Recently, much has been made of the so-called Decline in Customer Service. Supposedly retail employees have become surly, unresponsive, and not at all interested in catering to every whim of the Almighty Customer. Employees' worth can be easily determined by the size of the paycheck they bring home, and they're obviously never going to amount to anything .. they should be happy to prostrate themselves before
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the Customer in all matters. Right?
Wrong. Unbeknownst to many, those of us who ARE retail employees -- who may have found ourselves in retail-related circumstances owing to
unfavorable divorce settlements, unexpected widowings, or Mumsie and Father's inability to pay our tuition -- are in direct communication with the great and mighty Retail Gods. The Retail Gods are very, very angry. They, and we, realize that the so-called Decline in Customer Service can be DIRECTLY attributed to idolatry -- namely, the notion that The Almighty Customer is a god in his or her own right, and therefore may behave in any damn-fool destructive, rude, careless, stupid, ignorant or abusive way he or she sees fit.
It goes without saying that you get what you give, and if you are cheerful and kind and willing to work with us, we'll fawn all over you. But, tragically, customers have ceased to pay attention to the Ten Retail Customer Commandments. In fact, most customers have no idea that these Commandments exist at all. So, for everyone's edification, here they are. (Your faithful scriptural scholar is donning her Consecrated Asbestos Suit against the inevitable flames from people with exaggerated senses of entitlement.)
1. Thou shalt not fancy thyself a God, to have no other Gods held above thee.
You have money. We want it. This does not mean that we are obligated to have our time wasted by you. You are not entitled to be a dick. You are not the be-all and end-all. Sorry if this hurts your feelings, guys, but if you make a nuisance of yourself you deserve what you get.
"A nuisance" is a pretty broad definition, I realize, but here are some examples: deciding you don't want those chicken livers after all, and stashing them behind the toilet paper. Allowing your offspring to destroy everything in sight. Exorcising your PMS demons on a helpless employee,over an issue with which the employee has nothing to do. Coming to us with questions along the lines of "I want this book. I don't remember what it's called, or who wrote it, or what it was about, or when I saw it, but it was about this big and had a blue cover," and threatening to call Corporate when we can't help you. And so on.
2. Thou shalt not make Graven Images in an attempt to fake us out.
Xeroxed coupons, phony receipts, counterfeit bills, expired this, issued-by-our-competitor that. We are not obligated to take your Graven Images, and don't you DARE give us a hard time when we refuse.
2a. Thou shalt, however, pay much heed to the Graven Images with which the Retail Gods choose to surround you, lest you tick us off most severely.
Yeah. You know how there are signs in stores? Please read them. Please. Chances are, you won't even NEED to interact with that nasty employee at all, if you just read the damn signs. Wanna know where the restroom is? Look for the sign that says "Restrooms"! Wanna know what the store's Hours of Operation are (as per the Fourth Commandment)? They're posted right on the fuckin' door. These Graven Images are not there for decoration.
3. Thou shall not utter blasphemy in the presence of the Retail Gods, for this is naughty in Their sight.
If the phrase "The customer is always right" ever escapes your lips, we assume that you are not only WRONG, but festering, bloodless, rigor mortis-having DEAD wrong. You may whine and minge and yell and stomp your little feet until the poor employee caves in just to get you the hell out of his face, but you're probably fucking wrong anyway.
Example: You want an item. An employee informs you that the store is out of said item. What do you do? If you demand that the employee produce
the item anyway, because The Customer Is Always Right, you are in clear violation of the Third Retail Customer Commandment. Likewise, if you invoke the dread phrase after you have tried to finagle Free Shit to which you are not entitled (see the Sixth Commandment, below,) may the Gods strike you down where you stand.
4. Remember thy Hours of Operation, and keep them holy.
There's an Asshole Customer urban legend which claims that if you are in the store, even if the store is closed, we are STILL obligated
to wait on you hand and foot. This is a pernicious lie. If we say we're closed... if we have made seven or eight PA announcements to the effect that we are closed...
WE'RE CLOSED. We now have to get down to the business of cleaning up after you, so please note the time the store opens in the morning and get the hell out.
5. Honor thy Return Policy, that its days may be long upon the earth, and that we don't get exasperated and take it away from you.
Need a receipt for a return? Keep your receipt. Is there a time limit for a refund? Remember what it is, and behave accordingly. This isn't fucking rocket science,
people. Also: unless a product is defective, we CANNOT take it back unless it is in saleable condition. If the kitty barfed on it, if it looks like it's been trodden on by an exceptionally hefty horse, if you purchased it in 1996 and it is faded, covered with pills, and the elbows have gone all baggy, don't even think about trying
to return it. This is tantamount to attempting to finagle Free Shit to which you are not entitled. (Again, see the Sixth Commandment.)
6. Thou shalt not Kill thy Retail Establishment's Profit Margin by attempting to finagle Free Shit to which you are not entitled.
You stubbed your toe on a display. You think an employee looked at you funny. An item won't scan the first time the cashier swipes it. Someone else stuck a 50% Off sticker on an item, in an attempt to finagle Free Shit to which they were not entitled, and said item fell into your hands next. What do you do?
If your first reaction to any of these calamities is something like "Hot DOG! Maybe I can get Free Shit!" you are in clear violation of this most grave and pointed of Commandments.
Now, well may you wonder.. "Hey! What do I care about this faceless megacorp's profit margin?" You shouldn't, of course. However, the more money we lose
on people trying to scam Free Shit, the more likely we are to hike prices, cut employee hours and hours of operation, and subject you to even less fawning service than that to which you have become accustomed.
If you try to weasel the price down, or get Free Shit, every time you are confronted by a retail transaction, you should know that you are DIRECTLY responsible for higher prices and the presence of harried employees. Retail establishments are not ego-stroke emporiums, nor are they charities. They're in it to make a buck, just like you. If you go out of your way to avoid paying for the goods and services these establishments offer, you're only cornholing yourself (and everyone else) in the long run.
A note on haggling, extrapolated from the original text of the Sixth Commandment: Haggling works at yard sales, at thrift stores, at swap meets, and
sometimes at mom-n-pop joints with which you have a years-long relationship. It does not work anywhere else. Sidling up to the register at your local big box
and telling the cashier "Hey... I'll buy these undershirts, and this copy of 'Us Weekly', IF you give me the Capri Sun for free," DOES NOT WORK. The
cashier doesn't stand to gain anything by giving merchandise away -- she STILL takes home the same paltry check she would otherwise. If she acquiesces, and gets caught, she could even be fired. So don't you DARE give her a hard time if she won't knuckle under to your bullying.
Sometimes the Retail Gods do deign to give you Free Shit, in the form of Special Promotions. Pay heed to said Special Promotions... and if they require a coupon, BRING THE COUPON.
7. Thou shalt not threaten Retail Adultery in the service of violating the Sixth Commandment.
Does our competitor have the same item for cheaper? Great! Go there! Some Retail Establishments pricematch. Most do not. If the Retail Establishment you are patronizing doesn't pricematch, you're wasting your breath.
8. Thou shalt not Steal.
If you shoplift, you're a pathetic fucking loser who needs to wake up and realize that you're not in seventh grade anymore.
9. Thou shalt not bear False Witness against thy Employee.
Did I politely tell you that we are out of the item you wanted? Did you then call back, ask for my supervisor, and tell her that I "cursed at you" and "hung up on you"? If so, you are Bearing False Witness, and you deserve to be strung up by your toenails.
Don't fucking LIE. Don't call us up and tell us that some mythical other employee told you that you get to take home our entire inventory for free. If we tell you how it is, don't accuse US of lying either, as this also constitutes Bearing False Witness and is just plain shitty to boot.
Asshole Customer: "I've had this item for a year and I've driven over it with my Expedition, oh, five, six times. Can I return it?"
Employee: "No, sorry, that's against company policy."
Asshole Customer: "You're a LIAR! I KNOW you can take this back! LIAR! Get me your manager!"
Um. We underwent many interminable hours of training so as to absorb all the company policy the Retail Gods care to shove at us. We KNOW what the return
policy is. We KNOW we can't get you stuff that isn't on the premises, at least not immediately. We KNOW we can't give you a discount for no reason.
Do not Bear False Witness against us!
There is a special place in Retail Hell for people who Bear False Witness by crying racism.
Example the second:
[banging on locked door, employee pokes head out]
"I'm sorry, we closed at 10 and it's 10:45 now. We open at 9 AM tomorrow--"
"What?! You're just not helping me because I'm [insert ethnicity here]! You're a RACIST!"
10. Thou shalt not covet thy Employee's Free Time, nor his/her Discount, nor his/her Secondary Sexual Characteristics, nor anything else that belongs to thy
If you see a store employee, in civvies, bereft of nametag, skulking out of the store and obviously trying not to be noticed, she is probably heading home for the day or going to lunch. Do not insist that she help you. You may be entertaining some romanticized notion that if she took her job seriously, she'd help you even though she is off the clock and not getting paid. Fuck you. You may work on your lunch break, but dammit, we don't get paid enough. Leave us alone.
Also: if you use the employee's company discount (usually provided as a bargaining chip to keep us from giving up and quitting in disgust) as collateral in some kind of sick psychological warfare, you deserve NOTHING. ("Hey, uh, give me your discount and I won't tell your boss you called me an asshole." "But I didn't call you a --" "Nuh-uh-uh! Discount!")
Also: the employee is not there for your titillation. S/he is not there to be ogled, groped, or leered at. Do not hit on him/her. Leave him/her alone and let him/her do his/her job. Okay?
That is all, but I think you will agree it is enough.