You May Buy My Product, But You Cannot Buy Me!

March 30, 2009

I have worked in retail off and on for a long time, which unfortunately-as anyone who has worked in retail knows-means that I have been abused for a long time. Sears is no exception, but fortunately I have coworkers that make me feel comfortable and that told me that they would throw out any customers that tried any sexual harassment. I am very grateful for the support.

Now, I understand that sometimes when you do not get what you expected or are disappointed by the service you received that it is easy to get upset. But when I had a lady yell at me when I didn't even sell her the refrigerator that did not have the butter dish lid that she wanted, I decided that I need to write some rules of conduct when dealing with someone in sales. This advice also applies to dealing with anyone in the service industry, from fast food service to janitors to loaders.

1. When you are really angry about your service, step back for a minute, and think hard about what just happened. Is this valid anger? Is what happened really that bad? Will your life REALLY crumble just because the delivery man did not deliver the butter dish lid?

2. When you are yelling at the person on the other end of the phone and you are tempted to exclaim, "You're not listening to me!" Consider that perhaps you are not being clear enough for the other person to understand you.

3. Don't ever call a worker, "sweetie," "honey," "cutie," or anything similar to a worker-even if you are an elderly man from a quaint little southern town. It's fine to call someone those names when you know them, but if they are working, stick to "ma'am" or "sir" - it's what we call you!

4. Similarly, don't pat anybody on the head. It is offensive and demeaning to anyone who receives it. We are not little children who are grateful you gave us candy-we are adults who are doing our job.

5. Do not ask personal questions. It does not concern you whether I have a significant other or how old I am or where I live. I will not ask these things about you, as they are none of our business. I am trying to sell you a refrigerator, not my body.

6. Do not try to set up a worker with your best friend, son, daughter, or really, anybody else. I'll say it again: we are trying to sell you products, not our bodies.

7. Do not quiz us on our product knowledge if you already know the answer just to see if we know as much information as you. And don't laugh after doing this-it is extremely condescending and to people like me who have trouble with anxiety, extremely anxiety provoking.

8. Think before tarnishing a company's reputation over the mistakes of one individual. For instance, if a salesperson tells you that they would order you a butter dish lid and it would delivered to the house, but it is not-go back to #1! Think before you accuse someone of lying or of accusing the company of, "not being what it used to be." Even during those grand ole times that you remember when everything was lovely and worked right, workers sometimes got confused or tired or forgetful. Just like then, if someone made a mistake and then apologizes for it and then offers to do what's right, then things are still working right. Do not immediately jump to conclusions just because the person you are dealing with looks or talks differently from you.

Remember this: we are selling you a service and/or a product, not our bodies, souls, minds, love, or even friendship. We are business partners-you are not above me, nor are we above you. Treat us with respect and let us both keep our dignity and self-respect in tact.

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