I worked in retail for 8 years and during that time, I came to realise that there are some very annoying things customers do. While I appreciate they’re paying my wages, I don’t think that’s an acceptable reason to behave in the ways that some of them do. I don’t know what it is about entering a shop that makes them forget about common decency, but that’s the way it goes.
Here are my 11 annoying that customers do. These are things that really get under my skin and make me want to scream.
1. Forget their manners
Listen up, retail workers are human beings. We do have feelings. If you wouldn’t bark orders at somebody in other circumstances, then don’t do it to us. If that happens to be just your general attitude towards other people, then do us all a favour and stay at home.
Yes, it’s our job to help you, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to talk to us like dirt. Here’s a little insider secret: if you are nice to us, we are nice to you. Ground-breaking stuff, right?
Manners cost nothing. It makes a huge difference to our day-to-day lives when you remember to say please and thank you.
2. Speak to you when you are with another customer
This is, in some way, is related to manners. I’m giving it its own space, though, because it’s so infuriating.
We can only help one person at a time. If we’re with somebody already, now is not your time. Whether that’s somewhere in the shop, or at the till, you need to wait your turn. Barging in and interrupting is unacceptable. We’re not going to abandon another customer in your favour, and you shouldn’t expect us to.
3. Whinge about store policies
Let’s get one thing straight: I am not the business owner and, therefore, I didn’t make the rules that you are so enraged by. This is what I have been taught to follow and I do not have the power to bend the rules for you. Before you start having a go at me, can you just take a second to think about that fact?
Saying that, it doesn’t make it much better when you say, “I know it’s not your fault but…” and continue to berate us anyway.
Sure, I’d love to give you your money back, so we didn’t have to have this disagreement, but I can’t. You need to understand that it would make my life much easier if I could give you what you wanted. Sadly, it is beyond my control.
4. Insist on talking to the manager
Think about this. You are asking to speak to the very person who trained me on these policies. Why are they going to tell you anything different?
Admittedly, managers do have a bit more flexibility and, in some circumstances, can find a solution for you. You should probably keep in mind that this is more likely to happen if you’re not behaving like a spoilt brat, though. Try asking calmly and reasonably to speak to the manager, and we might just get somewhere.
5. Treat you like you’re stupid
This is probably the one I found hardest to deal with. I consider myself to be quite an intelligent person, and I absolutely despise it when people talk to me like I’m a five-year-old. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because somebody works in a shop, they don’t have a brain between their ears. There is absolutely no need to be patronising.
Many retail workers are students who are working towards a degree, so they must have some level of intelligence, right? You may be older than us or have a better job than us, but it doesn’t mean you know everything or give you the right to be rude to us.
6. Threaten you with social media
For all that I think social media has done some good in the world, nothing enrages me more than “I’m going to put on Facebook what a horrible company this is.” Well, thanks for the warning and everything, but how about you grow up and accept that, sometimes in life, you don’t get your own way? I’m sure you’ll miss out the part where you didn’t read your receipt properly or, better yet, didn’t bother bringing your receipt with you at all.
If you think a decision is unfair, by all means, go through the correct complaints procedure. Write a letter, send an email or even use private messaging on social media platforms, rather than being petty enough to post it publicly. You need to give companies an opportunity to rectify the situation before launching straight into an attack.
7. Dump things in a random place
I have some leniency on this one. If the shop is large or is particularly busy and you can’t navigate it to put the item back, it’s not so bad. I’m not saying I agree with it but I can understand. However, I am less forgiving when it’s out of pure laziness. I have only worked in smaller shops, which is perhaps why it bugs me so much.
The thing is if you handed the item to me and said something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I forgot where I picked this up from, do you mind putting it back?”, that’s fine! Otherwise, all you’re doing is making our job ten times harder because you didn’t want to take a few steps and put it back. Is that how you would behave anywhere else? If so, I dread to think what your house looks like.
8. Say things like “it’s a lovely day outside, you should be out there enjoying it.”
OH. Really? Do you NOT think I’d love that? Unfortunately, I have bills to pay, and I have been put on the rota to be in on this lovely sunny day, so guess where I should be? Right here. It sucks, and I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t remind me of that.
ALSO: if you are going to say things like “It’s a shame you have to work Boxing Day, Christmas is a time for family” WHEN YOU ARE OUT SHOPPING ON BOXING DAY, don’t. You are the reason we have to work these holidays because there’s a demand for it. How about you go and spend time with your family like we wish we could? If more people did that, there’d be no need for shops to be open and we’d get the day off, too.
9. Expect you to be happy constantly
To reiterate the point in number 1, we are human beings. We have a life beyond work. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I do my very best to leave my problems at the door, but some problems are too big. Don’t get me wrong, I am probably in overdrive to try and keep a smile on my face for your benefit. If you happen to catch me in an off moment, please don’t make a snide remark about it.
You don’t know what we are going through, either in or out of work. We are not going to be happy every single minute of every single day. If anything, just know that we are trying our best to deliver good service to you, even when we’d rather be anywhere else.
10. Announce that they’ve worked in retail/owned a business and “know how this works”
Good for you. If that’s the case, then you know how horrible it is when someone is unpleasant to you, so why do it?
If I can say one thing about working in retail, it’s that it has made me very conscious of how I behave in shops. You’re telling me you’ve had the same experience and still choose to behave like this? Wow.
11. Come in at closing time
I know, I know, this is on every single list like this, but I couldn’t leave it out. We just want to go home!
Take a look around. Is everywhere else shutting up shop? Yes? That’s a pretty good indicator that we are about to, too. Come back another day.
That’s my selection of annoying things customers do. If you want to be a good customer, please avoid doing these things, I beg of you.
The most important thing to remember when you are a customer is that retail workers are not robots with no feelings. What you do and say affects us. No matter how much we wish we were immune to it, it’s hard to not get annoyed when people behave in certain ways.
Although it’s not the worst job in the world, retail is not a particularly rewarding job, either. You have to work hard for very little pay. You can do your part to make it that little bit better by doing one simple thing: be kind. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were us, and act accordingly. It’s that simple.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Alternatively, you can comment with your pet peeves about your own work!