Things To Consider Before Shopping At Your Local Supermarket.

I work part/full time at a grocery retailer in Pennsylvania. I’m not going to name the establishment, but to tell you the truth, I’m surprised that I’ve lasted almost five years in that… “wonderful” place.

There are certain things that a customer should and should not do while going on their shopping excursion. Not a day goes by when I’m working that someone will come up and either 1) say some of the least thought out ideas ever or 2) will find some way to get under my skin. Now I’m not saying that you should go and change everything that you do while shopping, because that would be very childish of me to say. What I am saying is try to follow some simple guidelines when addressing me in my natural habitat of the workplace.

1) Do NOT try and make in depth conversation when I’m in the process of scanning your groceries.

I know that you are trying to make conversation. I also know that you are just trying to be friendly to try and make my day go by faster. I get it, but please stop. For me to get paid minimum wage, I know I have to put on my acting cap every once in a while to make you, the customer, feel welcomed. This usually comes in the form of my opening lines to almost every customer, “Hello, how are you doing? Are plastic bags alright? Do you have a club card you would like to use today.” After that, it is my sole purpose to scan your groceries, get some sort of payment method from you, and send you on your merry way.

Some examples of comments I really don’t care about, but pretend that I do anyway to make it seem like I’m interested. Old People: I am not a doctor, I can’t help you when you start listing your ailments.** Moms with younger kids: I don’t need to know that your baby is allergic to a certain type of formula, I’m not going to question anything about the products you buy. Some of that I can handle. It’s the ones that try to pass the smart-Alec comments while I’m in the process of helping you. If something is giving me a hard time while I’m trying to scan it through, even though you have the urge, do NOT say, “Oh, well I guess that item is free then.” Cute. You are not the only person who has thought of that, and of course my answer is a faint laugh and a “Nope, sorry!” Also, when the total of your groceries come to something like $19.63, don’t make the statement “Well, that was a good year.” Hrm…was it? I guess I’ll have to take your word for it. Way to live in the past. Like I said, I understand your purpose in chit-chatting, but please, let me do my job.

**On a side note, I think that most older people want us cashiers to feel sorry for them. Besides listing their ailments about how they are dying, they tend to all make the same requests. There is the standard request for not packing the bags light, which I can understand because a lot of older people have back or leg problems. But I’ve noticed something, when I’m bagging groceries you always want them double bagged, because you have to carry them up stairs. Do all older people live up like three flights of stairs? If you want them double bagged because you have a hard time moving around, just say so. Don’t make up and excuse so I will feel sorry for you.

2) Try and think out what you want to ask me, before you approach for my assistance.

Some of this may leak over from the previous point, but it is all worth hearing out. You would not believe some of the questions I get asked from time to time. I am working at this store for a reason. If you need assistance in any way while I’m floating around the store, I will try my best to accommodate your needs. Let me just start off by saying, please don’t state the obvious, or ask questions that you already know the answer to. One of my favorite questions that I will get while walking through the store is, “Excuse me, do you work here?” That would be a fair question… if I were wearing civilian clothes. I wear a uniform of sorts to make myself distinguished from regular people shopping for a reason. What I would like to say is “Nope, I just stole this shirt from an employee. I just like the way it looks on me.”  Nevertheless, I cannot say that, so I’m forced to turn and say “Yes, how can I help you?”

When you are looking for a product that is not really obscure, it’s good to have a decent explanation of what the item is so I can point you in the right direction. If you are looking for some kind of canned vegetable, don’t come up to me and say, “Well, it comes in a can, and it has a green label on it.” If that is the  type of explanation I get, don’t be surprised when I give you a blank stare as a response. Most all cans in that section fit that same description. If you can be a little more specific with a brand name, or stand-out feature this product may have, I’ll be more helpful in searching for your item.

When I’m working the courtesy desk, please don’t ask me if I can get you a cup of coffee. Does it look like I have a fresh pot brewing right next to the endless cartons of cigarettes? If you want a place that will serve you coffee when you walk up to the first desk you see upon entering the store, go to Dunkin Donuts. Oh, and the light above any register… it’s quite a simple concept really. If it’s on, someone is there. If it’s off, no one will be there to help you. If I’m standing in front of my register, with my light on, don’t ask me if I’m open. I’m hoping you would just take that for granted.

3) Do not get mad because of things that are out of my control.

Yes, working at a grocery store can help me save time when I’m doing my own shopping. I have a good layout of the store in my mind, so I can quickly jet over to the section that I need to be in to get a certain item. I know where a lot of items are in the store. So, when you come up and ask me about some product that is obscure, don’t get mad when I cannot pinpoint where in the store the item will be. I’m sorry, but All Natural Macaroon Bean Paste is not a common item I buy everyday. I can point you to a manager because he might know where it is, but don’t get all huffy because I’ve never heard of the item before in my life.

For the most part, I am a cashier. I just scan bar codes all day and put the groceries into different bags. If an item is on sale and the computer doesn’t recognize it’s a sale item, don’t yell at me to get it fixed in the system. I do not have access to the main computer that stores all the information on sale prices. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to change it. Just chill out, I can take the item off of your order, and put it in for the correct price.

Please do not yell at me for some of the quality of the items on the shelf. I do not control the shipment of fruit or vegetables that come in on our produce trucks. I do not control the condition of the packages of items that are out there on the shelves. Believe me, if I could, I would do everything in my power to prevent any misshape or dent in any product. We get the items in, and we stock in on the shelves for you, the consumer, to buy. If you have an issue with a certain item, because it may look a bit off, don’t yell at me for it, take it up with the manufacturer. I know it helps to ease your frustration, and it might be easier to yell at me because I am the closest person in sight, but I put up with enough criticism from bosses, I don’t need you to knock me down a peg because there is a small hole in your triscuit box.

4) Use common sense.

This one might be a hard one to grasp, but please bear with me. I know that sometimes you have a brain fart, and that’s what causes these lapses in judgment. Stop and think things through, it will do you better in the long run. When you are leaving my line with your groceries, and you originally came in it with a cart, leave my line with your cart. Sure, you might not need it since it’s only three or four bags, but think about the other people standing in line. In essence, you just put a cork at the end, clogging all traffic that has to move through there. You are on your way out, what’s the big deal in pushing a cart in the same direction you need to go anyway?

If I am working over at the courtesy desk and you see that it’s busy, don’t expect me to ring up your 15 item grocery order just because you want cigarettes too. I have to worry about things like Western Union transactions, bill payments, club card lookups, lottery ticket purchases, and refunds. I can’t hold up the line because you have to have your cigarettes. So please, don’t get all huffy with me when I start to walk the cigarettes you wanted over to a regular cashier. I need to tend to the ever growing line of customers that need to make use of the services the courtesy desk offers.

Also, make sure you have some sort of method of payment before you come into the store. You cannot imagine the number of times I will ring up a customers order, have everything bagged, and proclaim the total only to hear, “Oh no. I must have left my wallet out in the car. I’ll be right back in!” How do you expect to pay for everything? With your good looks? Sorry. Not only does this clog up the line, but sometimes you claim to go out for your wallet and never return. So after wasting everyone’s time for about a good 5-8 minutes. We must void your whole order and put everything back. Just a little common sense could have prevented this whole situation.

5) Don’t try and pull the wool over our eyes and try to scam us.

Listen, I know that not all  of us are lucky enough to be making great money with their jobs (my job as a point in case). But if a store has any certain type of policy, do not try and exploit that policy to get as much free shit as you can. We know of the different types of scams people pull to try and get something for nothing. Our store has a policy, if an item scans through at an incorrect price, we’ll give you that item for free. If you have more than one of that item, we’ll give you the first one free and the others at the price it should be coming up at. Never have I seen this policy used and abused in my life. I’ve seen people forget to scan their savings card, not get the “sale price” and come up to the courtesy desk demanding they get it for free because it didn’t come up at the sale price. Newsflash! It didn’t come up at the sale price because you didn’t give us your savings card.

I’ve also seen customers, buy only items on which the sale has expired, but the shelf tag was never taken down. In other words, the item was supposed to be on sale last week, the tag never got taken down, and now they want compensation because the item didn’t ring up properly. It’s not like they get more than one of each item; it’s always one of the item, and  always a item that has a tag issue. I am not of power to deny you the refunds, because it is our policy, but don’t you have anything better to do than to exploit a grocery store?

No, you can not take your groceries out to your car while you go and get your other checkbook from it. All too often will people come in, get a grocery order containing meats, cigarettes, diapers (the expensive stuff) and just so happen to bring in the wrong checkbook, or no payment method at all. They then want to take their groceries out and come back in with the payment method. Sure, we’ll let you go out there, with an employee escort. Most of the time they’re not willing to do that.

Okay, so my profession is probably not the most stressful job in the world. It also may not be the hardest, but it sure can have it’s moments when shoppers come in and do not think before they act. Remember, I am here to try and help you out with whatever it is you need. That’s what I get paid to do. You now know some of our dirty little pet-peeves. It is in that interest that you might follow some of these guidelines to make your shopping experience more enjoyable for you and me. If you can take one thing out of this guide, it would be to just think and use common sense. We have it for a reason, it’s not meant to go to waste!

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~ by prudz on December 15, 2007.

One Response to “Things To Consider Before Shopping At Your Local Supermarket.”

  1. Stumbled upon your blog a week ago and decided to come back. Not for the articles you write, but for how you write them, really amazing stuff you’re doing here, i like how you put information into the articles which makes it much more easier to read and much more interesting of course. Keep up the good work!

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