How To Be a Good Customer

Written during my servitude as a retail slave. Thank goodness I am no longer in that position as of this writing, but everything here is from the pen of One Who Knows . . . all too well.

I deal with a lot of people who come very close to provoking me to commit violent acts. And it struck me: People just do not know how to behave! They are immature, rude, or too demanding, and they just don't know how to treat a fellow person just because said person is wearing an apron and nametag. News for those folks: We in the retail world are much less likely to do everything in our power to help you if you are a jerk. Come up prepared, civil, and without unrealistic expectations, and we will usually be happy to help you (unless the particular associates you talk to have an attitude problem; then it's them who needs a spanking).

Here I am going to outline for you a guide to being a good customer. This way, our interaction will be pleasant, you can get what you want, and I will not want to put you in the hospital. You also are guaranteed not to show up on my Work Log if you follow these instructions (and trust me, you do not want to end up in that Hall of Shame). These outlines were derived from my experience working in my bookstore, but most can be generalized to retail and customer interactions in general.

At the register

The stellar register customer:

This is not so very difficult, so it surprises me that so few people can follow these steps. I could make a "do and do not" list, but any "do" can be turned into a "do not" and vice versa, so let's just call this the "DO NOT" list.

Register DO-NOTs

At Customer Service or in the store

The stellar customer in need of service:

Question-asking DO NOTs

Shopping in the store

The stellar shopper:

Shopping DO NOTs

This concludes the tutorial on how to be a good customer. Perhaps now you will be able to come to my bookstore without having your head ripped off or ending up on the Page of Badness. Happy shopping!

Any comments left here are PUBLIC. If you are not comfortable with that, mail me directly.

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Comments from others:

Mikey: This is great I think that this should be mandatory for everyone to read so they can figure out how not to be an ass at other people's expense and time (awesome).

Estil: I'm a local cashier at Kroger and I know exactly what you're talking about. In fact, I think the experience there and lists like this one has made me a much better customer than in the past. If I may add one more DO NOT:

DO NOT interrupt a cashier or employee while they are ringing up another order or helping someone else. WAIT UNTIL IT'S YOUR TURN. Please :)

I too also hate it when people play with the wheelchairs, because I think it makes a mockery of disabled/elderly people who really need them.

Ray: Having worked in quite a few retail customer service jobs, I agree with your list 110%. I think it's sad that many people cannot treat customer service employees like, well, other people, and I think it's doubly-sad that such a list has to be drawn up.

If I may, I'd like to add one for the list:

DO NOT allow your infant child to run around the store when they are supposed to be in the child seat of the cart. News flash - those seats are there to keep your child from running around like a crazed loon and bashing their head into other customers or shelves.

Also, DO NOT get upset when your errant child runs into someone and that person gives you a dirty look. Had you been doing your job as parent/guardian, that incident would not have happened. Customers go to stores to shop, not avoid collisions with pre-adolescent brats.

Heather: Well, if I can also add to the list... I have a few. To give some background I've worked in a chicken shop doing customer service and cooking demos, and in an electrical repair/sales/parts store.

DO NOT allow any child under the age of ten to wander the store. Some things in here are breakable.

DO NOT allow your children to play in the toy cars. They have just been fixed and are awaiting a courier to pick them up. You will be responsible for any damage caused.

DO NOT blame your mistakes on poor products. If you buy chicken and allow it to be kept in a hot car with no protection throughout the rest of your day of shopping it WILL go off. The same goes if you attempt to defrost it on the sink draining rack. Furthermore:

DO NOT shove your foul-smelling off chicken into the shop assistant's face.

DO NOT insist on weights being exact to the gram. Chicken does not come in standard 100g portions.

DO NOT assume that we can repair anything broken down inside its warantee period. You have to have an agency to do that.

DO NOT blame us for the price of the goods. We didn't price them. Furthermore, complaning about prices will not lower them, nor will making sideways comments about being poor. Selling at cost price is not possible.

DO NOT expect us to send out an electrician to do illegal electrical work just because you want it done. The customer, sorry, can be wrong.

DO NOT take cooking samples by the dozen, nor ask us to package them free for your dinner.

I could go on for hours.

Kat: I work in a hardware store, and I've got a few of my own as well...
DO NOT assume I'm incompetent because I lack a Y chromosome.
DO NOT haggle with me over a $2 purchase, and for chrissake's, don't follow it up by asking if I can break a hundred at 9 in the morning...
DO NOT patronize the girl holding a sledgehammer.
DO NOT hit on me. I'm here because they pay me to be here, not for the social scene. You'd think the wedding ring would tip people off that I'm not here for the dating scene either, right? This is not so.
DO NOT come in and ask for "blue plastic thingies". I will proceed to show you everything in the store that is, or might ever be small, blue or plastic. It will take a long time.
And finally. if your key has "Do Not Duplicate" in GREAT BIG LETTERS on it, DO NOT ask me to make a copy. I will run your fingers under the steel blade until it occurs to you that "duplicate" means "copy". This will also take a long time.
Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one that wants customers to behave like civil human beings, and thanks for letting me rant!