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Attention Shoppers: Quit Whining

Customer-service complaints about mass retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Target are pointless and silly. These are mere commodity-delivery warehouses stocked with low-cost imports, and pecuniary U.S. consumers need to realize that extras cost more.

Pro: Concierge Service Won’t Come at Cut-Rate Prices

On the Web site, a writer gripes that at her local Wal-Mart (WMT), the sales associates won’t load her cart unless she asks. Consumers often try to nag Target employees into giving them full refunds on merchandise for which they cannot produce receipts and after they’ve exceeded the 90-day return period.

When it comes to big-box stores, consumers should stop complaining and face the timeless reality: You get what you pay for. Wal-Mart, Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), and other discounters can offer low prices precisely because they don’t spend enough on good service. If Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) hired more employees, with better pay and training, its 440-thread-count sheet set would likely cost $109.99 instead of $79.99.

"To get you the lowest price, the Wal-Marts of the world have to cut their costs any way they can, and that includes sales associates," says Standard & Poor’s senior industry analyst Joseph Agnese.

And shoppers born during the baby-boom years and earlier need to accept that the days of a Thom McCann salesman tenderly unwrapping a new pair of $12.99 slingbacks and placing them on one’s feet are over. So much service for so little money is fast becoming extinct, especially as younger folks increasingly fill sales-associate positions.

Generation Y grew up with "different family dynamics" and "pervasive technology use" that creates a "struggle to make connections with customers and meet their service expectations," says Bill Withers, a Wartburg College professor who studies customer service.

Finally, regardless of generation, sales associates are human beings, doing their best to do their jobs politely while they support themselves and sometimes their families at jobs that pay $8 to $13 an hour, often without benefits. In recent years, Home Depot employees coped with chronic cost squeezes under ex-CEO Bob Nardelli that led to higher turnover as many experienced workers left.

Then they seethed as at the same time, Nardelli collected millions in guaranteed bonuses. At Wal-Mart, 1.6 million female workers are pursuing the largest-ever civil rights class action lawsuit, contending the company paid them less than men and denied them promotions. These circumstances hardly attract employees who have the time or inclination to go the extra mile for shoppers.

Con: Low-Margin Models Don’t Mandate Shabby Service

Treating a customer well is the foundation for any successful business enterprise, regardless of the product or service sold. Big retailers spend huge sums to improve the shopping experience and it’s not just to be nice: A quality customer experience translates to higher sales.

Consumers deserve a superior service, not despite the commodity goods these big-box shops purvey but largely because of them. Here’s why: In the current era of ubiquitous mass retail, stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe’s (LOW), and Home Depot sell a remarkable number of identical products with similar prices.

In such a situation, the shopping experience—price, store cleanliness, convenience, parking, etc.—and not the products becomes the critical way to set oneself apart and encourage return visits. Granted, price often affects the kind of experience one can anticipate. Just as you don’t order a 1996 Chateau Petrus Pomerol at a roadside diner, you don’t reasonably expect the same service experience at the local Sack N’ Slurp as at a fine diamond jeweler. These businesses operate with completely different profit margins and cannot offer the same concierge-style attention for every customer.

But different service doesn’t have to mean poor service. Would we tolerate raw sewage in a supermarket? Of course not. Our expectations for many big-box stores deteriorate only because "we have become accustomed to being treated poorly, or in most cases, not being treated at all," Brad Worthley, a customer-service expert and consultant from Bellevue, Wash., writes in an e-mail interview.

That doesn’t mean we ought to simply accept it and shut up. A motivated worker with proper training can deliver a superior customer experience regardless of income. "I do not care how a company strategically places themselves in the market when it comes to pricing, if they want to stay in business very long they still better focus on customer service," says Worthley.

Most major retailers spend a great deal of time and money to improve operations and bolster customer service, which they track closely. Home Depot, for example, says it spent $350 million last year to improve its retailing operations. Moreover, many people define a great experience by their perception of a bargain or how much time they save when procuring everyday staples quickly. That’s why, when it comes to lower prices and quick check-outs, many people find that big-box retailers excel at service.

Reader Comments

Alex Tolley

Here are two other reasons these stores need service:

1. Poor or misleading product descriptions. Pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap might work for groceries, but this doesn't work for many modern products whose function and content are difficult to discern or hidden in the packaging. This is particularly egregious in the case of electronisc goods, and there are suggestions that Wal-Mart has been deliberately deceptive in this regard.

2. Poor navigation to the desired aisles. It is not always obvious where something is supposed to be located. Home Depot is particularly bad as items that are needed together may be on very different aisles—like plumbing components and plumbing fixtures. And don't even get me started on Macy's "casino design" to make it hard for shoppers to find an exit.

If you have sales associates, make sure they know what they are talking about. It may be getting harder to know more than the consumer, but associates' knowledge has degraded to the nonsensical with some chains—Fry's electronics being the local laughing-stock in Silicon Valley.

Elmer Fudd

The customer is the reason these companies are in business! If one company will not service its customer, there are many others that will.

tom elkins

It has been my experience that employees treat customers the same way management treats the employees.


I know the discussion here is Wal-Mart, Target, et al. All I can ask is: Ever been to Costco? Admitted you don't get "one" of any product from Costco, but many a time I have found Costco (COST) to be way cheaper than Wal-Mart with better service and quality.

It is possible to have cheap products and better service go hand in hand.

Ms. Shopper

Low wages will more likely attract insecure, unmotivated, unproductive employees with poor attitudes. In addition, companies need to do more in-depth training. Many companies like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. use pamphlets and one-time early morning training.

People preoccupied with paying the rent, putting food on the table, paying for medical expenses, and the welfare of their children will be less customer friendly, although there will be exceptions (a minority).

Store Management will likely write you up and terminate you for not restocking shelves fast enough vs. not providing some level of service.

w. anker kepala-butuh

Inviting everyone to gather in a cyber circle and mass debate is a terrific idea. It means average people can grapple with the Big Ones in public, and what comes out is there for all to digest.

With the usual kind of internet "comments" what we tend to see are the private outpourings of one-eyed monsters who inject their passions in isolation. But an open forum gives participants the opportunity to make their various passions stand up and, at a stroke, have the essence of what is produced swallowed or smeared according to fellow debaters' taste. Yes, it can be in your face, but sometimes such a rude shock can really hit you between the eyes.

As this Wal-Mart forum demonstrates, democracy is alive and well thanks to the Internet.

Mark Z - NJ

Is it any shock that Ace hardware has outperformed both Home Depot and Lowe's in same-store sales growth for the fourth year in the last five? Have you ever been in these stores? It's a no-brainer! I buy 10x more products in Ace despite that it's much smaller, because I can find a service rep who A) speaks English and B) knows which end of the hammer goes up.

Ace tells novices what they need to buy, and we buy exactly what they tell us to, because they are obviously the experts. I walk out of Home Depot empty-handed two out of three times because I can't find someone to tell me what to buy for a project or where to find it. Even if I do find someone, it scares me that I know more than they do. It isn't rocket science, folks: Service sells.

And Home Depot and Lowe's are getting to get crushed when the housing boom fades and they have to begin catering less to the contractors and more to the do-it-yourselfers.


I concur with Tom, that employees will treat the customers how their manager treats them. If Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot want my business, they must show me that they do, by making me feel appreciated. Getting the lowest prices is wonderful, but getting poor service defeats that purpose. I'd rather pay a few more dollars than have an employee treating me like Ms. no one.


I think that complaints like the one in the first paragraph on the pro argument are pointless. I don't think asking for a receipt is too much and three months is plenty of time to figure out that you don't want something.

On the other hand, I do agree that some places don't have very good customer service. As Alex Tolley mentioned, Home Depot is horrible about navigation in the store. The workers seem to know the stuff in their section but can't tell you what's in the next aisle.


Experienced shoppers calibrate their expectations to the type of retail environment they need for a particular shopping trip. When I want to feel pampered, and that every item on display is worth a king's ransom, I'll go to a boutique, or for more choice, a high-end mall like Short Hills. When I want a bargain, I go online or to a big-box store.

I don't expect salespeople to fawn over me at a big-box, and it would be ridiculous to expect them to know their huge inventory or sense a shopper's mood the way a more expensive store's salesperson should.

What differentiates one big box store from the next isn't attentive customer service—I'd feel like I was probably overpaying if that were the case. No, with the big-box stores, what sets Target and Costco head and shoulders above Wal-Mart and pathetic ol' Kmart is the way they display the goods and prices to make it easy for me to locate what I need and get out of there, without the oppressive atmosphere, lights, or music that stores like Best Buy or Circuit City employ.

Having employees standing around waiting on customers isn't necessary key at big-box retailers, as long as the store management has thoughtfully anticipated the needs of customers, with well-stocked shelves, well-trained people at the return desk, and an efficient check-out process. I'll get my pampering elsewhere, and I'll gladly pay the difference when I need it.

Michael Tuchman

OK, the service is not great at the big box stores, and nobody expects concierge service. But I sure can hear tumbleweeds rolling across the aisles if I'm buying anything less expensive than an HDTV. If I knew what I wanted and just wanted to buy it, I'd go to eBay or When I visit a store, I need some degree of human contact, or I'm leaving.


Simply put, customers want to feel cared for regardless of what's in their wallets. They want employees who will give them special, undivided attention and are willing to go the extra mile to help them out—to make something perplexing seem simple and straightforward. A Staples employee who directs a computer illiterate customer to the proper place to get printer-specific colored ink cartridges is remembered, distinguishing himself in the conscious and subconscious mind of the consumer, and giving that consumer a greater emotional and fiscal incentive to come back to make more-expensive purchases. How has Best Buy been able to compete with other, cheaper alternatives? Why do people still shop at stores despite the at-times-cheaper online alternatives? It's the consumer experience: People crave attention, enjoy interaction, and like to feel like they're cared about.


As I read through all these posts, I think the most balanced, logical, and intelligent one is from "Melissa." Her post is exactly on track with what I was thinking when I read the article.


What about the auto industry? Just check on the complaints against some of the major companies. For me, it is not just if the product is top-notch. If the corporation won't stand behind it, it's less than worthless.


Having worked for 12 years in the "big-box" industry, I can only say: Melissa, where have you been all these years? I've given blood, sweat, and tears to provide exceptional customer service for a company that may offer benefits, but the low wages and near-impossibility of advancement are hardly an encouragement to provide such service, especially to guests who believe the rules don't apply to them. More important, however, is the need to give the same amount of energy to telling store managers both the good things and bad things employees do. This will bring the service level up faster than anything else you can do, by letting employers know what you value as well as what you despise. And the "minority" will thank you for it by advancing to positions where they can serve you even better.


I know one customer who will never shop at Home Depot. I ordered something off the Internet, was sent the wrong product, and was promised UPS pickup of the wrong product and delivery of the correct one. I was sent the wrong product again. Eight phone calls later, I finally got a refund.


I seldom shop at Wal-Mart, because customer service is so poor. I returned a vacuum cleaner with the receipt, and they insisted the sale was not on the books. I was made to wait a long time to speak to a supervisor. She held her ground, but I won my point with common sense, persistence, and verbal skills. I then bought a vacuum cleaner at Bed Bath & Beyond, where I was cheerfully greeted and treated with respect. The vacuum cleaner was on sale, and on top of that, I could use a 20% discount card sent to my home.

My experience at Home Depot has been excellent. If you buy a product and retain your sales receipt, you can return it within 90 days. I bought a plastic storage cabinet and couldn't get around to assembling it for several months. It was warped, and the pieces would not fit. When I returned it with my receipt, they cheerfully accepted it; plus, they had someone load the new one in my car. Today, I went there for a tiny item. I needed a special hook to hang a heavy picture. The first salesman I approached clearly didn't understand what I needed and looked at me blankly. But another salesman took about 15 minutes to show me the variety of possibilities. My experiences at Home Depot are very satisfying and much better than at Lowe's.

A hint to people who have difficulty returning items "for good reason": Always use a charge card. If you have a valid reason for the return, your charge card will back you up.


There are three things any business can give you: price, quality, or service. Which two of the three do you want? No business can give you all three. Looking at the comments posted, you would think some people consider themselves princes and princesses and demand customer service to the nth degree. If you go to a "big box" store, expect the product and a very competitive price. If you want fawning "bend over backward" service, go to a specialty store where the prices are higher to pay for that type of customer service. "Melissa" came pretty close in her evaluation of customer service,

melissa 2

I work in retail (affordable luxury is what we are known for), and I treat people how they want to be treated. I am really good at making that connection with customers and making them feel pampered, but I am not a slave. I'm a college student working my butt off while taking a full load in the honors program—not an ignorant drone.


Any business can deliver good price, quality product, and good service. The problem is the customers don't demand it.

Frankie Ncera

I have been a Target customer for 10 years, and recently returned something for the first time. I had my receipt and all the tickets. The clerk gave me such a hard time about my removing the tickets—when all she had to do was put them back on the garment. I was a retail store manager for 25 years and felt very humiliated to be treated this way.

Bill A

As one who has worked in retail for 10 years now, I am saddened by the rapid decline in ethics of shoppers who seem to think that it's OK to just rip open boxes to "see if everything is in there," then refuse to take that one as their own because it's been opened. If you see an opened box, whether you did it or not, are you likely to buy the item? I think not. Many will ask for a discount because the box is ripped. Does the box have anything to do with the function of the item within? Do you keep the container? Think honestly about it; would you allow a customer to do what you do if it was your business? Last, please understand that a manufacturer's warranty is just that—it's between you and the manufacturer of the item. It's not the store's responsibility to replace your items after a year's use when it gets no credit or refund from the maker. Have a nice day.

Craig W.

I read with relish the debate article and comments. You see, I have worked for a mindless corporate giant (groceries) for 21 years, and I will tell you plainly: Service is broken. The demands of management and customers are insane compared to the value they give (my paycheck and benefits). The company whines endlessly about what a "financial burden" we are (we're union), then cracks the service whip by hiring and undertraining only the most bitter and relentless slobs as secret shoppers. Ever heard, that "you reap what you sow"? One man commented with precision and I concur: Management treats us like dead weight, and we do the same to the customer. Have you ever asked yourself: "If I don't shop here, because I'm not getting my way, will this clerks' pay drop"? If you said yes, you're in the dark. We get the same lousy pay whether you shop here or not.

Bottom line: You get what you give. If you're nasty, disrespectful, and demanding as a customer, you get your just desserts. If you take a moment to be friendly and courteous, you will get the best service you've ever dreamed of. And once and for damn all: The customer is not always right.


Here's the deal. I am a Wal-Mart shopper, but if the customer service sucks, I'll bypass Wal-Mart and go to another store. I don't go to Target, because of its return policy. They give you a hard time, and it's not worth it to me. I don't buy my electronics at those kind of stores, because it's not their specialty, and pretty much, you're on your own.


Someone mentioned that people "preoccupied with paying rent, food, medical expenses, etc." are too distracted to project a professional image with regard to customer service. This is baloney. It sounds to me like a plug for pro-union politics. I'm not going to blame Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for the poor standards exhibited by its associates, who I presume are employed of their own free will. There isn't a soul here who doesn't have worries of one kind or another. Got insurance? Great! Now how about junior's failing grades? Everybody has problems, but it doesn't excuse bad customer service. I've done my time in CS, and the rules were simple: Tuck in your shirt, smile, and be helpful if asked.


What really gets to me, in any store, is the number of people who go to the express aisle with double and triple the item limit. Stores should train the cashiers to send those customers to another line. I had a very bad experience in Target with two ladies with shopping carts full of merchandise in a 10-item limit line. The cashier gave me the deer in the headlights look when I complained and demanded to see the store manager, who did nothing except say that she hoped the rest of my day went better.


Becoming an associate at Wal-Mart after owning my own company for 14 years has taught me a few things. Yeah, the pay sucks and yeah, the benefits are not too cool either, but at my age, I am grateful as hell to have a job. My contact with customers and the information and/or help I provide them is a matter of personal pride and has nothing whatsoever to do with Wal-Mart. As a consumer, I long ago realized that people are people, no matter what their job. Some are nice; some are not. And I will guarantee you that a helpful, courteous salesperson that takes that one step further is exactly the person I will seek out when shopping again. Especially if they are honest and caring, because life is about touching one another, and we all need that. It only takes one rotten employee to ruin customer loyalty. Big Brother is not watching the associates minute by minute, so please—as a consumer—complain to management when an employee is rude, careless, or not helpful. Management has no way of knowing unless you rock the boat. As a company employee, I could complain all day long, but my complaints would never be considered as seriously as those of the person who pays the bills.


Ironically, there has been no discussion about the companies that don't always compete with price: banks and telecommunications. Their service ranks at the bottom of the totem poll. These people treat you like you are less than human.


I work at a grocery store behind the deli counter. My pay is less than I would like, but after being a stay-at-home mom and not being out in the world for so long, I love going to work. I focus on one customer at a time, try to give them just what they ask for, and am always cheerful and polite. Just as I was taught growing up, I treat them as I would like to be treated. Also, I realized when I didn't get out much, that the times I did, just a few minutes with someone who showed me I wasn't just another number and shared a few smiles and maybe a quick laugh or two, can make a big difference in someone's day. So I really focus on each person and enjoy when they say "thank you very much" and give a warm smile. That's when I know I am doing a great job, and not only for the company. I feel good inside and know I made my customer feel the same way.


I have had so many bad experiences at Wal-Mart that I call it the "W" store and plead with my mother not to ask me to go there with her when she visits. I would much rather pay a little higher price to a local mom and pop (which is 80% of the economy in the state where I reside) than shop at Wal-Mart. For that matter, Loew's as well—I have never seen so many people (when you can find them) have so little knowledge about the product they are selling.


My five years of mystery-shopping experience have proven to me that employees who feel valued and appreciated value and appreciate their jobs and their customers. It is such a simple formula!


Hey CEOs, get the message. With fractured personal lives, much stress at work, and a war, the customer wants to be cared for and nurtured. You want repeat customers? Treat them like gold. Loyalty will ultimately bring profits.

Steve B.

I concur with most that shopping at low rent places like Wal-Mart and Target is often dreadful. But have you ever tried shopping at government-run businesses? The Post Office and Department of Motor Vehicles rank high on the list of necessary evils. And these stunning incompetents don't make minimum wage, and their benefits would rival the golden parachute of your average deposed CEO. Who do you complain to about their poor service? Short of "going postal," they have to be written up 50 times to get fired.


I don't ask for top-of-the-line service at Home Depot, but it would be nice if they could open up more than one cash register! I've given up on them—I don't shop at Home Cheap-o anymore. Mark Z is right—Ace Hardware is 10 times better. I never have to wait in a mile-long line, and the one time I did need assistance with something, the staff was very helpful.


I don't shop at Wal-Mart or Target. I like Kohl's and smaller stores. I like more personal service and smaller lines. I shop at a local store called Anderson's, which has everything from hardware and plumbing to produce and meat. I love it. My husband and I do most of our shopping there. We like to patronize the local merchants.


I work for Wal-Mart as an overnight stocker. When customers come in and ask me for help to find an item, I do my best to help them find it. I have even spent as much as 45 minutes measuring out material for customers in Fabrics and Crafts. I have been written up and am in danger of losing my job because I don't stock the shelves fast enough. Go figure.


The customer is always right -- sometimes!


You all can go to Ace and pay $20 for a hammer because the clerk tells you what you need to know. I'll spend some time on Google, do a little research, go to HD, Wal-Mart, or Lowe's, and help myself to a $5 hammer.

They are stores, not babysitters. Open a book, or just look it up on the Internet. Or exercise your right to shop somewhere else, like Ace.

John Smith

Most automated customer service these days can be classified:"half-hearted and half-baked." Invariably, the very first hoop to go through will sound something like this: "Our menu has changed—you know the party's last name, please push #1." This assumes that we have been in touch with Mr./Ms earlier (at worst: the firm is implying/confessing that they take care of the caller/customer only after repeated calls. Employees do leave, are transferred, may be sick, or on vacation etc. So why ask the caller to dial by "last name"?) Thus it makes more sense if the very first hoop were to sound something like this: "If you are trying to reach Customer Service, push #1, for the Billing Dept. push #2, for Sales push # 3, etc". And If the caller is not sure, suggest pushing "0" *operator), so that the caller can be connected to the correct department that can take care of the caller. Then, of course, finally the caller might reach the person who is supposed to take care of the customer. But, that is not the way the firm wants to perform the customer "service." The typical answer would be: "Thank you for calling "..." or you have reached..." I am currently "away from my desk"..."Please leave your name and number and I shall get back to you as soon as possible"....and the customer waits,... and waits...waits and no calls come, so the frustrated customer has to start the process all over again.

My solution: All the businesses should have, on their Web sites, their contact address like this universal generic e-mail address: www.customergetlost!.com.


Look: No one holds a gun to your head to make you shop or work at a big-box store. If you don't like the service or the pay, don't shop or work there. It's just that simple. If all the people who complained about the big stores didn't shop there, things might change, but you like the prices and make the trade-off. If you want a higher-level of service, go to Nordstrom. If Wal-Mart, Lowe's, HD, etc. gave you that service, they'd be Nordstrom, Macy's, Dillards, etc., too. I have seen families eat "dinner" while doing the weekly grocery shopping and mothers giving babies pacifiers and toys to play with, only to leave them strewn about the store, unsellable. Someone has to clean up after you. But you complain about the employees. Give me a break. Employees are there to serve you, not be your servants.


What really gets me is the one-track-mind selfishness of these customers. I have worked in retail for years, and I can't tell you how many times I have been actively engaged in a conversation with a customer when another pushes one of us out of the way to have me "go get" something--and that's why you get crappy service. We get treated like slaves, and trust me, we do not get paid enough to deal with selfish jerks like that. We apparently have to be babysitters, janitors, servants, and everything else, so when you (the customer) are wrong, yes I said it, don't blame employees because you were mistaken. I get talked to like I am absolutely stupid, but I am not the one who can't read, spell, or figure out how to work a debit card reader. Last, these rude and selfish people would not talk to me like that if I wasn't behind that counter. They know better. Would you talk to family and friends that way?


Living in a rural area amplifies the issues of service and quality in both positive and negative ways.

I would welcome the opportunity to shop at places other than Lowe's and Wal-Mart, but in my very rural area our choices are severely limited.

I don't shop at Lowe's or Wal-Mart expecting much in the way of customer service, and I'm reminded of that most times I shop in these mega-stores.

I do make every effort to shop within our small town at our local independently owned bookstore, our locally owned bakery, and our independently owned coffeehouse. In these local environments, the customer service is very different because the motivation is different. The owners of these local establishments are right there on the front lines serving customers, listening to suggestions, and working alongside their employees. Like James Cabela of Cabela's, these folks are fully engaged and invested. They exemplify customer service and their employees follow in their footsteps.

I would welcome the opportunity to never have to set foot inside Lowe's again if only some enterprising, knowledgeable family would open a hardware/lumber store in my small town (sighsigh


There are decent big-name stores, but they are few at the moment. Target is 10 times better than Wal-Mart in my opinion. Costco is great. Office Depot is horrendous (I actually worked there for six months--slave labor and ignorant management). The problem is that a CEO can be completely out of touch for years while manipulating the market through stock options using top-level executives before the truth is realized (See: Enron, MCI). Then they bail out and make millions, leaving laid-off workers without pensions whose lives are destroyed. People have to get wise and stop putting up with rude uninformed service, shipping errors, broken products, dirty stores. We have a society full of trashy customers who think they have no other choice, and the leaders at good corporations are seeing the trend and thinking they have to follow suit and cut their costs in order to keep up. Things will get worse, and then people will finally get fed up. I think Wal-Mart started the trend, and I think they are starting to come around full circle--because they have caused an uprising of irate ex-employees and disgusted consumers. They act like they are being attacked unfairly, but it's funny how they are responding to all of the complaints. Stop putting up with mediocrity, and go straight to the CEOs (who will be virtually impossible to reach, by the way. But find them; look behind their door or under their desk).


I have worked in retail for many years and have found people are becoming more rude. When I ask people to bring their items out of the fitting room after trying them on, most of the time they seem surprised that I would ask such a thing. I try to keep my area clean because of the elderly and handicapped. I feel they shouldn't have to pick up after able-bodied people. One customer even remarked, "I never thought of that." After dropping items on the floor, one girl told her friend she didn't have to pick them up because there are people who get paid to do that. It's no wonder kids get snatched from stores, because people are more concerned about being on their cell phones than paying attention to what's going on with their children. Many times I watch someone make a mess and have the nerve to ask me for help, but for some reason we suddenly don't have what you're looking for in stock. Be mindful of your manners, or you may find the store seems to always be out of what you're looking for (smile).


Customer service is essential to all companies. The representatives should be well trained, and selected according to their "people skills" and knowledge. Everyone is not suited for that position. As customer service "reps," they should realize that they are "the company" to the customer, and never make the communication personal. Stay calm, focused, and listen intently. This will assist you in handling any type of inquiry. I spent 35 years as a customer service representative in New York City.


Sometimes customers do not have the option to self-serve. They must ask for help with certain items. I work in the retail world of cosmetics, and I have to say that some of my customers are absolutely rude beyond belief. They don't understand the importance of a salesperson's expertise and the training we have in order to serve them better. They assume we are going to try to get them to buy something they don't want, when in fact we just want to take care of their needs. I know everyone has had a bad episode with a pushy salesperson at one time or another, but all sales people are not like that. Some of us are really there just to give service. Customers, don't be so rude. We salespeople are here to help, not to hinder.


I work for a very large retail outlet and am continually shocked at how customers treat the associates there. I know what my job entails but have literally had customers cuss me out for minutes straight for issues that have absolutely nothing to do with my job description. I am convinced that this is a sign of the apocalypse, because no sane individual would treat another human being that way. It makes me sad for us as a society. And it should make everyone else sad, too.

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