Friday, October 26, 2007

Revenge on Customers Amongst Other Things

OK, it's gone past a joke now. No posts in twenty days! What is the world coming to? I'll tell you what - exhaustion. My university has seen fit to schedule all but one of my lectures in a 9.00am slot, and I think I've mentioned before that I'm crap at mornings, and the one day I don't have a lecture to get up for, I do a 7:00am start at Food Place. So, what with that and doing all my private study, when I get a spare moment all I can think about is my warm, cosy bed.

But today, in the midst of reading week, I've decided to set aside some time to get something published on this blog. My archive is cluttered up with half-finished and barely-started posts that I've optimistically set about writing in study breaks and after Food Place shifts. I suppose I'll finish them off sooner or later, but for now you'll have to settle for a mish-mash of work-related ideas that I've got running through my mind.

Revenge on Customers

Whilst helping out on the kiosk yesterday, I got talking to Debbie about scoring cheap victories over nasty customers. The conversation made me realise what a fairy I've become. Since becoming a supervisor, I've forgotten how fun it is to be subtly, or even pointedly, rude to stroppy customers. I'm far too nice to them; maybe I should return to the glory-days of being a not-a-care-in-the-world-part-timer who didn't give a toss about pissing off the nasty people.

Here's just a couple of things the conversation turned up:
  • When a customer places cash payment onto the desk rather than into your hand. These days, I think to myself "how rude" and proceed as normal. In the olden days, I'd get irate and slam their change onto the counter in return. Sometimes I'd even omit to thank them for their custom.
  • When customers sneakily bring 50+ items through the '10 items or fewer' tills. Nowadays, you'd be very lucky if I so much as offered a polite reminder of the item-limit for next time. Too scared of causing offense. Back then, I'd get revenge for their deliberate ignorance by hurling their shopping through so fast that we'd run out of space in the packing well before giving them the smug "this is why it's a ten-items only till" lecture.
  • When customers ask stupid questions. I've become far too patient and tolerant of their idiocy. In yesteryear, if a customer asked where the frozen chips were I'd have said "well you could try over there in the freezers." The fairy-queen me of today would say, "oh, frozen chips just over this way, follow me, are these the ones you want? There's crinkle cut ones here too!"
  • When customers lie. They do this a lot. In the past, I'd have came out and called a shovel a shovel. "No, you didn't ask for x, I clearly heard you, and you asked for y" or "you did not pick this up from the Buy One Get One Free Display because I watched you take it from the shelf over there!" Now, I go for the easy life and kiss their ass. "Oh, I'm so sorry I must have misheard you."

See what being a supervisor has made me? It's turned me into a customer-is-always-right freak! Well, not exactly. It's turned me into the type of shop assistant that holds it all in and blogs about it.

Food Place Catch-up

I'm not seeing nearly as much of the place, and I already feel a little cut-off from 'the crack'. I never seem to find out what's going on anymore and I don't even manage to catch the nasty customers.

About the only interesting event to note is the music-system malfunction. It usually does a very good job of playing a nice variety of tunes and not looping them round too often. But last week it decided to start playing a particularly long version of 'Kelly Watch the Stars' on a loop. For five days. Just when I was one more play away from learning every single note of the song, it unceremoniously launched into 'Whatever Happened to Corey Haim' and hasn't gone back to old Kelly ever since. Perhaps the system was updating itself ready to start throwing Christmas songs at us next week? It's bound to happen. It's usually on or around November 1st. So the next post I write is likely to be titled 'Stick the bloody partridge and it's pear tree where the sun don't shine!'

The cash office politics have flared-up once more. I'm once again in the position of being afraid to make mistakes, lest somebody else go poking through the paperwork looking for them. That isn't the worst part - I freely admit to making mistakes. It's only natural that the odd procedure goes tits-up when I'm rushing to get back to supporting the checkouts. What really bothers me is that certain individuals are taking their findings back to Terry and trying to make me look incompetent. I know it's unlikely he'll think any less of me for it. He's told me numerous times that he likes having a cash office supervisor who would rather be on the shop floor than locked in a lime-green-cell upstairs. All my mistakes ever amount to is money being in one place when it should be in another. And it's usually a case of one till being £10 down and another till £10 over. It's not as though I'm losing hundreds of pounds!

For a long time I thought our store was different. Other Food Places have their cash offices staffed by old Margarets and Joans who bicker and argue all day long and spend hours doing what can be achieved in 20 minutes. I always liked the way the cash office was a small-job in our store. All it ever amounted to was a couple of hours a day following laid-down procedures and it was operated entirely by younger staff and -unusually - three out of four of them were male. But now, people have left and bickering old women are back on the scene. You can imagine the rest.

I'd probably feel a lot better about things if I'd taken the time to vent some steam by blogging about it. As it is, I've bottled it all up and feel pretty depressed about work again. I'm thinking about speaking to Terry to find out whether he'll allow me to work my hours just supervising the checkouts. I don't want any of this cash office hassle now. Either that or I wait until there's a vacancy for kiosk staff and ask to be demoted.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cashier, In the Canteen, With the Lead Piping

Internet Woes
If you’d been wondering why I’ve been quiet over the past few days (not that long periods of time without posts is anything unusual for this blog), then please look to my internet ‘service provider’ for an explanation. What I mean by this, I’m sure you’ve already gathered, is that they haven’t been providing a service to me. At all. I’ve had green ‘LINK’ lights blinking at me for several days. I’d given up hope and was playing a game of Solitaire – face it, what other uses does a PC with no internet connection have? – when my anti-virus software unceremoniously launched it’s web-update function. A connection, at last.

Back to Food Place...It's probably not such a bad thing that my internet deserted me this week because, quite frankly, until today there was nothing to write about. Another week of everybody behaving themselves and no real problems emerging.

But today was something else.

Ringing Bells
Every now and then, the checkout staff at Food Place will take it upon themselves to have a bell ringing day. They ring for extra change, they ring for product replacements, they ring to say they've broken their till, they ring to say they can't send a pod, they ring to say they've dropped their pen on the floor and could I pick it up please. These days invariably coincide with days when I have a lot of other things to be getting on with.

There's nothing worse than trying to do the wages and being interupted every three seconds by a cashier ringing for your assistance. What could they possibly want? I ask myself. I've given them all change and left my keys with the front-end runner. How can they need me? Still, I'd better go down and see what they want...

"Andrew, I think I've just short-changed somebody," a dopey cashier informs me.


"A customer."

"NEVER! I mean, which customer?"

"Oh she's gone now."

So you really thought this was such a huge emergency that you needed to call me away from a very pressing task to tell me all about it!? As a matter of fact, you haven't even told me about it, all you've done is given me a vague outline of the events. Do you even know how much you've messed your till up by? Probably not. Because you're away with the fairies, as per bloody usual!

I tell the fool she'll have to wait until the end of her shift to find out. No way am I interrupting my long list of tasks to pull the drawer off and spot-count it.

The bells continued to ring in very much that fashion all day. Stupid questions, dumb mistakes, false alarms. By the time I'd finished the wages it was a miracle I had any hair left. More so that none of it had turned grey. I was seriously ready to batter the next idiotic cashier to ring a bell to death. Brutal murder at Food Place.

You may recall that some months ago - God it feels like yesterday - we got a new department manager. He immediately got on everybody's nerves, rattled cages left, right and centre and showed himself to be nothing but an arrogant fool.

Now, I can't remember whether I bothered to blog about the enormous improvement in his attitude and conduct. I probably didn't since this blog tends to focus on negative (more interesting) things. Basically, he was given a stern telling-off by Terry and he immediately bucked his ideas up. He started taking an interest in all of the store functions. Asking people about their jobs, watching them at work, asking for training and then, finally, offering to support us. It was actually beginning to become quite a pleasure to work with him.

Well he's gone and stamped over all of that now.

For the past week, he's done nothing but interfere, poke his nose in, complain and, generally, get in the way. Every corner I've turned he's been there, ready to criticise everything I'm doing. Most notably, he keeps banging on that I'm "relying too heavily" on his staff to cover checkouts at busy times.Well excuse me. I thought we were all a team here? Since when do any of us belong exclusively to one department? Since never. We're all there to run a supermarket - whatever that entails for us, be it serving on tills, baking bread or putting out stock.

Perhaps I should tell the checkout staff to stop filling and facing the cosmetics section? He forgets about things like that see. The cosmetics aisle is part of the grocery department, and should be replenished the same way. But no - "the lads on shopfloor" now don't do toothpaste and shampoo. When Terry came to Food Place, he put a lot of work into breaking down the old divide of "lads on the floor, lasses on the tills". Robert is now stamping all over that. He thinks fiddling around trying to balance tiny boxes of headache tablets is beneath the dignity of his "lads" (never mind the seven women who work primarily on grocery). If it's lighter than a 24 pack of lager, it's not hard enough 'graft' for them.

The man is just grating on me - badly. It was so bad on Sunday that I couldn't face getting him to sign off the weekly accounts. The duty manager has to do this - basically it's confirmation that a manager has viewed the cash sheet, checked for discrepancies and given it their approval. I just could not bear the thought of inviting him into the office. He'd stay there all day and droan away about a load of crap. And I'd end up killing him in cold blood.

Well that just about sums up Food Place at the moment. I'm preparing a post about the dumb things that customers do. Nothing fresh, I hear you saying. But I promise they'll all be hitherto unmentioned antics. Things that really make my blood boil. Stay tuned.