Posts Tagged ‘respect’

Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 2.

February 15, 2010

I am standing at the denim wall. We are having a sale on certain colors of denim–old washes out, new washes in. They won’t let me move the sale denim from the wall. So I can only put a sale sign at the top of the column.

“Excuse me, which of these are on sale?”
I show the woman which columns are on sale. (You know a column goes up and down, and a row goes left and right? You’ll need to remember this vocabulary for later.) The denim is arranged from light to dark between each style, each in separate and very clear columns. I try to keep it as organized and obvious as possible, by telling people and showing people.
“So it isn’t everything?”
“No, just the column with the sale sign on top.” I show her the two columns with sale signs above them. Out of sixteen columns, there are only two columns on sale.
“So this one isn’t on sale? I thought it was the whole row on sale.” She points from right to left. Even then, the signs are on the same row, they are not staggered, nor are the colors arranges into rows, so this would make no logical sense.
“Oh, no, it’s top to bottom, each column has different washes, and only certain ones are on sale.” I wonder again how she can think a row is on sale, when each stack is a different color.
“Why?!?” She begins to raise her voice at me.
I don’t know what to say exactly. I wonder if things have become too obvious to me. I always try to think how someone walking in would think when the see our displays, how confused can they get? Yet, I walk around the mall, and everyone else puts their denim in columns, not rows. Why? Because what if it was arranged in rows, and your favorite color is on the top row, where you can’t reach it? How sad would you be?
“This sign is totally misleading! This is false advertising! It makes no sense! It looks like the entire wall is on sale!” Now she begins to yell. Again, just two columns out of sixteen are marked with any sale sign.
I try to point out how the colors are different in each column. Because obviously, I”m not dealing with logic here.
“No, you aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, that sign up there, looks like everything is on sale!” Now she is yelling and pointing her finger in my face.
I try to explain that I tried to remove the sale from the wall, but they wouldn’t listen to me.
“No, stop! You stop talking! Right now! You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me! Why don’t you put these denim in rows, it would be easier to follow! It wouldn’t be so confusing! I’m not stupid, don’t treat me like I’m stupid! I know! I know a lot! Don’t think I don’t know! Do you understand me? The way your denim is set up makes no sense! You don’t understand! You have no idea! You’re not doing anything right! What’s wrong with you? You’re going to lose so many customers like this! You have to change this! This is false advertising!”
I have nothing to say, but my eyes are watering. I tell her again, the walls have always (and I mean always) been set up in columns (including any store that sells denim). The sale sign is on top of each column that’s on sale, what else is there to say?
“You aren’t listening to me! Listen to me, right now, you tell your bosses they need to change this, because it makes no sense! This wall is misleading. How can anyone shop here? Listen to me! You can’t treat customers like they’re stupid! Do you hear me! Don’t tell me what I know or what I don’t know! Because I know! You’re the one that has everything wrong! You don’t understand anything! You don’t tell me I’m wrong! You hear me? Don’t tell me what I know! Do you hear me? I know! I know!” I do believe, she’s already spit on me  in her rage–not on purpose, I hope. If I had the freedom to act, right now, I would definitely do more than spit. Do people really think they have the ability to speak to other people in this way? In what situation can I walk into any place of business and start acting this way? Is this seriously how society sees retail, as some invisible border where you can suddenly lose all manners and responsibility, and just be totally rude, disrespectful, and ignorant?
I stand there for almost fifteen minutes listening to her telling me what’s wrong and what needs to be done, how much she knows about things, and how much I don’t know about things; how much I don’t understand anything about customers or marketing, or what customers think or need. She told me everything I needed to change, everything I needed to stop doing, everything that was wrong with our store.
I know my face was red, my eyes were watering, and I was shaking, because the last time someone did that to me, I almost broke their fingers–one at a time. I actually just wanted to quit, so I could slap her across the face. After she left, I wanted to leave the store, so I could find her in the mall, and give her my peace of mind. These are people that would have much less backbone outside, where they’d consider me an ‘equal’, but just because I have a crappy retail job, they ‘think’ they have some superiority that makes them better than me. That is one of the greatest follies of the state of retail. Why do we empower customers with this ridiculous, in-genuine sense of power?

If you actually think you’re better than someone because you have money, then you actually are worthless and truly need the money to give you a delusion of grandeur. Amazing people are superior in many ways that don’t include money. If you value yourself totally by the money you possess, then you are a sheep of society who has little idea of the true worth of things around you–when you find the one thing you truly want that can’t be bought, you’ll understand.

I do all I can to try and benefit the customers, I do all I can to try any make it easier for them, I even challenge the management to change things to make it easier for customers (which of my coworkers actually do this?)–of all the people to yell at, to belittle, and treat like a child–I am the last person to do that to. After her, I stopped trying so hard, I stopped working as hard to try and help out the customers–taking their crap, dealing with their stupidity, practicing patience in the face of insolence. I gave up, and I was no longer the guy that ‘wow, nothing ever bothers you, whatever you’re on, I want some, too’. That person was officially dead.

Later, I told my manager what happened, and they all gasped, saying, “You never need to put up with that! Ever! If anyone ever does that again, you have every right to turn and walk away from them. And if they don’t stop, tell a manager and they will be taken off the property. We don’t accept that kind of treatment to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ever.”

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Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 1.

February 15, 2010

This will be one of my few two-part blogs, which is only meaningful, like season finales, as telling a longer story and having an inevitable movement, development, and transition. You see, I don’t stand against customers. I actually stand for customers, which makes their insults, attacks, and actions that much more offensive, because it actually matters to me–they matter to me.

I have always stood on the side of the customer, to benefit the customer, because of my backgrounds in marketing, selling, and psychology. I actually do believe we need to set-up displays, marketing, and even customer-service to benefit the customer, to help them buy what they want to buy; in contrast to trying to make people buy what they don’t want to buy through coercion and trickery, i.e. credit cards. In order to do this, I have always pushed for improvements. Once, I went to the district manager, just to ask her if we can alter the order of our sizing, so it’s easier for customers to reach–i.e. smaller sizes near the bottom and larger sizes near the top of columns. She agreed to this, saying, “We already have a language barrier with our customers [like Japanese tourists], what does it say to them if we put their sizes out of reach?” Exactly.

I always move things around, as much as I can, trying to help out the customers. I try to train my co-workers to know things which will best benefit the customers. I put marketing, not to be pretty, but to be helpful and easy to read and recognize. I do what I can to remove confusion from the workplace. I don’t step into the store as an employee only, but also through the eyes of the customers.

I do realize and understand the majority of customers that are rude and irritating are, in fact, also stupid, some abnormally so. I just take greater offense when they take out their stupidity at me, as if I did things to make their life miserable, that I don’t do anything to help them. Even when I’ve met regional vice-presidents, I tell them the things customers tell me, I ask for solutions to problems that seem persistent and unresolved. I am one of the few people to consistently fight for better selling, to work out ways to help the customer. I actually do try to do something about problems, I don’t believe in complaining for the sake of complaining.

Don’t complain about things that can be solved.
Don’t complain about things that can’t be solved.

Why am I writing all this? Well I could write more, but honestly, I’m writing this so you don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to hate all the customers. I actually want to find solutions to these problems, and I do believe these problems can be solved. I do believe this society, this culture can actually evolve to remove this abscess of needing to think, needing to be respectful, and turn retail into an act of social interaction that is enjoyable and not riddled with the lacking points that capitalism seem to instill within it. People don’t need to be idiots, companies don’t need to come up with hundreds of rules and clauses to control rampant idiocy, and people can be respectful to each other, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Now, I will write about the customer that broke my resolve, the one customer of all the customers that made me want to cry on the sales floor and made me stop taking their crap, their insults, and their attacks upon my intellect, my self-esteem, and my pride…

Visit California.

December 5, 2009

A customer comes to the register, she’s already sassy, sarcastic and rude–which is a promising sign, right?
She throws a leather jacket on the counter, smirking. “How much does this cost?”
I grab the tag and show her.
“Oh, it’s right there? So expensive, is this even real leather? It doesn’t feel real.” She examines the jacket while making more comments. “I’m sure you don’t know, but is this available online? Can you find out for me?”
“What size?”
“A small.”
“Yes, it is available.”
“Oh, you can see that? Really now? Can you see other stores, too?”
“Yes.”
“Since you don’t have a size small in this store, I want my daughter to go to the store near her to try it on. But I don’t want her to waste her time going all the way to the store if it isn’t even there.”
“It says we might have small in our store, I can go and check in the back.”
“Oh? You can do that for me? Be a dear.”
So I leave, and let my co-worker deal with finding the other store.
I find the jacket and my co-worker rushes by me. I find out she wants to know about a store in Corte Madera, California–but our system is unable to search that far without direct information or a direct number to locate it. He’s a bit upset by how she was speaking to him–wondering why he can’t find the store–yet, no one has even heard of that part of California, or knew a store even existed there. While he searches, I go out to give her the jacket.
“This looks like the right size. Did you find out if Corte Madera has one, too?”
“I haven’t even heard of Corte Madera.”
“Honey, your store should let you leave the island, and visit California once in a while, then you’ll know a little more.”
My jaw drops. For her knowledge, I spent several years there, I just never visited the crack of land known of Corte Madera.

Customer Type: Capitalist, Micromanagement, Modern Slave-Owner

*Knocks*

December 4, 2009

Today was special. Suffice it to say, though some call me a stereotyper, the most insulting and degrading ways of getting attention lay always with the Chinese customers. Today was special.

I was in the middle of a stock check for a customer, and the cashier asks me for back-up. The line isn’t long, just one couple with a scarf., I decide I can do a quick purchase and finish my stock check. I go to the register and the man begins by yelling at me, “You take forever!” *Knocks* “Why you take so long?” *Knocks* “You take too long!” *Knocks” “What’s wrong with you?” All the while he is literally knocking, KNOCKING on the counter with his knuckles, glaring at me, spittle flying. While he continues to yell at me, knocking on the counter, I just look at him and say, “You can lecture me, but I don’t care.”

You see, when the company stops making the jeans you love the most–don’t blame me, I didn’t make the decision, so stop saying, “You stopped making my favorite jeans,” because I didn’t make that choice.
When a co-worker forgets to take a sensor off your clothes, and you beep heading out the door, don’t yell at me saying, “You always forget to take off my tags,” because I didn’t do it. I will gladly lecture my coworker or bring you so you can yell at them.
When the cashiers don’t ask for back-up when they should, don’t yell at me. I was there seconds after help was requested. And seriously, yelling at me and knocking on the counter?

If I make a mistake with your transaction, I take responsibility. When I make a bad marketing decision, I take responsibility. But don’t you dare blame me, yell at me, or lecture me about something I have no control over. That is one major ‘wrong’ in a capitalist industry where money is seen as something holier-than-thou, where you think you have the right to do what you want because you’re buying a scarf for $20. If we took one step outside the doors of that business, you would not dare act the same way. You would surely be taken aback if I treated you the exact same way.

So I quickly finish the transaction and leave. Of course, the rude man who expected me to bow down and cower before his $20 purchase, wanted some form of pleasure, so within a minute I hear the manager looking for me. Which I am told I made the customer wait a long time (did I really?), that I was rude (really? I thought we do onto others…), and I didn’t thank him…  For what? Thank you for knocking on the counter, lecturing me because I decided to not make you wait any longer? Thank you for letting you spit on me, and act as if you’re worth more than the money you carry? Because seriously, if you want to play the capitalist game, then you’re really not worth more than your purchase, you have no face, no name, no identity other than the plastic cards in your wallet. I’m sure not going to thank you and hope you come back to buy another scarf next year, unless I can go to your place of business knock on your desk and yell at you for no good reason.

Customer Type: Complainer, Don’t Kill the Messenger, (I feel the urge to make a subgroup for Chinese, since I was also clapped at like a dog in addition to this ‘knocking thing), Modern Slave-Owner.

Introductions are Inevitable

September 5, 2009

This is the beginning of my blog dedicated to my time in retail. I’ve witnessed many things that irritate and bother, disturb and discomfort, as my coworkers always wonder, “Do these customers really have to act like this?” ‘This’ being a reflection of the current state of our world and society, of capitalism, of modern slavery, and our actions towards each other as living, human beings incapable of even minor respect and dignity towards each other.
Most of these stories will be heard 1000 times around the world, every single day; perhaps these stories happen 10s of 1000s of times or more. The fact they exist, and the fact that consumers feel the need to have this false sense of security and power through their money, large or small, is a serious blow to any society that wants to see itself as evolved, intelligent, or even to be taken seriously.