I’ve been in retail over four years now. I’ve only worked in one particular store, but I notice certain behavioral patterns and suspect they are universal to this kind of setting. If you have worked in a job requiring customer service, you will understand. If you haven’t, this will show you what it’s like on the other side of the register. 

In the store I work in, my customers are unusually on a mission. With this mission comes a preconceived idea of what is needed to complete that mission and how it should be accomplished. But then you interrupt their plan.

You tell the customer that she can’t get cash because she doesn’t have a receipt and the best you can give her is store credit. You tell him the item he wants won’t ship to California because of Califirnia’s high environmental standards, or sorry, that item is only carried in store and we no longer have it, or no, we don’t do same day delivery. Whatever the case may be, what I notice and am no longer surprised by though still irritated with is the slowness in which these people accept new data that goes against their preconceived notions of what was supposed do happen.

I’m sorry. That item can’t be shipped to Califirnia.

Well what if you order it and not me?

I don’t have any more power than you do.

What if you order it to the store?

Well…this is still a store…in California…

What if you have it transferred from a store in Nevada?

We don’t do those kinds of transfers.

Well, what am I supposed to do? Drive to Nevada?

I mean, you might just have to pick a different model.

But this is the exact one I need.

Oh wait, let me get the governor on the phone for you. He’s going to make an exception just for you.


And you know what goes with denial? Outrage.

I paid cash. Why shouldn’t I get cash?

Because you don’t have a receipt, all I can give you is store credit.

But that isn’t right. I paid cash. What am I going to do with a store credit?

I mean, they don’t expire.


And you know what else goes with denial and outage? A lack of responsibility.

Why didn’t you hang on to the receipt?

Well I didn’t think I’d have to return this.

Well then all I can do is store credit sir.

But I paid cash!


And when a solution isn’t found, out comes what I like to call An Appeal to the Magic Manager.

I’m sorry but we can’t apply those kinds of discounts to online purchases.

Why not?

Because the online part of our store is different from the brick and mortar part. I know it seems silly, but I’ve tried to call it through myself and they won’t do it. There’s no way around it.

Well, we’re gonna have to get a manager up here then because this is ridiculous.


Desperate to stay in denial and not consider a new reality for their situation, the customer appeals to the power of the Magic Manager, the Santa Clause of retail. He (and let’s face it, I hardly think the customer is imagining the possibility of a “she”) will wave his magic wand over the undesired situation and make everything happen the way the customer wants.

Well, we’ll just have to get a manager up here then because this isn’t right.

Akrught…well it may not be “right,” but it’s reality. Deal with it.

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