Straight from the other side of the counter: The Seven Habits of Highly Annoying Customers

Sports & Leisure Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise

Let’s get one thing straight – it’s rare for someone to desire a career in retail. It’s a business you fall into for a variety of reasons (continued summer work, desired schedule flexibility, quick employment, etc.). The joys of the job come from camaraderie with the people you work with, associate discounts and getting cut early on nights you’re supposed to close. The bottom line is it’s tough work. So to all the customers out there, here is the quick and dirty etiquette lesson.

Quick aside: My retail credentials come entirely from summer work at The Gap and Dick’s Sporting Goods. I’ve also never formally been exposed to efficient or successful training methods in retail (well, that I was consciously paying attention to) but one of my bosses swore by Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Seven habits are a lot to remember though so I’ve consolidated to three.

1. Let me ask about the Shoppers’ Club Card (and other polite interactions with cashiers)

Cashiers get evaluated based on some ridiculous things they have little or no control over like average total sale or speed of transactions. Yes, it’s true there are perks if you can sell a lot of store credit cards or warranties (an extra 75 cents after taxes) but there is also a gigantic hassle associated with those advances (so it’s typically done only when the watchful eyes of a manager are near). The shoppers’ club card on the other hand is a total mutual symbiotic relationship. The customer gets free coupons, savings and potential gift certificates if they earn enough reward points. The cashier gets the manager off his/her back for a little while and presents the appearance that he/she really cares about being successful in his/her job. Therefore I understand if you already have one, left it at home or don’t want to hold up the line, but at least let me get the question out before blurting out a cold, blunt “not interested.”

(Related: Respond when a cashier asks, ‘how are you?’ or ‘did you find everything OK?/ Don’t laugh or give some sarcastic answer when asked “Would you like a bag?” (some people and countries really care about the environment) / Hang up your cell phone and leave the bluetooth at home when checking out)

2. Understand UPC codes (and other ways to make your checkout quick and efficient)

You don’t need to be able to translate the random combination of digits, that’s what the computer is for. You just need to make sure the product you want to buy has one. Sometimes stock workers have typical retail levels of motivation and a product is left untagged. In these situations you can still buy it – just bring an additional entity of the same product to check out with you. It saves the cashier the hassle of calling back for a UPC and also the hassle of listening to a customer complain about how long that process takes.

(Related: Remove all hangers when waiting in line unless you want to keep them / These security tags take time to get off / They make those check cards for a reason)

3. Just ask and you can use the coupons (and other miscellaneous things to know about cashiers)

You can get coupons online, in the mail, sometimes in-store and always in the Sunday paper. Cashiers aren’t always aware of all the various coupons that aren’t expired and truth be told that doesn’t matter. We’re trying to use as many as we can for you so please don’t get upset if you can’t get three coupons going for a total of 70 percent off on a pair of Under Armor compression shorts. Certain items have distributor codes on them that prevent discounts from being taken off in the store system. If it’s possible to enter your coupon in the computer (regardless of expiration dates or coupon limits – unless manager watchful eyes are near) you’ll get the best deal you can from most cashiers.

(Related: We’re not trained to fold clothes and totally won’t if the line is long or it’s late in a shift / Be aware of what lines are actually open and use all of them / In general, if you have a question or complaint it’s useless to voice it to us. Ask for the manager or utilize the floor specialists)

Thanks for shopping with us today.

(Links today from Wikipedia, YouTube and BBC Online.)

Tell Nate to quit whining and do the work he’s getting paid to do. Seriously, e-mail him.


Filed under Essays, Sports & Leisure

3 responses to “Straight from the other side of the counter: The Seven Habits of Highly Annoying Customers

  1. Good advice. Thanks for the read!

  2. Dave Arey

    Nate —

    I’ve spent the last few months working at Target. I can certainly relate, and could probably add a couple hundred points to your list if I weren’t physically exhausted right now.

    I’m digging the blog, by the way. I especially like how much of it is original content — so many blogs from SU kids just seem to be regurgitated news.


  3. Very creatively written. As a customer I cannot help but annoy those who work the cash registers – whenever, that is, I pull out my bundle of coupons. They positively squirm, and I feel embarrassed sometimes. But hey – I’m just trying to save.

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