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Dear Abbey Says The Customer Is Always Right, Even After Hours

Creepy headFrom: RHUer

What do you think about Dear Abby's response to this letter? The original link can be found here. Personally, I thought it was quite rude! Obviously she's never worked retail a day in her life, and it seems like she'd also be a pretty shitty customer.



I have a pet peeve and it's an aggravation I encounter frequently. For some reason, people do not understand hours of business. Our hours are always clearly posted, so please don't knock on the door before the business is open.

My personal irritant has to do with closing time. When the sign says we close at 9 p.m., it means the doors lock at that time. It does not mean that if you can slide in the door 30 seconds before closing that we must stay and serve your needs for however long you are present.

If you can't complete your business at or before closing time, then come back tomorrow or find a business that stays open later. There are still a lot of duties to be finished after the last customer leaves and before we can go home.




Not only was it a long day, it appears to have been a bad one. If it wasn't, you wouldn't have forgotten that the most important thing in running a business is customer service. This sometimes can mean bending the rules.

If you find this too difficult, you can always refuse to open your door early and "remind" anyone who enters just before closing that you lock your door promptly at the posted hour for the reason you stated. Individuals who want more personalized service are, indeed, free to shop at stores with more flexible hours. (And they will.)



With any luck, enough of us will write in to tell her how wrong she is that she'll do one of her infamous "read on"s. :-P


I thought Dear Abby had died!

Also I always thought that closing time basically meant "Get the fuck out of the store by this time!" If you come in 15 minutes before, you better only be in there for 15 minutes or less!

Bored at the Bookstore

This column prompted my first-ever (and last) letter to Dear Abby, because I disagreed so strongly with her response to both letters published that day. I reminded her that retailers are people, too, who have families waiting for them at home NOW, not whenever-the-customer-feels-like-leaving, thankyouverymuch. And that, as the owner, I don't get overtime (or any) pay for staying after hours. Most people who work overtime expect to be paid for it; many retailers don't get paid extra for staying. And, oh yes, that closing the store doesn't mean just shutting off the lights and locking the door - there's cashing out, sweeping, and other duties, maybe even a trip to the restroom for the first time in four or five hours that have to be done before I can leave, which is why I have a half-hour built into the schedule AFTER locking the door for the night. I told her that now that I think of it, the times I've allowed people to stay late, or to come in late, _99%_ of the soi-disant "customers" buy nothing whatsoever after keeping me past closing, thus adding insult to injury.

I also told her about times I have gone above and beyond for customers... staying two hours past closing (and buying pizza) waiting for AAA with a regular who locked her keys, purse, and coat In her car one winter's night; recently, sending my son out on the highway on a dark, cold night with a canister of gas for a stranded customer (who never did pay me back for the gas, BTW).

(Oh, the other response I disagreed with was that a fifteen-year-old would be able to "fit right in" and make new friends without any trouble when the family was uprooted in his freshman year of high school - been there, didn't happen for me; the cliques have all formed by freshman year, believe me. Even those kids who ARE outgoing and "popular" in their home towns have problems fitting in elsewhere - fifteen is a rotten age to move.)

Bored at the Bookstore

BTW - yes, Abby has joined the Great Newspaper Column in the Sky... The column is now written by her daughter, I believe.


Working in retail has changed my attitude on many things. One of my favorite Christmas traditions used to be going to a winter blockbuster, but now I feel too guilty to go to the movies on holidays.

However, even before working in retail I was always taught that closing time meant sorry, but you'll have to come back tomorrow.
Not that it was a wet foot dry foot style rule and if you can find a way to sneak in you're home free! Seriously, at The Baby Store we started completely closing the gate when it was time and then opening it for individual customers already inside after they finished checking out. Why? Because closing it halfway or even 3/4 of the way apparently, to customers, meant crawl inside! I wish I were joking. Why are people such animals?


I ready Abby every week and yes, this caught my eye. I thought about commenting on the site I go to, but left it alone.
No, it's not okay to come in 2 minutes before closing and stay for 20. It is okay to ask if you can grab 1 thing, as long as it's 1 thing and you are quick. I've had to run into (insert drug store name here) late at night for baby Tylenol and there was about 5 minutes until closing. Not only did they grab it for me, but rang me through super quickly and wished my baby well. Awesome customer service that was appreciated!
On the flip side, it is not okay to come to a sit-down restaurant 5 minutes before closing period! Unless you have an emergency, like a sick baby, there is no reason to come to a store with no time to spare and then stick around forever. It is rude.

The Last Archimedean

Complete and utter twaddle. If you're that late, you come back tomorrow.

Some stores I know around here are open 24 hours, so you don't have to worry about closing time. Go to one of them if it's that much of an emergency.


I haven't worked retail in some years now, but I firmly believe, and my managers supported me, that once a customer stays past 10 minutes after closing, they are told to either go to the register now, or leave the store. For those people that need just 1 or 2 items, I'd quiz them first before letting them in, and then walk them over to those items to make sure they don't stray away.

Oh, and I wrote to Dear Abby. Honestly, a lot of her letters in the past few years are just so short, impersonal, and quite honestly, removed from reality, that I gave up on her.


This used to happen all the time when i worked for blockbuster. I told customers that the computers would automaticall start running end of day at 5 after close, and so they either check out by then or go home empty handed. Worked every time.

Ambassador Sparkle

I agree with Abby on a single thing: Sometimes providing customer service means "bending the rules", as it were. I certainly don't mind staying late to help someone once in a while if they're having difficulty. The problem is, it's not a once in awhile thing. It's essentially every day at the store I work at now, and it didn't help my old manager didn't believe in "closing warnings" before we actually closed, and would actually wait 5 or so (once even fifteen minutes!) after the hour to say we're closed.

Her response is one of those things that's correct on paper, but never, ever works out in reality.


I don't mind staying if the custys need help and are reasonable about it, it's the ones who expect it and say things like "I guess they don't want to sell anything, their closing" that bother me. Sorry the 15 hours we were open weren't enough for you


It's illegal to trade outside trading hours. Anyone who wants in our store before opening get's shooed back out if they sneak in before we're ready and told firmly over the phone we won't process a card over the phone before we open.

As for after closing, we get out 30 minutes after the last customer has gone. It's so depressing when the store closes at 6pm and you drag your sweet ass around, ignoring my loud and quite frank pages on the system until 6:20pm. Because yes, I totally enjoy coming home to my tired children at 7pm and then have to cook dinner for them - which will be ready at 8pm.

*sigh* Self entitled git.


and this is also the woman who had no problems a couple of years ago with telling cutomers that it is OK and "normal" to seriously violate a retail workers personal space, person and body. by this I mean it is OK to get as close as possible to a retail worker, grab them by the arm, yank their hair, punch them to get their attention, etc.

This woman also advocated that clearly marked guide/service animals MUST be left unmolested as they are doing their jobs out in public.

So logically she says that guide/service animals are higher on the food chain than retail workers.

Larry Berry

"and "remind" anyone who enters just before closing that you lock your door promptly at the posted hour"

Ah yes, I remember that. 10 minutes before close, we would switch to bagging all orders, they were free to eat in store for those last 10 minutes, but we had taken all the dirty trays to be washed, and so there would be no more trays to pick up and wash.

5 minutes before close. "Just to let you know, we will be closing in 5 minutes and will be locking the doors and everyone needs to leave at that time". "that's fine" *Place order, take money, start bagging food* "Oh that was for here". "Yes, but since we close in 5 minutes we bag all orders, so we don't have extra trays to clean, and the customers have a bag for any food they haven't finished in the next 5 minutes, when we close". "Oh, okay"....... 5 minutes later start locking the doors and telling the remaining customers they need to leave. "What? You're closing? But we aren't done eating yet"..... (gee we only told you three times).


Clearly the daughter or whoever is writing the Dear Abby column now has never worked in retail or she would have never left such an idiotic response.


Racket_Man, Did Dear Abby really advise to punch or pull hair to get someone's attention? I don't mind a light tap on the arm or shoulder, but punch? That is insane.

Cashier slave

This is just so aggravating. I hate when customers come in even 20 minutes before close (I work in a grocery store, and for some reason those customers are never there for one or two things, they have to do their full week's (and sometimes several carts full) of grocery shopping.) For some reason we'll be standing around with nothing to do for two hours, and then within that last half hour everyone and their grandmother has to come in, when we're down to just one cashier. It would be fine if it was just checking people out and leaving, but I also have to clean the tills, do all the garbages,put away all the items the customers have decided they don't want at the till (or squirreled away in front of/beside the til instead of just telling me) and count the final tills before I can leave--and I have to do all of this within fifteen minutes. If we close at 10, I have to be gone by 10:15. If I'm not I get reamed out like I killed the managers puppy. I might be more open to helping customers after hours if I had the half hour some people get, but I don't, so when I announce that we're closing in five minutes, it means "get up here now and gtfo because I have to cram thirty minutes of work in fifteen if I want to avoid getting written up. Again."It's not even like I can really prep before hand, when soem nights the other cashier leaves at 8:30 and I'm at the front by myself. I can't run off and do put aways, and serve customers at the same time. I may be amazing at what I do (which is why I routinely get shafted by closing by myself because "you can handle it") but I'm not that good.


The lights in my store are on timers that are not actually located in our store. You would think it would hustle people to the registers when the managers announce closing twice before the final "We're closed now" announcement... but no. No, I've had people shopping in the dark.


@cashier Slave, When I worked for Subway it was the same thing, If I was not out 30 minutes after we closed then I got written up. It did not matter how many people I had in the store at closing time. I think we should all write her about this practice.

cashier slave

I wish I had the 30 minutes. I don't even get that.

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