31 May 2010

"Your Receipt's In The Bag!"

Hey everyone,

I was shopping the other day, and went to five major high street retailers on my journey.
It came to my attention halfway through that only ONE of them spoke to me properly to me at the till (cash register).

Lately, all I've been getting is "Your receipt's in the bag" while I get my carrier bags full of glistening lovelies thrust back at me.
In one shop when I thanked the girl, she looked a little bewildered and said half-heartedly "Uh, yeah. You too...?"
Which in hindsight may have been a little bit sarcastic.
A simple "THANK YOU" is all it takes to make the whole exchange a little nicer.

I spent my first few years of university working part-time in fast food service at Newcastle's largest music venue.
I served hot dogs, burgers, pizza, soft drinks - that sort of thing. Dead easy work.
But I simply couldn't NOT say "Thank you" when I'd finished serving a customer.

I know some cashiers can be a bit over-bearing:
One time I was buying some lovely new bras, and the girl serving me was squeeing about how cute they were.
Which they certainly were, but looking behind me at the queue, I was significantly larger in the boob-region (and everywhere else for that matter) than anyone else.

In short, I didn't really want her waving my new bras around like some spotty pink parachutes.
If she'd caught a gust of wind she would have probably taken off.

But we're English! We're supposed to be the nation of politeness and manners!
Sometimes I think our friends across the pond have got it right.

I spent a month in Virginia and travelling around the East Coast of the USA in July 2008.
I was amazed that everywhere from The Dollar Tree (American version of Poundland) to McDonalds to Macy's - you were spoken to by the cashier, even a simple "Hi, how are you doing?"
When the whole money-for-goods exchange is complete, you of course get the infamous "Have a nice day!"
Now, this was odd to me at first, but I soon got used to service with a smile.
(Probably smiling at the girl with the weird British accent in a non-touristy part of residential America. But a smile, nonetheless.)

You could argue that American cashiers don't really care, and just say those things out of social etiquette.
At least our cynisism is right on the surface for everyone to see, instead of pretending to care about the person you are earning £5 an hour serving when you could be at home watching the Hollyoaks omnibus.

What do you guys think?

Do you like having a bit of banter with the person selling you some fabulous outfit?
Do you like to just get in and get out - the cashier is only the middle man (or woman) in the shopping equation?

All I'm saying is a bit more common courtesey and politeness wouldn't go amiss.
Yeah, some jobs are really mundane (believe me, I KNOW), but it's nice to be nice!

Muchos love,


  1. I don't really want to be stood having a long conversation with them or anything but it's nice when they're at least polite - and I love it when someone serving me says they think what I'm buying is nice! :D I've worked in retail before getting my "real" job and I know it is hard to stay positive when often the customers are so rude but they should try and not carry that attitude onto other members of the public who might be nice! :D

  2. A thank you is nice but I for one don't actually like it when they ask about my weekend and admire my purchases and that lol, it makes me feel uncomfortable. I used to work in a fast food restaurant too and I was always polite with "Hi, what can I get for you, thank you, have a nice day" but I never went further than that!

  3. i love it when they speak nicely to you, like when they are like OOH THIS WOULD LOOK AMAZING ON YOU... or HAVE YOU SEEN THIS I KNOW YOU'D LOVE IT. no ones polite anymore in shops. its all just in and out, i find shops like primark are the worst! they just say the total and thats it.

    i work in a bakery and i always strike up a bit of banter with the customer, because i enjoy it. if they speak to me rudely im just even nicer to them. i couldnt not be nice to them, after all its my job to serve them!

  4. One of my absolute bugbears is staff in shops talking to each other while they're serving customers - I hate it. It's so rude to be discussing your weekend plans whilst serving someone!

    I am the epitome of politeness. I think manners go a helluva long way. There is no excuse for being bad-mannered in my opinion.

    Although I've got to admit that I have been frustrated while paying for things before, when the cashier wants to have a full-on conversation about what I'm buying & why & what a good price it is etc.. But basic common courtesy, politeness etc are definitely important.

    I feel like I've totally rambled in this comment - do apologise if it doesn't make much sense!


  5. I worked in Waitrose in Customer Services for a couple pf years through college and people were SO rude despite me being as smiley and helpful as I could be...one guy accused me of working there to fund my drug habit and to feed my 5 children (!) despite me going completely out of my way to be nice. I always try and be nice to cahsiers as I know how horrible a job it can be and I think it's a surprise for them as normally people copuldn't care less... talking on the phone when I am asking them what cigarettes they want? Not polite! I think it goes both ways tbh and if you are nice, people are usually nicely surprised!

    Sorry! Rant over!

    Maria xxx

  6. hey carla

    I work in a super old fashioned shoe shop where we are taught to call everone sir or madam, or young lady etc for kids

    When people leave we say, thank you for coming in, or if weve been chatting to them whilst serving, enjoy the rest of your day etc

    and you know what it really makes a difference

    people come into our shop over and over again and comment on the great service, especially old people we hear 'ooh you dont get service like this anymore!'

    And i find when i go shopping (which is alot)
    some of them should really be more polite, orjust more enthusiastic. I can think of 3 specific girls who work in shops i spend in regularly, and everytime they serve me i think what a rude bitch! Im not saying you have to be over the top, but a smile would be nice!

    I know i sound like an old woman, but this is something that really gets my goat, it doesnt take much to go the extra mile!

    Seriously recently when i asked ' could you see if you have one of these in a size 14 please ' you would have thought i smacked her in the face and insulted her mom by her reaction!

    I know customers can be a pain in the ass, (couldnt you ask me for all the shoes at once, instead of sending me up and down the stairs 7 seperate times!) but seriously working in a shop is not hard..... please stop being rude and sulky there is no need

    *Rant Over*


  7. I live in Canada.
    When I worked at Starbucks, the standard was that you had to acknowledge and say hi to a customer within three seconds of them entering the store, and you always had to finish every transaction with a "thank you". If you didnt, it would effect your pay increase.
    I just recently started working at a thrift store, and saying hello to a customer, no matter where you are in the store is a HUGE deal.

    I like when a cashier is friendly, but I dont like to chat. A 'hello' and 'have a nice day' at the end is perfect.

  8. My dad often uses the story of when I was 15 and went to stay with him in Arkansas for a month, at the end of the trip, I apparently told him I realised now why my parents had taught us manners.

    I think it depends on the shop you go into though, Waitrose people are always very polite but just a few shops down the road, everyone in Tesco is a grumpy arse!

  9. I don't work at the till but I do work as a waitress in a restaurant/café and it feels like we've millions of customers each day - and yet, I have to remain friendly even after the 200th time that I wished them a great day/night/weekend.
    I think whether people are friendly or not depends on whether or not they actually like what they're doing; it's easy to see whether or not likes working in the particular environment - if you don't like what you do, you'll never find it in you to actually string up a bit of small talk with your customers.

    That said, I don't like too much when shop assistants or waiters try to be your new best friend just for the sake of selling stuff to you. I like when they're friendly when you have a question and don't act put off when they have to go looking for an item for you - after all, they're there to answer questions and help, right? That's what they're paid for (and I don't mean to be condescending by that - it's what I think about my job as well. I'm paid to serve people drinks and food and be nice to them).

  10. I generally can't be bothered with too much banter at the till, and I hate over-friendliness and over-familiarity! However, I would like to at least be acknowledged and for them to say 'thankyou' - my pet hate is when the cashier/sales assistant carries on their conversation with someone else while serving you, and just doesn't even acknowledge you. I have done plenty of retail and bar work in my time and I would never have behaved like that to a customer because its so darn rude!

  11. Sarah: Yeah, having long conversations can actually be really frustrating when you're in a hurry - but seriously, cashiers don't seem to smile or have manners anymore. And it really makes the world of a difference doesn't it? xxx

    Maria: Oh God that story cracked me up! I always smile at cashiers and say please and thank you as I definately agree it can be a rather awful job sometimes. But yeah, I definately agree it goes both ways.

    heartshapedbruise.: Oh GOD I hate that too! It happened to me on that shopping trip actually, I just forgot to mention it! You definately made sense and I completely agree with you :) xxxx

    Lily: See, I love that too! It's just being polite and sweet - I love when a cashier tells me they like what I've bought and I can see it's genuine! I agree, I see it as my job so I have to offer some degree of professionalism no matter what it is I do :) xxxxx

    doublevodkacoke: Yeah I think some cashiers can be overbearing, especially when I'm in a hurry. But a few niceties don't go amiss :) xxxx

    *speed-queen*: I liked when you said you sound like an 'old woman' as I feel the same - why should manners make us feel like we have old fashioned values?! I LOVE when shops have greeters (reminds me of Claires Accessories when I was a kid and you'd get offered a basket!) it's just professional, and makes the customer feel important! There's definately no need for sulkiness - surely if working there was so bad, they'd leave?!

    stina honey: Agreed :) xxxx

    Hayles: Yeah it definately depends on the shop, but I thin everywhere should at least remember their "please and thank you-s!" xxxx

  12. When I worked in retail I'd sometimes talk to the customers. "Thank you, have a nice day." Was what I'd usually say.

    For me I don't mind if I don't talk to the cashiers. I used to have a phobia of cashiers actually. If they talked to me in the store I'd leave because I was so freaking shy, lol!

    Now it's not like that.

  13. I hear you! Manners cost nothing. I've lost count the number of times my change has been bashed down on the counter, or trying to have the least contact - coins raining down on your hand, only for them to go flying.
    I guess a small amount of banter is ok, I guess it just depends on the situation.
    Working in a shop, I always say hello if someone enters. I know some people feel uncomfortable, as though your going to pounce and start giving them the hard sale. I'd hate that to, I leave them be, if they what to chat no problem, or just simply check out the goodies, i'm cool with that. But, I find a simple hello is worthy of at least a hello back. Not to be stared at like you have 3 heads, or just totally ignored.
    I think that seems apparent, not only in customer service, but also in day to day life. Kindness is sometimes frowned on, like to have ulterior motives, as though it's totally alien.
    The rudest server I encountered was an older woman. I was buying some strawberries, know covering and I had forgotten to bring a carrier bag, it was an impulse buy. She snarled at me - "Do you want a bag", I can't remember if I asked for a bag, or i'd paused hoping for a bag. I had at least a 10 min walk, those strawberries were sure to go flying. A disgusted look as I said yes for the bag, just putting the bag on the counter, and blatantly tuned her head to the wall to ignore me until i left. I think i did mutter on the way out something about the situation. It wasn't until I got over the road and thought more, I wish I had of demand my money back. I never went back.
    Sales calls bug me the most, hanging up on you if your not the manager :/
    I could go on, but don't want to rant any more ;)* Now breaths* ha!

  14. I expect customer service people to be polite. Don't have to be overly excited about me buying milk but hi and thank you's are good enough when served with smile.

    I work in bank and our boss would probably kick our butts if we wouldn't smile no matter how annoying customer comes in. There are customers I would rather strangle than smile to but it's part of the job.

  15. I work in a Sainsbury's store and we have to be polite to the customers and make conversation or we could be sacked! I do find manners very important though and even tell my boyfriend off when he doesn't say please or thank you, lol.

  16. I used to hate going to cashiers in the first place 'cause I get really nervous haha so love it when they are polite 'cause it makes me feel at ease although when they start asking me questions I get all flustered and almost always end up dropping money/giving them the wrong amount!
    I always remember to say thank you to them so I don't see why it's so hard to say it back.
    The other day I actually had to stand and wait for a checkout worker to finish Reading something in a magazine and she wasn't exactly nice once she's finished.

  17. I work at an Arby's restaurant, and being friendly to customers is really important to me. When I say have a nice day, I mean it- why wouldn't I? I hate going to places where the cashiers are sullen and rude, because it really doesn't take much effort to smile and say have a nice day.

  18. I'm a dork. I like to make small talk with random people so I don't really like it when the cashiers don't say anything. I feel pretty awkward when they don't.

  19. A hello or a smile and a thank you is nice to get. I always smile or say hello when going to the till, and I always say Thank You when I get the receipt/change.

    I'm very shy/get angsty around people so if I'm attacked the second I go into a shop with a "Hello. Can I help you?" I clam up, shake my head, smile, pretend to look at something, then I rush out of there as fast as I can, even if I went in there to look for something specific. I just panic. But that's just me, and even I do appreciate it when I'm acknowledged with a "just let me know if you need anything" after having been in the shop for a few minutes, but I don't mind if it doesn't happen either.

  20. I like having a happy shop person, it's horrible having someone just grunt at you!
    I've worked at almost every supermarket chain at some point and I always found it best to look like a crazy fool smiling. It's nice to be nice and it makes the day feel shorter and less painful when you’re covered in bruises after an apple landslide!
    I never understood why people sit miserable on a till, hating the world. It only makes the day feel more painful and the customers hate you too. You do ofc get horrible customers, but if your nice they will eventually go away and more often than not, you get a lovely customer say what a jerk that horrible customer was and it always made me feel better! :)

  21. I've worked in retail before as well. As far as being the server/cashier I think its important to know how to discern different personalities. I know when a person is one of those people just about business, or when someone is in a hurry. In those cases I keep it short and polite with a smile. Other ocassions if something looks nice ill make one quick comment and keep it movin, unless the customer engages the conversation further.

    As for my preference I'm a southern girl so I like that friendly hospitality. If the time/place is appropriate (not ina busy walmart) I do like to engage in brief conversation.

  22. Rude staff is one of my pet hates! Also, hate it when two cashiers are having a conversation whilst serving! Manners cost nothing and make life much nicer :) x

  23. In Spain my country they are very rude, but now that I'm in Germany they are really nice and kind!

  24. Goodness Carla, I agree with you totally.
    How hard is it to say "please," "thank you," "how are you?" "have a nice day!" REALLY. I hate rudeness, that's my top pet hate (next to people chewing with their mouth open.. ARGH.) I've never worked in retail but I'm a student nurse and I'll tell you this for free (!) manners do not always make a good person, but they go a hell of a long way to getting you there. Karma, people. Karma.

  25. I as myself always try to be polite and nice to the cashiers or selling persons. One of my best friends works at the local H&M and she is always complaining about the everyone is so impolite, not even saying hello or goodbye when they buy their things. I think that most of the costumers are busy and just want to get their things done as fast as possible. So maybe its not only the selling persons that can be impolite but also the costumers... thats what I would say is the situation I often see... But at all I think that it isn't that difficult to just be nice, show some good manners and dont be rude. In every situation, no metter on which side of the cash you stand.

  26. I don't want to exchange life stories with my cashier, but I do believe strongly in the casual "How are you today?" and "Have a nice day," and I will always return those gestures as well as saying "Yes, please" or "No, please" when asked questions about bags or offers or whatever it may be. I just think it is polite and it shows a degree of respect on both sides of the transaction.

  27. When cashier behave in that way it makes you not even want to do business there. I can't tell you how many times I've snatched receipts and reported workers/stores because of poor customer service. It's disgusting! One was so rude to me I said "You have such a nasty attitude, I bet you didn't act like this on your job interview for this job!" Honestly customer service classes should be a requirement now. We shouldn't have to deal with their sucky attitudes. I'm the one spending money & your the one getting paid. HELLO!

  28. I work at Tesco and we HAVE to say "hello" "would you like any bags/help packing". Then after we've finished the scanning we HAVE to ask about reused bags, offer any sort of vouchery things like the ones for schools and say "that's £-, do you have a clubcard?" and then say "thank you" and "goodbye".

    I think that sometimes if I'm buying a lot of things and it's not really busy (especially in Lush, they ALWAYS talk to me at the till!) I'll talk to the cashier but otherwise I don't want to end up making the other customers angry for holding up the queue. I will say "hello" back and reply to their questions and say "bye" though because I HATE it when customers don't talk back to me!

  29. I love how many comments this has got!

    I will say - I MISS Aussie customer Service. It took me a good six months to get used to how rude I felt the UK shops were.

    Service, product knowledge and general politeness are not too common or evident in many UK High Street shops.

  30. I like to think I'm generally quite polite when I'm shopping - I'm not hugely keen on full conversations about what I'm buying unless it seems natural and not forced, but I'll always say thank you and smile at the shop assistants.

    On a side note though, when I worked in M&S we weren't allowed to put receipts straight into customer's bags so it always really gripes me when people do it now!

  31. I understand that retail is one of the toughest and most stressful jobs out there, but I do appreciate when someone makes the effort to say "thank you" though it rarely happens! Usually its just a "theres your change. NEXT PLEASE!"


  32. It's such a pet hate of mine; I think that a simply thank-you and a smile can go such a long way. The worst thing is when they're having a [usually inappropriate, and pretty personal] conversation with their colleagues, and don't bother to stop when serving a customer. It's so rude! Having said that, I've had a good experience with most cashiers today, I suppose it's just swings and roundabouts!

  33. Pet Hate Alert!

    I totally agree Carla. Thanks for posting this!

    I used to work in Marks and Spencer in Dublin, and we were sent on all kinds of training courses to learn how to deal with customers in a polite way. Being nice and polite actually makes your interaction with customers a lot easier. They are nicer to you if you take the time to not talk to other staff while you are serving them. I'd never ask them about their weekends though. Some of the other girls were far too, um, personal when they spoke to customers. I really hate that.

    Would you believe, I once had a disabled customer who needed assistance with her shopping. I brought her around the whole store, which was massive, and spent about half an hour with her. Hardly a ridiculous amount of time for someone who needed special assistance. I was given a warning by my manager at the time for spending too much time with one customer.

    It was one of the reasons I left my job there. M & S pride themselves on their customer service, even though I'll gladly admit it's not great at times. Yet, they have managerial staff who give out to you for giving customers too much attention, even in special circumstances like that.

    Retail is such a hard sector to work in. Seems to me it doesn't matter how hard you try, you'll never be rewarded the way you should. And if you are one of those sales assistants who doesn't really care, well, it doesn't matter because you don't really care.

    Sorry, that turned in to such a rant.

  34. I'm an in and out girl, always have been, always will be. But I also have worked in retail for four years. The first two years I worked at a half-assed stand at a baseball stadium. All I was told was to keep it clean and that I couldn't sit down during my shift.

    Then I started working at an Old Navy. I was always told to be friendly, helpful, and caring about the customers {excuse me, the guests} and park my cynicism til the end of my shift because as long as my shift was, I was to be bright, happy, perky, and the guests' best friend.

    I now work at a fabric store and we get marked on our monthly audits if we don't:
    1. Greet the customer in a friendly way within 5 minutes of them walking through the door.
    2. When cutting fabric for the customer, ask them what they are working on, if they have everything they need, etc.
    3. Thank the customer for coming in and giving us business at register after the completed transaction.
    And all of these must include doing so with EYECONTACT. Key for the auditors, make eyecontact. Its something I try to do but unless I'm comfortable with you, I don't look you in the eye, its just super hard for me.

    Before I worked there, I didnt understand why the ladies cutting my fabric were so interested in what I was doing with the fabric. Frankly, I was annoyed that they asked, but I guess they were just doing their job in fear that they would get pentalized if they didn't show interest.

    Sorry that was a bit long.

    From across the pond,

  35. I actually laughed out loud at the parachute bra! Thinking about it, I'm probably a very awkward customer. I hate the annoying people who affix themselves to your back the moment you walk in but I also hate the ones that leave you to it, to such an extent you give up on getting assistance and leave.

    The Body Shop in my town has fabulous service, true the nana and I are in there at least once a week, but they're never pushy, just give the info on deals, a little chat and let us get on with it. Evans on the other hand, URGH. One of the women in there just shouldn't work in retail. She has a face like a smacked arse and any time anyone walks in, she blatantly stops what she's doing, gives them a once over and depending on how they sum up in her estimation, leaves them be or sticks to them like glue. Apparently my nana and I are worth watching! Not that I go in there on a regular basis and spend (my nana's) money or anything. Getting into my rant, there's a woman in Binns who was acting all disdainful WHILST we were buying things. I can understand being haughty assuming people are wasting time (although I don't agree with it) but whilst the customers are splashing the cash? no bueno.

    I don't think there should be a code of conduct or rules on how to be a polite server, it should just be common sense! It's not hard to judge who's browsing/who's not, who wants a chat/who wants to get the hell out of there and who wants your assistance and who doesn't. I think it should be a case of common sense and manners! It's not rocket science ;)

  36. I work as a cashier and sales assistant in a high street retailer in Ireland. The concept of being nice and polite, making eye-contact and thanking customers is beaten into our personalities on a regular basis, but still, there are a few people who I work with that don't make the effort.

    Personally, being nice and a good cashier is a pretty big thing for me. I try my hardest, but without being over-nice and seeming fake. All it takes is a smile or a nice comment to brighten a customer's day and make them feel "Actually, that girl/guy who served me was pretty cool! So nice!".

  37. This might sound entirely too entitled of me, but I refuse to purchase anything in a store where I am not greeted or helped. If the store is packed and simply no one managed to see me squeeze in, that's one thing. But if a bunch of employees are standing around kibitzing and simply ignore me, I will blow that proverbial pop stand. A place is fortunate to have me visit it! As is quite true for you.

  38. Hmm i don't really know to be honest! I HATE when i'm buying something and the person at the till is surly and either just completely ignores me or, even worse, talks to someone else while serving me. A simple smile, 'hello' or 'thank you' is fine for me. Because i'm shy i get awkward if people try and strike up a conversation with me but at the same time i really appreciate their friendliness so i don't hate it. I always thank people and often wish them a good day.

  39. I definately think you should be able to get a simple 'hello' and 'thank you' from the cashier. It's just polite.
    I always love it when I go up to the till and they comment on how cute what I'm buying is. It just makes me feel better about spending a fortune and it always puts me in a good mood.
    However I do think you can go too far when it comes to being polite... I mean I was in a shop the other day and the guy at the till was actually hitting on me. A little too far methinks.

    lovelovelove xx

  40. This is an interesting topic, and one I recently had with my mum after we had a nice conversation with the cashier in Tesco!

    I'm always polite to cashiers, and it really annoys me when they're busy having a conversation with their friend while I'm paying for my things. Though, I think how far a cashier should be polite depends on the situation, i.e. it wouldn't be a appropriate for them to be really nice and start a conversation (or waving your bras around!) when there's a mile long queue as it both make me feel awkward and cause the other customers to become grumpy.

    A little goes a long way, and sometimes a simple 'Hello' and 'Thank you' is enough :)

  41. working for a retailer I actually feel disgusted with myself or my work mates if they are rude in front of the customers. I mean, they would complain if that happened to them but they somehow think its acceptable. No matter how busy it is, how tired I am, I always try to be mega nice because we'll I would FLIP if people were rude to me.

    did you know that in most shops, if the cashier or anyone wasn't polite to customers, they can get fired. If it happens a lot please complain! It's people like them that give us a bad name!


  42. I used to work in pets at home and be told off for talking to customers for longer than a second... apparently it's not productive and slows down sales... ): I still managed a 'have a nice day' though ^^

  43. I completely agree with you! There's too much ignorance going on in the shop world and you find yourself surprised, dumbfounded when somebody actually treats you like a human being. I especially hate stuck up skinny girls in over priced high street shops turning their nose up at what you're buying if you do have curves! Where has all this prejudice come from? Your blog is fab! I love your opinions, outfits & take on the blogging world x