Saturday, July 28, 2007


It would seem that all the cashiers at Food Place have got together and decided to drive me round the twist. All day they've done stupid things. Persisted in asking stupid questions. Summoned for assistance when it's not required. Summoned me to do tasks for them they're perfectly capable of doing themselves. Held competitions to see who can get rid of the most change in the shortest time. Constantly asked to be relieved for a toilet trip.

In case you didn't quite get all that - they've drove me up the bloody wall!

Dianne Leaves her Brain in Bed
It started first thing this morning. Dianne rang for me three times in the space of fifteen minutes to ask dumb questions. Firstly she asked "do we do these?" whilst waving a suspicious-looking card at me. It turned out to be a card given to convicted criminals to allow them to pay fines. Yes Dianne, we do, in fact, allow people to pay their fines here, but we decided not to train anybody to handle it, hoping you'd just blunder your way through it and miraculously do it right! (Sarcasm, as I'm sure you gathered.)

Minutes later she rang down again. "This lady's forgotten her purse, but she lives miles away. She wants to know if she can take the shopping now and pay next time she's in." OK, not a question, as such, but how dumb can you get? Yes Dianne, of course you can allow people to float off home without paying for their shopping. That's what Food Place is all about!

Next time, about three customers later, "Andrew, this isn't scanning, can you find me a price please?" What? You mean that packet of cheese you're waving at me that's got £1.09 plastered right across the front of it?

If she'd rang that bell one more time, I'd have gladly throttled her.

Deborah's Change Requirements
This morning I was in a very industrious mood and I got the morning change run done and dusted within half an hour of the store opening. I had every till crammed to the gills with every denomination of coin and was confident I wouldn't have to even think about change again until at least 3.00pm.

But Deborah had other ideas. By 10.00am she needed more pound coins. Annoyed at this attempt to scupper my change plans, I nonetheless gave her 100 more £1 coins and £40 in £5 notes. Nobody else needed anything, so I had to do this change run specifically for her till. What a waste of time, but I soon got over it.

Not two hours later, when most of the other cashiers hadn't even got through their first bag of £1 coins, Deborah rang her bell again:

"Andrew, I need some more pound coins."

"What the hell are you doing? Eating them? Have you not been working your change?"

The following line was delivered with such perfection that, despite my annoyance, I had to laugh (she was just finishing serving a customer as she said it)

"Yes! I have been working my change! [to the customer] that's £9.99 change, thank you!"

"Oh, you've been working your change, but you've just handed a customer a pocket-full of the stuff, without asking for the penny!"

At least we both got a bit of a giggle, but I still had to go away and do ANOTHER change run for one till only.

The Bells
Four times today, the bell was rang and I walked several thousand miles to assist only to be told that it didn't matter - they didn't need me after all. What the hell were they playing at? I'll tell you what it is - cashiers spot a potential problem, looming about five miles away on the horizon, and immediately ring for assistance - ignoring the 100 possible solutions they could use without having to bother a supervisor.

Oh, it's doing my head in just thinking about it, so I'll go away and get some rest. Hopefully I'll be able to recharge myself adequately so I don't have another stressful day tomorrow. Highly unlikely...


DarrellH said...

This is ever so enoyable to read. Good work!

Al said...

My name is Al and I have a confession to make.

I am guilty of the last sin you mentioned on occassions. I do try to do it only when I spot something I know I'm not going to be able to sort myself (and these are pretty rare). I do it simply because I know that if I left it until I "discovered" the problem we'd all be waiting unproductively for about 5 minutes while it's sorted. By summoning help early it means that the amount of time the customer has to spend waiting is reduced (in theory).

I hate asking people for the odd 1p but if it was something like £9.99 change then I would, if only to save me counting it all out! In my experience if people know they're going to get say £9.99 change they'll offer the 1p if they have it.

James UK said...

...but we decided not to train anybody to handle it, hoping you'd just blunder your way through it and miraculously do it right!

Had my own experience of this Sunday morning as a customer in Sainsbury's.

We always use the "Self-Scan Fasttrack" thing, and as the dedicated Fasttrack tills were full, went to another "normal" till (which you can do)

The very young girl on the till seemed to know what she was doing, but then couldn't get the wand's data "into" the till, and had to call someone.

She cocked it up, and we had to endure a full manual re-scan, without her offering to re-pack or help us at all.

Then trying to pay, I'd put my debit card in the Chip and Pin machine, which caused her more hassle, and she had to get someone to "clear" something off.

Why don't these places ensure the staff are up to speed on all aspects of the till that they are likely to get?

Going back to your post, you'll have to develop a new phrase for people being generally stupid; "I'm being a right Dianne today" or "He / She's doing a Dianne!"

And giving £9.99 change! For flip's sake! (stonger expletive removed ;-))Plus the customer must have been a right goon not to offer the penny either,and taken all that change! ;-)

Doesn't it seem no matter what shop it is, there always seems to be staff who'll run their tills competently all day (and probably could forever) on one float, and there are the Deborah's who always use tonnes of change regardless...

Bells-wise, I suppose you could keep going up to these persistent offenders when they haven't rung and ask them what they want, as if they had.

Do that ten times an hour and they may soon get the hint!

Ever been standing in the queue at a Marks and Spencer Food Hall (and I'm thinking of Chelmsford here...) and heard the cashier ring that lovely old fashioned bell in some "code" to signify a problem... then ring it again, and again and again..?

I noticed Saturday that ASDA (well, the Chelmer Village one)now use a phone system; The till person rings when they have a problem, someone on the floor answers and they go and sort out the problem.

James UK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al said...

Just out of interest James, who cocked it up, the cashier or the person she called?

I think the main issue with places like Sainsbury's and Tesco is that their training consists mainly of "here's a checkout and someone to stand and show you what to do" and that's it. It's fine for most things after a couple of shifts but it's highly unlikely to cover every eventually.

If something only comes up occassionally then there's a good chance that even if it was covered by their training they may not be fully "up to speed" on it.

AggressiveAdmin said...

Thanks for the positive comments Darrellh. It can get a bit tedious coming home after a stressful day and, instead of forgetting about it with a bottle of wine, sit and blog about it. But it's worthwhile when you know that people enjoy reading it :)

James UK, there's nothing worse than being held up at a till, for whatever reason, and getting no explanation or apology from the staff. I'm always slapping our staff's wrists (not literally, of course) for not interacting enough with customers and explaining any delays.

Food Place is old fashioned like the M&S you mention. We just have a loud bell on the front wall that the cashiers ring when they need help. We use codes - one bell for more till staff, two bells for a supervisor, three bells for a security alert.

Al - you do things the right way by summoning help you know you'll need early - many of our staff summon help when a problem has barely hinted it's going to emerge and they just seem incapable of acting off their own initiative. But then, I'm always reminding myself that minimum-wage + 20p isn't the best motivation for people to use their brains at work!

James UK said...

"Just out of interest James, who cocked it up, the cashier or the person she called?"

The cashier... normally with the fasttrack, the cashier scans the wand "in", seems to "accept" it, then does any extra / problem items, then "adds" the wand shopping.

This girl scanned the wand in, but didn't seem to accept it. Then did the few other bits, hit "total" and got "£3.62 - 5 items" or something. She then managed to "cancel" the wand (I reckon) before she called someone. (I actually "waved" at the supervisor as this girl just seemed to be looking around, and hadn't pressed the "supervisor" button thing. Ergo, we had to re-scan the lot.

" bell for more till staff, two bells for a supervisor, three bells for a security alert.
I'm going to listen out more closely on Saturday when I visit M&S and see if I can work out what rings mean "what", and I'll post back here, or something.

I think you've hit the nail again with the "no motivation" thing... they simply aren't interested, and I think some are happier sitting there waiting for help, rather than serving! ;-)

Thanks for the info. guys.