The holiday shopping season: Don’t be one of ‘those’ customers

Shoppers got a jump on Black Friday sales this year as some stores opened late on Thanksgiving night, November 22, 2012 Here, late-night shoppers flood the aisles of Target Harbison store in Columbia, South Carolina. (C Michael Bergen/The State/MCT)
Shoppers got a jump on Black Friday sales this year as some stores opened late on Thanksgiving night,  November 22, 2012  Here, late-night shoppers flood the aisles of Target Harbison store in Columbia, South Carolina. (C Michael Bergen/The State/MCT)

Shoppers got a jump on Black Friday sales this year as some stores opened late on Thanksgiving night, November 22, 2012 Here, late-night shoppers flood the aisles of Target Harbison store in Columbia, South Carolina. (C Michael Bergen/The State/MCT)

 

Dear holiday consumers,

As you may know, we are barreling toward the fourth-quarter-holiday-retail extravaganza. As someone who has worked in retail for more than 10 years, there is some valuable advice that you, as the customer, need to hear.

As most of the big stores you’ll shop at this Christmas are billion-dollar corporations, the most important thing to take with you into the store is awareness that the worker inside isn’t to blame for things not going your way.

Because something that’s advertised is no longer available, it does not give you entitled authority to get upset with the store’s staff. Especially with the big companies like Target and Walmart, no one in the store has the ability to directly control what’s in stock.

Becoming angry with an employee who is probably only making minimum wage just makes things worse. You’ve now managed to one: bring down another person’s mood, and two: made the employee care less about you and your satisfaction.

Throwing a fit is not a good method to elicit empathy. The best way to get excellent, above-and-beyond service is to be nice. If you’re yelling or being rude, you won’t get very far.

“The customer is always right” is an adage from our grandparents’ era. It doesn’t really exist anymore. Big businesses got rid of that when they took out the mom-and-pop shops. Although most companies have customer-oriented policies, mega corporations can only control the attitudes of their individual employees.

Also, a social-communication rule is that when you raise your voice, you give the other person verbal permission to raise his voice. So don’t feel surprised if your hostility is met with hostility.

Another huge peeve employees have is being treated like your personal shoppers. Please don’t act as if this is your first time in a retail store. No one is buying it. Also, you don’t sign their checks, so they aren’t your employees.

A lot of customer smugness comes from the idea that the purchase you make pays the salary of the store’s employees. While this is true on a large scale, since the customers who treat employees like their servants are only about 5 percent of shoppers, your $80 purchase isn’t going to make or break Walmart.

All you’ll accomplish is making employees avoid you in the future. Remember, on top of helping every single customer in the store, employees have many more responsibilities that they are graded on for their timely completion. Don’t ever shy away from asking for help if you need it. Just don’t drag the employee with you through the store because you simply cannot be bothered to do your own shopping.

When the holidays cause large lines at the registers, every little bit helps to make the process go quicker. Please come to the register prepared. This will help any line situation you’re in no matter the time of year, but it’s even more vital when the lines stretch far away from the register area during the holidays.

This doesn’t mean you’re in the “soup Nazi’s” line and everything has to be perfect, but don’t be so distracted or overly cautious of the cashier’s scanning that you aren’t prepared to pay as quickly as possible.

If the cashier has scanned 40 items for you, and you haven’t even accidentally begun to go into your wallet or purse, you need to relearn efficiency. Your unwillingness to be prepared to pay immediately is what makes bad lines worse.

If you’re paying with a check, which people still, do believe it or not, the check needs to be filled out completely (except for the total) before the cashier is done scanning your cart of items. If you pull out your checkbook after three minutes of item scanning to fill out your check, the cashier and everyone in line behind you will mentally shoot themselves in the head.

Customers are imperative for a company to be successful, but this does not mean that you are the center of the universe.

During the holidays, at any given time there will be several hundred customers in Targets and Walmarts, and there will be between 30 and 60 employees in the store. While customers are essential, the employees are there for everyone, not just one person.

While providing excellent customer service is a must, and employees will bend over backward to accommodate your at-a-whim requests, please just be realistic with your needs and expectations.

An employee who hasn’t been abused by customers is one who will help you the most, and employees who have already been beaten down mentally will do anything to make you happy if you just show them a bit of kindness.

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