Dear Person I Saw Freaking-out at That Retail Worker:

Hey, hi there. Are you OK? Is there anything you need to talk about? Because the way you shouted at that store employ seemed a bit over the top.

Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas. It is the holiday season and shopping is a big part of things this time of year. We all have a finite amount of time to get all the planning, wrapping and celebrating done. After all, for most of us the rest of our lives don’t get a Christmas vacation. If you throw traveling into the mix, it can be really hectic.

What I’m saying is that I get it. This time of year is full of chaos. Will there be enough money for gifts? Will they like the gifts? How do we get to grandma's if it snows? There’s too much to do! So, I understand why you are frazzled, I am too.

Here’s why I’m bring this up. I saw how you treated that person that works at this store. You asked a question and didn’t get the answer you wanted I’m guessing? And that was the last straw as far as your sanity was concerned, and you let loose on this clerk/casher/stocker. I understand that you’re having a bad day, but I want to tell you to please leave that person alone!

The people that work in the places we all shop at just work there. That phrase has been misunderstood by a long line of bad comedians and horrible TV writers. The people at these stores do just WORK there.

  • They do not set the prices.
  • They can’t give discounts. Most often the computer wouldn’t let them if they wanted to.
  • They do not decide on the amount or selection of inventory. The way modern inventory systems work, they can’t order anything and there is little if anything ‘in the back.’
  • They cannot haggle. This isn’t a farmer’s market in 13th century France.
  • They don’t make staffing decisions.
  • They don’t set the refund/exchange rules.
  • They can’t make an exception for you, just this one time.
  • They don’t set policy. But, they will be punished for not following it.

They can help you find something, answer questions about products, greet you, be friendly, make suggestions, and ring you up among other things.

I’m an NOT saying the people that work in retail are talentless simpletons that can only be relied upon to do a very narrow set of tasks. No, no. no. I’ve spent many years in various retail positions and the people that have the skills and temperament for retail are truly gifted. I do not. I just want there to be an understanding of how the system works. The employees are there to help, they want to help. Need an idea for your son’s gift? Ask. Don’t know where to find more Elmer’s glue? Ask. Retail people are amazing and  can help you have a great shopping experience.

What they aren’t, are the creators of policy. They are human beings trying to do the best job they can and make a living.

This is not to say that the policies or their application are always the best, or that sometimes there isn’t an employee that is a problem. This is a truism in every workplace. If you’ve had a really bad experience at a store the best thing to do is not berate the cashier, but to contact the company.

From my time in, and in close proximity to, retail companies take those complaints seriously. If you call the number that’s on your receipt, or the website, or posted in the store; the complaint will be recorded and investigated. If a policy is dumb, call and tell them. Maybe you’re not the only person that had that issue, and enough complaints will force action.

As a side note, if you have a really great experience with an employee or a store, call that number as well. Again, those calls get recorded and acted on.

In the end remember, if you really hated your shopping experience at a certain place here’s what to do instead of yelling at the person stocking the shelves:

  • Be a grown up and control yourself
  • Leave
  • Make your complaints to corporate (the ones that set the policies)
  • The most powerful thing you can do: Don’t give them any more of your money

Anyways, thanks you for our time and try to have a great Christmas.

Sincerely,
The Guy in Line Behind You At The Store.


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