problem.

The VERY NEXT DAY they returned the whole grouping of items, minus a box and the price tags. That is a problem. They exchanged it for a rather less expensive model. Their excuse? It was too big. Funny......then why did they bother measuring on their first trip? Also, the less expensive model was essentially the same size. If they had room for either of the rather large (and heavy) items, then the slight difference in size wouldn't make a difference.

So we unloaded the (did I say HEAVY?) items, returned them to the sales floor (where they later had to be repriced), helped them with the other set, and then loaded the new items into their truck.


Yet another day a woman came in to look at {items in a certain department}. Four different {licensed, very highly trained professionals} had told her essentially four different things so she wanted another opinion. From me?! A retail manager?! I showed her what we had, told her my opinion and what other people often did for the same problem, but that if the professionals, with their YEARS AND YEARS of education, couldn't come to a consensus and suggest something to help her, then I wasn't going to be able to help her any better than them.

Then the hemming and hawing began from her as she looked at different products. Finally I used one of my "I'm leaving" lines to escape from, essentially, just standing there while she tried to get me to guarantee that a particular product would solve her problem or otherwise give advice that I'm in no way qualified to give.

I know she wanted/expected me to continue standing there and was not pleased when I left. But my line was perfectly respectful and she obviously knew that she was wasting my time and if there had been any kind of legitimate reason for me to stay then she could have asked me to stay. She knew that. I could tell from her demeanor that she knew that. So she let me go. Grudgingly. She eventually bought one small item and left.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What's that sound?

I was filling in on register while a cashier took a break. The customer was wacky. I heard a strange noise in the background and thought maybe it was on the radio or something. After a minute or so the customer suddenly asked what the sound was as if she were surprised or scared or something.

I replied that I didn't know. Then the sound stopped. The customer continued to wonder, aloud, what that sound could have been. I just wanted her to leave so I could ring out the people behind her. As she put her wallet back into her purse suddenly the strange sound started again, louder this time......her cell phone, with some kind of wacky ring that sounded like bubbles rising out of water, bloop, bloop, bloop.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I like it!

Great idea.....can I start handing out signs to certain customers?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

New Blogs

Time for the when-I-think-about-it updating of the links. New-to-me blogs: Confessions of a Retail Queen, who's also in retail management; Supermarket Follies, who works in a UK supermarket (in management, or maybe just a long-term employee); and Musings on an ordinary life, who works in a call center and writes about a variety of subjects, not just work. They're all entertaining and well-written. Check them out.

A Question

A question for the retail world from an anonymous commenter:

what can a employee do if she find out ofter three years that her former boss put on her record that she quit without notice when she did not. she gave her two weeks notice and work up to the last day.

My response:

Are you sure it wasn't a mistake? At my store when an employee quits or is fired I have to fill out a form with different check boxes with, among other things, whether notice was given. If I'm taking care of a lot of paperwork at one time or it's late in the day or I'm tired or something, I might accidentally check the wrong box.

Assuming it wasn't a mistake and instead it was a vindictive thing….did you give notice verbally or in writing? Were there any witnesses? Are old work schedules kept that could show you working up to the last day and not scheduled the next week……depending on the relationship between when your last day was and when the schedules are made.

I don't understand from the question whether this happened after three years of working there or it's three years after you quit and you just found out about it. If it's three years later and you're just now finding this out, I assume you've been working somewhere else since then. Does it really matter at this point how the records indicate that you quit? If you plan on ever working for that company again, it probably does matter. Otherwise, your record at your current job should count for more than a previous job.

If you feel the need to have the record changed, then contact the head office and see if they show any interest in cooperating. If you had trouble with that boss, perhaps others did too. Perhaps a regional manager or a shift manager would vouch for your character. This is assuming that you have an otherwise good record with the company. Personally if an unknown previous employee came to me with your complaint, I would be much more likely to investigate if the employee had an otherwise stellar file. If the employee had frequent disciplinary actions, a bad attendance record, poor reviews, etc……I don't know that I would do anything at all.

If the head office isn't willing to investigate, you could try contacting your local equivalent of a labor board or a lawyer, but if there were no witnesses to your giving notice and it's been three years, I don't know that anyone will do much of anything.

Other advice?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It was quite a busy weekend. At one point all registers were open with lines of people waiting to check out, I was doing an exchange, two people were waiting with returns, another customer needed a heavy item carried to her car, all of the salespeople were busy.....this was the chaos we were just barely controlling when an older woman entered the store. She approached my register, where I was *actively helping another customer*, to ask a "quick question." When they specify that it's a "quick" question, then it never is.

My response: "I'll help you when I'm done with these other people who've been patiently waiting." (Or something like that.)

The lady was ANGRY.

In between returns I ran the heavy item out to a customer's car and the woman tried to stop me to ask where something was. Without stopping (remember, I was carrying something HEAVY) I gave her a general location, knowing that she expected to be led to it. I also knew that several people who were THERE BEFORE SHE WAS and had TRIED TO HELP THEMSELVES ALREADY were still waiting for assistance. Really, she hadn't even tried looking for it in the appropriate section. She just came in the door and expected us to drop everything for her majestic presence. Yeah. Sure.

Miracle of miracles.....she found the item. By herself. WOW. It had slowed just slightly when she came to check out, where she spent the whole time bitching to the cashier about how rude I was and how embarrassed she was because of how I treated her, etc. I SO wanted to say, "You embarrassed yourself with your behavior."

As the lady left she damned me to hell. Yeah, that's real mature of you. First you skip to the front of the line and then get embarrassed/angry at me when I point this out (in front of all the people waiting in line who were there BEFORE YOU).

The whole situation was a lot like this one. I didn't handle it perfectly. I'll admit that. But when so many people are waiting for help and someone skips in line expecting help IMMEDIATELY, then how else should I have handled it? Really, everyone had a "quick question" or a "quick" return or a "quick" run their item to their car. But despite it being "quick," when there are 5~10 of them and one of the math and you'll find that you MUST WAIT YOUR TURN.

Friday, July 14, 2006


A phone call was transferred to me on the sales floor. According to my employee, the caller needed information/prices on {something I'd never heard of before}. The employee sounded like he knew what it was, so I asked, "Price on a WHAT?"

"A {still not sounding familiar}. You know, it's an accessory for a {item we carry}."

"A {term that I know}? Oh, never heard it called {the other term} before."

"Sure, when I first started in this business that used to be the only name for them." (Employee is quite a bit older than me.)

I got on the phone with the customer and determined that what my employee said the term meant wasn't what the customer wanted. Instead of explaining what she wanted, she got angry. "A {ANCIENT TERM THAT NO ONE USES ANY MORE}! DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THEM?"

"I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean by a {ancient term}."


"Ma'am, I'm sorry, can you explain it to me, please? I'm not familiar with that word."

The whole time she treated me like an idiot. What, because I didn't know a term that hasn't been used in my lifetime?! We finally got on the same page and I was able to tell her that we, in fact, definitely did NOT carry that item, which was actually a part to an item that we do sell. Further, I had never seen that part being sold ANYWHERE.

Could I suggest a place for her to find it? Sure, I can suggest you call around to the other stores in the area but use the modern term for the item when you ask for it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why do you ask?

Usually I can't stand it when customers interrupt when I'm helping another customer. But I was helping an old lady and she went ON AND ON AND ON AND long was I helping her with her simple issue, anyway? Twenty minutes? More?

At least 5 people interrupted us, mostly just to ask where something was. I didn't mind because it meant escaping for a minute or two and the old lady didn't seem to mind. After all, I wasn't really helping her much at that point. It was mostly just her telling me her life story because she was lonely.

What DID annoy me, though, was that each time when I returned to the old lady she had to ask a question about the other customer's question/product they were looking for. After the second or third time I felt like asking the old woman, "Why do you ask? Does it matter?! The item you're looking at is COMPLETELY different from what they're looking at!"

It would be like if the old lady had a lamp that she needed a bulb for while the other customers needed a replacement panel for a solar roof or some violin strings or industrial strength fertilizer.....very specialized items that the lady would never need. She was asking questions purely to satisfy her curiosity, although it seemed as if she was asking purely to waste my time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I had to work the 4th. Another holiday. Another holiday that we should have been closed because there's virtually NO BUSINESS. Everyone's having parties, drinking beer, shooting off fireworks…..they don't want to go shopping!

We had a third of normal business for a Tuesday. Sure we got a lot of store maintenance done, but I would much rather we close and let the employees enjoy the holiday!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Do you need help, or not?

In the appliance section

Me: Can I help you?

Customer: Yes. Where are the pens and the pencils and the poster board? Oh yeah, I also need computer disks and maybe some towels and probably a hat.

Me: O……K……..You can find most of that in the office supplies section, then the towels are with home supplies and the hat is with the accessories. ??? (Does she expect me to walk her to EACH AND EVERY ITEM?) Do you need me to show you to those sections?

Customer: No, that's OK. I think I can find everything.

Me: O..K...........let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Some of my regular customers are really cool. We joke, give advice, recommend new restaurants, discuss local problems and possible solutions, etc. It's all as time permits, too. If it's really busy, my regulars understand and do their best to stay out of my hair.

Then there are the annoying regulars who are demanding no matter what and threaten to call my boss/corporate EVERY TIME THEY SHOP because it makes them feel special and powerful. Well, you're not special and you're not powerful. You're idiots.

We also have quite a few special needs customers. Some are awesome. They know they need extra help but do what they can to HELP THEMSELVES before requesting assistance. We learn to recognize them and remember what help they need and what they can do themselves.

Other people with special needs are TERRIBLE. They come in barking orders and don't lift a finger. I've had some people fling a list at me and expect me to do their shopping for them, plus know which of the 500 shampoos is the one on their list. Some people throw a fit because we don't have chairs for them to sit in while they wait for a spouse to shop. I barely have room for merchandise! You want a waiting area, too?!

The people who need extra assistance because of their weight REALLY annoy me. You don't get to be 300+ pounds overnight. Don't expect everyone to cater to you because you can't walk or lift stuff. You're a drain on society. Medical costs…..on disability in many cases….take some responsibility and do something about your problem.

For our nice regulars (even the semi-nice ones) we really go above and beyond. One regular was recovering from surgery and his wife doesn't drive at all so I delivered to their home several times (completely off the clock and non-company sanctioned and totally out of my way). We often hold merchandise, sometimes for far longer than we should, because we know that the regular will be in to make the purchase. I've stayed open late or let a regular sneak in a little before we open to shop, especially if I know they won't be a bother.

My store is big enough to have what you need yet small enough to know you. Now if a stranger asked me to bring something to their home or hold a large quantity of an item for a length of time or stay open late, I'd say NO WAY. Absolutely not. But for my regulars (especially the nice ones) I'll attempt any reasonable request.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


2,996......the official count of dead/missing from the 9/11 attacks.

There will be a tribute 9/11/06 with 2,996 bloggers each remembering one of the victims. Sign up here: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11.

I will most likely NOT be participating.

Certainly 9/11 was a national tragedy. I will always remember where I was when I first heard the news. It was an emotional event because it made us realize we were at risk and how much some people/countries hate us. It made us fear for our own family's safety.

However, there have been other national tragedies and other bombings and other disasters. We make a big deal out of this one day while some countries have attacks DAILY (Israel is one example) and other countries have people starving to death (many African countries, North Korea), and natural disasters kill far more than 2,996 people.

Waving the flag is great, but know what it stands for and don't sacrifice freedoms just so you can feel more secure (because you're not really that much more secure). I wholeheartedly agree with the quote sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin: "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."

I say this after having lived in a country where censorship was alive and well and you'd better have your ID card with you when you went out. The government believed it was protecting its people. What are we, children? I think I can decide what I can view on the internet, read, or watch on TV/video. I don't need a government doing it for me. And if we're not allowed to criticize the government and its actions, then how can things improve?

American officials are heading in a dangerous direction and in some cases disregarding the Bill of Rights to try to make us just a little safer from future terrorist attacks. There will always be a risk of attacks, and I'd much rather there be a slightly greater risk and have freedom than for it to be safer but less free. And where does it stop? Today wiretaps, tomorrow tracking your movements? Controlling what job you have?

As long as the USA is rich, powerful, and arrogant, there will be those who hate us. Yes, us. I am an American. I do feel patriotism and am grateful to those who serve(d) in the military. But I feel that the everyday American blindly accepts what they're told as fact. They wave the flag and say we live in such a great country and then they go and treat each other like dirt.

Most of the 2,996 were not heroes. They were victims. Like victims of a murder or a car crash or a disease. Should they be memorialized by the whole country? You decide. All nationalities welcome: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

This is how you run a company?

I continue to feel like my company is either having financial problems or is EXTREMELY POORLY RUN at the corporate level.

We find out about important things at the last minute, have limited quantities of merchandise that's on sale, have shelves that are nearly empty of some items but overflowing with others, we leave messages that don't get returned (certain departments usually return calls, certain ones rarely do, certain ones NEVER do), we get memo's from different departments telling us OPPOSITE things to do, we get essentially the SAME memo from 4+ departments, shelves are empty and finally a month later I find out that we won't be carrying that item anymore, tons of new items come in yet we don't have fixtures (ordered three months ago) to display them, other new items aren't recognized by the computer so we don't even know how much to charge for the items, ETC.

Latest bungle: HR asked for paperwork from an employee who quit SIX MONTHS AGO! Their excuse: "We didn't receive the termination paperwork." Uh huh. Sure. I PERSONALLY sent it to you.....twice......once when the employee resigned and again a month later since you lost the first one. OK, let's make it three times. Like I don't have anything else to do.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


There are so many stories that I haven't shared because it would expose my specialty area. Other stories are barely understandable because important details had to be left out. I've decided that sharing occasional stories isn't that risky as long as I don't use search engine-friendly words. To avoid the search engines, the wording might be strange, but you should be able to get the point.

In my line of work I deal with non-human beings frequently. Today one of these non-human beings was injured and needed medical attention. We took him to the appropriate professional (starts with a "v") to be attended to. A few hours laters the professional (I use that term loosely) called to say that he had died "before he had a chance to look at him." The professional LEFT HIM TO DIE WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT HIM.

Gross negligence. A needless death. See if we recommend you to our customers, EVER again! It's your fault that he died. We expressed the urgency of his condition and yet you WAITED to even look at him?! You even charged a fee to dispose of his body!!

It's not worth it trying to get reimbursed for the money we lost because of the death, but we will be negotiating a contract with a new professional IMMEDIATELY.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Shrinking payroll dollars

Amazing what the office expects us to do with a smaller and smaller payroll budget.

One problem is that minimum wage has risen far higher than it should have. What's wrong with a high school student making $5.15 an hour? Or someone with limited skills, or someone we're training.....for a while there I was blowing my payroll on incompetent dolts. Now everyone knows what they're doing, more or less. Pay should be based on skills, not on the cost of living.

So what does corporate expect us to do? Let's see......the most important thing is to provide a level of service that you might expect at Tiffany's or other exclusive stores. Problem is, we're not all that exclusive. We are, yet we're not. We get people from all walks of life. Some spend a few dollars while some spend a thousand dollars. Some people want help while others want to be left alone. We're to provide one-on-one attention to all.

Some customers are lonely and pretend to need help so they can chat a while. The majority of our less-affluent customers have a limited intellect such that it takes two or three times longer to explain things to them than to a normal person. There are more returns from them, many due to using the product wrong or deciding that they spent too much. Shoplifting has gotten completely out of control.

People come in seeking advice and after we've spent considerable time with them they go somewhere like Wal-mart to buy. THEN they come back to us and expect us to trouble-shoot why their item isn't working as advertised. "Because you bought the cheapest model out there" doesn't satisfy them. They come to us for replacement parts and are angry because we can't tell them which part fits their generic item....different companies, different size parts....I'm not familiar with Wal-mart's inferior products. There is a reason that our products cost more--QUALITY. So my employees are also helping people who aren't even buying anything in our store, all out of my small payroll budget.

Then there are all the children using our store as a playground/zoo. The parents shop or talk with friends while the children RUN through the aisles, terrorize the staff, pull items off shelves, break things, SCREAM AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS, climb up shelves, and otherwise use staff time. There's the time we spend telling the children to WALK, use their "inside voices," "find your parents, NOW!" and cleaning up the mess they leave behind.

Other things corporate expects us to do are reasonable enough, I guess, but with so few employee hours we're usually rushing around like madmen to try to get everything done. Last week was a rare quiet moment. What with all the ordering, stocking, cleaning, merchandising, pest/rodent control, paperwork.....there's a lot to do but few people to do it. Many days I feel that we can take care of the customers well or we can take care of the physical store well, but we can't do both. So we end up doing a shitty job on both and getting flak from customers and corporate.

Are there any executives reading?? We're humans, not robots! There's a limit to what we can do! Give us the necessary resources and see how much we can accomplish. Let it stand as it is and spend more money recruiting and training new employees when the current employees find higher paying jobs or less stressful ones.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm a klutz.

Boss is away for the week on business, my best cashier is on vacation, and I go and hurt myself at work. Fantastic timing.

The injury happened at the end of a LONG day and the last thing I felt like doing was sitting in the ER for who knows how many hours. I also hoped that perhaps it wasn't so bad and would resolve itself overnight. Nope. Got worse. So the next day I went to work in street clothes to file the necessary paperwork and get authorization to go to a walk-in clinic.

The manager on duty helped with the mounds of required paperwork. She was on the phone with the insurance company, I was filling out papers (in STREET CLOTHES, did I mention?) and MULTIPLE customers entered the employees-only area to ask for help. She finished on the phone and returned to the sales floor to assist customers, and people CONTINUED to approach me (IN STREET CLOTHES) to ask me where something was or what accessories they needed, etc. DOES IT LOOK LIKE I'M WORKING?! I actually said something like that to one lady and she asked me to find someone who was working. I CAN BARELY WALK. I AM IN PAIN. LEAVE ME ALONE.

I went for the drug test first since they have limited hours, then to the doctor. Go figure.....we have to make sure I'm not on illegal drugs before I can even get treated for an injury! Then, unfortunately, it was back to work. With Boss gone I have to work more than normal…..not going to work is not an option. Death MIGHT be an excuse, but injury is not. Can you imagine working retail on crutches……not fun.

Surprisingly, customers were a little nicer and less demanding than normal. With my limited mobility I'm relying on the junior managers a LOT. I'm delegating more than normal and trusting my employees to do the job like they know they're supposed to. So far it's working well. As far as I can tell they're not taking advantage, but I'm not giving them much chance to, either. I've asked for frequent progress reports and hobble over for a surprise inspection every now and then.

This is going to be a very long week.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Regular vs. Sale Price

A customer brought in her receipt and an advertisement from our main competitor. Her complaint? The item was supposed to be on sale but we charged her full price. I pointed out that it wasn't OUR ad, but that we do match prices. She was surprised that it wasn't our ad, even though both her receipt from our store and the ad from the competitor had the store names clearly marked. The ad didn't say what the regular price was on that item, it just said how much the discount was. I had my suspicions, but I called anyway.

After going through several menu options I finally reached a live person, asked the price of the item (pretending to be a customer, of course), and was put on hold. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I got the price and my suspicions were confirmed….our REGULAR price is cheaper than their SALE price.

I told the customer that and she seemed upset. She asked, "So I'm not going to get any money back?"

No, because even with the discount they charge more than we do.

"Wait. I don't understand."

Their REGULAR price is $39. With the discount, they're selling it for $35. Our REGULAR price is $32.

I could tell from her face that she still wasn't getting it, so I slowed it down and made it simple.

Their price: $35. Our price: $32. Our price is already lower so if I matched their price you would owe me money.

"Oh, I understand now."


We're cheaper on almost everything, even the sale items. I guess the competitor needs to charge more to afford all their advertisements. We don't advertise in the newspaper very often…..we rely mostly on our regular customers returning and spreading the news about our greatness to their friends. Occasionally we'll be out of something and our regulars admit that since they need the item so badly they'll visit the competitor, but that they hate shopping there. That's what we like to hear!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Vendor Representatives

I like 90% of our vendor representatives; most visit the store monthly. Others come quarterly or once or twice a year or only when business is down. Their job is to put out coupons or signs drawing attention to their products, make sure we're displaying their items correctly, check expiration dates, report inventory problems, check for price tags, inform us about new products, and answer any questions or concerns we might have.

Today one of my favorite vendors was in. We've been working together, as in an hour once a month, for probably six years or so. While we don't work for the same company or see each other much, she's someone I could imagine myself working with/for. She's extremely conscientious with her work and despite our vast age difference she's not at all condescending or paternalistic like some people I've worked with/for.

I was exceptionally bored today (few customers, no paperwork, no projects, no stocking, everything was clean.....there was NOTHING to do). Since what she was doing wasn't something that I could help with, I hung around while she did her thing. We talked more than normal. It was clear that she was having a bad day, yet she was still professional and friendly. It sounds like she's overworked, although she didn't get into details about whatever's going on with that company. Sharing their issues wouldn't help the situation, so why be all negative about it? This is a lesson that I've mostly learned but am still working on at times.

Last week a different vendor mentioned problems he was having with our main competitor. I started to (wanted to) say something along the lines of, "And you're surprised? That's nothing new, they've always been bad at that," etc. But I bit my tongue. Criticizing Competitor would accomplish nothing. Instead I said, "Yeah? (long pause as I thought).....I'd better not comment on that." He laughed, I laughed, I didn't have to say it because we both knew it......Competitor sucks and we're great. Everyone knows that. There's no reason for me to rub it in or bad-mouth Competitor. They take care of that all by themselves. When customers say something about the poor service or high prices or whatever at Competitor, I say little. "I've heard that." "Hmm."