I have worked in retail (same store) for ten years. Every year the customers seem to get worse, especially (obviously!) at Christmas. So, I've taken to venting with a nice letter. Here is Christmas' offering...
Dear Christmas Shoppers...
So. We meet again. I am vastly amused by the fact that you haven't been to the mall since this time last year. Just like the other 200+ people who have told me exactly the same tale.
You are also easily the 100+ person to say "I can't believe how busy it is!"...WHY precisely can you not believe, in the middle of December, that a 200+ store shopping center is busy? What, did you think you were the only person who woke up this morning and thought "Hey, nearly Christmas, better go shopping?"
A "hello", "excuse me" or even a polite cough is a nice way to announce your presence, should you feel it necessary to do so. Walking in and declaring "Keyboard books! ...." is not. Do you walk into a supermarket and yell "Beans!" and just expect to be led to the correct aisle?! Actually, you probably do. @$$.
Being a lowly shop assistant, I have no responsibility over the plumbing. I realise that the toilets opposite our unit were closed for a whole 2.5 days. You think it's inconvenient for you as you pass through? Try spending 8-12hrs here in one go. However, I read the sign outside. I realise that you were too lazy to walk all that way, and it was quicker to nip into my shop/shout over the cabinet from outside, but had you bothered to walk an extra 20 paces, the sign would have also told you where the nearest working facilities were, ie, up one escalator, about 200ft away.
An important shop assistant calculation should be noted here. I'll even illustrate it for you:
For example, if you politely enquire where the nearest toilets are, I will tell you to head up the escalator and turn right. If you storm in, loudly demand "What's up with them, then?" and then proceed to loudly complain and demand directions as if I personally broke the toilets, I WILL direct you on a 10 minute walk to the furthest toilets in the centre.
If you have a perfectly good copy of a book in your hand, don't ask me for another because "it's a gift, this one's been flicked through." I put the book out minutes before you arrived. The flicker in question was YOU. I also will not discount the book for the same reason. I will order you another copy in, if you feel the one in your hand is not satisfactory. It will be exactly the same, but what the hell. It means that you have to make another trip to shopping hell, so if you really want to do that, even closer to Christmas, who am I to argue?!
Customer: "Do you have another copy of this book?"
Me: "No we haven't, what seems to be the problem with that one?"
Customer: "Well, it's been out. It's for a gift, I want a perfect copy. They have to have a perfect copy if it's for a gift."
Me: "No we don't seem to have another. I can order a new copy in for you?"
Customer: "Can't I just have a discount on this one? I'll take it if you reduce it."
I'm sure your precious relative would be overjoyed to know that you will sacrifice their perfection requirements for a 50p discount.
Whilst we're talking about your relatives...they are precisely that: YOUR relatives. I don't know your sister-in-law/child/father/Aunt/second-cousin's adopted Ugandan orphan, or whoever else you are shopping for. I don't know if they would use a plectrum keyring, or a music-themed notepad. I don't know if they would wear treble clef patterned socks, heck, I don't actually know if they even have both feet.* Asking me these questions is pointless, and wastes both of our time.
Telling me their age is about as useful as telling me their shoe size when it comes to "helping" you to choose a music book. Essentially without knowing what instrument they play and having a vague notion of what musical genres they like, I can't help you. Some 15 year old boys like Metallica, some like Mozart, some like Michael Buble. I don't know which catagory yours falls into. You really should know, or at least ask someone who does.
I also cannot find the book they have asked for without a title or band. Asking me for "...a yellow one" does not help. I cannot search our database by colour of cover. Getting irritated with me will not help to ease your stupidity, nor will repeating "It's yellow!" in louder and louder tones. In fact, repeating anything at me in louder and louder tones will not help. Just because you have a name for something, it does not mean that I use that name, or understand what you are talking about, especially if the name is a word you have made up. Charades do not always help. You can stop miming now.
Bands these days have stupid names. I realise this. You don't need to call me over and tell me each time you find a stupidly named band. When it is mid-November and the shop is heaving I have neither the time nor the inclination to stand at the T-shirt rack and give you a history and back catalogue of every band featured therein, from Cannibal Corpse to Thin Lizzy and all genres in between. If the person you're buying for hasn't expressed a liking for thrashing death metal, buying a random T-shirt with a design that would scare small children is probably not the best idea.
Nor can I "sing a bit of one of their songs" for you to help you make up your mind. It sounds like a drumkit falling downstairs whilst a bear throws up. Does that help? May I also remind you once again that I have never met the person you are shopping for. Thus asking "Would the large fit him, do you think, or would medium be better?" is pointless. Maybe bringing in a recent photo of him standing next to something of regulation size, like a post box for example (as people who are selling things on eBay take a photo next to a coin or a ruler to give some idea of size), would enable me to contribute to the Great Size Debate.
"It's all noise to me!" isn't funny or helpful the first time you hear it. You were not the first.
* Speaking of missing limbs, you cannot phone up and ask me "do you sell anything that will help a person with one arm play the violin?" and not expect follow-up questions, such as "Which arm are they missing?" I am not being funny, nor am I asking out of morbid curiosity. I am attempting to help you. You were the one who phoned me with the stupid question in the first place.
This should be obvious. It appears not to be. If the person you love just HAS to have the most popular book of the year, don't wait until three/two/ONE day before Christmas, and then be outraged/upset/shocked that we don't have it. Ditto the fact that we cannot, at 9pm on December 23rd, order a copy in just for you. Don't tell me Amazon could get you one. If they can, by all means order one when you get home. But they can't. Like our suppliers, Amazon does not whisk books to you via teleporter in the wink of an eye.
And, about the whole online thing. Of course you can buy whatever we have cheaper online elsewhere. Online doesn't have to staff 13hrs per day. It doesn't have to pay extortionate rents. We do. We don't price-match. You don't need to queue up especially to tell me that you've seen the item in your hand cheaper online, and then leave said item on the counter for me to put away.
If you come into the shop and tell me that "I'd like to try that guitar. I'm not going to buy it here, I've seen it cheaper online but I want to try one before I order it."
Then I WILL say no. Go ahead, call me a bitch. E-mail the internet retailer, and ask to try theirs. You can't? They don't do that? Well there's one reason it's cheaper then. They don't have to pay a member of staff to humour assholes like you who ask to try stuff they tell me they're going to buy somewhere else. And, might I add, DUH.
You do not qualify for a discount for:
- Having the nerve to ask.
- Buying a book/guitar/uke that's "been on display".
- Being old.
- Claiming to know my boss, but not knowing her name or, in fact, that she is a woman.
- Because it's Christmas Eve.
- Because a book is a gift.
- Being less annoying than the customer in front of you.
- Buying more than one item.
- Being Irish.
- Having a cute baby.
Babies...Don't expect me to watch your children. You spawn it, you watch it. We are not a creche. Unattended children will be sold to the circus. You will not be recompensed. If I peek into your push chair I assure you it's only out of mild curiosity, not an offer to babysit, nor do I need to know their sleeping regime, when/what they last ate, or if they need changing. To be honest, I'm probably just looking in case you have something freaky-looking in there so that I can alert the rest of the staff to go and have a look. At such times of high stress we're grateful for a giggle. Also, the freaky-looking ones fetch the best prices at the circus.
Don't tell me that your little darling who is wrecking my shop "...has ADHD, he can't help it..." What he has is a massive bag of sweets in one hand, and a bottle of fizzy orange pop in the other. That many E-numbers would make a sloth hyperactive. If you're not going to tell them off for swinging off £300+ instruments, rest assured that I will. Would you rather I discipline your child, or charge you £300+ for the damage they do? Because it's one or the other.
Before asking the question, "Are you busy?" please take a moment to actually LOOK AT ME and make an informed decision as to whether your question is necessary. Chances are if I am up a ladder, have a 20W amplifier under each arm, am mid-conversation with a customer, on the telephone, processing a credit card transaction, or with a sales rep, then yes, I AM busy. Heaven help you, you might just have to queue with everyone else.
We open 9am-10pm. SELECTED stores are open until 12am. We are not a selected store. We close at 10pm. You can find this information out online, over the phone, or by asking. Don't find out by wandering into the shop for a browse at 9:57pm and getting pissed when we politely ask you if we can help you find anything, as we close in three minutes. We are not going to change our policy because you would like to wait in our shop for your wife who's in the baby clothes shop opposite. Also, if you have been in our shop repeatedly during my 12hr shift and haven't bought the three plectrums you desperately need, don't come in at 9:57pm and expect me to be overjoyed to see you. If 13hrs are not enough for you to do your shopping, perhaps you should consider the wonderful world of 24hr online shopping, and leave me the hell alone.
You want an item. We have ordered aforementioned item for you, promised to phone you when it arrives, and given you an approximate date for delivery, which is still a week away. There is no need to phone up on an hourly basis to see if your item has arrived, and attempt to keep us on the phone for at least ten minutes each time. You ordered it yesterday. We said a week. Hence, it is not here today. No, I will not "phone around them all and see who has it" because I don't know which Courier service the supplier uses. I will not phone the supplier to find out who they shipped it with, because it is literally one of a million items they have shipped. I realise that "It's his main present!" I also realise that "he" is your 50 year old father, and that I am not toying with the seasonal happiness of a small child by refusing to waste my day chasing your item which WILL (and did) arrive before Christmas. I am, however, more and more tempted with each phone call to donate your item to charity the second it arrives, just to teach you a lesson in patience.
Don't ask me if I think you are/your question is stupid. It's the 2Xth of December. Honesty may outweigh politeness at this stage. Politeness is actually very important. Hence I politely request that you remove your iPod headphones (*gasp* BOTH of them) before attempting to have a conversation with me. Don't leave both headphones in and repeatedly yell "PARDON?!" at me.
On the subject of manners: phones. Quick rule of thumb:
If it would be inappropriate to take out a newspaper and begin to do the crossword, it is inappropriate to get out and begin using your phone.
I.e., if I am mid-sentence, do not answer your phone without saying "excuse me" and have a 10min conversation about so-and-so's drunken antics the night before whilst expecting me to wait for you to finish instead of serving other people. Don't come to the counter to purchase something mid-pointless-conversation. Don't talk about me to the person on the other end of the phone during pointless conversation. Yes, "the shop girl" is glaring at you.
There is a reason for that. Hang up your phone, and I might tell you what it is. I shouldn't need to tell you the reason why you shouldn't be wandering around a shopping center holding your iPhone in your hand, but talking on a hands-free earpiece. The reason is that you look like a) a total douchebag, and b) a crazy person who is talking to themselves. I also shouldn't need to tell you why attempting to serve someone whilst they are talking to someone else on a hands-free earpiece is never going to be a pleasant experience for anyone, but here goes...I CAN'T TELL WHICH ONE OF US YOU ARE TALKING TO. You are looking at me all the time. You are talking to both me, and the person in your ear. There are many and varied reasons why one, both or indeed all three of us are going to end up pissed off in this scenario.
Bear in mind, when you storm into my shop in the couple of days before Christmas, brandishing your attitude problem like an offensive weapon, that I have the items that your children are demanding. In effect, I stand between you and a peaceful Merry Christmas. I have what you need. Even Amazon cannot help you now. Therefore it is in your best interests to BE NICE. Then I am nice, and you have half a chance that your children will be placated and in turn, nice.
Merry Freakin' Christmas.
--UK Music Store Slave