Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

April 7, 2010

Retail horror stories?

Working retail? I'll bet you've got some horror stories. I had a few of my own when I was working it.

My friend Melissa (@liss98 on Twitter) just posted a great example of one on her blog.

"Since that stall was obviously "out of order" we posted this sign on the stall door to ensure no one used that toilet. The sign makes it fairly clear that that toilet is out of order, yes? As in, don't freaking use this, right? Yeah, so apparently not.

You see, a brilliant customer used said toilet even with the huge sign taped on the door. It's not like there were no other options. This is not the only toilet stall in our ladies restroom. Said brilliant customer used the toilet and then had the gall to come out to the cashier to hand her the broken lever and state, "I couldn't flush because the lever was broken off.""

The clueless aspect of some people just boggles the mind.

If you're currently working retail, or have worked it in the past, you know what Melissa's talking about (assuming you go read her whole post, of course). I often laugh when I think back to some of the things I experienced when I worked at Waldenbooks all those years ago. Has it been 13 years since I left? Wow, it certainly has.

There were customers who would come to the counter and ask for a book that we had proudly displayed on the counter right in front of them. I had one woman who complained about the content of some of the books, and why we were selling them. I can't remember what the subject matter of the books were. I told her she should submit a complaint to the manager, but she never did.

At Waldenbooks, we were supposed to sell the "Preferred Reader" card. It was $10, but it gave you 10% off everything including your initial purchase and for every $100 you spent, you got a $5 coupon back. When you signed up, you got double dollars, so for a $50 or higher purchase, the card was essentially free. It would cost you less than $5 and you'd get the $5 coupon back. Of course, on a $100 sale, it would be even better because it *was* free (you'd save more than the $10 you were spending and you'd be getting *two* $5 coupons back).

There was one guy, Greek I think, who was a fascinating guy to talk to. I was the one he mainly interacted with, and we would have long conversations about history and the like. He would special order these history books, and we would actually be able to get some of them in. They were usually quite expensive. His orders were often up near $100. Yet he refused to buy the card. Some people had other reasons not to (the reasonable fear that their information would be sold, for example), but he just refused and gave a lot of excuses that really didn't wash. I don't remember what they were right now, but they were pretty lame.

And here's one that's embarrassing to this author (i.e. not a customer story). We had a couple of regular customers who bought the Harlequin Romance novels every two weeks when they came out. They would come in, grab every new Harlequin off the shelf and bring them up to the counter. Usually close to $100. Every two weeks. You do the math.

Anyway, one night we just hadn't gotten them put out on the shelf yet when one of them came in. I had just started the night, so didn't realize that the Assistant Manager (we'll call her Rhonda, though that's not her name) had no intention of putting them out that night; it could wait until tomorrow. We had a ton of boxes in the back of the store and they were kind of buried.

The customer asked if the Harlequins had come in yet, and Rhonda said "no, I'm sorry. Not yet." Me, being ever so helpful (and totally clueless, so it's more than just the customers that can be clueless!), said "No, they did. I saw them in the back."

Rhonda turned to me, looking at me like I had just told her she had gained a couple of pounds. I almost felt the daggers penetrate my skin. She then turned back to the customer and said "Just a moment. Let me go get them" and walked to the back. A few minutes later, she came back with the books, checked out the customer, and sent her on her way. She then turned to me again and you can probably guess where the conversation went. Thankfully, we were friends in addition to being boss/subordinate (we only had 7-8 employees, so we were a close-knit group), so she wasn't pissed off for very long, and we laughed about it later.

Ok, I laughed.

So tell me some of your horror stories. I'd love to hear them. Karen, I'm sure you've got some.

Or how about horror stories as a customer? Have you ever had a horrible clerk at a store? Because of my retail history, I do tend to give retail clerks the benefit of the doubt when they make mistakes, as long as I can tell they're making an honest effort. Some clerks, however, just don't care and those are the horrible ones.


  1. I'm sure I do have stories but I can't think of any. I tend to block the bad ones out an forget about them. I do have some good customers. I have my regulars and the photo lab who won't let anyone but me print their pictures. And I has some regulars at Sears Photo who wouldn't let anyone but me take their photos. I had one little boy, and dammit I can't remember his name, who i saw for the first time at his 6 month session. I made him laugh, his laugh made me laugh, me laughing made him laugh more... let's just say there were a lot of laughs and I got some great photos. It's storied like that, that are worth remembering.

  2. Oh, I have plenty of those memories, too. I did enjoy working retail, for the most part.

    Most of the "horror" stories are funny when you're looking back at them. Especially some of my co-worker stories, which I won't get into right now. LOL

  3. That definitely is a good site. I think I've seen it before, but I'm going to have to subscribe to it.

    Great,another one to add to the list. LOL

  4. It's on my list but I don't count it towards my 43.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.