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I see that a checkout assistant at Sainsbury’s refused to serve a customer until she had finished a mobile phone call. The part of the story I don’t like is that after she complained, Sainsbury’s caved in and apologised.

As someone used to serving the public, I can say that nothing gets up a shop assistant’s nose more than a customer conducting a phone conversation whilst you are trying to serve them. Just as one of the most annoying things on earth is two shop assistants engaged in conversation and ignoring (you!) a customer, there is a two-way relationship in the transaction of serving and being served. There is an ettiquette.

The worst thing is when the customer actually answers the phone whilst they are being served. I can forgive them a quick “I’m sorry I’m busy, I’ll phone you back in a minute” but more often than not it’ll begin with some interminable techno ringtone and continue with a stream of trivial shite that needn’t be discussed at all let alone putting aside the courtesy of delaying the conversation for a few minutes.

Oh! and you know what’s worse than that? When you try to communicate with them whilst they are talking, invariably holding up other customers in the process. Half concentrating, taking ages and with one hand they invariably give you the wrong money along with a dirty look for interrupting their conversation!

Sainsbury’s answer? It should have been along the lines of “We insist that our checkout assistants give the customer good service but this does require a little courtesy on behalf of the customer too. In the interests of the speed of serving and to keep waiting to a minimum, we feel that it isn’t too much to ask for a customer to delay their conversation for a few moments”

Instead they caved in.

So some ignorant ‘me,me’ gets an apology and a tenner!

The customer is nearly always right.

But not always…..


5 Responses

  1. Yup.

    I read about this and thought the same thing, the customer was being rude, not the staff member.

    I must be old fashioned.

  2. This “customer is always right” fallacy is years out of date Rab. Yes, they are “still the customer,” but just about every business, large or small, has customers it could well prosper without.
    “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease” is another one past the sell-by date. It’s encouraged a whole generation of serial complainers to seek freebies and compensation and discounts, mostly unwarranted.
    I feel your pain.

  3. It has been a long time since a minor story got me so enraged. Not so much the ignorant customer, but the response from Sainsbury’s, pandering to the incredibly rude woman.The girl behind the till is providing a courteous service but she’s not a f*ckin’ servant ,ya bitch. Unbelieveable.Is the world coming to this? Stop I want to get off.

  4. I know a very patient (former) shopkeeper from Dumbarton. Do you know him?

  5. I once complained to a customer (who had been served) and a check-out wummin about them natterin’ away about garden planting and was told “Do you mind – we are having a conversation.” So, I put my items in my bag and walked out. (Yes, I still shop there.)

    This tactic also works very well when staff are too (ahem!) “busy” to serve you.

    My other joy is putting my items on the conveyor belt whether or not the punter in front of me has had the manners to put up the divider. Oh, what fun frequently ensues.

    Mind you, I’m autistic and can get away with doing these things.

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