The Customer is NOT always right!

There is a popular notion that exists out in the world of retail. It is the notion that the customer is always, always, right. Their opinion or interpretation of a situation is the correct one, no matter what.

This is of course, bullshit.

Not every customer thinks like this – in fact, most of them just want to get in, get what they need, and go. They’re not interested in getting into arguments and they are generally good people. Unfortunately, there are still a fair number who operate under this mistaken ‘customer is always right’ idea.

1. I bought it here, so you have to replace it here. A popular argument, and in fact, in some circumstances the customer is right – but in many others, this is not true – take for example, laptops and PCs. These are covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee, and whilst under consumer law we are in theory obliged to replace a faulty laptop within the first three months, we are certainly not obliged to thereafter. Within the first six months it’s at the store’s discretion, and customers who come in demanding we must replace a faulty laptop after say, four months (giving it lots of attitude in the process) are going to leave empty-handed.

2. It developed that crack/smashed screen/broken keyboard all by itself. If you break it, you are responsible for replacing it. I’ve had customers insist to me their laptop screen smashed of its own accord, and I happen to know you have to apply some pressure to the screen to actually crack or break it. One laptop had a clear impact point, but they kept insisting it just happened. I’ve also had customers get viruses onto their computer and still demand we sent it back for repair – then they act incredulous when the manufacturers won’t release it without a fee.

3. I don’t know the make or model of my printer, but I need you to find the ink for it. Arrrrgh! I have no means of delving into your subconscious memory and fishing out the details I need to fulfill your wish! Here’s a tip – the more information you can give me, the easier it is to help you!

4. I need two hundred orders of service for my wedding – and it’s for tomorrow morning! I cannot stand this. Usually a wedding (or Christening, or funeral, or other large gathering) is arranged at least a few weeks in advance (ok, fair enough, funerals sometimes aren’t – you can’t plan for that sort of thing), so why haven’t you gotten yourself organised and thought about the printing needs a lot sooner? Coming in an hour before we shut, and expecting us to be able to complete your ambitious order, is not reasonable, yet here you are, getting pushy and huffy because we’ve told you we can’t do it. Believe it or not, staff in shops are people as well, and we too have families and loved ones we’d like to return home to, at a reasonable hour, which brings me to my next complaint…

5. The website has a different closing time. I don’t care what the website says. Chances are, you’re not looking at the official website, and at any rate, we know our own opening hours, thank you very much. Don’t stroll into the store, five minutes before we’re due to close, and act huffy when we announce we’re closing. You’ve had all day to come in – use your time more wisely next time.

6. The info isn’t clear on the ticket. A common one this one. The chief problem here? The inability of people to read. We have a lot of ‘when bought with’ offers, and these offers are clearly marked, yet so many customers seem to miss the ‘when bought with’ bit of the price ticket, and then act shocked when we point it out.

7. Are you busy? A very stupid question to ask me when I’m carrying a chair/desk/printer, or I am hooking up new laptops or PCs to the security system and have shelving out and wires everywhere. What the fuck does it look like?!

8. The aggressive customer. Take note – if you are the sort of person who goes into a shop and starts shouting, swearing or otherwise just being plain rude, do not be surprised if you don’t get what you want. I have no tolerance for boorish and rude customers – you want good service, be a good customer!

9. Is that [store name]? How many times have I answered the phone, stated the name and location of the store, only to have the customer ask… if they’ve phoned the store at my location? Too many times. How hard is it for people to just listen?!

10. Get off the phone! It is the height of rudeness to blithely carry on your phone call, not even acknowledging me at the till as I handle your transaction. Is a simple thank you too much to ask for these days?

11. I’m never shopping here again! Oh boo hoo! So you’ve had to wait in the queue a little while, or we haven’t fallen for your angry rhetoric, or changed a price for you because you made a mistake. We don’t want such customers here anyway, and it’s not going to have an impact on  the multi-national, multi-billion dollar company I work for anyway.

So, there you have it – a lengthy list of what customers do to make our lives that much harder. I would add that we also have to deal with thieves, parents who let their kids run riot through the store, people who make a mess of the displays they’re looking at… and on top of that, we have to ensure tills are manned, signage is out, stock goes out, promotions are completed… retail is not a simple matter of ‘wait for the customer and smile at them when they come in’. It is far more involved than most people realise. Please, if you make any of the above list a habit at the moment, try to change your ways!

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