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Kelly's Comments

Could shoppers and clerks just be nice?

Could shoppers and clerks just be nice?

November 20, 2008|By KELLY MORENO

Now that the holiday season is upon us, many folks will be out shopping. Although a recent Herald-Mail poll indicated that only 22 percent of people say they expect to spend as much on holiday gifts this year as they did last year, chances are that the stores will probably still be busy.

With that in mind, I was thinking about how we might make the holiday shopping experience a little less stressful, and maybe even more enjoyable.

Having spent many years working in retail and other customer service jobs, and also being an avid shopper, I've observed both sides.

When I worked in retail, I loved the hustle-and-bustle of this hectic season, with most of us sharing the holiday spirit. What I didn't love were the crabby, rude shoppers who seemed to think a cashier was a non-person, a robot - and apparently programmed to overcharge customers.

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Trust me, that cashier probably doesn't really have some diabolical plan to shortchange her customers, with the ultimate goal of skipping off to Bermuda with all the 10-cent overcharges she's collected.

The fact is, we can blame those darn computers for most of the errors at the register. And it's not the cashier's fault that the prices have increased so much.

These days, the store employees have little or no control over pricing. Cashiers do make honest mistakes - and although there are some dishonest employees, they almost always get caught.

The truth is that most cashiers are hardworking. That woman who waits on you at the discount store is probably tired; her feet hurt, her legs ache, and the last thing she needs is a nasty customer.

Maybe she works two or even three jobs; she could be a student, a mother - maybe all of the above. I'll bet that man stocking the shelves would rather be at home watching the football game. But he's working, so give him credit.

Be nice, OK? Having said that, I do have a major issue with employees who don't treat their customers well. You know, the ones who don't even look at you or acknowledge you in any way. Would it kill them to say hello and maybe crack a smile? At every place I ever worked, it was actually a requirement of the job to greet each and every customer.

And for goodness sake, say thank you! That goes for both employees and customers. Mutual respect and common courtesy are so important, but sadly, they seem to be going the way of the five-and-dime store.

Cashiers, I know it gets old to have to keep saying the same things over and over to each customer, but there are ways to keep it fresh. When you say "Have a nice day", do try to sound like you mean it - but try not to say it at 9 at night. Somehow it just doesn't sound genuine when it's dark outside and the store is about to close.

Have a nice day? When? Tomorrow? Oh, good, I was hoping tomorrow would be an improvement over today. Maybe tomorrow, I will recover from the shock of how much everything cost me today.

The bottom line is that everybody likes to feel as if they matter. We spend our hard-earned money at the stores, and the people who work at the stores, earn their money taking care of us.

A smile and a sincere compliment go a long way. Who knows, you might just make someone's day. Ultimately, it works both ways.

Cashiers, try to enjoy your job and appreciate your customers. Customers, be nice to your cashier, and maybe she won't put a leaky bottle of bleach on top of those holiday gifts you're buying. Have a nice day!

Kelly Moreno is an editorial assistant with The Herald-Mail. Her column appears every other Thursday.

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