Top 10 Complaints Keeping Shoppers From Returning (It's The Sales Staff)

Smartypants at the Wharton School of Business surveyed shoppers to find out what pissed them off most about the in-store experience, and it turns out it’s mainly the sales staff. Here’s the top 10 problems that shoppers said bothered them to the point that they wouldn’t go back to the store.

10. Sales Associate (SA) A ignored you – did not say hello, smile, make eye contact 21
9. SA didn’t listen when explaining what you wanted 22
8. Product/item was out of stock 22
7. SA not very polite, courteous 24
6. SA not interested in helping you find what looking for 27
5. SA insensitive to long check-out lines 27
4. SA acted like you were intruding on their time/conversations 29
3. SA followed, pestered when you wanted to browse on own 30
2. Could not find anyone when needed help 31
1. SA had ‘that’s not my department’ attitude 32

Does this hold true for you? What most turns you off when you go out shopping?

Shopper Research Pinpoints Loyalty, Problems [ifoAppleStore] (Thanks to Jgodsey!)
What Customers Expect Sales Associates To Contribute Toward The In-Store Experience (Powerpoint)
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. statnut says:

    Does anyone find points 2 and 3 ironic?

  2. Toof_75_75 says:

    I would most often fall under Option 3 being the most annoying to me.

  3. Toof_75_75 says:

    You have a good point…It’s a matter of finding a balance. You don’t want the SA to continually pester and hound you, but you don’t want them to disappear completely.

  4. h0serdude says:

    My fiance and I went to register at Sears since they had some tools we wanted. We spent 30 minutes trying to get an associate to track down a manager to get us one of the scan guns. You’d think they would want to help us since we are going to be sending people their way to spend money! Each person we talked to acted like we were totally ruining their day by asking for assistance.

    We went to JCPenney afterwards for household stuff and they bent over backwards for us and gave us lots of wedding planning freebies.

  5. kimsama says:

    @statnut: I hate both situations. I want to be able to find a salesperson, but not have them annoy me with their constant presence. It’s more sad than ironic, really, that it seems like, as a customer, you’re always stuck with one extreme.

    And good lord, for me it’s #4 & #5. When I worked retail for several years in college, we weren’t even allowed to talk to each other behind the registers because our job was to make sure the line moved and the customers were happy. Now it’s like I’m lucky to find a store in which 9/10s of the cashiers aren’t on their cellphones or talking about their boyfriend/girlfriend problems or how hungover they are instead of paying attention to the freaking customers. I know how hard it sucks to be a minimum wage slave, but I have no end of anger towards clerks who do this.

  6. statnut says:

    @Toof_75_75: Absolutely. It’s just sort of funny to see them sitting side by side.

  7. @statnut: No, because salespeople should be able to read my mind and my ever-changing mood to determine whether I want them to be very helpful or completely ignore me that day.

  8. DrGirlfriend says:

    5. SA insensitive to long check-out lines 27

    This really bugs me. Whether it’s at a supermarket that only has 2 or 3 registers open and long lines at each station, or at department stores where staff is magically absent from all register stands except for one. And of course, none of the staff that is actually manning the registers is moving with any sense of urgency.

    I long for the day where every store has a self-checkout option.

  9. Umisaurus says:

    Points 4 and 7 are the worst for me. While the Wal-Mart I worked at wasn’t that bad when it came to these things, every out-of-state Wal-Mart I’ve been to has prompted letters to the President regarding their abysmal customer service.

  10. DrGirlfriend says:

    @statnut: True, but you never get what you want when you want it. When you need someone, there’s no one around. And when you don’t need someone, there’s someone breathing down your neck!

  11. lonewolf333 says:

    I have no need for sales people. If I step into your store I already know what I want. Just leave me alone.

  12. crabbyman6 says:

    I understand the difference in 2 and 3. You want to rep to approach you, but leave you alone if you say you’re just browsing. I agree, #3 can be the most annoying, I’ve already not entered stores because I’ve seen the reps hounding people.

    I’m a poor student and look the part, but when I go out to make a big purchase I’m usually spending top dollar. If I’m ignored by all the reps odds are I’ll be taking my money elsewhere. I kind of use it as a test to if I’ll be visiting the store again.

  13. winter_in_asia says:


    #1, #2, and #3 are all in conflict. It’s dumb. People all want the SA’s to just magically intuit how much attention they want or need.

  14. Echomatrix says:

    The companies cant really help it. The don’t care if their staff is educated because they just want them cheap. They get what they pay for

  15. itsallme says:

    #5, wait and wait and wait, on top of the waiting for each transaction you notice that they are offering each customer x% off to apply for their credit card which adds to each transaction, then they offer the customer to join their rewards club, again causing more waiting while the customer fills out a form or the cashier types in their info, then on top of it, how about some magazine subscriptions(BB did this years ago around the holidays).

    Receipt checking.

  16. savvy9999 says:

    From the article:

    Shoppers from 18 to 29 years-old reported the highest rate of problems, 68 percent. At the other end, shoppers over 65 years-old reported problems in just 41 percent of cases.

    Based on stereotype (bewildered, cranky septuagenarians seeking ink refills for their mimeograph machine at Big Scary Best Buy), I thought this would have been the exact reverse.

    Which may mean that 18-29 year olds simply have no idea what they want when they shop, or they’re ignorant, or whiny, or that they have no money… thus SAs who are also 18-29 tend to ignore them?

  17. sgodun says:

    My biggest peeve is when the employee (cashiers, particularly) couldn’t seem to care less that you’re standing there in front of them. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone into a store and the cashier didn’t even say hello to me. Department stores seem to be the worst at this; I’ve had cashiers hold entire conversations with the other cashier behind the counter and not even LOOK at me or say a SINGLE WORD to me, not even a “hello” or “your total is $xxx” or “thank you” or anything. It was like I was a complete non-entity. I don’t want or need to be treated like royalty when I go into a store, but I would like slightly more attention and consideration than, say, the wastepaper basket.

    I was recently in a PathMark supermarket picking up basics. I went to the express lane since I had only three items. The cashier said NOTHING to me, never looked up at me or anything. I could have had a fresh roasted turkey balanced on my head and she wouldn’t have noticed. What occupied her attention? She was on her cell phone with one person (via a hands-free device) AND she was text messaging with another. I pointed her out to the manager as I was leaving and made sure he know that I would be shopping elsewhere from that point on.

  18. royal72 says:

    top 5 reasons why companies don’t give a shit about your whining little survey…

    5. you keep going back for more, regardless of how annoyed you get.

    4. “we take this matter very serious.”

    3. sales people are like totally immune to bitchery, as long as they bring in numbers.

    2. if they were beating your mother with a stick, blew up your dog, face-fucked your grandmother, and gave you a free body cavity search/receipt check at the door, you’d still go back for more.

    1. you are a consuming slave.

  19. rolandsherpa says:

    The smart business owners will figure out that people want service from brick and mortar stores. If people are not going to get service, they will continue to shop the internet, where they can get more information and a lower price. The dumb business owners will blame the internet for losing sales. Something I have been saying for a long time, now I have some research to support my opinion.

  20. foolishkiwi says:

    i would like to see this kind of survey done from the opposite perspective. what are retail employees biggest complaints from customers. i spent a lot of time working in retail and know from experience that retail employees often get the shaft from both our employers and customers.
    as far as #5 goes often the people you have contact with have no control over how many lines are open and wish they would stop getting yelled at for something they can’t do anything about. and the # 2 + 3 problem: most stores have an information desk if you need help go there if you don’t have fun shopping by your self (not that it’s always staffed with the best and brightest (my #1 complaint as a retail employee was my useless coworkers who ended up making me work twice as hard))

  21. smitty1123 says:

    #3 all the way. I’m an informed consumer, I don’t need or want your help.

  22. rjhiggins says:

    @winter_in_asia: It’s not dumb. It’s a survey. Some people want to be left alone; others want service to be there when they want it. So of course both show up in the survey. Not hard to grasp, really.

  23. krom says:

    @statnut: No. SAs should be available, not pushy. There is certainly a middle ground. And they should get the hint when someone doesn’t want to be helped.

    In fact, what’s *really* ironic is when BOTH #2 and #3 happen at the same store *during the same visit.* You figure that, when you’re independently browsing, and an SA is pestering you, when you later actually need someone, they’ll be easy to find. But no, suddenly they’ve all disappeared or busy helping some hapless newbie.

    My retail pet peeves:
    # Treating me like an idiot
    # Treating me like a likely criminal
    # Getting me the wrong item out of the “back” (Fry’s, I’m looking at you here)

  24. EmperorOfCanada says:

    My biggest complaint (especially at Walmart)

    30 checkout isles. 3 staff. Wtf. No wonder the lines are a mile long.

  25. DeeJayQueue says:

    my SO has been remodeling his home, and as such has been spending beaucoup bucks at Home Improvement stores.

    Home Depot (and this is a trend I’ve noticed from shopping there before)leaves all the checkout lanes closed except for the self-checkout lanes, and the 1 person manning them. This leaves that 1 cashier to deal with 4 registers plus her own if something should go wrong.

    Meanwhile at Lowes, we had to ask a cashier to page someone for the lumber department, then that person had to go find someone who could operate the forklift, then that person had to find a spotter. The original person had to go find the stanchions to close the aisle down while the second guy had to go find the forklift and drive it down. This is all to get 2 sheets of drywall because there were only 4 sheets down to begin with and they were all damaged.

    @royal72: Companies don’t care about these little surveys because they all do the same things. The service sucks at both Best Buy and Circuit City, so where else are you going to go if you want it now? There’s no competition to make service standards improve. It’s the status quo that’s fucked.

  26. ARP says:

    One thing I noticed is that they don’t have my biggest complaint- SA who don’t know their products. I come to most stores with a certain amount of knowledge about the product I’m considering buying. I’ve done a little homework but am not an expert or I would have walked up and said, “I’d like X please.” But often I find I know more than the SA does about the products I’m considering. I don’t think SA’s can have perfect knowledge of all products, but shouldn’t they know more than the basics of the department they’re in? This especially applies at places like Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples, etc.

  27. NewPerfection says:

    I was a CSA for Lowe’s for quite a while. We were always pushed for good customer service, and our management did actually take complaints seriously. I know how bad it is to be annoyed by SA’s in other stores, so I tried to be as helpful to customers as I could while at the same time not annoying them. Some people just can’t be satisfied though. I rarely used the “this is not my department” excuse, and when it wasn’t and I didn’t know the answer, I always found someone else that could help them. As for long lines, everyone that works at Lowe’s is required to know how to run a register. That way if the cashiers get long lines, anyone available can jump on a register for a short while and help out. I did that quite a bit.

    Of course I think it all has to do with the area you live in. Here in Rapid City, SD people tend to be a little nicer to deal with. That doesn’t hold true for a lot of places I’ve been.

  28. csdiego says:

    You know, bad service is annoying (especially the SA who refuses to interrupt a conversation to help me), but my primary reason for not going back to a store after shopping there once is just that they don’t have what I’m looking for at a price I want to pay.

    In a place like Costco, where I like to shop, on-floor staffing is minimal, but they have the place stocked with things I want to buy at a price I want to pay, and everything’s organized in a sensible, easy-to-read way so I can find it. I’m sure it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make things that way, but that works just as well as (under)paying a bunch of surly teenager to cover for your poor ordering or stocking practices.

  29. redhand32 says:

    Former Sales Associate/Call Center Sales Rep

    1) “Customer Service” Sales Associates, Call Center People, (having done all 3 are trying to survive on little pay, little or no respect on the job by ignorant managers, and usually follow mandated scripted behavior to get thru their day. At retailers SAs are scheduled with little advance (sometimes less than 7 days in advance) notification which of course includes Saturdays and Sundays (for me 3 weekends out of 4= 1 weekend off).

    2) Because of #1 there is little motivation to provide any customer service over and beyond the required script. This boils down to $8/Hour or less and 3 out of 4 weekends/month often Saturday nights and Sunday football time, etc. while the uncaring Corporation rakes in big profits and some ignorant “manager” who is also overworked and underpaid just a little more than you keeps you on script. He/she is also responsible for telling you on Thursday night before that you have to come in the next whole weekend including Saturday night. Don’t like it tough get another job.

    3) Because of #1 and 2 the only people working as SA or customer service are young and healthy kids who can’t wait ( and often don’t) to move on to a real job, or another SA job in another crap hole because they are stuck and pissed off at the world in a dead end. The other group are recent immigrants and older folks who can’t get hired in real jobs because of their profile (over 40 or foreign looking/sounding, no track record outside the 3rd worrld). Customer Service SAs are a necessary evil of the corporations because someone has to flip the burgers, sell the trinkets, cell phones, sweaters etc. It’s all about the product, overhead and profits. SAs are part of overhead and unimportant. Customers are obstacles to the down time when the pain subsides momentarily.

    That’s why you are treated like crap, an annoyance or a threat. There is no corporate culture that rewards service only sales profit. Your reward is the absence of getting yelled out and/or fired for $8/hour and 3 out of 4 weekends and short notice scheduling.

    Is it any wonder you, the customer, can get even OK service at times ? There is no real training about “customer service” outside of some smiling fool actor in a “training” film when you start. The actor/Sales Associate is usually Biff or Betty from the Soap Operas who could never possibly be your local SA !

    The above is the road to “customer service” in a nut shell. Been there done that. The “job” sucks. Some customers who make us work outside the script (the absence of pain) suck too. “Your call, complaint is very important to us” which means it is absolutely of no importance to us. Is it dinner break time yet ?

  30. DCGaymer says:

    #2 Could not find anyone when I needed help.

    When I go to a department store like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, etc…etc…and I’m not assisted…I purposely make sure I leave the department I found it in and pay for it / buy it at another counter.

    On more than one occasion I’ve had clerks tell me, I’m sorry you have to take this back to the other department…I politely say…

    “No I don’t, and here’s why….No one would help me in that department…so they’re not getting the commission…You are…If you don’t want the commission…I’m sure your manager does…why don’t we call him.”

    After that they ring me up immediately ….without fail.

  31. AtomicPlayboy says:

    I’m surprised this didn’t show up on the top 10 list (though it could fall under #3): up-sales. NOTHING irritates me more (Best Buy Monster cable hawkers, I’m looking at you) about the retail experience than the constant up-sell attendant to nearly every purchase I make. Accessories, product protection, etc. have been the major factor in my avoidance of retail outlets when an online alternative is available. I can handle the couple of extra clicks I have to make on Amazon.

  32. ImpossibleCheeseburgerPie says:

    I want a supermarket cashier that is going to lay the smack down on people who have too many items in the express lane. The other day I was stuck behind two dudes that each had a half-filled carriage. They were clearly shopping together and thought they’d be clever by breaking up their purchases, but even divided in half it was over the limit.

    Why do they even have the express lane if they let everyone through?

  33. greensmurf says:

    I hate slow checkers that take 10 seconds per item to scann and bag.
    I love stores that have plenty of self checkout.
    I hate when companys have slaes but the starting day of the sale they are out of stock and only had one of the sale item to begin with.
    Not to mention company names (Best Buy)
    But I find it retarded to have a sale and only have one of the sale item on stock.
    Great managment :)

  34. greensmurf says:

    @ImpossibleCheeseburgerPie: I agree, some people thing that the express lane rules apply to everyone else but themselves. Then I think maybe they cant help it because they cannot count past their 10 digits.
    You cant be too hard and the mentally challenged.

  35. dualityshift says:

    1. SA had ‘that’s not my department’ attitude 32

    This one gets me more than anything else. Very rarely do I need assistance, unless the item is over-sized, or only available through the SA.

    “The whole store is your department, since the store is who gives you a paycheque. If you don’t work that department, find me someone who does.” is how I deal with ‘that’s not my department.’

  36. Buran says:

    Here’s one that peeves me that wasn’t quite on the list so I couldn’t vote for it: you walk into a fast food place to order, wait in line, and the clerks don’t ever make eye contact with you while you wait. It’s like they don’t give a shit that you are standing there waiting to give them money and they can’t focus on anything not 1 foot from their faces.

    As I’m hard of hearing and place a huge value on face-to-face contact (it lets me know that someone wants to communicate with me in a way that hearing people don’t value as much), I feel very turned off by workers who can’t take the time to look up and at least nod and acknowledge that I’m there.

    Seriously. It takes next to no effort and makes customers feel like they’re dealing with real humans. Take the moment to make eye contact.

  37. dualityshift says:

    How about an express check-out that is its namesake. When I foodshop, I don’t use the express. Even if I have 2 items, usually it’s quicker in the regular checkout.

  38. CarMatchPro says:

    They’ve just described shopping in L.A..

  39. BlondeGrlz says:

    @h0serdude: We went to Sears this weekend to buy a table saw. Lucky us, it was on sale! But it took 20 minutes to find “Bob” the only guy working in that department. And that saw was out of stock. Oh, and they can’t order it. And it’s not available on the website. So they have on display, a sale item that they cannot sell. My own fault for going to Sears.

    @DeeJayQueue: We have a local Ace Hardware that has become our FAVORITE place to shop for home improvement stuff. Unless you need something huge (see above table saw), the SAs are friendly, helpful and polite. The cashiers say hello as you walk it, they’ll carry heavy things out to your car and the price is comparable to the bigger stores. I actually go there to buy anything they happen to sell (birdseed, cat food, Windex) just because it is so much nicer than Walmart, et al.

  40. stageright says:

    Wow, someone paid money for this?

    Here’s the “analysis” for free:

    You hire the bottom of the barrel – teenagers and people that can’t get better jobs – and pay them as little as you can. In return, they don’t care about their jobs, which means they don’t care about the store’s customers. Which means they typically piss customers off all the time. As a result, the customers don’t come back.

    But hey, the less you pay your employess, the better the books look, the higher the bonus you can give management and the executives. Look at how great Sears and Kmart are doing with this same business plan – it can’t miss!

  41. sparklingpink says:

    I work in sales and I hate having to re-approach customers who tell me theyre just looking. The thing is though, it’s company policy that I have to reapproach them.

    “Hi, how are you today?” “Oh, Im good but Im just looking around” “Oh ok, thats no problem…(say a bunch of crap about promotions and sales)…I’ll be back later to check on you”.

    Seriously, it’s really frustrating and I rarely do it cuz its just stupid. Apparently to the big head office, “just looking” is a lie that customers tell you and you have to find out what theyre “looking for”.

  42. deadlizard says:

    This list should be renamed the “Sears Top 10”

  43. TWSS says:

    Re: #5, I’ve gotten into the habit of snagging passing employees and asking them to open checkout lanes when there are lines. More than half the time, they do, and often usher me into the new checkout lane.

    Admittedly, this is something that usually only applies in grocery stores. But if you’re polite, and you luck into snagging someone wearing a tie (manager!), a polite request often gets the job done.

  44. sixseeds says:

    I’m not sure I get the griping about sale merchandise being out of stock. Aren’t a lot of sales about getting rid of existing stock?

    As far as cashier shortages, as a former retail slave nothing pisses me off more than cashiers blowing off a line or screwing around. HOWEVER, in a lot of stores, not all floor staff are trained/allowed to work the registers. If you find a store is consistently understaffed, complain to management, not to the staff. Believe me, they’re not too thrilled about it either.

  45. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Veritech_Ace: I share your surprise.

    @dualityshift: But you know they’re getting “Not my department” from their managers, right? Because the second they leave to find someone another customer shows up wondering where the person who’s supposed to be there went. I’m betting they get hassled for not staying put.

  46. anyanka323 says:

    Thank you so much for that. Most customers don’t really get how hard working in retail is. You are the person the customers sees and most of the time, you are held accountable for moronic management decisions. The pay isn’t great and it’s worse when you know higher ups who do absolutely nothing are getting paid almost twice what you are.

    Re your #2: very true. I hate it when customers ask, often out of sheer ignorance, why you work every weekend. Believe me, I would love an entire weekend off so I could have a mini vacation, but that simply isn’t going to happen. That’s the only reason I’m working Easter Sunday, so I have some leverage to get a full weekend off sometime this summer.

    Scheduling is another irritating part of working retail. You cannot make plans more than a week ahead because you never know if you’ll have to work that day. Also, where I work, the unofficial policy is that you are scheduled every other Sunday. That policy only applies to certain people – i.e. the older employees. The younger employees are expected to work multiple Sundays in a row. One co-worker tried to get off yesterday, but the two older women she asked refused to give up their Sundays and a chance to pick up more hours.

  47. assirac says:

    “5. SA insensitive to long check-out lines”

    Insensitive is the wrong word here. The cashier can be very sympathetic for a long wait, but it doesn’t make it any faster for me to leave the store.

    If I have to wait longer than about 10 minutes, I often decide I don’t actually need whatever crap I was trying to buy and walk out.

  48. Heyref says:

    @statnut: #3 is a subset of #9.

  49. B* says:

    God bless you. I have to say though, I never made that much working retail! I tried to be nice and helpful to customers, but seriously, $5.50 an hour was not enough for what those jobs entailed. We all get irritated sometimes when we get poor service, but I try to remember being told to clean the heavy-traffic stairs with off-brand paper towels and Windex, and I magically feel more sympathetic.

    If you must complain, complain to corporate headquarters about the thick blanket of despair hanging over their store. Complaining about specific employees just makes their lives more miserable, headquarters and managers more evil, and the service more terrible.

  50. cockeyed says:

    10. Sales Associate (SA) A ignored you – did not say hello, smile, make eye contact 21

    Since I worked as a SA for a good part of my early twenties, I know that they’re constantly hounded by the boss to be overly-friendly to customers. My problem was that I really hated being harassed (and I do consider it harassment) when I’m trying to shop. I hate when people say hi at the store when I come in. I only want help if I look like I need help, or one simple “Need help? Well I’ll be around if you need me” is perfect.
    The bosses tend to badger the employees to smother their customers. AND if they are ignoring you, that’s bad management too. Seriously, I am not completely letting the SAs off the hook, but the management has a big part in how their employees act.

  51. statnut says:

    @anyanka323: I do get how hard working retail is, as someone who worked retail 5 years. But if you cant muster up something passing for a)empathy for the customer, and b)pride in your job, then its time to get out. The days off problem you describe, its the nature of the beast. I hate to say it, and I am not trying to be mean, but if you dont like it, get out.

  52. statnut says:

    @Beki: Yes, lets just let lousy employees get away with being lousy. Seriously people, pride in your job. Does no one have it?

  53. LiC says:

    3 for me. I avoid high-end stores because they harass me. Yes, I am browsing, but I’m also an impulse shopper.

  54. DrGirlfriend says:

    @sixseeds: I agree with you about complaining to management instead of the staff. Unfortunately, both times I have tried to do so (1 different stores) I’ve been summarily ignored. It’s frustrating!

  55. ywgflyer says:

    When it comes to SAs helping me, I have a very simple rule: Don’t find me, I’ll find you.

    Unless I need help, please don’t incessantly ask if I do. Thank you.

  56. Maulleigh says:

    Rudeness stinks, but also over familiarity.

    Even though I go to a place of business every day doesn’t mean I necessarily want the fourth wall broken down. I prefer to remain anonymous.

    I’m not one for much small talk.

  57. B* says:

    What are they getting away with? I can’t imagine minimum-wage retail employees going home at night and cackling, “Mwa ha ha, another $20 in the bank and a day’s worth of dissatisfied customers. My evil plan is a success!”

  58. chrisjames says:

    I don’t ever stop shopping somewhere because of Sales Associates. If I’m ever so uninformed before going in for a purchase that I need a SA, then I’m already in the wrong. I keep my questions simple (“where’s this/that/the bathroom?”) and that’s it. If I need an opinion or advice, I have an internet full of demographics to help me.

    I never talk to certain stores’ SAs anymore, though. For instance, the Borders staff. You use a kiosk and it says “Book not on shelves, ask front desk.” You ask at the front desk and someone walks you over to a kiosk and punches your search in. I learned my lesson. Don’t substitute an in-store computer for an in-store robot.

  59. statnut says:

    @Beki: Treating customers like crap is getting away with something. And if they hate the money they make that much, its time to start looking for a better job. Again, I worked retail for a while, and I always made sure to take the time to help a customer, and if it was something I couldnt help with, got the manager. Being nice and trying your best to satisfy a customer isnt that hard.

  60. statnut says:

    @chrisjames: I’ve stopped shopping places, temporarily at least, because of poor SA. I only came back to said store(in this case EB games) when the lousy employee was no longer at that store, and I suspect fired.

  61. MissPeacock says:

    One thing that I really loathe is when I’m standing in line for ages and a new checkout lane opens. Guess who gets to be first in that lane? Not those of us who have been standing there forever and are now trapped in the middle of the line, but the people who JUST WALKED up and are standing behind me. I wish they would look at me or the other person in front of me and say “Please come to my lane” instead of it being last-in-old-line-first-in-new-line.

  62. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @ImpossibleCheeseburgerPie: Hehe, I always hated when people would do that kind of stuff when I worked as a cashier. I would sometimes say something to them but, at Wal-mart, you would also have the problem of management sending people with a whole cart of items to your express lane so they didn’t have to wait, meanwhile, you now have a line behind that person of annoyed people who only have two or three items in their hands.

    I think I’ve become less patient with stupid customers and incompetent sales people now that I have worked in retail because I know from experience what you should and shouldn’t do. I think a lot of people who work at those places just don’t care.

  63. Morton Fox says:

    Customer service matters but it is not the only thing that matters. High prices have kept me away from some stores.

  64. javaman1960 says:

    3. SA followed, pestered when you wanted to browse on own

    Comedienne Margaret White once told an overly-attentive SA: “If I wanted to shop with a friend, I’d have brought one.”

  65. framitz says:

    Walked into a Circuit City store a few days ago. No customers to speak of.

    I was immediatly surrounded by 4 young sales associates all introducing themselfs like a bunch of little teeny bopper twits. None of the four was helpful.

    To add insult to injury the item I was there to purchase was not in stock even though their Web site specificly stated the item was in stock at this store. This turned out to be an obvious bait and switch which I expected in the first place because the price was too good to be true.

    I did make a minor purchase, but will never return to that store again.

  66. Vanvi says:

    I hate when stores are impossibly disorganized. You expect to spend an afternoon digging around when you’re at TJ Maxx, but not at Macy’s. One of the many reasons I don’t shop at Forever 21. I love Nordstrom though!

  67. AnonyLawyer says:

    Any CVS in the downtown DC area is guaranteed to be the worst CVS you’ve ever shopped at. It’s like the sales associates are volunteering their time. They look at you like you’re the biggest piece of shi* on earth and how dare you ask them where the shoe polish is. Worst. Ever.

  68. TechnoDestructo says:


    Not at all.

    @ceejeemcbeegee (just debatin’ not hatin’):

    This isn’t complicated. Don’t bother me unless I bother you. Be available to be bothered unless you are currently being bothered by someone else.

  69. Robobot says:

    I hate being treated like a thief when I go into a store looking to buy something. I am a reluctant consumer at best, but when I need something I am intent on buying, not just browsing. (And certainly not stealing!)

    It’s a slap in the face when I’m standing at checkout holding a purchase and the associates all pointedly ignore me. It’s just as bad when they infer in not-so subtle ways that I am a shoplifter. I just leave when that happens because it is really embarrassing for me.

  70. MrMold says:

    You want conversation, get a friend.

    I’m there to ring your purchases, not validate your existence.

  71. forgottenpassword says:

    salesfloor people who pounce on me as soon as I step into the door piss me off the most.

    My local radioshack’s employees do this & I HATE IT!

    Leave me the frick alone until I ask for help.

  72. Id_LQQK says:

    My #1 issue with SA:

    When they act like you are trying to take food out of their baby’s mouth by getting them to stand up and honor a policy, sales add, warranty, or use some common sense.

    I’m not talking about a Mom & Pop set up but a SA at a large store. I mean it’s not their money and as long as they are just honoring an add or policy to the benefit of the consumer, it is not going to affect their pay check. In fact, it will create a loyal customer.

  73. humperdinck says:

    All, except #3. SA seems to have better things to do than follow me around and attempt to attend to my needs.

  74. JiminyChristmas says:

    The source of all of these complaints is that working in retail generally isn’t a job worth having anymore. Ergo, the very concept of having a professional sales staff in a retail setting is a total throwback. Offer a crap schedule, low wages, no benefits, and little job security and it’s no accident that everyone working in the store is always an entry-level employee.

    I live near what is quite possibly the best hardware/power tool store in the country: 7 Corners Hardware . At any given time you can get help from an employee who has worked there 10-20 years. They have expert knowledge of their product. On several occasions they have steered me towards tools that were not what I walked in intending to buy that ended up being much better buys.

    My point is: It wasn’t always, and doesn’t have to be, the case that you had to do product research on your own and rely on sales staff for nothing more than directions. It’s really a just a subtle way retailers have shifted costs to consumers. They get to hire people with no specialized knowledge and pay them $8/hr, and it becomes your job to be an expert on HDTVs, refrigerators or saws.

  75. SaraAB87 says:

    I guess customer service has tanked a lot in recent years, which is not surprising. I worked retail around the year 2000 and it was not as bad as people describe it as today. Other than the grumpy people at xmas time and the occasional bad customer which is to be expected it was not bad at all. We always did our best to help the customer though.

  76. AlphaWolf says:

    As someone who just helped to open a new retail store with my company, I was really shocked at the level of pay and lack of experience of the retail employees. In the other established store, there is a long standing employee who knows everyone by name and everyone loves going there.

    Not so true of the new store, it is like every other store, low paid salespeople that really have no idea of what is going on or what the product is. The customers are not loyal. Meanwhile our management expects miracles out of the new store. Go figure.

  77. Rode2008 says:

    I hate it when sales associates cling to you like hemorrhoids when all you want to do is look around.

    I have a new way of dealing with them. Consider this scenario:

    Sales rep: “Can I help you find anything?”
    Me: “No, just looking”
    Sales rep: “Do you have any questions?”
    Me: ‘Actually, yes, do you have anything I like?”
    Sales rep: “What do you like?”
    Me: “I like it when people leave me alone.”

  78. ogman says:

    @Buran: I completely agree. I also walk when they don’t make eye contact. Then I make a phone call on my way to the place across the street.

  79. ogman says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I don’t both with in-store management any more. You have to figure that if the staff is that badly trained, the manager is the reason for it. If that’s true, then complaining to them makes no difference. Let the managers boss tell them they’re doing a crappy job of training their personnel.

  80. ogman says:

    @Maulleigh: “May I help you?”

    “No Thanks, I just looking.”

    “Okay, let me know if you need anything.”

    Please tell me that is not too much of a social interaction for you, because that’s usually all it takes.

  81. cordeduroi says:

    I really don’t understand why people have this need for the minimum wage worker to be ‘nice’ to them.

    Don’t they realize that any sort of ‘how are YOUUU today?’ and ‘thank you SOOO much for your purchase!!’ is just forced panderism in the first place?

    It’s one insanity-step away from being offended by not receiving your automated ‘thank you for your business’ print out from the ATM machine or gas pump.

    In both cases, the cheapest possible method of receiving my money was given zero choice in whether or not to thank me… so what value should I place on those words?

    That’s just how I see it.

  82. SAugsburger says:


    “I was recently in a PathMark supermarket picking up basics. I went to the express lane since I had only three items. The cashier said NOTHING to me, never looked up at me or anything. I could have had a fresh roasted turkey balanced on my head and she wouldn’t have noticed. What occupied her attention? She was on her cell phone with one person (via a hands-free device) AND she was text messaging with another. I pointed her out to the manager as I was leaving and made sure he know that I would be shopping elsewhere from that point on.”

    I will absolutely agree with you that the cashier was without question rude, but I am not buying stuff for a conversation. I don’t know about you, but for I think I speak for most people in that for purchases I want it to be done quickly and efficiently. In other words, I am not here for small talk. I want to get straight to business. Scan my items, swipe my card, give me a receipt. Some people may think that is cold and impersonal, but the only reason I want someone to strive up idle chatter is if we are waiting for a manager (refunds, void a transactions, etc.). For most routine transactions I just want the cashier to be accurate, but as quick as possible without damaging my merchandise.

  83. SAugsburger says:


    “I really don’t understand why people have this need for the minimum wage worker to be ‘nice’ to them.”

    Provided your interactions with employees are efficient and not offensive I don’t care if they give me a phoney “thank you.” The best way they can thank me for their business is help me finish my shopping quickly, but effectively. I could care less if they appreciate my business if they aren’t good at finding products for me. I would rather have a jack ass(within reason) that is efficient.

    We all know in the vast majority of cases that most employees would never greet you like that if you met them anywhere else. They are strangers in the vast majority of cases. You expect them to be respectful obviously, but beyond that I don’t get what people are expecting.

  84. SAugsburger says:

    @ogman: “I don’t both with in-store management any more. You have to figure that if the staff is that badly trained, the manager is the reason for it. If that’s true, then complaining to them makes no difference. Let the managers boss tell them they’re doing a crappy job of training their personnel.”

    I think the better reason to not waste your time has to do with that in most cases the poor quality of employees is often beyond their control. In corporate owned stores managers often have little control over wages or even how many dollars they have for a labor budget. In other words, he or she may love working at “fill in the blank” know their stores products and policies inside out and even know how to train people on the products, but they are just doing the best with the employees they are able to acquire for the wages that they can afford to pay.

    If you have 85% annual turnover and corporate caps the number of people you are allowed to work full time you will virtually never get most people fully trained about every product. This is especially true in the electronics industry. If they aren’t putting several hours into learning about the industry’s new products you will always be behind. This is why there are so few good consumer electronics stores. The stores don’t budget enough to have people who are serious about their products.

    Stores generally fall into two general categories: stores that attempt to compete on price and stores that try to compete on service. People shopping at WalMart expecting smart employees are smoking something and it isn’t tobacco. If you want high end service you go to a high end specialty retail store. There is no other departments if you have a very narrowly focused store. In addition, there are never long line and the employee in a smaller niche store have a larger impetus not to screw up a transaction. At Wal-Mart if you mess up one customer generally no big deal another sucker will walk into your department in the next 15 minutes and hopefully you will do it right this time. In a small store alienating your customers can threaten the whole stores livelihood as well as your own. The reality is, most people aren’t willing to pay for that.

  85. SAugsburger says:

    @rjhiggins: “@winter_in_asia: It’s not dumb. It’s a survey. Some people want to be left alone; others want service to be there when they want it. So of course both show up in the survey. Not hard to grasp, really.”

    Apparently you have never worked retail if you don’t believe that people often want contradictory things. I will agree that a lot of the people that want one type of behavior want the opposite, but some customers really do contradict themselves. I had no customer who wanted a product I told him I would be right back and he said he would be right there. I came back five minutes later I don’t see him anywhere. I walk 100 feet to one side of the department and then all the way to opposite side (I worked in a huge store). After spending 5 minutes looking for him, I asked my supervisor if he saw where the customer went, he said no so we took the product back to lockup(it was a small, but expensive item) and twenty minutes later the guy said “well where is the item?” I told told him that spent 5 minutes looking for him and he said I was right there and I told him I went back to exactly where you were and you were there and I looked for you. Turns out he was hiding behind a display several aisles down. My supervisor who originally saw the customer points out that I did make an honest effort to find the customer (contrary to the customers protests to the contrary) and apologized for the delay. After the customer left he admitted to me that he thought the guy was a jerk somehow thinking I magically knew where he moved to a non-intuitive location.

    I could go all day on other examples, but the point that some customers really do want thinks that are contradictory.

  86. BoorRichard says:

    If the cashier asks for my name, address, phone number, etc., so he or she can find me in the database before scanning my items, my blood boils. Can’t help it. I just want to buy the item and gtf out and on with my life.

    Mainly it’s the delay. I should not have to pay time and money like this.

    Then it’s also the fact that they are going to sell that information, if given the chance.

    and if there is a line to buy, because of this data-frisking, often I will leave.

    and if the cashier plays dumb when I say “no thanks,” for sure I won’t return.

    The killer is I get this treatment mainly at independent retailers that otherwise I’d want to support.

  87. ogman says:

    @SAugsburger: If you don’t like the pay, don’t take the job. If you don’t do the job well, expect to be fired. Stop whining that your entry-level job doesn’t pay managerial wages and do the job well enough to earn the pay you want. Finally, know that if you try to make me miserable because your current employment doesn’t meet your delusional expectations, I will do what I can to see that you have much more time to level up in World of Warcraft.

  88. B* says:

    “The source of all of these complaints is that working in retail generally isn’t a job worth having anymore. Ergo, the very concept of having a professional sales staff in a retail setting is a total throwback. Offer a crap schedule, low wages, no benefits, and little job security and it’s no accident that everyone working in the store is always an entry-level employee.”

    Exactly! And for everyone who says that people who don’t like their jobs should quit, in my experience, the most miserable employees often are so because they /can’t/ quit. Yeah, poor service sucks and employees shouldn’t take their misery out on you, but there could be a little more patience on both sides of the counter.

  89. Rusted says:

    @BoorRichard: Lie. My favorite was 555-1212. After a while, they gave up on me. Spoilsports.

  90. SaraAB87 says:

    If you want the sales associates to avoid you just wear headphones (you don’t even have to be listening to anything just put the plug in your jacket or pocket) and they will move right onto the next person who is not wearing headphones. Just make sure you look generally disinterested and oblivious as you walk past them.

    Got this idea from when Gamestop was broadcasting the ENDING of Zelda Twilight princess on their corporate TV’s. I don’t want to see the ending of a 50$ game I just bought thank you, so it was recommended to wear headphones and listen to something to avoid seeing the ending of the game you just bought.

  91. Treefingers says:

    1. SA had ‘that’s not my department’ attitude 32

    This one really makes me mad, but in the way that people actually get mad that the SA is honest and basically tells you they have little or no idea about the product you want and you get mad at them? If im selling you a TV or a computer at Best Buy or wherever what are the odds that i know about home appliances? Would you rather the employee tell you absolute fabrications just so you can get the “service” in a timely manner?

  92. SaraAB87 says:

    @Treefingers: Hmm in retail I think I was taught that if you don’t know the answer you are to show the customer to the proper department so they can get the help they need from someone who knows the product. If there wasn’t anyone you were supposed to get the manager or someone in charge. If the person in that department was on break you were supposed to apologize and tell the customer they would be back in 15 min (this was more for phone calls than anything). The excuse “its not my department” would have never been tolerated here! Yes we actually gave the customers good service except when we were out of an item we referred them to another retail store!

  93. Deusfaux says:

    Regarding #1 “SA had ‘that’s not my department’ attitude”

    That’s often the case of management TELLING the sales staff to stick to their department, as well as not providing any training on the products and services of other departments.