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.


Ginny said...

Getting “revenge” on customers on subtle ways is the only thing that gets me through the day. Throwing shopping they refuse to pack themselves into a bag unceremoniously. Giving people change of £5+ in 50 pence pieces when they're rude. Being so extra-extra sickly polite when they're offensive that it makes them even angrier. It’s my only way of venting frustration when I’m stuck on tills all day.

As for the cashing-up thing…our rather dippy cash officer is also supposed to work on reception, but one of our till staff is reception trained so he can cover her whilst she cashes up for the hour or so it should take. It’s a good system, and would work really well…except the cash officer takes five or six hours to cash up, so we end up a till staff member short in the busiest times of the day.

Dave said...

So you also have this problem of ppl going through the express till with more than 10 items. I can't understand why they don't set the _computer_ (i.e. it's not the cashier's fault - it's the stupid computer!!!) to automatically add on a surcharge (which is prominently posted by the queue) - surely ppl would get the idea?

James UK said...

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.

Do you know, I think I've just hit on why this is on the increase;

I've been to places in Eastern Europe, and in virtually all the supermarkets there they have a small tray right where we used to have the plastic "rest" for cheque writing etc.

Having been on the receiving end of some wild gestures, frantic pointing, and the like, it soon became apparent that as a customer, you are supposed to put your money in the tray, the till person takes it, then places your change back into the tray for you to collect.

I reckon that a lot of these people are from countries that do this as the norm, and given what I keep reading about the large influx of Polish / Czech people, I bet this is what it is.

How's the music thing work? Is it one of those satellite downloading mp3 super updating quad 500GB hard disk self systems?


As for b@stards trying to make you look bad, I'm afraid this goes on everywhere now... :-( The only thing to do is to weather the storm and try and do it to them twice as hard!

Ask away for a changed role. Make it look like you've spotted a "reason" for it that could possibly make Terry's life easier, and you'll be halfway there to getting it.

I'm with Dave too... I would love to see the tills limited to 10 items, then needing to be "cleared" by way of payment etc.

Al said...

Subtle revenge - the fun a cashier can have. I've done most of what you write about although I seem to have gone the opposite way to you - when I first started I was industriously polite to anyone and everyone and then it went downhill.

I've noticed that people who put their payment on the desk rather than giving it to me don't really annoy me anymore. I used to just give them their change back as it was given to me so if they put on the desk that's where their change would go. I wouldn't slam it down or anything, just gently place it down on top of the receipt. Now I don't tend to bother.

It's interesting what you say there James, but it still doesn't account for the many British people who do it.

Having a surcharge for those who use the express tills with more than the allowed number of items is an excellent idea. I have previously suggested that the till simply refuses to accept more than 10 but that would probably just have people doing loads of seperate transactions (the ones with the stronger consciences do that already). Taking money off people would definitely get their attention. Make it £5 a time and people would soon stop.

We don't have any in store music which is a shame I think. Come christmas we do 'borrow' some Christmas CDs from the shop floor and play them over the PA system but it would be nice to have something year round. As long as it's not one of those annoying "radio stations" some companies use and there are no adverts.

AggressiveAdmin said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Dave - some good suggestions. I like the idea of fining customers who abuse express tills. Sadly, four of our express tills on the kiosk don't have item limits - they're just constrained to baskets. The idea of having the till block out more than ten items would be more trouble than worth though. You'd just end up having to put the odd 11th item through seperately. Although, it was discussed a couple of years ago, that the express tills would require a supervisor authorisation key to accept more than 15 items in a transaction. Never happened. Probably just as well, because it would drive me nuts.

James - I'm toying with the idea of asking to keep doing my current job (cash office and till supervision) but not be paid as a supervisor. If I'm a lowly store assistant, I wouldn't get the extra crap thrown at me. Don't think Terry will go with it though and I think I'd really struggle with having the other cash supervisor as my superior. So still a bit undecided. And yes, it's an MP3 system that updates itself periodically. But the music is much more varied than I've heard in any other shop and isn't filled with crappy tracks.

Al - yup, it sure does have adverts. Ranges from individual product ads, which Food Place probably get paid a fair sum to play, and plugs for our promotions. It does work wonders on the sales though. Since the system went live in our store, promotion sales have added an extra 10k a week onto our store sales.

Jack said...

Got to agree with Ginny. Liars, rude people, pretty much anyone can be revenged by giving them MUCH tiny little coins as their change. Did once give some mouthy kids 25p change in pennies. When they asked what was taking so long I smiled sweetly and said "your change" then dumped 25 1p coins in his hand.

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