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Author Topic: Post Office politeness (or not)  (Read 11642 times)

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perpetua

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2014, 10:46:08 AM »
I may be missing something, but are we debating the rudeness of someone saying 'excuse me, will you hand me that piece of paper'? I would say you were in no way rude unless you actually interrupted a transaction between the clerk and the patron, which it sounds like you didn't. I'm sure the whole thing took about 4 seconds, and you did not inconvenience anyone at all.

If the post office is set up similar to our post offices it's a little more than that: it's butting in in front of the next person in the queue when it was their turn to ask the clerk to get you some forms from behind the counter.  To do that here (although it may be different where the OP is), she would have had to step in front of the person at the head of the queue, go to the next vacant window ahead of them and ask the clerk for the forms. It's not that it took 4 seconds (probably more), but the principle of the thing. The OP wasn't next in line and should have waited until it was her turn to ask for the forms, although her intentions were good she went about it in the wrong way.

jaxsue

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2014, 10:52:51 AM »
I may be missing something, but are we debating the rudeness of someone saying 'excuse me, will you hand me that piece of paper'? I would say you were in no way rude unless you actually interrupted a transaction between the clerk and the patron, which it sounds like you didn't. I'm sure the whole thing took about 4 seconds, and you did not inconvenience anyone at all.

If the post office is set up similar to our post offices it's a little more than that: it's butting in in front of the next person in the queue when it was their turn to ask the clerk to get you some forms from behind the counter.  To do that here (although it may be different where the OP is), she would have had to step in front of the person at the head of the queue, go to the next vacant window ahead of them and ask the clerk for the forms. It's not that it took 4 seconds (probably more), but the principle of the thing. The OP wasn't next in line and should have waited until it was her turn to ask for the forms, although her intentions were good she went about it in the wrong way.

It's the same in my PO. For some reason, they keep all the forms behind the desk. The clerk asks how many you need, what kind, and it does take more than a few seconds. And the way it goes in my PO: you wait in line, and when you are next and it's apparent what you need, the clerk hands you the forms. You are asked to step aside to fill them out, and meantime they clerk helps the next person in line. When you are done with the forms, you are given priority (you don't have to go to the back of the line).

kategillian

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2014, 11:15:16 AM »
I guess my PO is set up differently. This would not be considered rude here.

Knitterly

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2014, 11:28:25 AM »
I may be missing something, but are we debating the rudeness of someone saying 'excuse me, will you hand me that piece of paper'? I would say you were in no way rude unless you actually interrupted a transaction between the clerk and the patron, which it sounds like you didn't. I'm sure the whole thing took about 4 seconds, and you did not inconvenience anyone at all.

If the post office is set up similar to our post offices it's a little more than that: it's butting in in front of the next person in the queue when it was their turn to ask the clerk to get you some forms from behind the counter.  To do that here (although it may be different where the OP is), she would have had to step in front of the person at the head of the queue, go to the next vacant window ahead of them and ask the clerk for the forms. It's not that it took 4 seconds (probably more), but the principle of the thing. The OP wasn't next in line and should have waited until it was her turn to ask for the forms, although her intentions were good she went about it in the wrong way.

It's the same in my PO. For some reason, they keep all the forms behind the desk. The clerk asks how many you need, what kind, and it does take more than a few seconds. And the way it goes in my PO: you wait in line, and when you are next and it's apparent what you need, the clerk hands you the forms. You are asked to step aside to fill them out, and meantime they clerk helps the next person in line. When you are done with the forms, you are given priority (you don't have to go to the back of the line).

This is, I think, one of the key differences.  I'm not saying I wasn't rude.  The overwhelming agreement seems to be that I should not have done what I did.

However, here you are not asked to step aside.  Filling the forms out is part of your regular transaction.  The clerk will start to weigh and measure your packages while you fill out the forms and then wait for you to finish filling out the forms to complete the transaction.  They will not start on the next customer until you are finished your forms.

I know that personally, I cringe inside if I get into the post office line where someone in front of me literally has a bag of packages to go out.  It was only 3, but they were rather big packages and may have seemed like more to someone at the end of the line.

The exact (almost verbatim, as best as I can recall) exchange went as follows:
Me: "Excuse me, could I have a few forms to fill out while I'm waiting?"
Lady In Front of Me: "Or you could, you know, just wait like everyone else."
Me: Pointing to the line It's easier on everyone if I do them now.
Customer at the desk: to the clerk, at the same time as what I said to the Lady "I can pass them."  To me (actually with a smile) "Here ya go!"
Lady in Front Of Me: [biiig sigh with an eyeroll].

She didn't say anything else.  No one said anything else.  The clerk didn't say anything.  The other customers didn't say anything.  I didn't say anything.  I just filled out my forms and then mailed the packages when it was my turn.

However, I think maybe in this case the rudeness really was mine. 


Surianne

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2014, 12:58:59 PM »
In the post offices I go to regularly, your request would have been quite normal -- I've seen people do this, and it saves everyone time. 

jaxsue

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2014, 02:25:03 PM »
OP, I won't throw you under the bus. While your setup is different from the setup in my PO. While it's true that something like this would seem out of place where I live, it wouldn't be agregious enough to justify how you were treated.

LadyR

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2014, 05:34:28 PM »
As a fellow Canadian (and I think from the same province) I see nothing wrong with what you did. I've never thought of asking for extras to fill out at home, that's brilliant! I generally take the form and step to the side, letting the person behind me go when I'm filling it out, but then its the question of do I get back in line and wait all over again or do i just step back in line? Generally the clerk motions for you to come right back, but that feels rude. I prefer your way.


SiotehCat

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2014, 07:40:02 PM »
I think you were rude.

I wouldn't have cared if someone in front of me took 2-3 minutes filling out forms, but I would have been very irritated if someone tried to jump in front to ask for some forms. I would have said something then, and when I got home I would have called or emailed about the employee.

Knitterly

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2014, 08:51:30 PM »
I think you were rude.

I wouldn't have cared if someone in front of me took 2-3 minutes filling out forms, but I would have been very irritated if someone tried to jump in front to ask for some forms. I would have said something then, and when I got home I would have called or emailed about the employee.

I guess I understand the part about saying something.  I do hope you would have said it with a much kinder tone than was used with me.  But I do not understand the purpose in calling to complain about the employee?

Why should the employee get into trouble for handing a pile of forms over the desk?

I understand that I should not have asked.  I understand how so many people see it as line jumping (I'm still not sure I personally do, as I never moved from my own spot).  I don't really understand why the employee should get in trouble for my mis-step, though?

kareng57

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2014, 09:48:11 PM »
I think you were rude.

I wouldn't have cared if someone in front of me took 2-3 minutes filling out forms, but I would have been very irritated if someone tried to jump in front to ask for some forms. I would have said something then, and when I got home I would have called or emailed about the employee.

I guess I understand the part about saying something.  I do hope you would have said it with a much kinder tone than was used with me.  But I do not understand the purpose in calling to complain about the employee?

Why should the employee get into trouble for handing a pile of forms over the desk?

I understand that I should not have asked.  I understand how so many people see it as line jumping (I'm still not sure I personally do, as I never moved from my own spot).  I don't really understand why the employee should get in trouble for my mis-step, though?


If the policy is that everyone waits their turn, no matter what,  for sure the employee could get into trouble.

Naturally I don't know what the policy is at your individual PO - but almost everyone in customer-service positions has to face the reality that "bending the rules" for one customer could cause another customer to complain.

sweetonsno

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2014, 10:29:31 PM »
I think you were rude.

I wouldn't have cared if someone in front of me took 2-3 minutes filling out forms, but I would have been very irritated if someone tried to jump in front to ask for some forms. I would have said something then, and when I got home I would have called or emailed about the employee.

I guess I understand the part about saying something.  I do hope you would have said it with a much kinder tone than was used with me.  But I do not understand the purpose in calling to complain about the employee?

Why should the employee get into trouble for handing a pile of forms over the desk?

I understand that I should not have asked.  I understand how so many people see it as line jumping (I'm still not sure I personally do, as I never moved from my own spot).  I don't really understand why the employee should get in trouble for my mis-step, though?

Their neglecting the customer who is in front of them for a customer who interrupted the transaction is a mis-step of their own. I know a lot of people would be annoyed if their cashier stopped serving them to take care of another customer, however briefly. (I remember one thread that dealt with this but the question was about whether the in-store customer or the one on the phone should have priority.)
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Arila

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2014, 11:48:05 PM »
At our PO, they take a hybrid approach. If you get up to the window and they realize you have to fill some forms, they will explain what you need to do, then send you a little off to the side to complete the forms, then you jump back in to that window between customers after you're done. You could offer to do this in the future, wait to get to the window, get the forms, then offer to complete them off to the side and return to the transaction after the next person in line.

AuntyEm

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2014, 06:44:48 AM »
I think there is a cultural difference at play here--the idea that the customer gets complete full attention from the clerk until the entire transaction is over. 

I did not see this until I moved to Europe and found it very ineffecient. Yes, when you finally get your turn you don't have to deal with someone askinging "a quick question" like you often do in the US, but the customer is also getting full attention while they think about their decisions, talk things over with each other, etc.  In the meantime, there can be a long line waiting for help while the clerk just stands there "waiting on the customer" ignoring the ever growing line. 

There has to be some leeway for the clerk to use common sense to multi-task.  While someone is looking at paint colors, they can tell the next person where the electrical supplies are, what time the store closes, etc.   I think this is the norm most places in the US.  We don't break into another's active transaction but if there is a lull we slip in to keep things moving and don't consider it rude.

perpetua

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2014, 07:10:15 AM »
I think there is a cultural difference at play here--the idea that the customer gets complete full attention from the clerk until the entire transaction is over. 

I did not see this until I moved to Europe and found it very ineffecient. Yes, when you finally get your turn you don't have to deal with someone askinging "a quick question" like you often do in the US, but the customer is also getting full attention while they think about their decisions, talk things over with each other, etc.  In the meantime, there can be a long line waiting for help while the clerk just stands there "waiting on the customer" ignoring the ever growing line. 

There has to be some leeway for the clerk to use common sense to multi-task.  While someone is looking at paint colors, they can tell the next person where the electrical supplies are, what time the store closes, etc.   I think this is the norm most places in the US.  We don't break into another's active transaction but if there is a lull we slip in to keep things moving and don't consider it rude.

It might be, but in the examples you gave, I (and most UK folks I'd imagine) would be browsing the paint colours alone after having asked an assistant where to find them (or even found them ourselves). We don't expect the kind of service that US stores seem to want to provide, ie, undivided attention when it's not needed. In the paint shop example I wouldn't expect a member of staff to be there while I chose my colours. If I had a question that arose while doing it (ie, 'Can i paint woodwork with this or is it just for walls?') I'd go and find someone, rather than expect to have them on hand while I was choosing just in case I had a question.

In the post office example though it's a bit different because the person who serves you is behind a counter and often a plexiglass wall thing, so they can only give their attention to one person at a time. They can't walk out to help someone find a size of envelope (or whatever) while there's a lull in the transaction at the counter. So, someone asking for 'just one thing' has to actively step in front of someone who is next in the queue before their transaction starts and I have a big problem with that. Ditto the box of matches example that I gave in my post upthread. Yes, it only took maybe ten seconds, but the guy should have waited his turn in the queue like everyone else. That his transaction would only be a short one didn't give him the right to arbitrarily decide it should be taken care of before someone else's.

But again, we do love our queues here :)
Well, actually, we don't; we hate them, but we'll defend them to the death ;-)

lowspark

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Re: Post Office politeness (or not)
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2014, 09:10:37 AM »
I don't think you were rude at all! In my experience, it's quite normal to go up to a clerk and ask a quick question like that. If it were rude to do what you did, the PO clerk would have declined to give you the forms. Then you'd know you'd been wrong for asking.

I see people ask questions of the clerks at the P.O. often. At the office I frequent, the forms are out in the public area for anyone to take but that doesn't necessarily mean someone knows which form they need. People will go up to a busy clerk and ask, "which form do I need to use for xyz?" And the clerk will reply, "the small green one" or whatever. No one seems upset by this.

I liken it to being in a busy retail store when there's a line at the cashier. If you go to the front of the line and get the clerk's attention to ask, "where is the restroom?" no one seems to mind. You're not going to wait in a long line to ask that! And yes, it takes the clerk several seconds to describe the location. But really, is it that big of a deal for someone to just take up those few seconds?

Knitterly, I think the woman who got annoyed was wrong. If you're in such a huge hurry that you can't tolerate a delay of even a few seconds, maybe you should postpone that particular errand for another time.
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