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!