Updated 1PM 11/23/2011 - with the recent comments, I changed the title for this guest post.
Here's a special bonus from my good friend and guest contributor, Theresa Egan. She wrote this great article last Thanksgiving, and I figured it was worth a re-post for "pre-Black Friday". Here's her helpful advice to keep in mind while you're out shopping! Remember retailers are people too, so be nice to them as they are helping you get those Black Friday Bargains! Thanks Theresa!!
Secrets of a Retail Associate by Theresa Egan
My husband and I have nearly 20 years of retail experience between us. Needless to say, we have both seen our fair share of Black Fridays. The following is a list of things that we wish the customers who shopped in our stores for Black Friday knew. If you are a customer, avoid some of the following things and learn the others and you will receive the best customer service possible on a day that is pure chaos. As you are shopping for those great discounts, please keep the following things in mind:
1.) You probably look forward to Black Friday for weeks. I have been dreading it since I was hired. Black Friday is a nightmare for retail employees. It is completely overwhelming and so crowded that you can't breathe. The difference is that you get to leave whenever you want, but I am stuck here all day.
2.) You arrived before dawn to grab all those irresistible deals right? Well, I had to get here at least one hour before the store opened. That puts my wake up time around 2am. I'm exhausted. Yes, I am getting paid to be here, but would you be happy about going to work in the middle of the night?
3.) I know that it bothers you when I "pounce" on you the second you walk in the door by bombarding you with sale information. Guess, what? I hate it too, but my boss is standing right over there, so will you please do me a solid and just listen for ten seconds? I promise I won't bother you again.
4.) If I am wearing a lanyard with a sale badge around my neck, don't ask me if I'm for sale. It's not funny and neither are you. PS---It wasn't funny the first 100 times I heard it today either.
5.) No, I will absolutely not model the clothes for you. That's creepy. If you offer to pay me for it, I'm calling security.
6.) You know that impossibly long line that you have been standing in for a half an hour? That's how it has been all day and will be all day, and guess you has to ring you all up? On a regular day I ring around 25 transactions for my 8 hour shift, on Black Friday I will ring 350 transactions by the time I go home. Stop whining.
7.) Please, please, PLEASE read the fine print on the coupon. They always have exclusions and no I can't just magically override the computer for you. Companies purposely make it so I can't do that. It's called stealing.
8.) While we are on the topic, please, please, PLEASE read all sale signs. The exclusions are always printed on the bottom of the sign. If a sign is on a table with pants and shirts and the signs says " $19.50 Shirts" and you bring me pants and complain that they did not ring up at $19.50 then I'm going to suggest that you not buy anything and instead invest in some tutoring to learn how to read. I will never say this to you out loud because my boss is standing right there, but you know who you are.
9.) If I am talking with a customer, please don't interrupt. We are all in a hurry and we have all been up for hours and we are all tired. Just wait politely and I will help you in a moment. You are no more important than anyone else so stop pretending you are
10.) On that note, don't treat me like I am less of a human being simply because I work retail. I am not stupid. Where do you think surgeons and astronauts work to put themselves through school? I could write a lengthy novel about the abuse I have taken from customers over the years simply because I was a "shop girl." How would you feel if I came into your work and treated you like that?
11.) Yes, I do have that sweater in a medium in blue in the back. If you are polite to me I will go get it for you. If you are rude to me, then I suddenly will not have it anymore. If I honestly tell you I don't have it in the back and then if you are an absolute miserable human being to me, then I will tell you I am going back to look for it, but I will actually sit down at the break table and eat cookies and drink coffee for 10 minutes and then come out and tell you that I don't have it. Then I'll sell it to the person in line behind you as soon as you walk out the door.
12.) Remember how your mom taught you to say please and thank you when you were a child? There was a reason. A simple please and thank you can make my day. Please try to remember basic manners. It makes me want to help you and break the rules for you. I'm willing to bend rules for polite, regular customers. I won't budge for the disrespectful ones.
13.) I make more than minimum wage. Barely. There is only so much abuse that I can take before it really isn't worth it anymore, but who can leave their job in this economy? Don't make my bad situation worse by being disrespectful and demanding.
14.) Always get gift receipts. Explain to your friend that if they return it, they will only receive store credit in the amount that you paid for it. So, if you only paid $10 for that sweater, they are only going to get $10 in credit. If the sweater is now $30 it doesn't matter. You only paid $10. I am not going to give you $20 just because. I'm selling sweaters, not giving away money. Of course, if you want to exchange it for the same sweater, but a different size or color, it will be an even exchange regardless if the price has gone up or down and you will not get any money back, nor will you owe any. That's why it's called an even exchange. The same logic is true if you are returning with an original receipt. The amount you paid, is the amount you will get back.
15.) This one is actually really tricky. If a sale is a buy one get one free (affectionately referred to as BOGO) you can't return the full price sweater for the full amount and keep the free one. Otherwise we just gave you a free sweater. You will only receive half the amount that you paid back. For example: You buy 1 sweater at the BOGO price of $40 and get one for free. That means one was $40 and the other was free right? Wrong. This really means that you paid $20 for each sweater. Basically, BOGO is nothing more than half off, but way more problematic. Stores have to make a unit per transaction number each day and this helps them sell more items to each customer. Don't fall for a BOGO unless you really want 2 sweaters and understand that if you return one, you will only get $20. Only God can help you if you do a BOGO and give the sweaters to 2 different people and the person who received the free one wants to return it. Buy them a gift card instead of a sweater. If you return both sweaters, you will receive $40 back.
16.) Yes, if sweaters are 2 for $30 you must purchase 2. No, you can not get only 1 for $15. This process is known as a 2fer. If you could buy 1 at $15 then we would mark them at $15 and not 2 for $30. This is not a grocery store. I am selling sweaters, not cereal.
17.) If you have children with you, don't let them run around unattended and destroy my store. Do you know how long it takes to put up those displays and how long it takes to clean their disgusting fingerprints off all the glass in the store? They may be your precious angels, but to me they are screaming demon spawn sent to make my life a never -ending chore of cleaning Skittles off the merchandise. They are not adorable when they are using permanent pen to draw on our cashmere and silk sweaters and neither are you when you don't confess to it and try to take responsibility. We won't make you pay for it, just do the right thing and teach your children to be accountable for their actions. And no, you may absolutely not use the fitting room as a changing station and leave the dirty diaper for me to pick up. How would you like your workplace to smell like a bathroom? Seriously, in what world is this acceptable?
So as you are hurrying about scoring all those fabulous deals, be kind, be patient, be considerate and be understanding and it will be returned to you with gratitude and stellar customer service. We all want to feel appreciated and if I feel that way, I will do everything in my power to make sure you feel that way too. No, my job in retail is not hard. It doesn't take great wisdom to fold sweaters all day, but being mistreated by people day in and day out makes it unbearable and I go home upset every night. Help make this holiday pleasant for all and follow that age -old golden rule of treat others the way you want to be treated. Everything we really need to know in life we learned in kindergarten after all.
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