Retail Therapy #1
Waiters eh, we are a rum lot. Sorry, I mean are full of rum a lot, especially at this time of the year when there is little else to do but drink rum. It's at this time of year my thoughts turn to other, less fortunate, beings who must fight the good fight with the great unwashed public. So I have thrown open the doors of Fillet Towers and welcomed in my brothers and sisters in retail. I asked for their stories and they obliged with gusto.
I may not have to write a post again this month such was the outpouring of retail related grief. But I am not complaining. I sat back on my rocking chair, donned in chunky cardigan and brown corduroy trousers and read these dispatches from the front lines. Like this unmistakable cry for help from Phil,
"There are too many stories from too many years manning the cash desks of Belfast.
Where do I start?
With the lovely Malone Road woman clicking her fingers at us from the other end of the shop?
The woman who returned a faulty product and ranted or 20 minutes only to be told she’d bought it next door?
The three mountain bikes that were stolen from a sports shop window display?
The 32ish year old man who’s mammy asked me to feel his toes in his new shoes?
The tall slim chap bedecked in leather who wanted to know the largest size the thigh high ladies boots came in?
The fellow staff members who stole anything that wasn’t nailed down?
The uncountable disasters had with bought for ‘discount’ books?
The OCD’ers who tidied and complained at unkempt shop-fronts?
The innumerable lunatics who used something to the point of death to then return it as ‘faulty’?
Retail, who’d have it…"
Indeed Phil, indeed.
Sometimes you just need somebody to listen...
And with that I offer you the first of a, hopefully, ongoing series I call...
The first story comes from a retail warrior who calls themselves "Cashier no.9". Go ahead, I'm listening...
The silly season is over, thank god. Now begins the worst WORST time of the year, extended exchange policy time.. Ugggh.
You see them coming. They have a particular walk as they come towards the shop and usually accompanied by a hanger-on (who actually bought the product), the walker is the one who WILL have a fight with you over the product being faulty/wrong/impulse buy. The once, crisp, bag that held their precious item that they were so pleased to get at 4.55pm on Xmas eve, is now crumpled. Like it was thrown against the wall like Kevin Spacey’s plate in American Beauty. It was probably in the bin above the turkey carcass, hence the grease stains on the corner.
The conversation begins like this..
“Hello, How can I ..” (you don’t get a chance to say help)
“Here love, this is the wrong one I got for wee Tiffany-Lee for her xmas box.”
“Oh ok, when was it bought, have you a receipt..?”
“No, her Ma got it for her” (points to hanger on, pretending to look about the shop to avoid being associated with this person arguing)
“Oh ok - let me see..” (eventually finds the transaction)
“Em sir, you bought this item in September..”
“And…?? all I want is a refund love, can you hurry up here, the child is in the car”
What customer doesn’t grasp, and I try to explain in a multitude of ways including the old one of buying a car then bringing it back months later (because you bought the wrong one) and wanting a full refund.. Ehhh no.
Hissy fit ensues from customer, saying that I ruined wee Tiffany-Lee’s Xmas and that as she was upset, it ruined Xmas for everyone else too. Threats to speak to the manager/area manager/CEO of the company are thrown at me.
“To be honest sir, the CEO make the rules of returns, the area manager enforces it, my manager enforces it to us in the shop, so why would they tell you anything different from what I’m telling you the company policy is..?”
With no other options available, the stare-off begins. I stare at him, he stares at me, I then stare at the bag and back at him. Mentally sending him a message to pick up the bag and go, all while tapping nonsense on the till to make it look like I’m done talking.
The hint it taken, customer grabs bag and says “come on you, you’re nat getting naffin else” to the hanger-on and leaves.
Right behind him is another crumpled bag, I pretend to be adjusting my monitor (when I'm picking intensely at a piece of bluetac stuck in the speaker) and they go to the person next to me. Phew..Now who’s turn is it to buy the coffee?
Quality CN9, quality.
More next week. If anybody in retail wants/needs to vent with stories of your own then email them to me at storiesformanuel [at] gmail.com. I'm always listening, occasionally laughing and always understanding. We share a common and disappointing bond...