Saturday, 24 July 2010

Manners maketh the man (or woman for that matter)

I work in retail... a bookseller in fact. So a large portion of my day is spent behind a till providing customer service, we always have to remain polite and friendly. I wish the same could be said about some of our customers.

I apologise in advance if this post sounds like the script for the next series of Grumpy Old Women, but honestly what has happend to manners these days!?

I say a large portion of my day is spent serving at the till, a large portion is also spent with my friend and I grumbling about the customers once they've left the shop.

My key pet hates...

If you are listening to music please do us the courtesy of taking at least one ear phone out when you come to the till, how do you expect to hear the price when you are deafening yourself and us with rubbish from that weeks Top 40?

Oh and by the way shouting 'what?' or 'how much?' at us when we have already told you twice, is not nice.

We're very happy that you have lots of good friends with you, who like to chat whilst you buy your snacks and books - but shoving products under our nose, turning your back on us and continuing your conversation while we try and ask you if you'd like a bag or tell you the price may one day result in a smack in the head.

The same goes for phone conversations - call them back! or if it really is that important wait before you come to the till, or if you really do need to do both a once, a quick smile and a 'sorry' while we serve you is just about acceptable, just make sure you're listening to us too.

Learn a few simple phrases - 'Please' and 'Thank you' go a long way to stop us looking for something to throw.

And please, for the sake of all that is good and honorable in life don't ever click your fingers to get our attention when we're working (yes it has happend).

Ok lets imagine that hypothetically we sell inter campus bus tickets - coming up to the till and just saying 'Tickets' really isn't going to get you very far. try, 'good morning, could I have 5 tickets to...... please?' -  it's amazing how much quicker we'll serve you as a result.

If we're serving someone, coming to the side of the till and demanding we find you a product or answer a question is not going to work, we will always respond "I am just serving this customer, I'll be with you in a moment ma'am / sir" - you wouldn't like it if we stopped serving you to talk to someone else, don't try it yourself - it is plain rude, and will automatically get you to the back of the queue.

If the shop is busy, and you've made it to the front of the queue - don't suddenly wander off to keep browsing, a quick dash for something is just about acceptable, but please pay for what you've chosen then start again. Or at least say something, 'sorry, I forgot...' is a good start, handing us a credit card and then wandering off leaving everyone waiting is not good. Equally if we're putting the transaction through  going outside to take a phone call just at the 'please enter your pin' point is not good either - don't do it!

oh, and swearing at me because I don't sell chewing gum, that's not on either. I realise you have a unhealthy oral fixation, and the trauma was intense... but still....


  1. My ex works in a bookshop too, reading your blog I feel as though I'm still going out with him! I mustn't be flippant though because he's a brilliant person. And so are you of course, and so are our stalwart booksellers, to whom I am always very very very polite.

  2. Hi,
    I am in India. Your thoughts are an eye opener for me as a customer. Thanks for the same.