10 Things You Shouldn’t Do In A Store

10 – Say, “I guess its free today,” when a item isn’t ringing up – I get it. I’ve heard it 20 times. Today. Checkout equipment is expensive and companies use them for as long as they can. Also, bar codes can get scuffed. Remember, a laser is trying to read a series of black lines. Can you explain how that works? Then don’t make fun of it when it doesn’t.

We get that you’re trying to be friendly, but please, retire this joke.

9 – Pick up an item, look at it, and set it down in any orientation other than the way you found it – The last two hours (if not more) of any retail employee’s shift are cleaning up after customers. “Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?” you may ask. Okay, but by that logic, you should break into your neighbor’s place, murder them, then start their home on fire so that police and firefighters have something to do. They do these things because society requires it, not the business.

And really, what kind of justification is that? If you’re being honest, you just don’t care. You have kids? What do you think they’re learning from that?
Consider what would an employee do if they didn’t need to clean up after you. They could get more product out so the shelves aren’t empty of the things you’re looking for. They could spend more time helping people. They could be getting additional training so that they can better answer questions. Ultimately, they’ll have a better working environment (since putting away the same toy multiple times a day is intensely demoralizing) and be in a better mood to help you.

 8 – Open a package to look at an item, then put the item down without re-packaging it– Similar to number 9, but this one has the added bonus of damaged packaging. Products are packaged in one of two ways: to encourage customer interaction, or to discourage it. Toy packages are designed so that a child can play with the toy while it is still packaged and then pester the parent to buy it for him/her. Food packages have multiple layers to ensure product freshness and prevent tampering and contamination.

Between these two extremes are a range of other types which are designed to protect the product from damage during shipping, while still displaying the contents. Please don’t open these unless you really, really need to. Have you ever found the item you were looking for, pushed aside the damaged box sitting up front, and grabbed one of the undamaged boxes behind it? Guess how that box got that way.

Boxes damaged during shipping are seldom put out on the salesfloor. When customers return damaged or used products, these are returned to the vendors as per contracts between the vendor and the store. On the rare occasion that these two instances lead to a product being displayed, it will be marked down or discounted in some way, not just put back on the shelf. What does this mean?

This means that you don’t need to open packages to see if the contents are alright for fear of other customers tampering with the product. When you see other damaged boxes, its because of other people, like you, checking the contents. Essentially, you’re inspecting the box to make sure you haven’t damaged it.  

7. Set frozen/refrigerated goods in the soda cases by the checkout lines – I know you’re an important person, but before you grab that chicken, think to yourself, “do I want to buy this?” If the answer is no, don’t pick up the item.

Frozen and refrigerated goods are kept to strict standards for how long they can be outside of controlled temperatures for safety and liability reasons. The amount of time it takes you to purchase the product and take it home is unlikely to allow the product to thaw. However, if you hide the product, it may have enough time. You’re now putting the health of other people at risk. Consider the following scenario:

You think, “I may feel like chicken, tonight,” and grab a package of frozen chicken. You continue shopping, adding things to the cart, walking around. As you’re checking out, you realize you forgot the coupon for the chicken and stick it next to some Pepsi. What you don’t realize, however is that a small rip has opened in the packaging of the chicken due to a bump against a larger box. The chicken is not noticed until the next day, when it is discarded.

During the night, the chicken thawed, and dripped onto the surrounding soda. A customer, mistaking the chicken-juice for condensation, simply ignores the wetness of the bottle and touches the bottle to her head for relief from the warm summer sun. -Fade to black

Gross right? I know things happen. If you realize you don’t want a product, for whatever reason, please give it to the cashier instead of hiding it somewhere.
6 – Leave your empty cup on a shelf – When I find cups with liquid still in it, I think, “Oh bummer, I bet they forgot this.” When I find an empty cup, I think, “Asshole.” You’re in a building. There are garbage cans. Use them. You’re not so damn important that you can’t throw away your own trash.

5 – Stick Gum to Things – This is similar to the cup, but gum dries and sticks to things. Also, it was in your mouth, being ground up with your saliva and whatever you ate earlier that day.

If you put gum on something, you’re a piece of garbage and I hope you’re hit by a bus. Does that seem too harsh? Let me run you through my thinking. No one, even the gum-stickers themselves, would say that sticking gum on tables, chairs, etc. is a nice thing to do. I would wager that, universally, this is seen as dickish. Now, since we agree this is rude, why do people do it?

Again, you’re in a store. Again, there are trash cans. Again, you’re not so special that you get to say, “I’ve finished mashing this with my teeth. I’ll leave it here, on the underside of this table. People will wonder about what king or queen so thoughtfully left this here for me to clean up.”

4 – Leave dirty diapers in the shopping cartFirst off, a dirty diaper should never find its way into a shopping cart, let alone, need to find its way out. Second, this.

I have a kid. I change diapers. Throw that shit (literally) in the trash can in the bathroom.

3 – Leave your cart somewhere other than a cart corral – I know, you’ve just finished the arduous task of walking through a well-lit building, selecting the various things you’d like to purchase.  I know, you had to push that cart around the store, and across the parking lot. What a chore! I’m with you. Let me throw something at you though:

First, if you put carts back, employees can retrieve them in a more timely fashion. Remember what I said about putting things away earlier? Go ahead and CTRL C CTRL V that here. 

Second, not putting your cart back in the corral puts people’s cars at risk of getting hit by them. Have you ever noticed that above cart corrals it says, “We are not liable for damage from shopping carts,” or something similar? That’s because people don’t put their carts away, a gust of wind comes along, sweeping the cart along with it, right into the side of a car. It really happens. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Your laziness may result in hundreds of dollars of damage to someone’s car.

Third, putting your cart on the grass or on something similar is not an acceptable alternative. The amount of work it takes you to manhandle a shopping cart up onto a curb is greater than simply putting it where it is supposed to go.

Fourth, this includes the cart area inside the store. Sure, you used the cart in the store but you only got a few things. You don’t need the cart now that your stuff is bagged, so you give it a push toward all the other carts. Then 15 more people do the same thing. Now the area is full of carts, people can’t walk through, and a cashier needs to stop cashiering and go clean up the mess.

2 – Forget How to Use Bathrooms – I’m not sure what happens in the human brain when a person walks into a public/business bathroom, but I’ve seen the results. It’s as if people are walking into a bathroom for the first time, with a brand new set of personal equipment.

Wash your hands. Go ahead and reread the link to fecal coliform. Now think about all the products you handle while shopping. Gross. Hand washing is a thing for a reason. You know what people didn’t do during the spread of the black plague? Wash their hands (among other things).

Next, I understand that you sometimes need to use a bathroom during an emergency. Please, make sure you’re on the toilet before you begin to go. I have cleaned poop off of floors, doors, seats, and walls. Also during an emergency, you may need to use a greater than normal amount of TP. That’s fine. Please give the toilet a fighting chance, though, and use multiple flushes instead of jamming half a roll of paper into the toilet so it overflows and shit-water floods the bathroom.

1 – Be Rude to the Employees – Now, I’m not saying you should ignore when you’ve been spoken to rudely, or not speak to a manager when something has happened. I’m talking about customer initiated rudeness.

Please, don’t walk up to an employee and ask for help by saying the item that you’re looking for. If an employee doesn’t see you, they aren’t being rude, and coming up next to someone and saying, “Vacuums,” is. Maybe that’s how you say, “hello,” where you’re from, I don’t know. What I do know is saying, “Hello, where are the vacuums?” is only four more words.

Second, yelling is not how to get what you want. Sometimes things don’t work out how you expect them to, and you’re dissatisfied as a customer. Understandable, it’s happened to me as well. The correct course of action is far easier than yelling, and yields much better results.

When you and an employee have reached an impasse, you feel that you’ve been mistreated, or there is a problem, the person working the cash register is unlikely to be equipped to help you. More often than not, you’re dealing with a young person with little training (remember what I said about putting things away?) and little authority to override company protocol. The person you want is the manager.

Calmly say to the employee, “I’d like to speak with a manager.” Not, “I wanna talk to your manager!” Not, “I’m never coming here again!”

When the manager arrives, speak to him or her calmly as well. When you’re turned up to 11, staff will want you to leave the store before you make a scene, not keep your business. When you’re calm, they’ll respect your attitude and will go out of their way to make sure that you leave feeling that you were heard and that your problem was addressed. 

I’ve heard people say that they can’t find good customer service anymore. It seems odd that those are often the rudest people to deal with. Children still have these rules of politeness presented to them daily, and it shows. If you want good customer service, be a good customer.


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