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You Are The Only Cashier For Me

I could fill volumes with stories about bad customers, but here’s one of the worst:  I work at a gas station, and there are two registers in the store.  It always seems that if there are two people at the counter, any given customer will immediately go to the attendant who is the busiest.  Usually I just laugh this off, but this lady was intolerable.

I was standing with my back to the second register stocking cigarettes on the wall behind me, my co-worker was standing completely idle at the next register just waiting for a customer to come in.  But this lady HAD to be helped by me, couldn’t be bothered to walk the extra 4 feet to the available attendant.  She walks up to the register and says, “EXCUSE me,” in the rudest way possible.  I ignore her as I often do when this happens, and my co-worker says that he can help her at the other register (and he is by no means soft-spoken).  No dice.  Apparently it has to be me.  Again this time, louder and ruder,  “EXCUSE ME!!!! ARE YOU GOING TO HELP ME?”  At this point my manager is also up front, she knows I can handle customer BS, but is always willing to step in if needed.  All I really want now is this person to leave the store so I go ahead and help her out for which I get a huff and “Finally!”  Whatever, she’s about to leave.  I hand her her change and she doesn’t reach out to take it so I set it down on the counter.  I turn around to get back to stocking, and I hear, “Aren’t you going to put that in my hand?”  No, you are perfectly capable of picking that up yourself.  My manager picks up the change, places it in the woman’s hands, and tells her not to come back to the store unless she finds a better attitude.

Fortunately, the rest of the day went smoothly, and I have been in customer service jobs way too long to let somebody’s snarky attitude and bad day get to me.  I haven’t seen her since. 0517-09


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  • Marli November 9, 2011, 8:07 am

    Some customers really have an attitude problem. Whatever my job, be it driver, clerk or waiter, I would never let myself be treated as a lesser person. There are just some basic rules of behaviour towards people and no one is asking too much when it just comes to be treated like a normal person.

  • Jenny November 9, 2011, 8:57 am

    I worked in retail and if I just ignored a customer like this, (even one who tries to get you when you are clearly helping someone else gets a two second, “Hi! I’m helping so-and-so right now but Coworker is over there!”) I would be fired. It’s just bad. Talking to customers is part of your job.

  • MellowedOne November 9, 2011, 9:10 am

    @Mariel, Yes, it would be extremely frustrating. My daughter works in a bank, and almost daily relates to me an experience of how rude/outlandishly unreasonable a customer was. It aggravates her to no end ..she works hard to deliver good customer service.

    That said, she knows the quickest way to escalate a bad situation would be to ignore a rude customer (or even irritate a polite one). And her employer would not see such action favorably, because it looks bad on the company.

  • SleepyKitty November 9, 2011, 9:29 am

    @ Calliope – But, the customer was an inconvenience, and a deliberate one at that. The OP was clearly engaged in other duties (and at least at the gas station I worked at, stocking cigarettes was THE most important thing to get done, because they were considered a high risk for theft), and the customer refused to be helped by the available cashier that was open, idle, and explicitly stating his willingness to help. I think turning away from the customer in order to complete the work that the customer – again, deliberately, and for no logical reason – insisted in interrupting is just the cashier trying to finish their job.

  • Goldie November 9, 2011, 10:35 am

    @ Calliope, but that is exactly my point. The cashier did not “turn her back on the customer as soon as the transaction is over”. She did hand the change to the customer, and would have put the change in her hand, but the customer refused to take it. What was she supposed to do, stand there and beg for the customer to reach out and take the change? she was the one being ignored. Kind of odd, seeing as, just a few minutes ago, this customer wanted to be helped by this specific cashier and not the other one.

    After reading the OP’s letter several times, it seems to me that the customer had a bad case of a hangover/headache/PMS/whatever and was being difficult on purpose. She was intentionally trying to pick a fight.

  • Gracie C. November 9, 2011, 2:31 pm

    @Marli, re: “Whatever my job, be it driver, clerk or waiter, I would never let myself be treated as a lesser person. There are just some basic rules of behaviour towards people and no one is asking too much when it just comes to be treated like a normal person.”

    And yet, you think it was ok for the OP to not so much as acknowledge a customer that was speaking to her (or him, I guess we don’t know the gender of the OP)? Expecting a response when you approach someone and say “excuse me” is apparently asking too much when it comes to being treated like a normal person? Treating people well goes for both sides of the counter. The OP explicitly states that she/he freqently ignores customers who approach simply because they should have approached someone else. Nope, sorry. If you work there, and the customer has a question, and for whatever reason didn’t approach your coworker, the very least you owe them is a polite response letting them know that someone else can help them. The OP deliberately ignored a customer. It doesn’t matter that someone else stepped in to assist. The OP was still rude. I stand by my assessment of completely unacceptable.

  • Asharah November 9, 2011, 2:58 pm

    I think the gas station needs a sign that says “CLOSED, PLEASE USE OTHER REGISTER” for situations like this. That way when one person is busy with other duties, they can put up the sign and there is no confusion over who is or isn’t free to help someone. I work in a bank and all the tellers have “CLOSED, PLEASE USE NEXT TELLER” signs to post. If you are in the process of balancing your drawer, you cannnot stop because some customer insists you help them instead of going to the teller that is actually open. If in fact, the OP did have a “CLOSED” sign posted at the second register, the customer was way out of line.
    I seem to recall another story on the blog about bad customers where a responder talked about how she was standing at a “CLOSED” register right next to a clearly open one checking shipping receipts to the merchandise shipment when a woman marched up, plunked down her merchandise and informed her young child they would check out here “since this young lady isn’t doing anything,” rather than wait behind the two people in line at the open register. Employee told her she couldn’t open register and there was no cash in drawer and therefore she cannot check her out.
    I would say OP’s primary duty at that moment was stocking the shelves while her coworker was in charge of waiting on the customers.

  • A November 9, 2011, 9:34 pm

    She’s probably still looking for that better attitude…

  • wolfgirl November 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Whilst I agree that the OP attitude could have been better, and she probably came across as brusque, irritated etc, I still think the original and greater rudeness lies with the customer. Not only did she accost the OP, but she was guilty of exactly the same crime as the OP surely? People are complaining about OP ignoring customer, but when the second cashier tries to call the customer over to check out, sounds like the customer entirely ignores HIM, rudely, in favour or harassing the OP, who she has decided HAS to help her. That’s worse that OP’s ignoring her surely? Customer has no previosuly assigned job to be doing, she’s just intent on proving her point. Also, if the OP had her back to the till, she may not have initially known the customer was talking to her? So no-one came off well there, but I think customer started the rudeness, and committed several subsequent rude acts.

    Also, does no-one else think the customer insisitng OP ‘put it in my hand’ is a bit weird/creepy?! In that scenario, the OP may well not want to touch the customer and fair enough! 🙂