Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How-to: be the worst customer ever (retail edition)

Step 1: Pick a store you want to terrorise, and check it's opening and closing times carefully. Depending on your plans for the rest of the day, there are three optimal times for you to strike - when the store first opens (getting there early and waiting with undisguised impatience outside the door is key), during lunch hour (during a rush when some of the staff members have disappeared for lunch is reccommended) or, my personal favourite, five minutes before closing time.

Step 2: When greeted by a salesperson, you have two choices: ignore them completely, or respond with "just looking". Make sure you don't smile.

Step 3: If products in the store have price tags, you must ask a staff member the price of at least three items. Ask if there is a discount or special on each item.

Step 4: Pick an item they are obviously low on stock of. Ask if they have other colours. Then ask if they have other sizes. Ask if they have any more stock. Ask them how long it will be until more stock arrives. Ask them if they're "sure" they don't have the colour and the size you want. Ask them if they can get it in from another store. If they say yes, tell them you'll think about it.

Step 5: If you look at anything, make sure to talk incessantly to any staff member who has crossed your path. Tell them you're not sure about the size. Tell them you don't really like the colour. Read the price tag (or ask them to repeat it) and wince. Ask them to get you the size up. Ask them to get you the size down. Ask them to get you another colour. Ask them to get you the size up in another colour. Ask them to get you another colour, in the size down.

Step 6: If the staff member has to leave you at any time, scatter as many items around the store as possible, or re-hang/box etc. very badly and stash it under a shelf or behind a display.

At the till
Step 1: Drop your loot on the counter and don't say anything. Wander a meter or so away to 'look' at something else. If someone asks you if you are taking or discarding your items, make a noise somewhere in-between a yes and a no.

Step 2: When you eventually find your way back to the counter, do not make eye conact with the tillperson. If you do, don't smile.

Step 3: When they tell you the total, ask them for a discount. If they say no, ask them if they have a 'new' item, i.e not the one you tried on.

Step 4: Throw your cash/card down on the counter, do not hand it to the tillperson. If it is cash, make sure it has lots of fiddly bits of change that they have to count. If it's a card, do not tell them what account it is on. When they ask what account it is on, pause for at least five seconds (count in your head if necessary). Say "on the card". If they ask if that means credit or savings, pause another three seconds. Take your time entering your pin number, or if you're signing, cut them off when they ask you "pin number or sign".

Step 4: Whist your receipt is being printed, wander away again. Wait until they call you back to the till or someone brings your shopping to you.

Step 5: Do not make eye contact or say thankyou. Storm off to the front of the store, then stop, and spend another 5-10 minutes browsing.

Step 6: If you are really dedicated, you have two options. One is long-term and one is short-term.
Short-term: throw away the receipt, and go back a few days later to return or exchange your item. For bonuss points, wait until they've shut the door and are cashing up for the night, then bang on their closed door and tell them that "it's urgent", and if they tell you they can't process anything because they've turned off the computer, say, "Can't you just swap it for me now and put it through the computer in the morning?"
Long-term: keep the receipt and wait at least a week until outside the return/exchange period. Return with the item and attempt to exchange or return it.

On the phone
Step 1: When someone answers the phone (the usual format is "Hello,[shop name] , this is [salesperson's name]") pause until they say 'hello'?

Step 2: Ask, "who is this?" When they repeat their name, ask "is this [store name]?" When they say yes, ask them which suburb they are in and what they sell.

Step 3: Tell them you're looking for an item, but make it something particularly vague, like "a brown belt" or "a red bag". This is especially reccommended if you are calling a specialty store which stocks 1-5 particular brands.

Step 4: If they ask you to clarify anything (such as the material, size or brand) repeat your initial description.

Step 5: If they make a suggestion, such as "were you looking for a brown leather belt for a man?" say "yes" and then stay silent.

Step 6: When they can't figure out what it is you're looking for (meaning you shot down all of their suggestions) ask to talk to someone else.



  1. Hahahah! This is hilarious. So I guess the question is, do you actually work in retail or do you just terrorize the people who do? :-P

  2. Never Too Busy: I have the exquisite misfortune of working in retail, since '08 to be precise. As for terrorising... sometimes I'm very tempted, but I'd feel far too guilty afterwards for putting people through the stuff I moan about every day!

    This rant piece stems from my LAST day at my old work. I have started a new job, and since everything there is much, much more expensive, so far the customers have been considerably more pleasant.

  3. I would haaaate working in retail, but I think fast food is a close second, no? I got yelled at twice yesterday by people for not giving them fries that they didn't order. T_T

    It's funny you say you have better customers at the expensive place. When I worked at a Fannie May candy, the customers were almost always extremely impatient and rude, I guess they thought they were better than me. Once when I was packing boxes of bridge mix, I had one on the scale, and a customer just reached over, took some out, and ate it! WTF DUDE! Another time, this couple was literally screaming at me because I wouldn't let them use coupons that expired 2 weeks ago.

  4. LMFAO! You crack me up! Some sales people (ie. teenage K-Mart workers who just don't give a damn or rude upper-market sales women who think you don't look like you have enough money to shop there) deserve to be terrorized! I used to work in retail before having kids - so I can say that.... That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! lol

  5. LOL you win. I worked at an event recently doing ticketing, and it got to the point where I was actually surprised when people told me what account I should charge the transaction to on their card, because like 99.999999% of people wouldnt.

    And @Vibrant V I was one of those teenage Kmart workers a couple of years ago :P but I was alot nicer and not a lazy asshole like some of the bitches I worked with. Then again, I suppose it's not their fault, the management there is even worse.

    I worked in apparel in the fitting room at Kmart, so I was the one who ALWAYS got stuck with making calls to other stores to see if they had something instock =/

  6. Heather: I worked in hospitality for a year or so before escaping into retail. Retail can be a bitch, but I don't think I'd ever want to go back to hospitality. And I'd rather DIE than work in fast food!

    V: Yes, some salespeople are absolutely awful. I remember a while ago I was buying a few things from this cheap-o make-up shop, and the girl at the checkout was surly and just about scowling! Even though I was smiling at her and even asked her how she was!

    Silhouette: teehee. I have a friend who works at Kmart, she says she doesn't know who's worse, the customers or the management!

    I should have added: find a small child with dirty hands and let them loose in the store. That happened tonight. Sticky little hand-prints over EVERYTHING.


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