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.