I recently left my job working in a shop, after just 89 days.
And I suspect anyone who has worked in a shop has at least shared my frame of mind at least once…
Working in retail isn’t really that bad. Your fellow sales assistants make it bearable. The main thing that makes working in a shop an experience that fills you with dread, is the customers.
Shops would run a lot better if people just didn’t come in.
I understand that you need customers to make the money, but they’re tedious. And for me, they ruined my retail experience…
Here are 89 reasons:
- There are two types of people. There are those who give a sarcastic comment or look at you like you’re a moron when you ask if they want a bag for the one item they’re purchasing. Obviously, they need a bag.
- And the other type of person will have spent hundreds of pounds in store. Then you ask if they want some carrier bags, and they proceed to give you a lecture on being environmentally friendly. Obviously, they don’t want bags; they even save water by only washing every lunar eclipse. Instead, they’re going to make a stand and struggle.
- The Government has since enforced the 5p charge for carrier bags. However, there are still two types of people. Those who will lecture you while you scan their items, about how it’s an amazing thing that we now charge for bags. It should cut carrier bag usage by 75%, you know?
- And of course, there are those who will assume they’re exempt from the rule. They shouldn’t have to pay 5p for a bag when they’ve just spent all that money. It’s at that point, you should remind them that they obviously hate charity then…
- Smile. Always smile. Never let a customer think, even for a second, that you’re fed up of working here. My cheeks have never had such a workout before.
- You’re not allowed to roll your eyes at being asked a stupid question. Again.
‘Yes, this double duvet set does have two pillow cases… Because it’s designed for two people madam…’
- Customers never seem to believe you. You always have to prove your right.
- You get asked where things are when you stood right in front of them.
- The question you get asked most is ‘Where are the toilets?’… Even when you’re stood next to the toilet door.
- ‘Do you work here?’ What gave it away? The uniform? Badge? The fact I’m restocking? Or perhaps the depressed expression on my face?
- When someone asks if you have any more of something in stock, it’s just easier to go into the warehouse, walk through and back out again, and say no. Again, they only believe you if you’ve proved it.
- And people seem to think your job is to be their personal shopper. It’s not.
- Your role is half shop assistant, half mule. You seem to always be fetching and carrying.
- The really heavy stuff, you lift by yourself as well.
- You get little gratitude for helping customers. I’ve carried furniture to cars with nothing as much as a thank you. However, I did once get a handshake.
- You have to remember to not joke. For some reason, customers never have a sense of humour.
- They like to always point out when something isn’t right, like kids at school running to the dinner ladies. ‘Just to let you know…’
- People smell.
Customer Service Feedback
- And the purpose of everything you do is to get good customer service feedback, for yourself and the store.
- Which is annoying when only a very small percentage actually fill out the survey.
- Most of the people who can be bothered are doing so because they want to moan about something.
- So predictably, you get more negative than positive feedback. And you’re hung up for it.
When Customers Aren’t Happy
- When they disagree with company policies, it’s always ‘a sign of what’s wrong with modern society’.
- ‘Homebase would let me take lampshades down from the display’. Well, go back there then…
- They always want to talk to the manager. And when the manager says exactly the same as you, they accept it. Remember what I said about customers never believing you? Well, you’re only an employee.
- And sometimes the manager will overrule what you said while you’re stood there. The smug look that consumes the customer’s face will haunt me forever.
- Or other times, a customer will just shout at you. In your face. Before walking off and making a scene.
- Of course, you can’t argue back. So you have to muster up as much effort as possible to keep your mouth shut.
My Job As A Cleaner
- I stand by what I said earlier. Shops are better places to work without customers. It’s because they make such a mess.
- They get things off displays and shelves. Look at them. And put them elsewhere.
- All you do is put things back where they were supposed to be.
- Plus they open everything. For some reason, you can’t judge a pair of curtains by the accurate picture, description, and measurements on the packaging.
- So you have to learn how to repackage everything. And it’s hard.
- And chances are, just as you’ve finished tidying an aisle, there is someone behind you ruining it again.
- Worse of all, they even do it in front you. They might as well whisper ‘Clean it up, bitch’, as they walk off.
- The best time to work in a shop is the hour after it closes and you have to tidy up. You know customers won’t make it a mess again until the next day.
- I had forgotten what a weekend was.
- And since I left, I’ve had to carefully ingratiate myself back into society, like an ex-convict.
- You attitude to Sunday opening hours is changed forever. I used to shop any day of the week regardless. Now, I don’t enjoy Sunday shopping trips. I just feel guilty.
- The same amount of people work, regardless of whether the shop is busy or not.
- So when it’s quiet, you’re all stood around, twiddling your thumbs and trying to look busy in case someone see’s you.
- And when it’s busy, you’re not allowed to show any signs of fatigue.
- You start to question why shops have to be open for so long, every day of the week. Who is really buying a bathmat in the evening?
- Apparently, you don’t need to sit down if you work just five hours or less.
- My feet always used to hurt after hours of walking laps around the shop.
On The Tills
- For some reason, people only decide they no longer want something until after you’ve scanned it. Now they have to wait while you get someone over to cancel the item.
- Others will come to the till and ask if you have something in stock, while you’re scanning their items. Believe it or not, I hadn’t memories our stock list.
- One person just walked off, leaving all their items on my counter. No explanation.
- Some people will refuse to chat to you.
- Or they will want to chat, forever, about what is happening in their lives.
- It’s frustrating how many people seem unable to actually use a chip-and-pin machine.
- ‘Hello, did you find everything you were after?’ I never honestly cared. Sorry to break that to you.
- ‘Enjoy the rest of your day.’ However, some people I secretly hoped they didn’t.
- You know what screen burn is? Well, what is the vocal version of that? Because after every transaction you had to say: ‘And here’s a chance to win £250; just fill out a short survey online about your experience today’.
- And I think the worse thing, is that often people wouldn’t hang around to let you finish your sentence.
- Everyone thinks they’re funny. But they all make the same unfunny observation. ‘Oh, I’d never be lucky enough to win that amount of money.’
How Much Do Things Cost?
- Some people will think that an item is wrongly priced because they don’t believe it should be priced that high.
- And other people will bring it to your attention that they can’t believe how cheap it is. ‘What’s wrong with it?’
- If they’re really pleased with a deal, you have to wait while they go back and buy the entire stock. I think one person is going to be gifting thick mattress protectors this Christmas.
- So a small number of customers will put a discount sticker on a product themselves.
‘I know my consumer rights. You have to sell it to them at the price. It’s not my fault it’s wrong. My daughter is studying law, she told me…’ Whatever, you enjoy your 10% discount.
- People will fight for a discount. They pick up products, unhappy with their quality, and demand a discount. No-one made them pick a box which had a dent in it.
- When customers see something on a shelf, they assume it’s a display item and must have a discount.
- And they try their luck as well. I got asked if I could do a better price on a piece of furniture which was already half price. I said no. They still bought it.
- Our uniforms were made out of a horrible material; clearly no expense spared.
- Why are people genuinely surprised to hear that a shop doesn’t sell exactly the same things as 10 years ago?
- Then they preach about how everybody loved that table cloth when they came around to their house.
‘How could you stop selling it? I can’t understand why? Are you sure? Do you know if anywhere else will sell the tablecloth?’
- Everyone these days does research online before they buy. And you can check the stock and reserve. However, people will just see it’s in stock and think they’ll go buy it. Unfortunately, if it isn’t reserved, someone else can still buy it. It’s unlucky, but it happened a lot more than you’d think. And obviously, it wasn’t their fault.
- So I left before the Christmas rush. But just like every other retailer, we began selling Christmas stuff in August.
- And weirdly enough, we were selling out of it.
- We were selling out of Christmas decorations in September. I still can’t get my head around that.
- Of course, there were lots of people who wanted to have a moan about it being too early, like it’s my decision when to sell Christmas stock.
- And meanwhile, it’s still warm outside and people are still after flower pots, solar lights, and garden furniture. And we no longer had it because we had Christmas stuff.
In The Old Days
- Years ago, the shop used to be a water treatment place of some sort. The odd person wanted to come in and reminisce about a time I have no recollection of. Then they ask me questions. I clearly don’t know.
- And they remember the old shop layout. And have to remind you where stuff used to be.
- Then you have to explain why. And I don’t know the reason. Someone spent a lot of money researching the most efficient way to organise the shop. And this is the result.
- People replacing electrical equipment all like to say ‘They don’t make ’em like they used to.’
- When someone does manage to buy the same thing as they brought 10 years ago, they also like to give you an in-depth review of the product.
How It’s Changed Me
- I will never fold towels in the same way again.
- I can’t stop telling people that where I used to work sells what they’re after.
- When I walk into an untidy shop, I have an uncontrollable desire to tidy it up.
- I’m unable to lie-in on weekends.
- I popped in to buy something on a day off, and I ended up helping two customers.
- I’m now scared of going back in case the same thing happens again.
- My brain contains a lot of information I had to learn, which I’ll never use again.
- I recognise things in people’s homes and know where it came from.
- I could relay names, prices and sizes of products without looking.
- My feet will never be the same again.
And The Actual Reason…
- They wouldn’t work around the hours of my other job…
- There was no real competition between this and the writing job I always wanted.