A Totally Biased Rant: The Musings of Customer Service

A simple rant by one marginally unhappy retail worker

For those of you who have ever, or do so still, worked retail, I salute you.

For those of you who take your job seriously, I salute you, as well.

For the rest of you, and this is the vast minority, who treat it as a life’s goal, hobby, or obsession, then… well… Seek therapy.

For those of you who reside in any of those three categories, I invite you to read on, and take what you will from one weary, disgruntled retail worker’s inane ramblings about his job, his expectations of his expectations, the things he wish would change but never will, and just some of the uninteresting bits of his life in general.


I am in the unfortunate position of having a low-level retail job, a sort of supervisor who really only has enough sway to make minute decisions in the stead of my immediate managers, which also grants me the ability to take responsibility for anyone else’s mistakes. Apparently. At least as far as I can tell, anyway, because making any sort of miscommunication or mistake that leads to an error in the daily logs and records means it’s on me, because I didn’t take the initiative to correct it myself. Ok, fine. I can deal with that.

This position is also, admittedly, what most would call a “dead end,” with no real room for advancement to a higher position, with any shift in my position being strictly lateral, gaining more responsibility and workload, while only minisculely making me more of an asset while, simultaneously, technically not making me any more authoritative. Being in my position, I am expected to anticipate, cope with, and ultimately, resolve, an entire departments set of issues throughout the day. Ok. Fine. I can easily accept that and have done so, on a day-in and day-out basis.

Being the sole Certified Trainer in my position able to work the hours my department may require of me, I have a bit more responsibility than some might initially expect, which is fine. I also am the sole person in charge of restocking a particular item in my department, a responsibility I actively sought after to try and give myself more variety to my work schedule. So far, it’s been a bucket of fuckin’ sunshine, and despite a few bumps in the road, I feel I’ve gotten to be fairly proficient in handling the task. The extra responsibility? Sure thing. I can take it.

I can take all of it. To be belittled, condescended, even disgraced for someone else’s mistake and my “inability” to have rectified it, to be expected to carry a dozen other people’s issues all day, to be able to take responsibility, even welcome it, when it isn’t mine? I can take it in stride. I’ve got a reputation as a calm, level-headed, collected, patient guy, something I’m quite proud of. And bearing that in mind, none of that really ruffles my feathers, and if you’ve ever met me, you know I’m a regular Terry Hoitz.

Customer Service Representative

What does ruffle my feathers, however, is when I’m deliberately asked to be something I consciously am not. You see, as far as I’m concerned, I take a pretty singular approach to my job: I’m a real person. I’m not some fuckin’ robot programmed to ask the same meaningless questions and say the same empty words all day. I don’t ask people, “How are you today?” Do you know why? Because I don’t care! In other countries, if you ask someone, “How are you?” you better not have any plans because they’re gonna’ fuckin’ tell you! They know that when you ask, you’re doing so because you honestly want to know how things are for them, with their life, their family, etc. etc. Not because it’s a “proper greeting” and is “considered polite.” You know what? Fuck. Being. Polite.

I don’t understand why or know when our society as a whole became so obsessed with such meaningless drivel and inane etiquette. It’s sickening. I honestly do not care how a single one of the hundreds of strangers I deal with on a daily basis are doing. I just don’t. I’m a person with my own fuckin’ problems, I can’t deal with everyone else’s, too. If I honestly cared about every one of them, I’d be both incredibly stupid and so exhausted I’d probably collapse and die, neither of which I want. Every person who says, “I’m good, thanks,” is lying through their teeth, anyway. So, ya know what? Let me afford you the oppurtunity to not have to lie to me so I can see less of you than I might have to otherwise.

Now, let me be perfectly clear: when I say, “fuck being polite,” and “I don’t care about your problems,” that doesn’t mean I’m not polite and I won’t help someone with something. I will greet every customer I deal with. When I applied for this job, there was a lengthy set of questions asking things like, “Do you fake being polite?” and my initial application was rejected because I said, “no” because I don’t fake being polite. I am polite. When I greet a customer I say things like, “hi” or “hello” in place of asking “how are you?” I’m still being kind and polite, but I’m not portraying myself as an over-the-top, fake, counterfeit human being. Do you know why? Because that’s who I want to deal with. It’s who people want to deal with.

When I go into a store, and I’m in line to check out, I don’t want to deal with somoeone who’s going to say the exact same thing to me that they said to the person in front of me, the same squawked sentences, repeated in the exact same, ear-grating cadence. It automatically and immediately turns me off to the entire transaction. Whether it’s their job or not, I do not want to deal with a plastic person, otherwise why do we fuckin’ have cashiers? Put a self-scan in at every terminal if that’s what you want your company to portray itself as. I want someone who’s going to react to me in a natural and organic way, the way people, human beings, elves, any sort of sentient being, would and should.

Most of the time you’re dealing with someone who sounds like a recording, you’re also dealing with them trying to sell you something you just don’t want. A particularly popular electronics store and a popular video game retailer are prime offenders. No, asshole, I don’t want a subscription to some magazine I’m not going to read, I just want to pay for my batteries and leave. No, thanks, you pimply, greasy douche. I don’t want to pre-order anything or pay any extra for any of the guarentees I can get for this game. I just want to put my money in your hand, get my change, and walk out the fuckin’ door. Besides, those guarentees should come standard without paying for them. I have to pay $5 to make sure that if the game doesn’t fuckin work I can return it for an exchange? What a deal! I, and everyone else I know, don’t want to have our time wasted by answering questions to a bunch of stupid questions. Honestly, how many times a day does someone say, “God, yes! SCORE!!! Just what I was hoping for! A free subcsription to Sports Illustrated! Hang on, let me get my credit card out of my fanny pack…” You know how many people say that? None. No one says that. And even if just 1 person out of 10 agrees to the subscription deal, just because they don’t wanna hear you talk anymore, how worth it is it really to piss off those other 9 people who now think twice about going back to that store? Think about it…

Face Rocker Extraordinaire

Casual Professionalism. That’s all it is. You can be casual, friendly, polite, funny, yourself, forgoing all the useless, nonsensical babble you’re told people want to hear, while you stay attentive to whatever it is your customer needs. That being said, I’ve taken it upon myself to decide a few things I think my customer may or may not need. Namely, me spouting all sorts of extra bullshit at them to try and improve the store’s Overall Satisfaction Score. So, let me get this straight: asking them if they’ve found everything ok after they already feel they’re spending too much money and, furthermore, keeping them longer than they’ve already been kept by waiting in line just to let them know they probably won’t win a gift card by wasting time taking a survey online to let us know they spent too much money and waited too long in line, is going to increase the Overall Satisfaction Score? Am I the only fuckin’ person who sees something wrong with this?! These smarmy, smug, pompous, uppity, corporate assholes who have zero (read: NONE) idea what it’s like to actually work in the retail environment are the ones making the decision to have us regurgitate the same bullshit to person after person. Maybe if they weren’t busy glad-handing each other and lining their pockets off the backs and sweat of the hundreds of people they walked over all to get where they are, they’d be able to take the time and realize that for themselves.

I don’t disagree with the  idea that my colleagues and I should be doing our best to offer customer service, but what my approach affords me is something I think would solve the problems my department is contending with: the ability to work quickly. I’m not devoting all sorts of extra energy to ask questions I already know the answers to. I focus on the task at hand, which is simply to get this person in front of me, away from me and out the doors with all of their shit neatly packed into piss-poor quality plastic bags. I can talk and continue to work on whatever it is I’m doing, as can a majority of the people I supervise. The few who can’t, however, seem to move at a snail’s pace while they continue to drone on and on and on, at the obvious cost of their efficiency. And don’t even get me started on the ones who could work but spend time talking to their buddies. Either sever the talking from what we’re expected to do, or sever the weak links. You can’t make brownies with a bowl of shit. Cut the losses and move on, otherwise you’re content for things to remain stagnant and see no change in the ratings. Because right now, the department’s like a dying star. A white dwarf headed for a black hole. That’s physics. It’s inevitable.

But, of course, all of this is in vain. I’ve wasted my wisdom and scrutiny on something that will never change. In fact, my better judgement tells me that things will only continue to spiral downward. The corporate slugs that continue to make decisions and call audibles from hundreds of miles away will continue to do so. The customers that continue to complain about the prices and the waits will continue to do so. In all honesty, I understand this piece may very well get me into some degree of trouble. I may be spoken to, written up, perhaps even fired. That’s fine. I can take it. Truthfully, I probably could have spent my time writing something much more productive, something that would be for the betterment of mankind, but really? We’re already fucked. And we aren’t ever going to get better if we don’t stop to accept it, the way I have.


For those of you who have ever, or do so still, worked retail, I salute you.

For those of you who take your job seriously, I salute you, as well.

For the rest of you, and this is the vast minority, who treat it as a life’s goal, hobby, or obsession, then… well… I hope this shed just a little light on how the rest of the fucked-up world looks at you.

6 Responses to “A Totally Biased Rant: The Musings of Customer Service”
  1. Vivian says:

    I HATE it when I go through a line and the cashier asks me the EXACT same question they asked the previous customer in the EXACT same tone of voice. I honestly would rather have them say nothing. And by the way, I’m not an idiot, if I didn’t find everything I need, I know how to ask.

  2. You’re dirty shizno!


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