Tag Archives: the retail experience

Lesson: The Angrier You Are, The More Ridiculous You Look

10 Jan

When you work in retail, you sometimes encounter the rare bird that is the Very Angry Customer. We encountered such a person today.

This woman pitched a fit because we could not give her ten dollars off her purchase. Keep in mind, she had the entire month of December to come in and claim the $10 savings, she just happened to miss the boat. But of course, she reacted as if this was something that the store was doing to her, as if it was some sort of personal attack. This is something I notice a lot, to tell you the truth… people on the defensive for no apparent reason, acting like everyone and everything in the world is out to get them and not accepting any sort of personal responsibility regarding the things that happen in their lives… but that’s an altogether different matter to ponder. I could go on and on about taking a sense of ownership over the events in your life and how powerless it renders you to go around constantly blaming others for your misfortunes. Instead, I’d rather pose one simple question: Do these people not realize how ridiculous they look?

I will admit, I am prone to the odd hissy fit myself. That said… I tend to reserve them for when I’m, y’know, in private. I can understand being frustrated with something… $180 ticket, anyone?… but what do people think they’re achieving by raising their voices or making idle threats of the I-will-never-shop-here-again variety? You know what I did when I freaked out over that ticket? I pitched the biggest fit of my life at home in front of nobody save for my husband, immediately felt embarrassed about pitching a fit in front of my husband, wrote an angry blog post, sent a few bitter tweets out into the universe, and then went to the courthouse and paid the fine. Yeah, I got angry and sure, I vented… but hopefully not in a publicly humiliating way. Hopefully. And life goes on.

Just for the record, you know what happens when customers get unreasonably angry with us for things that are beyond our control? I mean, besides the fact that we are less likely to go the extra mile for them by putting them in touch with a manager and so on and so forth?

We laugh at them when they leave.

Because they look so, so ridiculous.

It’s just something to keep in mind the next time you feel your blood beginning to boil the next time you’re out in public. Nobody thinks you’re particularly intelligent, and everybody thinks you’re a jerk. You’ll affect your own health adversely, and you probably still won’t get what you want.

Oh, and just regarding the I-will-never-shop-here-again threat… odds are good that none of the sales associates care (in fact if you’re that self-important, they’re probably happy to see you go), and they will all take home the same paycheque regardless of whether you shop there again or not. One person does not a boycott make. Especially if it’s a particularly well-established company; for every one customer that stops buying the goods, three more new people become “brand loyal.” Again, when you take the time to think through the words that are coming out of your mouth… I WILL NEVER SHOP HERE AGAIN!… well, it sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it?


Please To Adjust The Attitude.

23 Aug

I had two crummy customers today. One of them acted like I was trying to fleece her, when I wasn’t even trying to sell her anything. I was, in fact, simply¬†explaining the differences between anti-perspirant vs. deodorant. She was dubious that such differences exist… ultimately, she just left me with the impression that she is a very, very sweaty woman. So her, I sort of feel sorry for.

Can’t say I harbour any such kindly feelings toward the snobbish young man who spoke to me in a voice dripping with sarcasm when all I was trying to do was answer the questions he asked me in the first place. Not being much in the mood to play the doormat today, I used equally sarcastic tones when I apologized for not being able to be more of service.

Working in retail teaches you some hard lessons. You learn pretty quickly that the human race is, on the whole, pretty awful, for example. Also you learn that the notion of “what goes around comes around” is a bold-faced lie.

Allow me to illustrate: In retail, 80% of your interactions with the customers will be completely unremarkable. 5% will be awesome. And a full 15% will be awful, enraging, humiliating, or some combination thereof. At first you will be tempted to believe that the truly awful people are leading very unhappy lives, and that they’re just taking it out on you. As time goes by… you begin to realize that no, these people aren’t unhappy, or bitter, or dealt the short stick. These are just mean people with superiority complexes, people who think they’re somehow better than you because you work at the mall and they don’t.

As a general rule, I try to be fairly pleasant with people. There’s part of me that really does believe what goes around comes around, so… I try to be nice. But dealing with a big enough jerk makes me question that. The thing about being nice is that it necessitates a lack of defenses. You can’t be a nice person if your guard is always up. Big jerks make me always want to have my guard up. Nice people never seem to win and I’m sick of losing… but wouldn’t acting more callous myself, just contribute to the overall problem?

So… what to do? Do I just take it on the jaw when people try to bring me down, and continue trying to be nice because there are already enough mean, guarded people out there (they’re quite frankly the ones who are ruining it for the rest of us), or do I harden myself against it, assuming that everybody is just out to get me and steeling myself against social interaction?

Also, how do you avoid letting a jerk like that bring down your whole day?

Just curious.