Refusal To Serve Until You Get That Cell Phone Conversation Over

by admin on July 10, 2013

Using a mobile phone at the dinner table or in any other social situation is often frowned on as bad manners.  But when a Sainsbury’s employee decided the embargo extended to the checkout one of her customers quickly took offence.   Jo Clarke complained to store bosses that the unidentified worker had refused to serve her unless she put down her phone.

She said: ‘I was standing at the foot of the till waiting to bag my shopping up, yet the lady on the checkout was just staring at me.   ‘When I stopped my conversation and said “Is everything okay?” she said: “I will not check your shopping out until you get off your mobile phone”.

There is some added complexity in this story in that Sainsbury has no actual store policy about using cell phones during check out and that the employee was rude.   But it does bring up the issue of whether it is impolite to have a cell phone conversation while attempting to engage in a business transaction.   My thoughts are that any face-to-face interaction should have each person’s undivided attention and if the roles were reversed, as in the employee was talking to another co-worker or on a cell phone, that the customer would have a verifiable right to be offended at the employee’s distractions.   Customers on cellphones during financial transactions can slow down the check out for those behind them, the risk of misunderstanding (“Did you give me back a $10 or a$20?”) is greater and it’s just generally rude to dismiss those serving you as not worthy of a moment or two of your uninterrupted attention.

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