Joe: Fun and Games At The Gord
The End of Fitting Rooms?

Retail Death: Name Tag Abuse


From Retail Death webcomic creator, Austin:

When you've worked in retail for a long time, everything a customer does pisses you off. Whether it's one of their many annoying tendencies or something completely innocent. And I recognize that my veteran status has made me far quicker to wageslave rage than many others. But I am sure I can't be alone in my profound annoyance with customers who look at my name tag and use drop my name into their dealings with me.

Here's the thing. Customers don't wear name tags, and very few will be forthcoming with their personal nomenclature. They, on the other hand, know your name, because your retail slave masters force you to wear it on your shirt. Maybe a customer occasionally uses your name to be polite. But -- not to be paranoid here -- most of the time? It's a power play. It's, "I get to know your name, and wield it as a symbol of my power in these proceedings. You, on the other hand, shall never know my name!"

Imagine that you are at a party. Someone wants to know your name. How do they find it out? You likely expect an exchange like this:

Person: "Hi, I'm Jim."

You: "Hi Jim, I'm Austin."

Jim: "Nice to meet you."

In retail, however, it's more often:

Custy: "Hey..." (custy eyes name badge) "...JIM. Where's the pencils."

But what bothers me more is when they try to use it like we're friends. I used to have regulars at my old store who all knew my name. Some recommended me by it, some filed complaints by it, it really depends on what day they caught me initially. But they would always use it when we interacted. I, on the other hand, might have recognized them from the store, but had no idea who they were. So afterward, they could just disappear again, anonymous and secure.

And it's the anonymity that really appeals to most of them, I think. I have an old saying I live by, paraphrased from the Matrix (sorta): "If you're an asshole in a store, you're an asshole in real life." People seem to think it doesn't count when you're a customer...that it's part of some game that only they're playing to argue with and jerk around the staff at a store. Now if I know this customer is Susie Johnson, I can tell all my fellow associates, friends, and family, that Susie Johnson is a douche. But if I don't know who she is, well, word that "that mean ass blonde lady with the dog" is a douche isn't exactly going to work in the grapevine.

In comic related news, you will surely realize that this comic is the same drawing as one used last week. Well, I have had a hell of a time at work this week, staying late, going in early, and tonight -- my normal drawing night -- has been interrupted by a visit from my parents. Tomorrow I have to go see a friend I haven't seen in months. So I'm booked. When I made the other comic, however, I'd had two ideas, and realized the same drawing worked for both. So I made an "A" and "B" version, and ended up posting B. So this week you get A. And don't get me any C about it either ;)

-- Austin

To see more Retail Death CLICK HERE




This is so true! I always felt like it was a power thing and that I am lower status than the customer. I know some customers are trying to be nice and make my day better but some people definitely intimidate me when they say my name!

Self Scan Queen

I hate it when people use my name like they know me. You don't know me. You don't want to know, so stop talking to me like you're my best friend. When I hand you the receipt, it's likely I will never see you again (I work at a big store in a rapidly growing part of town). SO STOP.


Oh, Flying Spaghetti Monster do I know this feeling.

This is part of the reason that I only use my middle initial on my RetailHellHole nametag.

The only person who, these days, calls me by that is my ex-wife, so I don't mind if the fuck-nuts at work use it. By calling me by that name they are basically saying "I Hate You", and so it's obvious that the relationship is mutual.

Ok, there are a few Custys here and there that I don't want to put to the Fork-Stabbity-Death test, but not many.


I have an unusual name so at least 3-4 times a day I get the "Oh your name is so original...who did you parent's come up with it?" type schpiel. Occasionally I don't mind cause I think how they got my name was kinda neat....but most of the time it's one of those things were they want me to get them rung up and outa the store in 30 seconds flat without bothering them...yet they have time to pester me with idle questions.


Without fail if the person asks for my name I know their going to be a dick.
*ring ring*
"Thanks for calling BOOKSTORE in PLACE, this is MYNAME, how can I help you?"
"What did you say your name is?"
My entire brain stops because I know their going to be a belligerent son of a bitch. There's one crazy though who isn't getting my name to complain, he's just fucking nuts and launches into a tale about how he's writing this book and he knew a "NAMEHERE" once. I'm tempted to start answering the phone with "This is Princess Peach!" Spritzy, I also have a very unusual name and I've never really minded peoples curiosity about it in the work place. It's people who can't pronounce my name(because while still unusual is pretty much pronounced phonetically) that annoy the shit out of me.

The company I work for also decided about ten months ago that we needed to introduce ourselves to the customer and give them my name. They don't seem to comprehend that no one gives a flying fuck what my name is, and I don't want them to have it. Yes, it's on my name tag. But customers either don't or can't fucking read. So I'm less worried about the tag hanging from my neck than walking up to someone and going "Hi I'm Princess Peach, what can I help you find today?"

Burger Bitch

My cat got to my original name tag about half a year ago, so my assistant manager made me another one with the nickname I get at work.
Which is fine and about 50% of the customers look at it and say "That's not your real name! Silly."

Then the other half are retarded:
"Oh my God, is that your REAL name? I'm so sorry."
"Uuh. You're a girl, Why do you have a guys name?"

And the people who actually believe it is amazing.
"Thanks, -Guys name-!"
I actually got a comment about me with the name xD

Costco's Bitch

I always hate that people call me by my name tag, especially since it's my full name, not the nickname everyone I know calls me. On the plus side, I work at Costco. So their membership cards will have their FULL names on it. :) So there's no such thing as anonymous shoppers here, except for the bitches guests.

Rollercoaster Slave

people can never pronounce my name for some damn reason -_- it's an easy ass name, but people just seem to fail. I feel bad for one of my coworkers who has a Russian name that is like 10 letters long, not even managers can figure out the pronunciation by themselves


Just because I'm forced to wear a name tag doesn't mean I want people to call me by my name. If a customer asks I'll tell them, but when someone looks at my name tag and just starts using it I can't help but feel that I did something wrong and they're going to use my name to get me in trouble or something...


I always want to attempt to be friendly and use the cashiers name..
But I know they'd hate me if I did it, hells I'd tell you my name if you cared. :P


LOL I totally stopped wearing mine. I was sick at the pervs oogling my chest saying they were "just trying to read my name tag" *eyeroll* whatev....Because the important/cool regulars customers know my name already. Douchy non-regs need not apply to know my name :3
A co-worker of mine also had this issue, a pervy cab driver was trying to look at her name tag when she was off of work and tried to "offer" her a free ride home. Not cool...we knew what his intentions were, he kept trying to rub up against her in line and ask her all of these personal questions. Until I interviened and said "NOPE! I'm giving her a ride home today THANK YOU!" *GLARE* >_>


When I worked at the pet store years ago, we finally got name tags, but our boss told us we didn't have to put our real names on it if we didn't want to. Especially our last names. Apparently, a cashier that worked there previously had been stalked and the "customer" got her name off the tag.

While my name is unusual, even if I correct people most times, they still mispronounce it. When I first met my ex, he called me by a similar name for 2 weeks until I finally corrected him. "Listen, if we are going to have any kind of relationship, you're going to have to get my name right!"


I guess most of the time I don't care if customers call me by my name. It's foreign, but not weird, and a lot of ppl comment on how pretty it is (one time a lady actually wrote it down as a possible baby name--I thought it was kinda cool). Many times after I'm done helping a custy, they would make a point of reading my nametag--that's when I know they liked the service and will probably ask for me next time (or compliment me to a manager--rare). If I really liked a custy I'd ask them for their name. And I do work in a big box store--isn't it weird?


PS: it's not Sierra :)

Sub Shop Slut

I prefer when people call me by my name. I'd rather hear "Hi Chris, can you help me find this blouse?" than "Hey you" or "Excuse me Miss" or "Hello, Ma'am?" Ma'am ESPECIALLY bothers me, because i'm only 19 and the people who call me that are like 40+.

Hellbound Alleee

I liked it when people called me "Madame" or "Mademoiselle" in Quebec.

Ma'am really doesn't mean "old person." It's a title of respect. Nothing more, nothing less. And I would prefer it to my name, which is very familiar. Unfortunately, "familiarity" is the way we do things at my company. I'm wearing a t-shirt, for goodness' sake, and it's probably covered in truck grime. I'm wearing a 3 year-old threadbare apron. My hair is probably in my face. But, "Bob" damnit, I STILL deserve to be called "Ma'am." After hauling air conditioners onto the top shelf and putting up several wooden bookcases, you better believe I deserve to be called "Ma'am." Or even "Mrs. Randall," in that case.

Maybe that's what I'll put on my nametag next time (since mine has gone through the wash). Or maybe I'll even go so far as to put "Mrs. Tremblay" on it (my husband's name). Because that's not my name. Neither of us saw any benefit to me to go through the hassle of changing a name that has served me well for 37 years. A name that people around here can't pronounce, and a name I simply never go by. That way I can complete the sham that is my Dayjob.


I totally agree. I try to get away with not wearing mine as much as possible. If you want/need to know my name all you have to do is ask. I especially dont like to wear mine because I work in a kiosk right in the busiest part of the mall. Along with bus stations and parks, malls tend to attract all the wierd ones and i seem to be a magnet.


Just for us retail slaves... we need to have these made and delivered in bulk!


I have to wear a name tag too, oh the wretched name tags! and at the hotel people use it against you when writing into the managers if something went wrong during their stay, even if you only saw them for like 2 seconds. :/
I just tend to wear my hair down and cover the name tag so unless they ask, the guests won't know my name :)


I know my customers' names because I have to take credit card numbers for payment. My name appears on the proofs that get faxed or emailed; I hate that. What's really weird is that my actual name is really very simple, yet over the years I've had customers call me by lots of other girl's names, some of which don't even sound anything like my name. I used to keep a list of every new one that came up; I think it went to over 30 before I got bored with it.

Grocery Slave

I don't mind as long as it's a customer I like and I've had multiple times. Where I work I can ring up 8-75 customers an hour... so often times you don't WANT to be a customer I remember. But there is this one guy that comes in every Friday and Saturday night and we tend to have interesting conversations.

Grocery Slave

@ Mimi:
Better than getting all kinds of names. Like Andy, Andrew, Amanda, Allison, Amy, Danny, bro, dude, sir, ma'am, miss, little lady, cutie, darling, sweetie, hun, babe... the list goes on... personally... I don't mind the ones who think I'm a guy as much as the ones who call me babe... I'm gay and rather androgynous so I really don't mind the gender issue.

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