Some tips for shopping at department stores.

I’ve worked in multiple department stores over the years and I can tell you that one of the worst things that I have to deal with is rude customers. They may not be the majority but they are the ones that stand out in memory. Even worse is when people don’t realize that what they’re doing might be rude or even annoying. I realize that I’m there to help people but I had to list a few things that customers do from time to time that make the job that much worse for the employees.

Let’s start with not only one of the most annoying things that customers do but also the most insulting. Not only will people put things back where they don’t belong, they will actually say to people they’re with “It’s their job to pick this up.” No, actually it’s not. The company tries to set aside time for employees to pick up the store but depending on how many people are scheduled at a time this isn’t always possible. Employees are usually assigned projects throughout the day and picking up after people isn’t one of them. Yes, we want to try to make the place look neat and picked up but if you can put something back where you found it that gives us time to make the store look even better by letting us have time to put stock out there for you to buy. We are not your servants.

That brings me to my next point. We’re also not your personal shopping assistants. In a more upscale, smaller shop you might get a sales assistant who’s on commission to serve you for your duration. While you are in a department store, however, we might try to get you to buy something but we’re not going to stay with you the entire time you’re there. (I should point out that if you’re disabled we might be a little more lenient with you.) Like I said, we have projects throughout the day to make the store a better place for you to shop. We can’t follow you around to answer every little question for every thing you might be interested in when you can read the packaging yourself. This is most frustrating when people come in and don’t even know what they’re looking for, but they still think somebody is going to stay with them while they go around browsing.

Also, pay attention to the employee that’s talking to you. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me where something is and don’t listen to me with their full attention. This goes back to the idea of treating people who work at department stores as “lesser” people. Sometimes the answer to your question is going to be the most direct like you want it to be. You may have to actually have a conversation with the person that you’re talking to. Believe me, we don’t want to spend all day giving you an answer to your initial question. But nothing drags out the conversation like having to constantly backtrack and give you the information that you wouldn’t let me give you in the first place.

Finally, my last gripe goes for my co-workers as well, but at least with them I can say something to at work. Besides, I don’t think any of them read my blog. Anyway, this is not just a point of being rude but a safety concern as well. There are times that I have to pull a pallet jack behind me out to the sales floor, even when the store is open. If I see you coming at a distance and I’m not pulling a heavy load, I will try to move out of your way. Sometimes, however, if I go through the doors from the back room or turn a corner I might not have that much time with a person nearby. Please, if you see somebody coming towards you with a pallet jack, give them the leeway. I’m sorry that the situation happens, but somebody pulling a pallet jack can’t stop on a dime. If they try the jack might hit them in the back of the legs, possibly propelling them into you.

I say this is rude behavior on the other person’s part because it’s pretty obvious that I can’t stop quickly pulling something like that. I also get dirty looks from people when they see me coming, even when I am able to stop for them. I would consider safety concerns more important than etiquette. Just be weary that when you enter a store that there are other people around you. We try to make the shopping experience pleasant for you but that doesn’t count if we run you over.

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