I’ve been thinking of many ways to type this without sounding totally off and negative about the whole retail industry or certain companies as a whole but after some recent events, I feel I can finally express myself about it. I apologize now for any foul language that might crop up or if I offend anybody.
I have seen this post more and more appearing on my Facebook feed and every time I see it, I think “Damn straight!” as to be honest, some customers just treat you like a piece of crap on the side of the road and that you aren’t able to do your job. Whereas some customers make you feel appreciated and compliment you in a way that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside and leaves you with a small glowing smile.
Working in retail, no matter which company or store you work in/for, is not advertised as easy or nice. I worked in a toy shop and even though it was a tough position and at times got me down because of some of the tasks I had to do, I loved it. My confidence grew talking to strangers and interacting with the public and I got a buzz from helping a customer and making sure they left the shop with exactly what they came in for in the easiest way possible. No beating around the bush, no trying to force products on them that they do not require and not being brushed off with bull-shit about products or services.
It was working in that toy shop that made me think that working in retail wouldn’t be that bad if I done it again. I am bloody good at my job and if I fail to help a customer, I feel like I’ve failed myself too. If I have to spend an hour helping a customer select items to match other products or trying to chase up a product, I will do it because I can understand customers frustration if they are palmed off with a “Sorry, I can’t do that I’m afraid” Despite this, getting a “thank you” from a boss is actually very difficult. If you manage to push for a sale to the point that you feel that you might just not make it, yet you still get it, you get no credit for it whatsoever.
Don’t get me wrong, working in retail has its perks. Most places offer staff discount (Which can be very handy if there’s a super cute bag you want but can’t afford to pay the full tag price for it.) paid holiday, Christmas day off, etc. But I am failing to mention that the people you work with become great friends. I think the only reason I have managed to stay in the store I work in for the amount of time I have, is down to the fantastic people around me. The people who ask how you are and what you’ve been up to who actually want to know! There have been many situations where I have gone into work and if it wasn’t for my colleagues, I would’ve probably found a cupboard to hide in and cry. However they managed to help me get off of my anti-depressants the first time and gain some of the skills I have today. I will love them forever for that and can’t thank them enough!
Something you very rarely hear about is the hassle and stress that comes with working in retail. Like I said at the start of this post, you have customers that treat you like a piece of rubbish (But then again, you will come across those no matter where you are in life. Some people are generally rude and obnoxious.) You have those customers that are patronizing to the point you want to jump over the counter and slap them into next week (“My spaghetti is too long for this spaghetti jar.. Does the designer have shorter spaghetti than me? Do they live in the real world? Don’t back the designer up, I DON’T WANT A REFUND, WHAT ABOUT MY SPAGHETTI!”) Aside from the customers that make you dread the next person you deal with just in case they are more of a pain in the backside as the last one, it is the things that happen behind closed doors that if some loyal customers knew, they would probably boycott the shop just to make a point.
For some reason the phrase “Communication is key.” doesn’t stand when it comes to passing things on, no matter how minor any information is, it just simply doesn’t happen. If you’re working for 16+ hours a week, you find important things out such as changes to uniform rules, processing of orders, changes to deliveries and general rules around the store. Yet if you are on anything less than this, anything new or that has changed, you are expected to know automatically.. I am sorry that I do not have a telepathic connection with the store and do not know about the changes you are enforcing, as my employer/boss, it is your job to tell me. Clearly you have more important things to do like push paper around that wonderful desk you get to sit behind all day.
I am rather punctual when it comes to my work. I always arrive for my shift at least 10 minutes early to sort anything I need to beforehand and sometimes have even started shifts early when we’ve been super short-staffed on my department and my colleagues were stressed because of this. Lets face it, nobody likes queuing but if you can see that a member of staff is on their own on the tills and there is a huge line, it’s probably because someone messed the rotas up and there’s not enough people in.. Again! It isn’t our fault, we can’t decide when we work unlike some people can! A problem I have noticed that seems to be happening even more often (And that has happened to me a lot in the past three/four months) is turning up for work, checking the rota to see who else you’re working with and how many people are actually in and noticing your shift has changed and once again, you weren’t notified about it or even asked if you were able to do a different day. In a way I am slightly thankful that it very rarely happens on days that I drive into work and struggle to pay the £5/6 car park ticket, which is an hour of my wage gone! Most of the time, if I am able to get a lift to and from work, I will just to avoid the parking fees but when my rotas and shifts are changed around, I have to do the call of shame to my mother of “Yeah they’ve done it again.. Nope I wasn’t told or asked.. Apparently I can’t read the rotas and should come in every day I’m not working to check it hasn’t changed.. Yeah, can you come and get me?” This happened to me today but I am now in a position where I can finally tell them to stick their crappy 5 hours a week at £5.59 an hour because I am sick of being messed around for barely enough to live on. I start training for my new job on Monday and they knew when they employed me about my photography and how I was going to pursue a career in that. This now seems like a joke to them. When it came to using the words “I quit. You’ve messed me around enough over the past year and a half, it’s not doing anything for my health and you know about my condition..” I get told that “You can’t just quit because that’s not how the real world works.” I am aware of notice periods, but why should I give you notice when you do not even give me notice of a simple shift change because that is not how keeping staff on your side works.
After what I have personally experienced overall from working with this particular company, which I am not going to name in this post what store I worked in as it has been mentioned on this blog before, I will avoid working in retail again like the plague. Signing my contract of employment was like signing my soul and first born child away to Satan. I can’t say I regret working where I have because I have met some fantastic people who I will treasure for the rest of my life and stay in contact with. In fact, I met my best friends here which is something that is irreplaceable.
I will not regret this post because I am glad that I’ve finally had the lady balls to come out and say it all. It is not right that sales staff get treated like dirt by a lot of the general public as well as being totally under-appreciated by managers. Just remember managers, if it wasn’t for us serving the customers, you would have to deal with peoples crap instead of us and wouldn’t get to sit behind that wonderful desk in your fancy suit. I have a better career prospect starting with something I love doing, so onwards and upwards!