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selkn.asrai
12-10-2008, 12:57 AM
Ok, I work in a Barnes and Noble.

Is anyone else already tired of the holiday-inspired trend of asking customers a slew of a dozen pushy questions?

I'm supposed to ask:



Do you have a membership to save at least ten percent? (Tangent on benefits may ensue.)

Would you like any gift receipts?

Any gift cards with that?

Would you be interested in donating a book to a needy child for Christmas?

Do you have an e-mail address you'd like to submit for extra coupons from us?

We have giftwrappers by the cafe--donations are appreciated.

Any tattoos or piercings?

Do you think it's time for a haircut?


Joke on the last two. But the whole process hurts my throat, makes people want to be rude, makes me feel rude. Gives me a headache. No one wants to be asked so many things on their way out the door.

Though at the same time, I wish more people understood that if we don't ask these questions, we could lose our jobs. The people who are mean or outright yell and insult are more upsetting and rude than any force-fed question.

Anyone else have the same experience at your work? I'm lonely here in my rowboat of retail misery. *cue sad, floating-away music*

mario_c
12-10-2008, 01:12 AM
:ROFL: Used to work for Borders, now I support websites including several retail ones. So I empathize.

I am sick of the membership plans, or points plans or Frequent Shoppers or whatever the hell they are, being shoved in my face when I buy something. I'm buying Christmas cards, why do I have to sign my soul on the X?! Just hand back the change, I'm late!
And I can't get mad at the clerk because they were obviously ordered by their bosses to pitch it to everyone who buys a stupid candy bar, so who do I get mad at? That is of course the first role of the clerks, or any customer service job - to buffer management from the hostility they created. To get yelled at because you're there. It sucks, I know, and people who don't get that are trash. Don't get me started.
When did stressing customers out become good business?

selkn.asrai
12-10-2008, 01:40 AM
:ROFL: Used to work for Borders, now I support websites including several retail ones. So I empathize.


When did stressing customers out become good business?

Seriously. They say their stats are proof, but the stats non-management find in my store don't support that. Not by a long shot.

The other day, I had to get 6 memberships in 4 hours. Pah! I laughed aloud. Somehow they think that an asked question automatically equates to a sale. And then WE get in trouble for not meeting their impossible standards.

Storm Dream
12-10-2008, 01:53 AM
I worked at Mervyns long ago, so I get that retail workers are forced to ask these questions. I usually just smile, say no, move on.

I think I sold ONE Mervyns membership card thing...whatever it was we had (was it a credit card? jeez, I don't remember).

People didn't want it and eventually I stopped asking. I was out of there when school started, anyway.

Sorry you're dealing with this crap. :(

Serenity
12-10-2008, 03:22 AM
I also used to work at a bookstore and I found that these things that we are required to ask of our customers generally got a more positive response/reaction when phrased differently. This is, of course, assuming that you are free to play with the phrasing of the questions as we were allowed to. As long as the service was made clear to the customer, my managers didn't care how it was asked. (Well, within reason, of course. :D) Also, its hard to do, sometimes, but a lot of these questions work better if they're made to seem like a natural flow of the conversation. I always talked to my customers and therefore when I asked these questions, they seemed to take it a lot better and not as much of an annoyance.

You're not going to please everyone, honestly. But, with the exception of regular customers, how many of these people are you truly going to see again soon? Luck to you over the holidays!

By the way, I do have a B&N card, I always donate a book, and my e-mail is firmly on their list. ;)


Do you have a membership to save at least ten percent? (Tangent on benefits may ensue.) Did you know that you could save 10% on your purchases here with a Barnes & Noble membership card?

Would you like any gift receipts? Did you need a gift receipt with your purchase today?

Any gift cards with that? (I would save this one after a conversation where I was sure they were buying gifts and I asked them if they had found what they were looking for today. Otherwise, I honestly skipped this one, because it can be pushy unless they're looking for a gift for someone.)

Would you be interested in donating a book to a needy child for Christmas? Did you know about Barnes & Nobel's book donation program? If they say 'no' and either ask or appear to want more info, then tell them. More often than not (sadly) they'll just say, "No thanks" and that's that.

Do you have an e-mail address you'd like to submit for extra coupons from us? So many people hate giving out their e-mail addresses for fear of the great spamminator that all businesses belong to. (/sarcasm) Instead try: Are you interested in receiving coupons through a (monthly, whatever rate) e-mail from us? It's also at this point that you can assure them their address is protected and not sold to anyone and is used only by Barnes & Noble.

We have giftwrappers by the cafe--donations are appreciated. Again, for me this was one I pulled out when I knew they were getting a gift. But you could also say: "If your purchase has gifts for the holiday, we do have giftwrappers by the cafe. The service is free, however donations are greatly appreciated.

Kitty Pryde
12-10-2008, 03:35 AM
They oughtta give you free tea at the cafe to soothe your throat, cause it sounds like excessive talking is a job hazard! When I used to work at a ski area, they'd give us free hot chocolate to ward off hypothermia :D

i used to be filled with rage when the borders clerks asked me about my rewards card, until my friend started working there and she said they HAVE to ask and if they don't ask enough they can get sacked. then i just felt sorry for them, so i actually got a rewards card and i keep it on my key ring. well done, borders, using pity to obtain my email address.

my mom used to work at a Big Chain Bookstore, she said she was more enraged by outlandish customer questions (I want this book, it's by a guy, the cover is blue, do you know it? It's about a guy...) than she was about asking them questions.

Silver King
12-10-2008, 04:44 AM
My least favorite question (not in bookstores) is when clerks ask if I'm interested in purchasing "a replacement plan" for the most mundane products.

I smile and say, "No, thanks."

"Are you sure? It's only $4.95 for two years."

"That's all right. The toaster costs only twenty dollars. If it goes on the fritz, I'll just buy a new one."

"But sir, with this plan, you can have it replaced for only $4.95!"

I feel bad for the clerk, or anyone else who works in retail, so I suppress the urge to grab him by the collar, smack him a couple of times, and demand that he ring up my purchase instead of wasting my time. :D

jennifer75
12-10-2008, 04:54 AM
Anyone else have the same experience at your work? I'm lonely here in my rowboat of retail misery. *cue sad, floating-away music*
Can you wear the questions on a card around your neck?

I feel your pain. As a customer, I hate hearing the schpeal. And call me the Scrooge, but I loathe being asked to donate to so and so and this and that.

Funny story.....So I'm at Rite Aid, and I've noticed lately that every time I'm in there, the clerk asks me if I get my prescriptions filled with them. I say yes and thats that. Eech time. For say, a week. (Yea I frequent Rite Aid)

So, one day, the clerk doesnt ask me. Then I see the "receive a free 2 liter bottle of soda if we don't ask you to fill your prescriptions". Clerk scans my items, I swipe my card, she waits for my reciept, tears it, hands it to me and then realizes that I'm reading at this sign, and catches me before I can say HEY MISSY YOU DIDN'T ASK ME IF I FILLED MY PRESCRIPTIONS BEFORE OUR TRANSACTION! (All the other times, they had asked me the second I got to the register.)

Sorry, mild derail.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
12-10-2008, 05:06 AM
I spent several years working as a gift wrapper while I was in college... boy, do I feel your pain!

Devil Ledbetter
12-10-2008, 05:12 AM
The question I hate is when they ask the person in front of me if they'd like to save 20% by applying for a store credit card today. When the person says yes, I have to wait an extra 15 minutes while they process the credit request (which they promised the person would take "less than two minutes") and another 6 minutes while they dole out reams of paperwork and explain the "benefits."

It's obnoxious.

The worst thing by far though is loud, kitschy Christmas music. It makes me homicidal. I can't even imagine having to work in a store while they play that all day. I'd go postal.

Retail store employees have my sympathy and patience at Christmastime.

JoNightshade
12-10-2008, 05:31 AM
I feel your pain. As a customer, I hate hearing the schpeal. And call me the Scrooge, but I loathe being asked to donate to so and so and this and that.

SCROOGE!

Okay, just kidding. :) I also hate this more than anything. I'm coming to a store, I am buying a product, I do NOT want to be pressured into donating money to some cause I've never heard of.

I am a responsible giver: I donate to specific charities which I know are reliable and trustworthy. I take the time to research them. How do I know if the money I give at some cash register is actually going to the cause? Yeah, maybe a few pennies on the dollar, but not nearly as far as it would go somewhere else.

And yet, of course, I can't explain that at the check stand, so asking this in the store is basically saying "You're a stingy scrooge if you don't give money to ___!"

LaurieD
12-10-2008, 05:32 AM
On Black Friday I went to my local Target and of course, it was mobbed. While I was avoiding this huge throng of people, which looked oddly enough like a large, colorful herd of sheep, I overheard a lot of chatter among the employees and even a few running around with "manager" on their name tags - double checking with each other that breaks were taken regularly, water on hand for the cashiers, etc. It was nice to see people looking out for each other in the midst of the chaos.

Here's to everyone working retail this time of year...

thethinker42
12-10-2008, 05:40 AM
When I sold rocks to obnoxious rich people worked in jewelry, during Christmastime we had to answer the phone with "Happy Holidays from [the company that enslaved me], how can I assist you with your holiday shopping today?" Or some lengthy bullshit like that.

WTF? I HATE lengthy phone greetings with a fiery passion, and so did most of my customers.

We also had a line of questioning for our customers that drove me completely batshit, but I've blocked most of it out. Selective amnesia is your friend.

Sometimes, when I wasn't within earshot of one of the members of the Gestapo my managers, I would mess with customers.

"Check or charge?"
"Uh, do you take cash?"
"With two forms of photo ID."
(He actually pulled the ID out before he realized I was messing with him)

That was about the only way I made it through the Bad Time holiday season.

Silver King
12-10-2008, 05:41 AM
The question I hate is when they ask the person in front of me if they'd like to save 20% by applying for a store credit card today...
What they won't tell you, unless you ask, is the amount of interest rate that's tied to the card. It's usually very high, well over twenty percent.

Sometimes I'll ask, out of curiosity, which drives my wife crazy. She knows what I'm up to.

In a voice so everyone within shouting distance can hear, I'll repeat the interest rate: "Did you say it's 'twenty-tree point nine percent?' Why that's highway robbery! Are you sure that's not against the law?"

I say it in such a way as to accuse the store, not the clerk. Sometimes they agree with me, with the caveat, "Well, we have to ask everyone who comes through the checkout line."

Those poor souls who deal with the public at large, I really don't know how they can do it with a straight face most of the time. Maybe that's why so many of them are frowning before I ever have a chance to give them a hard time. :)

thethinker42
12-10-2008, 05:43 AM
The worst thing by far though is loud, kitschy Christmas music. It makes me homicidal. I can't even imagine having to work in a store while they play that all day. I'd go postal.

Retail store employees have my sympathy and patience at Christmastime.

When I worked at a mall, I was in one of the stores at the center of the mall, where the two main thoroughfares intersected. That, of course, is where they put up the stage every year for the Gong Show worthy presentations of holiday entertainment.

I was working 80 hours a week.

The "music" (and I do use that term loosely) went on EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY.

If ONE MORE elementary school "choir" came up and "sang" some variation of a Christmas song, I was going to form a noose out of Rolexes and hang myself in the backroom.

This thread is giving me flashbacks. *grabs bottle of Smirnoff and takes to bed*

scarletpeaches
12-10-2008, 05:50 AM
You know what we were taught to ask? "Would you like a carrier bag today?"

I asked my boss why the 'today' was necessary. Uh...when the fuck else would they need it? Tomorrow? Next week?

Retail at Christmas? Shove it.

thethinker42
12-10-2008, 05:53 AM
You know what we were taught to ask? "Would you like a carrier bag today?"

I asked my boss why the 'today' was necessary. Uh...when the fuck else would they need it? Tomorrow? Next week?

Retail at Christmas? Shove it.

Retail bosses don't care about semantics. They just want to watch their little minions run around and say things, in spite of the fact that any customer with half a brain is thinking "Oh yeah, I'm sure you're sincere you ass-kissing little dork."

scarletpeaches
12-10-2008, 05:57 AM
One of my friends who worked there used to say, "Ta-ra," or "Nae bather!" to the customers and was told off. She apparently had to say, "Goodbye," or "No problem, sir/madam."

Because yes, people in Dundee speak just like that themselves, don't they?

benbradley
12-10-2008, 06:23 AM
"Email address? Yes, I have a really short one. you cee eee at eff tee cee dot gee owe vee."

And I know durn well most such businesses will just start sending their monthly/weekly/whenever to whatever address you give them, rather than doing The Right Thing, sending a single email to which you the receiver has to respond to be added onto the list. (you may wonder why such a silly thing would be neccesary, well I'm about to tell you why, in addition to them typing in the wrong email address that happens to also be real...)

On the other hand, if you know the email address of someone you want to harrass play a practical joke on, you could just give every retailer THEIR email address, and then THEY get all these sales emails they didn't ask for, so these unconfirmed lists DO have a 'good' use...

"Would you like a carrier bag today?"
"No, I'm already married, thank you."

selkn.asrai
12-10-2008, 06:35 AM
my mom used to work at a Big Chain Bookstore, she said she was more enraged by outlandish customer questions (I want this book, it's by a guy, the cover is blue, do you know it? It's about a guy...) than she was about asking them questions.

The Blue Cover Question! We do call it that in my store. I get that a lot. They actually think we can search book covers by description.

"It either came out yesterday or 1998; I can't remember. It's a love story," or as one transaction recently went, "I put a book on hold three months ago but I can't remember what it was; why did you put it back, for Christ's sake? It's a book about dating and it's pink with hearts on the cover. How can you NOT know what it is? What is wrong with you people? You're useless!"

"Hey, you don't know me but what do you think I should read?"

"A nephew of a cousin twice removed who I've never met is 4 and I need to buy him something. *I offer a recommendation at their insistence* No, not that! What is wrong with you? Are you stupid?" Um, I just recommended Pigeon Wants a Puppy because it's popular. Not the Handjob Handbook.

"What do you mean it's not in stock? You're a BOOKSTORE." And approximately 200k titles come out every year in total. We can't hold all of them. Once I had a woman challenge me for three minutes on what "not in stock" meant.

"Where're the books written by people?"

"Take my advice and go to college, sweetheart." Hi there, you cruel, audacious woman. I did. I have two bachelor's degrees, and tact enough not to spit in your smug face.

"Why can't I use my Borders card? Manager now, sweetheart. Go on."

"I'm calling corporate because your cafe server wouldn't give me coffee for free." She would lose her job for that.

"Why don't you have a first edition of The Inferno, by Ali-jerry?" I don't know; but I can call the Vatican and see if they'll put it on hold for you.

"How can you not have a Bible with photographs of Jesus?" This being AFTER we had shown her a Bible with paintings of Jesus. She demanded photos. "I know; it's a shame. We just sold out of a book with a photo of Jesus riding a dinosaur." Couldn't help myself.

"Sorry, sir, the line (with 32 people) starts over there." "Well, what if I don't want to stand in line?" "Then I guess you're not getting your book any time soon."

The chauvinism, verbal abuse and blatant condescension we experience really drives me to the point of beating people with rocks while singing "Tonight, Tonight".

And yeah, I've gotten yelled at by customers coz they think I personally am trying to guilt trip them because they won't donate for children. I always say, "There's no judgment on this side of the counter, trust me." C'mon, I barely notice if someone is buying Mob Candy or High Times. It's your prerogative; for all I know, you just came back from donating blood after buying a herd of sheep for a village in Ethiopia.

Long post I know, but thank you for allowing me the space to vent. :)

Silver King
12-10-2008, 07:11 AM
I'm wondering if a savvy lawyer somewhere could step in and sue retailers on behalf of workers for requiring employees to ask personal questions of customers. After a while, it must create added stress to their work environment.

At one well known sporting chain I frequent, every time I go to pay, they ask for my phone number.

I always say the same thing: "I don't give out my number to anyone I don't know. And you shouldn't, either."

Because I'm an asshole, and if I'm in the right mood, when I hear someone in line blab out their phone number for the world to hear, I'll call out, "Thanks! I'll call you later."

Only once did it create problems, but I blamed the store's policy for asking asinine questions.

jennifer75
12-10-2008, 07:25 AM
When I sold rocks to obnoxious rich people worked in jewelry, during Christmastime we had to answer the phone with "Happy Holidays from [the company that enslaved me], how can I assist you with your holiday shopping today?" Or some lengthy bullshit like that.

WTF? I HATE lengthy phone greetings with a fiery passion, and so did most of my customers.

We also had a line of questioning for our customers that drove me completely batshit, but I've blocked most of it out. Selective amnesia is your friend.

Sometimes, when I wasn't within earshot of one of the members of the Gestapo my managers, I would mess with customers.

"Check or charge?"
"Uh, do you take cash?"
"With two forms of photo ID."
(He actually pulled the ID out before he realized I was messing with him)

That was about the only way I made it through the Bad Time holiday season.

the one and only time I dealt with the public at Christmastime was on a Christmas Eve when I worked for a crappy temp agency and they assigned me to the Honey Baked Ham shop. It was MOBBED with HUNGRY HAM HUNTERS and it was my job to nag them to not forget their jar of chutney.

jennifer75
12-10-2008, 07:32 AM
At one well known sporting chain I frequent, every time I go to pay, they ask for my phone number.



toys r Us does this, too! WHY???????????? Is Geoffrey going to call me?????

I give an old cell phone number when I'm asked. teehee. Zip code too. WTF does it matter what my zip code is????? I'm giving you my money!!!!!!!

TerzaRima
12-10-2008, 07:41 AM
We just sold out of a book with a photo of Jesus riding a dinosaur.

selkn, I heart you.

ChaosTitan
12-10-2008, 08:42 AM
You know, even we lowly, bloodsucking, apparently heartless retail managers have feelings, too. And we also have bosses who tell us what our goals are, in terms of sales, phone numbers captured and store credit cards opened. Phone numbers tell us who to market to and where to send catalogues--we aren't going to sell your friggin' number to telemarketers, so relax. Store credit cards often have benefits attached to the stores that has nothing to due with the interest rates (which goes to the crediting bank, not me)--it costs the store less to process an instore card than a Visa, and many banks give money back to stores when we open those cards. Money that goes toward our bottom line.

I hate asking for telephone numbers. I hate asking for emails. I hate offering our credit card. But I do it, because I understand why we're doing it, and if I want to stop, I'm free to seek employment elsewhere.

To customers, the questions may seem asinine or personal, but how hard is it to just say a polite no? Not hard. Snapping at an associate who asks for your telephone number not only makes their job harder, it makes you look like a jerk.*


*this rant is not directed at any single poster

nevada
12-10-2008, 09:06 AM
I was going to get a job at the Chapters (bookstore) down the street, seeing as how my career as a carpenter may be over (long story full of self-pity, anxiety, and suicide threats) but geez you guys have taken all the joy out of that now.

I did once work in an art gallery that sold native art, as well as inuit art. Our sales pitch was to basically start talking and not stop till the person pulled out his credit card to shut us up. I learned every native american legend I could find, knew more about the Inuit life style than the average Inuit and sold quite a bit. Because boy could I talk. My scalp would be burning from the halogen spotlight less than one foot away (kid you not) but I kept on talking and talking and talking. I even had people coming back to buy more. One woman asked me to send her some info on a piece she was interested in. I sent her a 7 page essay on the artist, his methods, his art, his history. She bought two pieces by him and a jade carving her husband liked. OMG I was obnoxious.

Why am I thinking of going back into retail, again?

benbradley
12-10-2008, 10:21 AM
You know, even we lowly, bloodsucking, apparently heartless retail managers have feelings, too. And we also have bosses who tell us what our goals are, in terms of sales, phone numbers captured and store credit cards opened. Phone numbers tell us who to market to and where to send catalogues--we aren't going to sell your friggin' number to telemarketers, so relax.
Back maybe five or eight years ago, Radio Shack made a really big deal that they were no longer going to ask customers their name and address at every sale, which they had been doing for at least three decades I knew of, so they could mail out sales flyers to frequent customers. What they didn't say was that instead, they now ask for your phone number, and do an address lookup from that to send out flyers to frequent customers... same crap stuff, different method.

I was going to get a job at the Chapters (bookstore) down the street, seeing as how my career as a carpenter may be over (long story full of self-pity, anxiety, and suicide threats) but geez you guys have taken all the joy out of that now.

I did once work in an art gallery that sold native art, as well as inuit art. Our sales pitch was to basically start talking and not stop till the person pulled out his credit card to shut us up. I learned every native american legend I could find, knew more about the Inuit life style than the average Inuit and sold quite a bit. Because boy could I talk. My scalp would be burning from the halogen spotlight less than one foot away (kid you not) but I kept on talking and talking and talking. I even had people coming back to buy more. One woman asked me to send her some info on a piece she was interested in. I sent her a 7 page essay on the artist, his methods, his art, his history. She bought two pieces by him and a jade carving her husband liked. OMG I was obnoxious.

Why am I thinking of going back into retail, again?
Well, for one thing, you make it sound like you were GOOD at it!

JoNightshade
12-10-2008, 11:16 AM
The Blue Cover Question! We do call it that in my store. I get that a lot. They actually think we can search book covers by description.

"It either came out yesterday or 1998; I can't remember. It's a love story," or as one transaction recently went, "I put a book on hold three months ago but I can't remember what it was; why did you put it back, for Christ's sake? It's a book about dating and it's pink with hearts on the cover. How can you NOT know what it is? What is wrong with you people? You're useless!"

"Hey, you don't know me but what do you think I should read?"

Oh, man, you can't appreciate this because you undoubtedly work for a chain, but I LOVED these questions when I worked at an independent used book store. It was a huge place and all of us were booklovers who took intense pride in knowing the entire stock. I got to the point where a customer could come in, say, "You know that book about the raft... with that guy..." And I'd say, "Yes sir! That would be Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki! Halfway down the third row to your left, middle of the top shelf."

For about 2 years, I knew every single freaking book on the market by size, binding, color, author, title, and back cover blurb. It was awesome.

Just found out that place closed shop... sigh.

selkn.asrai
12-10-2008, 07:09 PM
Oh, man, you can't appreciate this because you undoubtedly work for a chain, but I LOVED these questions when I worked at an independent used book store. It was a huge place and all of us were booklovers who took intense pride in knowing the entire stock. I got to the point where a customer could come in, say, "You know that book about the raft... with that guy..." And I'd say, "Yes sir! That would be Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki! Halfway down the third row to your left, middle of the top shelf."

For about 2 years, I knew every single freaking book on the market by size, binding, color, author, title, and back cover blurb. It was awesome.

Just found out that place closed shop... sigh.


With a sizeable number of the popular titles, it's v. much like that for me. Although we can't tell them where it is; we have to take them there and put the book in their hands.

But yeah, it does have to do with being a chain. Our stock averages at 100,000 titles and it changes frequently. We can't possibly know every one. But it doesn't help that people come in with only, "The title has something 'and the' something in it. 'And the' is all I remember, and the words don't actually go in that order. Why the hell can't you look it up?"

Side note: I did find that pink dating book with the hearts on it; then the customer followed me around the store for 30 minutes because she was berating me about "you people"--first of all, I just found the book you wanted when the description matched 8 out 10 books in 'Relationships' and was nice to you, and you have the gall to follow me around insulting me, and secondly, when will everyone learn that no matter who you say "you people" to, it's derogatory and mean.

Silver King
12-11-2008, 06:11 AM
...To customers, the questions may seem asinine or personal, but how hard is it to just say a polite no? Not hard. Snapping at an associate who asks for your telephone number not only makes their job harder, it makes you look like a jerk.*
Oh, I never snap at sales associates, nor am I ever rude to them. Ever, no matter what. The same goes for anyone else who works in retail or deals with the public in any way (except telemarketers, whom I will torture mercilessly when given the chance). I save my scorn for the store itself, the company or corporate culture that requires clerks to demean themselves as part of their job description. That sucks, not only for the employees, but for the customers whose privacy is continually compromised.

If I go to a store and ask random shoppers for their phone numbers or e-mail addresses, I'll be reported and escorted off of the premises, at the very least. But if I work for the store, if my boss tells me I have to ask such questions, out loud, where everyone within hearing range is privy to such information, that makes it okay, right?

Of course it does, if you own the store, or manage the business in some way, in which case it's perfectly acceptable to subject customers to invasive questions the store hopes they're stupid enough to answer to help shore up the bottom line.

It used to be, by the time you reached the cash register, all you had to worry about was handing over payment, collecting your bags and leaving. Now, you have to navigate all manner of sales pitches, personal questions, requests for donations, credit card offers and on and on.

No wonder more and more people are shopping online...