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General Retail: Holiday/ Everyday Shopping Etiquette Informative - Ytropious' 4 Simple Rules Of Being A Retail Customer During The Holidays

Review by Ytropious on 2009-10-22
Just a few helpful reminders for your Christmas (or heck anytime) shopping needs. It’s a doozy, just follow along and enjoy ^_^

The Holiday season can either bring out the best of us, or the worst of us. As a cashier I've seen a broad range of holiday shoppers. For the most part people are awesome during the Holiday season, most people are in the spirit and most people are kind. Not everyone though. The following are just a few suggestions from a long time cashier.

1.You're likely buying gifts for lots of people from lots of different stores. You’re not sure if they’re going to like it? You need a gift receipt. Now here’s where the real advice comes in: The cashier is not psychic. It would be awesome if we could breed a race of psychic human beings for the simple task of being a cashier, but that’s wishful thinking. In the mean time, if you need a gift receipt, use your voice and speak up! Tell the cashier BEFORE you even whip out your credit card to pay “ I need a gift receipt”. If you tell them just that you will get everything you purchased on one gift receipt. If you need several gift receipts for different people or households be sure to tell them that as well, and it even helps to have the items separated into piles “I need these all on one, and I need these all on another, and I need this one by itself, and I don’t need one on these really.” Trust me, as a cashier I LOVE customers who do this, don’t think you’re making extra work, your not. It takes all my guess work out and I’m more then happy to print them everything on as many gift receipts as they need. Hell even if you buy 60 items and each one needs a separate receipt you can have it. (Where I work it’s actually easier to put everything on one or everything on separate, but breaking it up is fairly simple too). So to recap that point, don’t assume your cashier will “just know” to give you a GR, you have to ask. As a cashier if you’re an older adult and your buying toys, even if you don’t ask I’m going to usually have the foresight to print one for you. I can’t speak for all cashiers. If you’re a mom with 2 girls buying a Barbie doll I’m not going to print one unless you ask. Whatever you do, do NOT wait until after the payment has cleared and your original receipt is printing to ask for one, you’ve past the point of no return. At some stores, like Kohls, they can scan the receipt and print out GRs from it. Not every place is that fortunate. At my store we have to void and rering to give you a GR. Also DON’T blame the cashier if you forgot to ask for one and they tell you it’s too late. Not many places ask every single customer “do you need a gift receipt?” and if you ask me it isn’t their job to remind you if you need a GR or ask if you have any coupons or anything like that. It’s your job as a customer, so don’t pass the blame when you could have easily spoken up.

Second: Item holds. Christmas is a time of severe need. Everyone needs something, everyone has something on their list they absolutely must have. We know this, but please respect store policy when it comes to item holds. Some stores will allow “to the end of close” holds, some stores don’t allow any holds of any kind, some stores only allow holds on non sale merchandise. Don’t beg, don’t plead, don’t threaten. If the store says they can’t hold your item for you, especially over the phone, respect it. Why don’t stores hold things, I’m a paying customer you say. Well, not quite. When I do hold items for customers, only about half ever come to pick them up. In that same time I usually have someone in the store looking for that item, and I don’t have any more except your hold. I could have made a sale. You never came to pick it up. It’s hit or miss. Yes, there are customers who come for their items, but the ones who don’t spoil it for everyone. How would you feel shopping in a store where the cashier had an item ready for YOU to buy, because YOU are presently in the store, and they can’t sell it to you because someone on the phone begged and pleaded that it be set aside for them, only for them to change their mind and not come for it. You’d be pretty angry I bet! In my section at work some people will hold things, but I seldom do, and when I do it’s only to the end of my shift so I take full responsibility for the item, and it’s not tied up for an entire day if someone else wants to buy it. To summarize, it never hurts to ask if you really really need something held, but if the store says no, well, then try to get to the store and buy it asap. If they do hold it, please come for it. We’re staking a sale on the fact that we hope your coming to buy it. If you can’t make it a simple phone call to the store to release your hold is always appreciated, not just by us, but for your fellow consumers.

3. Respect the cashier. What I mean by this isn’t obvious so let me explain with an example. I had a woman ask me about an item, she wanted to know if it was part of a sale. I scanned the item and told her it wasn’t. “Well how do YOU know?” She asked me in a very demeaning tone. “The register can tell me if something is part of a promotion just by price checking it, and this item isn’t part of any promotion” I explained. It was a simple explanation, but her questioning bothered me. It felt like she thought I was either lying to her or didn’t know how to do my job. I can do my job, and why would I lie? Our jobs are hard enough without people assuming we can’t competently do our jobs. I’ll give you this though, Christmas time sees tons of new hires and inexperienced workers, but my name tag clearly says my years of service on it, you can tell I’m not new. In summary, your cashier can do their job, or they wouldn’t be standing there by themselves doing it. We might get minimum wage, but we shouldn’t be given minimum respect.

4. We love your business, but please respect our stores. This one is pretty straight forward. You like a clean store, we like a clean store too. This means throwing your Starbucks cups in the trash and not leaving them on a shelf hidden behind some items. This means if your child has an accident on the floor please come get an associate to clean it. This means only fill your cart with what you intend to buy. I know it’s hard but not impossible. My husband and I follow the cart rule: if it’s in the cart, it’s not coming out. If we need to decide on an item we stand there and decide. It doesn’t come in the cart for us to decide at the register. Giving the cashier one item you decided against isn’t bad, but when you have half a cart full of stuff you changed your mind on, it’s just stuff we’re going to have to put back at the end of our shift, multiplied by tons of Christmas shoppers and you’ve got hours of work ahead of you. You get paid to do that, I can hear you say it. Well yes, but let me put it this way. The less stuff we have to put back at the end of the night, the faster we can go home, the more sleep we get, the happier we are when we come to work the next day to help you. Little things like that add up. Also, I know it’s hard parents, but please try to control your kids. Christmas shopping is exciting for everyone, but if your kid is constantly running off and getting in other shoppers way, or screaming throughout the store, it annoys other paying customers. It may annoy them so much they take their frustration out on the cashier, which probably just makes the cashier resentful towards you when you come to check out. Also be mindful of what your kid is putting in the cart. I’ve had lots of instances of “where did this come from, were not getting any of this”, which just causes 2 of the problems I touched on; a cart of stuff to put back and a screaming kid. To summarize, treat the store like your home. If it doesn’t fly in your house, why should it in public?

Oh boy, I’m sure I can think of more but I think that should suffice right?
Comments:33 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-10-24
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
Great advice and I hope that all of these demands are met for you this holiday season! *smiling*

Signed, Pigs A Flyin and H@ll Freezes Over.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
Hey now I wouldn't call them demands, lol they're just suggestions. Very, very helpful suggestions.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
I know, I was being sarcastic. Seriously though, good luck.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
I figured as much, thanks kindly anyway!
Posted by Crown Jules on 2009-10-22:
Very well put, Ytropious. I worked for a major department store for three Christmases and found myself nodding along in agreement with everything you said. I would like to add one thing to #4 in regards to putaways, however. I hope customers keep in mind that many cashiers are seasonal employees who are working a second job for some extra income. Also, most stores have extended hours during the holidays, especially the week leading up to Christmas. That can mean cashiers are working until 11:00 p.m., midnight or possibly later. Having racks full of putaways or fitting rooms with literally dozens of items left in them means those cashiers have to work even later to clean and straighten everything up.

I guess the bottom line is that customers need to follow The Golden Rule and have a bit of empathy for the person on the other side of the register.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
Thanks CJ, I didn't even mention the extended hours. A few Christmases ago I believe we were there past 1am cleaning up the place. Some of us had to be back at 7am the next day. It's hard to have Christmas cheer when you only had maybe 4-5 hours of sleep.
Posted by Nohandle on 2009-10-22:
Nicely written review and great reminders. Now, if we consumers could purchase a gift in October, avoid the holiday rush and the receipt for a return be good longer than 30 days I'd be really pleased. I know, that ain't going to happen. Just wishful thinking. LOL
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
Actually that's something I wanted to add, I can't speak for all stores but my store has a grace period. I believe it's 10 days starting from the day after Christmas where if you have a receipt from the past year, it can get returned.

#5 Check with the store you are buying gifts from to see what their rules about after Christmas returns are, since every place is different. Always be informed!
Posted by debdebga on 2009-10-22:
Where are the violens??? Playing somewhere I am sure. We should be thankful that our US Military does not have such suggestions for us to follow, we'd all fall short. You are almost insulting normal shoppers intelligence by even bothering with your post. We ALL have our crosses to bear. Merry Christmas!
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
Deb have you ever worked in retail? I'm not asking much, I'm not even asking anything, I'm suggesting. You'd be surprised how many people aren't as smart as you feel you are. Please don't follow me around the forum because I don't agree with your WH review.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
What's a violens?
Oh, you mean violins.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
I worked in retail for three years. I agree with keeping the store clean. I hated it when customers would complain that the store was messy, while their screaming child ran around and knocked items onto the floor.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
Or customers that think the employees will somehow "babysit" their kids while they're shopping. And when their child breaks something or makes a mess... when an employee has to hunt the parent down and the parent gets angry at the employee... it's astounding.
Posted by old fart on 2009-10-22:
I'd rather take a beating than work in retail...nuff said!
Posted by Starlord on 2009-10-22:
Ytropius, an excellent piece on how to shop for the holidays. I will add my three cents as a former LPA (Loss Prevention Agent). I arrested a guy for the theft of a baseball glove and then angered the store by stating in court that throwing the book at the shoplifter would not be in the best interest of justice, given the totality of circumstances. It did, however, add to the problems of retail during the holiday season. Most shoplifters deserve to have the book thrown at them when they attempt to use the hubris of holiday shopping to cover their thefts. If it isn't yours, you have no justification for stealing it. Do not count on the holiday feelings to protect you from yourself. I remember a S.T.E. M. campaing. Remember, Stealing Takes Everyone's Money.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-22:
I totally get that Starlord, Christmas is a shoplifters dream. Too many customers, not enough employee eyes.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-22:
I'm just waiting for Santa....
Posted by MaggieMcT on 2009-10-22:
Ytropius, I spent *number blanked out* years in retail, and I give your post a zillion stars!!

Starlord, I wasn't LP, but worked with them often. I'll never forget waiting for the police with our LP guy and a shoplifter, who looked at me and said "Please don't send me to jail, tomorrow is Mother's Day!"
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2009-10-22:
"We might get minimum wage, but we shouldn't be given minimum respect."
That comment HAS to be the best one I've read in the five years I've been on this site!

Also...if I may add to your post...
Do NOT blame, swear or get an attitude with the cashiers and floor workers if there is a misprint in an ad or they are out of an advertised item...They have no control what is printed in the papers or how many of an item their store has available.

HAVE your cash/credit card in your hand while the cashier is ringing up your items, don't wait until the cashier tells you the total THEN decide to open your purse and dig through it looking for your cash/credit card. I know people don't use checks as much as they used to, but it really, REALLY sets me off when I'm waiting in line (especially a looong wait or looong line) and the person in front of me stands there and stares in the air, ho-hums because she has to wait or reads every magazine at the checkout while waiting to get her stuff rung up. Then once everything is totaled, she starts digging in her purse for her checkbook, then has to stand there to write it out and slowly enters it in her registry. Whenever I'm using a check, I have every thing BUT the total filled out BEFORE the cashier rings me up...and I EXPECT others to do the same when they see The Basher standing in line! ! ! !
Posted by andbran on 2009-10-23:
people need to consider that stores have 90 day return policies. consider buying electronics around the first week of november.
Posted by Schez on 2009-10-23:
Deb, there's a reason the military is known for going 'above and beyond.' Not only are most military people I know brave, hard working, and intelligent, they also come home on leave and are very civil and courteous.

I can only assume you've never worked in retail, as simply asking for a person to act human during the holidays set you off.

I'm foreseeing many upset employees following in the wake of your Christmas shopping this year. Make sure you don't bump anyone with that cross you're carrying.

Merry Christmas!
Posted by Schez on 2009-10-23:
I would also add, please know what you're shopping for before you get to the store. Quizzing some poor associate on where "that thing on TV that you use on your head, ya'know, it's plastic, and shiny, and it comes in three colors," is just going to frustrate you. Research! Call ahead and ask for the applicable department. Saves you a trip to the store if they don't have it. Most stores these days have online counterparts where you can actually search for the nearest store that carries the item and reserve it (I'm looking at you, Barnes & Noble- bless your book-loving soul).
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-23:
Holy crap Schez that's a good one. I'm a big advocate of lists. I love people with well written lists who know exactly what they want. People with lists written by a 4 year old that they can't understand themselves and hope the sales people know what they are talking about are hit and miss. Sometimes I know what they mean but most of the time I'm as lost as they are. It feeds into my rule #1, Cashiers/ Salespeople are NOT psychic.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-23:
I used to hate it when people would come into Mervyns and ask me "Where can I find the blue shirt in your ad?" I would ask "do you have the ad with you?" they'd say "no, but you work here so you should know." Employees don't memorize the items or prices in the weekly ads.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-23:
When I worked at JoAnn's, people would ask me if we carried an item that only Hancock or Michael's carried and then get angry with me because we didn't sell it.
Posted by Principissa on 2009-10-23:
Can I also add to the customers to stay the heck off your darn cellphone when checking out! It's crazy enough with the long lines, crowded aisles and lack of parking spaces. I don't want to be delayed any longer because you're on the phone chatting about something that doesn't even concern your transaction. I don't care if Betty is sleeping with that guy or if Betty's kids are trashy little monsters and I don't care that your boss made you stay 15 minutes late and you missed your nail/hair appointment. I want to buy my things and leave.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-23:
I think I'm going to go back in and edit my original post with all these great ideas you guys are adding on. I actually had a woman tell me "hold on" yesterday while she answered her phone, IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR TRANSACTION. Sigh, common courtesy is dead.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-23:
You've opened a can of worms when a majority of posters here have worked retail at some point in time in their life. :-)
I don't work retail now... and I'm so happy I never have to work black Friday again. *jumps for joy*
Posted by Nohandle on 2009-10-23:
I'd love for someone to give me a list. How easy could that be? Go down the list, check the items off and be done and finished. Sorry, since I don't have a list given to me that's probably part of the reason I now mostly give cash. Some enjoy just relaxing during the holidays and look forward to family coming to visit. If you want to get out there in the turmoil then fine, go for it. That's not my cup of tea.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-23:
I agree NH, especially when money is so tight (with me).
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-23:
NH The older you get the happier you are to just get a wad of cash for Christmas, at least it is to me I love getting cash.
Posted by Principissa on 2009-10-23:
YT I would have ignored the woman voided her transaction and called the next person in line. I realize that would get you in trouble but people need to know the world does not stop or revolve around their personal phone conversations.
Posted by Ytropious on 2009-10-24:
I wish! You know what though, if I did do something like that we'd be getting a review here about rude cashiers. I could see it now. "I was checking out and I got a phone call from my 99 year old grandma about to die in the hospital because someone driving a Mercedes ran her over and my house is on fire (or insert other exaggerated, made up stories here) and the cashier had the nerve to ask me to step aside, SHE WAS SO RUDE I'M NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN." Riiight, because the customer is always right, right?

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