There are many different reasons why people might be working in retail. Some are putting themselves through school, others have no choice; needing the money as a source of income to support themselves and families.
People like to think, sometimes even say to your face, “whats so hard about working in retail, Its so easy, anybody could do that” etc. What they dont know is what working in retail is really like, the horror stories people could tell you and how workers can be treated.
The customer is always right
This is the most dreaded line to be heard by retail workers. While I personally have not heard it that often, it is the most used line in the retail industry. Usually used by customers who are not right but trying to bully their way into ether a free item, a refund not entitled to or other unreasonable requests.
The worker is responsible for everything/anything
It seems to be the assumption that workers in retail can control everything around them, policies and prices are their doing, nothing to do with corporate decisions at all.So when something is not right in the customers eyes, it is all the workers fault. I can’t even count the number of times I have been screamed at over the stupidest things. Things like something ringing up 5 or 10 cents more then what the customer thought it was or the customer not reading the sign properly and demanding that price even though it was a different product. But of course I must have done something to the computer to “wrong” the customer-because I control it all, right?
The jokes are not funny
Oh the jokes, first and foremost, the classic, “won’t scan, must be free, hahaha”- I must have heard that one a thousand or more times. Other ones included ” working hard or hardly working?” “you look bored (when there was a line up that I had non stop for 2 hours)” and many more. Of course, being in customer service, you politely laugh or smile while, silently cursing them or gritting your teeth.
The dark side of retail
Usually, when dealing with a upset customer, the worst you will get is the “I’m never shopping here again!” line or a bad review threat on Yelp. However, over the last few years, reports of customers turning violent (verbally or physically), is on the rise. Stories such as, a man drove his car into a gas station building, severely injuring two workers by pining them under the truck and then getting out of his vehicle and punching another female worker in the face. The reason for this? He had trouble using a pre pay machine and believed the gas station was trying to rob him. He has recently been sentenced to 6 years in prison.
The retail stigma
As I mentioned before, there are many different reasons why people are working in retail. That doesn’t stop people from making judgments or assuming things about retail workers. Mainly that we are all high school drop outs, or are too stupid to be or do anything else. We get treated as if we don’t matter, not real people. An example of this is when they linger past closing time because of COURSE we dont have anywhere else to be.
Now let me just clarify that I am not saying all customers are like this, I have encountered some great and friendly customers in the past. These are just some things that I have witnessed in my past and present working in retail. Of course I also know that not all workers are great either, I have been witness to that from the other side as well.
Anyone else working in retail? What has your experience been like? Please comment below…
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