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I’ve been working in retail for almost nine years now and yet another Holiday cycle is about to begin.  Increased traffic and business for the store is great because that means more hours for me and a much needed increase to my bank account.  Images of snowflakes, reindeer and a very jolly fat man enveloped in a sea of red and green are just around the corner.  It’s a fun time to work.  The days go by quickly, there’s always something to be done, and people begin to think of others in a way usually escapes us during the rest of the year.

Along with the good things come the increased chance of annoyance.  And before the season really kicks into gear, I thought I would share with you a few things that either annoy me, or could save you some issues in the long run.

1.  Debit vs. Credit.

This first thing is kind of nitpicky but I will assure you that the more you heard it too, the more you would be annoyed.

Debit cards are so common nowadays that I totally believe they’ve found their way into the hands of folks who have no idea that they are totally different than a credit card.  I get folks all the time who swipe their debit cards for purchases and (like it should) the number pad appears so that they can enter their PIN number.  Their face then becomes contorted and in a perplexingly bewildered fashion says to me… ” It’s a credit…”  They are totally confused that the signature line didn’t show up.

Now I don’t mind running a debit card as a credit option if they either don’t know their PIN or are trying to avoid the looming debit monthly fees their banks have started (which I’m doing all the time now).  But it hurts me a little inside every time I hear them say “it’s a credit,”

I just want to say “No, it’s a debit.  Credit cards and debit cards are totally different.”  I also silently applaud the customers who say it correctly… “Can I run it as a credit?”  Makes me wonder how many folks out there truly think their debit cards are credit cards.

2.  They See You!

We all know that in this day and age, punishing a child has taken a softer approach than in the past.  There’s alot more fits being thrown, back-talking being said, and general uncomfortableness for anyone around the family that is going through this ordeal.  Seeing the families that can’t or won’t control their kids and then using the staff at the respective stores to try and intimidate the kids into minding versus building the respect as a parent kinda disturbs me.

On multiple occasions I’ve had parents attempt to get their child or children to behave by pointing at me and saying things like:

“If you don’t behave, that man will call the police on you.”

“That employee sees what you’re doing, you need to stop.  He’s looking at you!”

“You need to stop or that man’s going to get you!”

And I’ve even had parents come up to me and ask me if I’d threaten their kids with the police or something similar if they didn’t behave.  I don’t want to be brought into your family drama or your inability to control your kids.  If you have to resort to intimidation by strangers to gain control there’s obviously something wrong in the level of communication.

3.  Kids, Toys and Their Mouths.

Okay, I get it.  Kids love balls.  I totally understand that sometimes the only way to appease the child is to let them hold onto the ball, toy, or whatever it is that will keep them from screaming their heads off.  And I don’t necessarily mind playing the disappearing game when you get to the register.  I conveniently make the item go away at the last minute and hopefully the child forgets about it.  I don’t even mind when the child gets upset when they realize it’s not in their future.  Whatever gets them through the boring experience of shopping and I totally understand it.

BUT where I cross the line is when the child in any way puts their mouth or spittles on it in any way, you need to paying for yourself a toy regardless if it was just to keep them quiet.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen kids take the recorders we have up front, take them OUT of the package, toot on them and then have the parent tell them to put it back.  It astounds me that they let their kid get to a point where they’re just ripping open packages to begin with, but then not take responsibility for the spreading of germs like that. 

We’ve got little containers of gooey play substances that can be bought but we’ve routinely had to damage out half of them because they get opened at some point and no responsibility is taken, so sad.

I even had a father one time who had given their toddler a little stuffed Scooby-Doo of ours to keep him happy.  As they moved up in line, I noticed the child had it and that it was opportunely in the little one’s mouth.  I’m like, “oh, are we getting Scooby as well?”  He quickly reminds himself of the toy and is like, “oh sorry, no.”  Quickly, he grabs the slobber-fied toy from his mouth and runs to put it back where he found it.  I’m like, really?  I totally realize kids at that age put everything in their mouth, but be prepared and don’t let them mouth something you don’t intend on buying.

4. Read the Signs

This seems like a no-brainer to me.  There’s people all the time who are screaming “false advertising” when really it’s just a matter of reading the signs.  Every store that I go to (that isn’t a Wal-mart or second-hand store) has signs that distinctly describe the items that are on a promotion.

If the sign reads “solid polos 9.50,” it means the solid polos are $9.50.  Not the jeans and sweater that are placed around it for outfitting purposes.  Just because there’s a sign there, doesn’t mean all the items in a 5 foot radius around it are that price.

If the sign reads “knee-high socks 2 for $6,” it just means the knee-high socks.  Not the ankle or athletic socks that are there with it.  Similar items tend to be grouped together because it’s more efficient space-wise, but rarely do they all go on the same promotion.

Also, if the item doesn’t have a sign with an appropriate description to go along with it, there’s a pretty good chance that the item is the amount you see on the tag.   I don’t mind doing price checks, but don’t go about it thinking you’re getting screwed.

Just remember that most stores have clothing put together for outfitting purposes, so make sure and read your signs.  It’ll save some heartache and confusion once you get to the register.  That $8 sign was probably for the layering tank on the fixture, NOT the pair of chinos.

5. Have An Idea about the Size of the Person You’re Buying For

Not too many folks seem to know this but once children are out of baby clothes, the height and weight charts are pretty much thrown out the door.  So if you’re shopping for kids then please have an idea the sizes that they wear. I get asked so many times what size a 8 year old would wear, or a 16 year old and I have to be polite.

But what I’m really thinking is, “It all depends on how big they are.”  You could have a skinny 12 year old like the boy on the right (Greyson Chance if you’re familiar with him), or your 12 year old could be like Chunk from The Goonies.  Your 12 year old could range from the mid-sizes all the way up to men’s sizes….I’ve seen it.  So coming in with a general question like that will only leave a ton more questions unanswered because there’s no way I can have any idea what size they actually do wear.  Like I’ve said to folks before, once they start having a hand in what they eat and how much of it, average goes out the window.

6. Get a Gift Receipt

The most important thing I can tell you is to get a gift receipt for anything that might even have the slightest chance of needing to return or to get another size.  There’s a lot of hassle surrounding returns without receipts nowadays mainly because of thievery (shoplifting).  A gift receipt will allow them to bring the item in and get a gift card to use toward the purchase of a new item (at least in my stores).  Odds are the piece of clothing that you got for them during the holiday shopping times will be long clearanced or sold out and makes exact exchanges very difficult.  Do yourself a favor and get those gift receipts.

With these tips and musings, hopefully things will run smoothly for you and the people around you.  The customer is very important but remember to not abuse the hard-working folks who are just trying to do their jobs.  😀