The customer is always right—except when they’re wrong

Op-eds Opinions

I like to think I’m not a homicidal maniac, but sometimes my retail job makes me think I’m wrong. I work in a clothing store which shall remain nameless for now. My shifts are more or less the same every day. I get to work, fuelled by an excessive amount of espresso, in a fairly good mood. We open the store and customers start to flow in. Okay, not so much flow in as slowly creep in because—let’s face it—not a lot of people want to shop at early o’clock.

This is when my nightmare begins.

You see, the store starts out nice and neat, with everything perfectly folded or hung. Before we open, there are no screaming children treating the store like their own personal playground and no customers flipping piles of clothes upside down simply to “find the right size.” But, when the store is open, all bets are off.

As a customer service representative, I am not allowed to tell a customer that they are being rude and inconsiderate. It’s probably a good thing I can’t tell them what I think of them, though. I don’t think anyone would appreciate hearing my inner monologue. However, let me get a few things off my chest.

Firstly, taking a perfectly folded pile of clothes and turning it into a tangled mound is not the nicest thing to do, If you ask someone to help you find a size, usually they will be more than willing to assist. It will prevent the inevitable mess. In addition, saying, “Oh no, look at the mess I’m making. I’m sorry,” is a cop-out and we all know it. It does not make us forgive you for the mess and only serves to further frustrate us.

Next, let’s talk about dropping things on the floor. A store is not your bedroom. If you drop something, pick it up. If you try things on, a customer service person would rather you hand them what you don’t want than have you leave it all over the ground. Yes, we will clean up after you, but we would prefer not to.

A store is not a daycare. Leaving children unattended in a store is irresponsible and dangerous. Usually, we will do our best to prevent children from hurting themselves in our store, but we can’t watch them all the time. We don’t know who their parents are, so we wouldn’t know if they got kidnapped. Seriously, parents, do your jobs.

Finally, the worst part about any customer service job: policies. To any person who has yelled at someone for following policy: that’s not cool. Companies tell their employees what they can and can’t do. Generally, an employee can get written up or fired for not following policy. It is just not worth it to “break policy just this one time.” It doesn’t matter how much you spend in a store or how upset your child will be if you don’t get that one item for them. If an employee says they can’t do something, it’s not a personal choice. They are not out to get you. All they want is to do their minimum wage job then go home. Yelling at them will just make everyone’s day worse.

Now, I’ve probably come off sounding like I hate all customers, but that’s not true. Some people are fantastic. They clean up after themselves, are polite to employees, and don’t gripe about policy. A good customer can brighten any employee’s day. Some even help relieve the boredom that comes with a slow shift. Customer service employees are people too. Tell us a joke, and we’ll laugh. Call us names and insult us, and we’ll get pretty pissed off. So, next time you think about swearing at an employee, think first. They don’t make policy—they just work there.