To be fed up of checkout assistants commenting on the products i buy?!

(105 Posts)
MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 10:44:20

It doesn't happen every time i go to the supermarket, but happens enough to be making me annoyed.

Today i have a day off from work. After dropping dd at school, i nipped to the local Tesco for a magazine and big bar of chocolate. As the lady scanned them through, she said "Oh, you'll regret this tomorrow!" and then laughed as if expecting me to join in.

Last time i was in, a different checkout lady was scanning my things and then stopped after she'd scanned my packet of wraps. She was reading the back for about a minute, i shit you not, and when i asked what was wrong (i thought maybe she'd noticed they were out of date or something), she said, "Do you know how many calories are in these? I'm doing WW and it's really made me look at calorie content. You'd think these would be healthy since they're wholemeal". I said they are healthy and me and dd loves them (might have gotten a bit snappy, don't like calories etc being discussed like that in front of impressionable dd).

Around Christmas time, i was in buying wine for pressies (i don't drink) and the checkout lady said something about wishing she was young again to be able to drink as much as me (again laughed, as if expecting me to join in).

I was buying towels and tampons one other time, and i went to self scan with them, but the queue-buster lady directed me to a till instead. The checkout lady made a big deal after scanning them, leaned forward and whispered, "I'll double bag these for you, sweetheart." I showed no hint before that of being the slightest bit embarrased by buying them.

It's not just Tesco. it's other supermarkets in other areas i've visited too.

I was buying a range of exotic fruits one time at Asda (for a tasting session in class) and the checkout lady stopped and scrutinised each one before scanning (i realise she had to do this so she'd know what buttons to press on her screen), but then she started asking "Why are you getting all this?" and invited her colleague over for a look too! Again, acting as if i'd be okay with this, and i should join in with their giggles.

It feels like a total invasion of privacy.

I realise they're just trying to make small talk, but i doubt very much they'd like it if i went rooting round their shopping trolley/cupboards commenting on every little thing i saw there.

AIBU/over-sensitive eejit?

YorkshireDeb Tue 29-Jan-13 10:50:27

That does sound annoying. Weird that it happens to you such a lot - I tend to get fairly silent checkout ladies. Except when, like you I'm buying supplies for work & often have to explain myself. Was worst when I was in charge of buying staffroom biscuits - got some right comments when I went through the till with 20 packets! X

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 10:52:05

YANBU. Also happens at the bank e.g. commenting on cheques paid in. Invasive and rude. Tampon double bag lady would have been told that menstrual products are nothing to be ashamed of or hide. What an idiot.

Bluestocking Tue 29-Jan-13 10:53:37

Are you in Birmingham, by any chance? I find checkout staff there very keen to comment on one's shopping.

BlackholesAndRevelations Tue 29-Jan-13 10:54:11


atthewelles Tue 29-Jan-13 10:55:04

YABU. They are just being friendly and you are being a bit precious and hoity toity.

Schnarkle Tue 29-Jan-13 10:55:08

The staff are being assessed on how they make small talk with the customers. I can't imagine they actually give 2 shiny hoots what you're buying, but they will get reprimanded in the bigger supermarkets if they don't "interact" enough.

It's ridiculous I think.

LadyBeagleEyes Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:11

There's another long thread about this somewhere from a checkout operator who is being criticised by management for not chatting enough.
It is expected now for the poor sods to make idle chat to the customers.
The majority of the customers on the thread don't want it, the checkout don't either but they could lose their jobs if they don't.
I am quite happy with a friendly hello.

FruOla Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:21

Have you seen the recent thread where the OP is on her probationary period with a large supermarket chain and she's not scoring enough points on her 'checkout chatting technique'? These poor souls are forced to do it by management. I used to think it was rather odd to begin with, but now I just join in in case they are being watched by a supervisor.

Although I draw the line at comments being made in the bank - and tampon-double-bag-lady; the latter is just ridiculous these days.

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:28

But they could chat about the weather or something rather than making value judgements on your shopping!

theplodder Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:43

" i nipped to the local Tesco for a magazine and big bar of chocolate. As the lady scanned them through, she said "Oh, you'll regret this tomorrow!" and then laughed as if expecting me to join in. "

she obviously touched a nerve!

Pilfette Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:00

Wasn't there a thread yesterday about someone who worked at a supermarket checkout being told that she needed to engage with the customers more as part of her appraisal. I've noticed this happening more recently too, presumably it's some new customer service strategy?

Fakebook Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:05

The only time anyone ever comments on the things I buy at checkout is when I buy my children's clothes from M&S. I always get a "ooh that's lovely, what a good price" or a "ooh he'll/she'll look very handsome/pretty in that" or a "ooh, can't believe what a good price that is". And it's not just in my local M&S, I've been shopping to three different stores around the UK since December and I've had the same comments and actions in EVERY store. They pick up the clothes and hold them in the air and look at them and comment. I think it must be in their training.

Pilfette Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:21

Oh, massive x posts blush

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:50

Get a grip OP. They're just being friendly. Next you'll be insisting on no eye contact hmm


Maybe they should just know their place eh? Sit there silently and miserably and wait till they are spoken to. God forbid they reveal their personalities in friendly chit chat.

If you'd ever worked with the public you would know it's the little interractions like this that help keep people sane.

redbobblehat Tue 29-Jan-13 11:01:49

feel so sorrry for checkout operators

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:02:12

I understand they need to make small talk, and appear chatty etc, but why can't they discuss the weather or something instead? I get really uncomfortable when they stop and properly look at my prodcuts they're scanning (eg, reading the back/ingredients).

Another favourite is commenting on the Quorn stuff i buy (i usually bulk buy once a month). It then invites questions, "what exactly is Quorn? Why are you a veggie etc?"

It doesn't happen every time, like i said in my OP.

But it does happen often enough for me to be getting annoyed.

Paiviaso Tue 29-Jan-13 11:03:33

YAB a bit U. They are just people making small chat. I do think it is a tad invasive to look up and comment on the caloric quantity of the purchases though!

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:04:02

Why shouldn't they ask you what Quorn is confused

FruOla Tue 29-Jan-13 11:04:08

Oh, and by I draw the line at comments being made in the bank, I meant I'm quite happy to chat to the bank staff - just not to have to make any justification for any of my transactions!

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:04:52

she obviously touched a nerve!

Yes, she did (not because of the chocolate/planned lazy day) because imo she shouldn't be commenting so vividly on what i'm buying.

Why not ask, "What's your plans for today, then" instead?

She is just making small talk....why is it annoying?? If they just sat there and put through the items with no communication etc people would moan that they are miserable....will they ever win?

Just smile and nod, hardly an effort is it.....

Personally I would hate to work with the public, the miserable fuckers hmm

LifeofPo Tue 29-Jan-13 11:05:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redbobblehat Tue 29-Jan-13 11:06:00

here op look at it for the checkout staff side sad

perhaps we should all email the big supermarkets and ask them to stop doing this to thier staff and customers

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:31

To be honest Mrs Brown everything you've said suggests you feel these people are getting a bit uppity in speaking to you.

BrandonFlowersHoHoHo Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:44

It doesn't bother me at all. Some days I'm not in the mood for small talk and they tend to pick up on that.

Although the "that's a big cucumber" comment accompanied with a cheeky wink still haunts me years later.

Catchingmockingbirds Tue 29-Jan-13 11:08:34

Yanbu, it really annoys me too. I've worked as a checkout assistant in a few places though, and management have told us all we need to chat to customers about what they're buying which is equally really annoying.

Perhaps I'm just really anti-social? grin

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:09:08

Maybe they should just know their place eh? Sit there silently and miserably and wait till they are spoken to. God forbid they reveal their personalities in friendly chit chat. If you'd ever worked with the public you would know it's the little interractions like this that help keep people sane

I have worked with the public. I used to work in a sandwich shop among other places. I wouldn't imagine potentially embarrassing someone by saying, "Oh, you'll regret eating that tomorrow" or "Oh, you want tuna on your sandwich?" and them making a disapproving face.

Instead i chatted to them about other things, not about what they were buying.

Nancy66 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:09:45

it can be annoying - but they're told to do it, poor sods.

Imagine having to find daily small talk about carrots and bread.

MrsMeeple Tue 29-Jan-13 11:10:11

It is very annoying, but think of it from their point of view. All day every day scanning others' groceries. I worked on checkouts while at uni, and occasionally made a comment on something, just trying to make small talk. Some people totally went off about it! I really meant no harm... confused

Calling in others to comment on items is really OTT. (Gossiping about "this woman I served today who bought XYZ" in the lunch room is some thing else grin).

Now though, it would probably annoy me too. Like everyone, I just want to get out of there as quickly and anonymously as possible.

Crinkle77 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:11:28

YAB a little U. I think they are just trying to be friendly and make conversation. I would rather that than the checkout operator ignore me or chat to their mate on the next till

TomDudgeon Tue 29-Jan-13 11:11:38

It's not jut being talked to though is it. It's the implied judgements
Op would you have minded so much if she had looked at them and said 'Wish this was my shopping' or something like that?

mrsgregorypeck Tue 29-Jan-13 11:15:07

I don't get these annoyingly intrusive questions anymore because I nip in first and ask them how long until the end of their shift, comment upon how busy/empty the shop is or any other bollocks idle chitchat.

Yes, they are told to chat with customers to keep their jobs and I suppose commenting upon what you have bought must be an easy option. It can feel like an invasion of privacy, though, so I hope someone in supermarket management reads this thread and changes their policy.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:15:56

Absolutely not!

I'm not some snob who thinks checkout assistants are on some lower level(they probably make more money than me! grin)

I enjoy small talk, and i enjoy chatting to them. And i understand they're constantly being watched by supervisors/managers. But to comment on things i am buying makes me feel as if my privacy is being invaded and that i'm being judged. Surely they're only required to make small talk, not specifically discuss the products they're scanning with the customer? If it's the latter, then my gripe is with the managers instead.

When i said about the Quorn stuff, it's more the tone of voice and the face that gets pulled when they're scanning it through (again, doesn't happen all the time). They'll have a look at the back of almost everything and then start questioning why i eat it, why i'm a veggie etc.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:16:29

Good god. All this talk of implied judgement and having your privacy invaded. Some people are frankly pathetic.

Mumsyblouse Tue 29-Jan-13 11:16:30

I don't mind it at all, I frequently make conversation with people when I'm shopping anyway.

But, as someone else said, if it really bugs you, go to Lidl where there's no small talk, not even a proper bagging area and all your stuff gets thrown in the trolly. You also save as much as 50% of your budget, I regularly spent £120 on a Sainsbury's shop, but about £60 in Lidl for the week. So, save money, and you are also spared the small talk.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:17:46

And if you want to get really upset about something, complain about assistants who lick their fingers to open bags then handle all your lovely food.


Sneezingwakesthebaby Tue 29-Jan-13 11:25:23

YANBU. Checkout staff do have to make small talk but it doesn't have to be comments about the products you are buying. I was buying a birthday card for my sister once and it was quite rudey inside about waxing. I chose it because my sister had just learned to do bikini waxes on her course and she was still a bit mortified that shed had to practise on her classmates. The checkout lady opened it, read the joke and laughed loudly. Then she interrupted the lady scanning next to her "OMG you have to read this!" Then they were both laughing over it while the customers in my queue and the ones the other woman was meant to be serving were glaring at me as if I had chosen to have them hold up the queue. She should have scanned it, bagged it and I would have paid and been gone. Instead I had to stand there like a pleb waiting for her to get over the card and actually serve me.

Years ago I was in Safeways in Gosport (still remember that, not sure why) and the friendly check out girl had to ask what some of the things I was buying were - celeriac was one, can't remember the others. And then she said, "You buy some wierd stuff."

LadyBeagleEyes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:29:05

So you bought a jokey card and the checkout lady laughed at it?
How dare she.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:34:08

So you bought a jokey card and the checkout lady laughed at it? How dare she

She read inside it. I'd feel exactly the same actually. I've bought a few jokey cards before, which are quite dirty inside. I'd definitely not want anyone else reading it except the recipient.

Would it be okay for a checkout assistant to open up a customer's sympathy card and read the message inside? And then comment?

But because it's a jokey one, it's all right?

Maybe some people are just more reserved/private than others then.

Sneezingwakesthebaby Tue 29-Jan-13 11:34:15

Don't try and make me feel bad for being annoyed. I nipped in to get a card. I shouldn't have to wait while she and her colleague stop working to piss themselves laughing at it while I get mucky looks from everybody else being held up. She had no reason to even open it apart from being nosy.

somebloke123 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:34:26

It can be irritating but it's wrong to take it out on the checkout staff who are just doing what the're told.

"Checkout chatting technique" - what a load of management bollox. As if this can be controlled and managed.

It reminds me of the emotionally buttoned-up butler in "Remains of the Day" who can to the conclusion that "I should improve my bantering skills".

The one that really annoys me is the standard M&S checkout greeting, "Thank you for waiting".

PeerieMootsMum Tue 29-Jan-13 11:39:29

Probably YABU based on pp about them being made to chat more as part of their job however it does remind me of the time I was doing my big weekly shop and the young guy who was serving me held my pregnancy test aloft and declared loudly "ooo, are you hoping its positive or negative?"... shock

What on earth do you say to that!?!

somebloke why does that annoy you?

ddubsgirl Tue 29-Jan-13 11:44:06

we have to make small talk,you tend to know who you can have a laugh with tho and altho im not on the tills often i would never comment on what someone is buying,maybe is it nice or something like that,just the checkout persons clumsy way of trying to chat,some shouldnt be allowed on tills tho :D

weeblueberry Tue 29-Jan-13 11:44:40

Won't be long til every single checkout is self service wink

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 11:46:58

justgiveme I have suffered from a serious eating disorder. A comment like the one made to the OP about her buying chocolate would have, at my worst points, triggered me to starve myself for several weeks. I guess that makes me "pathetic" in your view, but I still don't think it's appropriate chat.

I worked on tills for years and love chatting at the till about other things so it has absolutely nothing to do with being superior.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 29-Jan-13 11:50:06

I know it's annoying but there was a thread from a lady who had terrible pressure from her employer to make small talk at the tills all the time. It was awful sad

In truth, no one wants it.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:50:28

Spicy Pear - i, too, am quite 'sensitive' about things like that, which is perhaps why i get more annoyed by the comments than others.

But i get really angry when they make these comments in front of my dd. My mum was obsessed with calories/dieting when i was little (she still is!) and it really has affected my relationship with food. So to hear a checkout lady say that my wholemeal wraps were unhealthy and laden with calories, was a bit disconcerting for me as it was in earshot of my dd.

Why couldn't she have asked dd about school, or talked about the weather instead of focussing on my products?

somebloke123 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:51:38

somebloke why does that annoy you?

Mainly because it's so formulaic and they have just been told to say that. Nothing against the checkout people themselves.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:52:05

yes, i agree, Ariel, and i understand they are required to make small talk. But there's loads of 'small talk' subjects to cover. IMO it's not an excuse to pass comments/judgements on customers' products.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 29-Jan-13 11:53:01

I know. But some people find it dead hard that's all.

What else is there to talk about if you don't know the person and you can't see what's happening with the weather? smile

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:53:43

MrsBrown Your dd isn't going to have a bad relationship with food because of what the checkout lasy said. If you are really that sensitive why on earth are you buying WeightWatchers food anyway confused

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 11:54:02


MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 11:57:57

Justgiveme - it wasn't WW food at all. I've never bought 'simming' food before in my life. it was normal wholemeal wraps.

The checkout lady read out the calorie content and said she was on WW, which is why she checks calorie contents on things now.

And i don't personally think it's good for a 5yo to hear a stranger saying her lunch is unhealthy and full of calories.

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 11:59:20

Ummm, they could start with, for example, "What's the weather doing now? It was freezing when I left his morning"

Maybe the staff that can make appropriate small talk could do a training session or a draw up a sheet of value neutral one liners to help the more socially challenged members of staff?

Sneezingwakesthebaby Tue 29-Jan-13 12:01:20

Thinking about it, I wonder how much training the staff who are told specifically to small talk about the products get about what to actually say. Using my card example from further up the thread, inappropriate is holding up two checkouts to laugh about it embarrassing the customer. Appropriate would be saying something like "ooh, is it somebody's birthday?" while scanning it. The chocolate bar in OP's post? Inappropriate is saying you'll regret this tomorrow. Appropriate could be something along the lines of "ah, these are one of my favourites. I tell you what else tastes nice...".

I wonder if they get told how to find a good balance of not being invasive, judgemental or embarrassing but still manage to talk about the products.

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 12:07:59

Exactly sneezing. The other day a woman on the till asked what I would usually do with the canellini beans as she'd never bought them. We then had a little chat about slow cooking = perfectly fine. Raising her eyebrows and saying, e.g., "those will give you some chronic gas, hahaha" = not fine.

drownangels Tue 29-Jan-13 12:08:01

Think you better do your shopping online if going through a checkout and having people talk to you is so traumatic!

What they are seeing as chat you are seeing as judgements. I'm guessing once you have gone through the door they wouldn't remember much about you or care really, not if they have hundreds of people going through their checkout.

Where on earth are you shopping though. This has never happened to me and I go to shops nearly every day!

Sneezingwakesthebaby Tue 29-Jan-13 12:08:44

Actually even my card example could be too invasive. She could have commented on how much choice there was with the cards or something like that.

drownangels Tue 29-Jan-13 12:22:35

I don't get the fuss over a card!!

It's there on display for everyone to buy.
It's not like OP has bought a packet of 12 condoms and the checkout has said 'Whaya girl! You're in for a busy night, have fun!!'

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 12:28:09

Misread that bit OP. Sorry. Still think you're being pathetic though.

WorraLiberty Tue 29-Jan-13 12:33:17

And i don't personally think it's good for a 5yo to hear a stranger saying her lunch is unhealthy and full of calories.

Really? Why?

Calories, health, food...they're all part of normal life.

If your DD is brought up to think these things are taboo, she may well end up as uptight and arsey as you've come across.

So, let me get this straight.
It is ok for check out staff to be mouthy and judgmental?

It is amazing how most of the time here posters get their knickers in a twist with judgemental people, and here we have an OP who is on the receiving end of loud, patronizing judgemental check out staff, and she is told she is pathetic and should suck it up?

I can only assume that most of you are check out staff. wink

Sneezingwakesthebaby Tue 29-Jan-13 12:38:09


I wouldn't have been bothered if she had opened it while scanning it and had a smirk to herself and the finished serving me so I could crack on. I had a problem with the fact she stood up, left her checkout, interrupted her colleague serving, laughed with her loudly at the card while I was left there like a lemon with two queues of people looking at me as if it was my fault they had both stopped working and took her time coming back and letting me pay for my card.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 29-Jan-13 12:38:55

I've never posted on here about judgemental people confused

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Tue 29-Jan-13 12:39:40

Blame the company itself, not the people on the checkouts. The managers seemingly look as though they are busy doing whatever, but are actually listening in to how much small talk people are making, whether they ask if the customer "wants bags" or "help with their packing" or "are you trying to lose weight?" when someone buys a weight watchers ready meal or "the weather is nice today isn't it?" or "how's your day going?".....

Can be frustrating for the customers, but it's also very mind numbing for the people on the checkouts doing that all day. If they don't do it, the managers pounce.

Ok, so you personally have not complained about judgemental people. Do you like them then? Think having your judge-pants hoisted so high up that you nearly choke is fashionable?

I am a very chatty person, and sometimes break out in total giggles with check out staff, over stuff, but I am a loon. But I would not be happy with comments about my wine and chocolate.

drownangels Tue 29-Jan-13 12:43:35

I'm finding some of these stories a bit, well bizarre!

In my town we have Tesco, Asda, Morrisons as well as Lidl,Aldi and Netto and I use all these on a very regular basis and never expierenced anything like this.
I am quite smiley and not unapproachable so I don't know what some of you are doing!!

I quite enjoy a little bit of conversation - how's the weather? How long is left on your shift? I can completely understand though that that would be hell as a repeated conversation for 8 hours. A little bit of discussion about what's in my basket is ok - is there an interesting combination of ingredients etc? One of the worst examples though is a friend of mine went through with super absorbent tampons and the teenage boy said "Are you on your period? Is it heavy?".

The fault really lies with the management who force targets on staff forcing uncomfortable discussions on staff and customers.

gallifrey Tue 29-Jan-13 12:44:41

OMG I worked at Asda over christmas and I commented on what people had bought! I only said things like "that looks nice" or "what a good price" and only to people that looked approachable. I would never ever comment on personal stuff like the OP has had.

popcornpaws Tue 29-Jan-13 12:45:40

Shop online.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Tue 29-Jan-13 12:47:48

One of the worst examples though is a friend of mine went through with super absorbent tampons and the teenage boy said "Are you on your period? Is it heavy?".

Ooooh my god. That is taking it a bit too far with the making conversation!

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 12:47:54

Really? Why? Calories, health, food...they're all part of normal life. If your DD is brought up to think these things are taboo, she may well end up as uptight and arsey as you've come across

You honestly wouldn't mind your 5yo daughter listening to a woman saying her lunch was unhealthy and full of calories?

I'd maybe understand (but not appreciate!) her comments if it had been something unhealthy, but a wholemeal wrap! Come on.

She doesn't think they're taboo. She's 5. We've not yet discussed calorie/fat content etc. We've discussed it in terms of 'always' foods and 'sometimes' foods.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 12:49:34

I do shop online, thanks, most of the time. But i prefer to go in and pick my own stuff when i can (to make sure i get the best use by dates etc).

Theas18 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:50:15

Perhaps I've moved into bonkers old biddy territory but I chat the the team in our Aldi. Mind you it is a small shop with a small team and usually the same people which is lovely.

SpicyPear Tue 29-Jan-13 12:50:23

Err, the company might be encouraging small talk but I'm pretty sure they're not telling staff to be rude judgy bastards.

I'm quite amused at this thread because in RL I'm considered a proper bleeding heart soft lefty. On MN I'm hoity toity snob for not wanting the poor downtrodden checkout slaves to make rude and inapproriate remarks at the till.

MinnesotaNice Tue 29-Jan-13 12:58:08

I just moved here and just thought, "My these Brits are so friendly! Always chatting at the checkout." In the US they just say hello, scan your items and ask if you paper or plastic bags. Not rude usually, just don't generally chit-chat. The things I learn here on MN. Although the lines in US supermarkets do move noticeable quicker...

Mimishimi Tue 29-Jan-13 13:14:45

YANBU. My first jobs as a teenager were working in a cafe and in a fish and chip shop. Both my bosses would have ripped into me if I had commented or questioned about the food people were ordering, let alone made remarks about how it would probably make them fat. I love self serve checkouts too . All they ever encouraged with the small talk was "Would you like anything else with your order today sir?" grin. I feel sorry for those who are forced into's quite unnecessary.

JessieMcJessie Tue 29-Jan-13 13:20:23

This and the other thread from the checkout operator who hates being forced to talk make interesting reading. Most of my adult life in the UK I lived in London and the staff in the vast majority of shops there (apart from M&S and Pret) were miserable buggers who would not even make eye contact or say how much you needed to pay when they had finished scanning. I used to play the fool and say "sorry, how much is that?" even though I could see very well what the display said. So as a minimum I'd expect that level of interaction. if I was in a good mood I'd try to engage them in conversation. The lack of basic service was rude, but I think that the ones who were basically polite were dissuaded from conversation by the way that most customers were in their own worlds and barely acknowledged them, so when making conversation I was trying to be nice and show I remembered they were human beings. However when I used to go back home to Scotland...the management there must monitor the staff to STOP them blethering or nobody would ever get their shopping done! It was a nice change for me and I was usually on holiday so in a good mood, but it would have driven me mad if it has happened on every shopping trip when I was in busy work mode.

Now I live in a country where I don't speak the local language so no issues in the supermarket, but on the other hand there is a big service culture so the clothes shops etc (where the staff generally speak English) are unbelievably annoying, staff following you round Zara asking if you've seen that one in blue, do you know it's 20% off, are you buying for a special occasion...nothing sends me out the door faster.

Once, on an airplane, I bought some expensive body lotion that was supposed to get rid of cellulite, from the in-flight catalog , and I will never forget the air-hostess saying "I cant believe you are so silly that you believe this crap. You need the gym to get rid of cellulite!". shock
I was so embarrassed. And stuck there, in my seat, and sadly the seat refused to swallow me.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Tue 29-Jan-13 13:33:04

"i nipped to the local Tesco for a magazine and big bar of chocolate. As the lady scanned them through, she said "Oh, you'll regret this tomorrow!" and then laughed as if expecting me to join in."

she obviously touched a nerve!

I bet it was the magazine, was it a trashy gossip mag OP? I'm always embarrassed when I buy them especially if DH is with me grin

Seriously though why don't checkout staff ask something like 'How's your day been?' 'Any plans for the weekend?' There really is no need to comment on shopping.

EmpressMaud Tue 29-Jan-13 13:38:21

Yanbu. I'd find it invasive to have somebody comment on my shopping.

Thank goodness for online shopping. The conversation is confined to small talk about the weather and how busy they (the delivery drivers) are.

ShephardsDelight Tue 29-Jan-13 13:41:00

That would royally do my nut in,

I had a think out loud, rude moment to a checkout lady once , she looked younger than me and asked me for ID.

CL: Do you have any ID?

blush I laughed nervously and left fast.

perceptionreality Tue 29-Jan-13 13:44:48

YANBU - the examples you cite are really rude - I would be annoyed by that too.

Where I live this has never happened to me, the only comments I've noticed are in places like Monsoon where I buy something for one of the children and the sales assistant says 'ooh, these are lovely aren't they?' - so quite different.

defineme Tue 29-Jan-13 13:51:14

I think small talk in shops is increasing and most of the time I'm happy to chat-especially if I'm praised for my bargainous shopping skills.
However, I have cringed when it's been a little inept/crass- but then I just think 'clearly you're told to chat and that's not your forte',as long as they put my shopping through I'll not complain.
The pregnancy test one is hilarious. i used to work in a chemist and the owner just assumed I would know to be discreet, but I think these things need to be pointed out just in case.
Double bagging sanitary stuff wouldn't bother me-just a generational thing-wonder how she copes with men buying it for partners-triple bagging?

Yab a bit u. I enjoy chatting to supermarket staff, I've worked behind the till In the past (and volunteer behind the toll in a charity greengrocers now) and love chatting to my customers, but I hate cashiers asking about my shopping in ways that just make you feel awkward. "ohh, I know a good recipe for these" is fine "ohh, these are very fatty" is not (I've had both).

Dp usually does the shipping now because I can't be trusted to stick to the list and has had comments on my tena lady on more than one occasion shock

mystiquesonya Tue 29-Jan-13 13:55:29

Yanbu. I bought a pregnancy in Tesco and the checkout lady said "Oh dear, do you think you're pregnant?" I was about 25 at the time so maybe she thought I was too young to be a mum, regardless she should have kept her opinion to herself. I wish I could say I replied with a clever comeback but I just gawped at her open mouthed.

I think, as others have said, it's the tone that accompanies the comment too. I have no problem making general chit chat with checkout workers but when something's said in a judgey way it makes me mad.

MrsDoomsPatterson Tue 29-Jan-13 14:06:44

I think it's part of life, just something else to deal with. I'm chatty back though, it's what? three minutes out of my day. Tolerance levels are so frickin low nowadays.

Sounds like the op could do with a bottle of wine & an online shopping account.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 14:13:01

wow redbobblehat - no wonder this happens is the staff get assessed on being chatty throughout the transaction. What else is there for them to talk about once they've covered the weather?!

lljkk Tue 29-Jan-13 14:26:10

Tolerance levels are so frickin low nowadays. Indeed.

OP: take over the conversation and talk about something else, no?

MrsDoomsPatterson Tue 29-Jan-13 14:29:39

And op, you do realise you aren't actually remembered by the checkout person after she's spoken to you?(unless you go to that person every day) It's totally not personal. You have to learn to shrug these things off, it's such a non worry!

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 17:08:20

Yes, i realise it's nothing personal, and i'm not exactly a memorable person - but it doesn't alter the fact it makes me feel uncomfortable and it makes me remember the incident, even after i've left the shop.

Today for example. When i got home to eat my mega bar of chocolate and read my magazine, i couldn't relax properly. The woman's words had stuck.

At the time, it did feel like a personal comment.

Stonefield Tue 29-Jan-13 17:16:58

It's called "confirming the purchase", I think the idea is that they comment favourably on what you buy as part of their interaction with you. It's certainly easier with some products than others, some assistants manage to do it naturally and pleasantly, while some obviously end up seeming forced or innappropriate.
Personally I prefer some positive interaction at the till and I think it should be encouraged. If you don't like it, shop online and talk to your miserable self.

MsBrown Tue 29-Jan-13 17:23:49

I do like interaction, Stonefield. As i've made clear several times on this thread. I don't, however, like my products being scrutinised by checkout staff, checkout staff making faces or giving a strong opinion on what i'm buying. Nor do i like them pointing out calorie contents in my food. I don't like the implied judgments either (e.g. the wine comment - made me feel like she thought i was some sort of binge drinker).

On the occassions they ask about work, or i ask them about work, and other small talk favourites - the transaction goes swimmingly.

It is quite possible to chat to a customer without passing judgement on their purchases - as a teenager I worked in Sainsburys for four years and at most I'd say "oooh, that looks lovely" and then only if the person looked like the sort who wouldn't mind. You can usually suss people out pretty quick. I can chat like nobody's business so I wasn't lacking in that department - I just knew not to be judgey at people's purchases.

I still remember the mutual embarrassment when a packet of condoms popped up "item unknown" at the till and we had to wait for ages for the supervisor to show. I wouldn't have dreamed of passing a comment - instead we talked about the weather.

Which is why it annoys the crap out of me when twice recently I've had checkout staff comment on pregnancy tests. First one was "ooh, is this for you?" and the other one was "oh, is this brand any good?" I have another hundred items on the belt and this is the thing you choose to talk about?! Especially as I was trying to get it through without DH noticing too much (we are TTC but, oh, long story!!) and it was clear I'd "hidden" the tests under piles of other shopping.

It's quite possible that staff are under more pressure to talk to customers now, but what on earth is wrong with the weather? This is the UK, it's what we do best. There's always something to say about it and it's utterly safe.

HyvaPaiva Tue 29-Jan-13 17:48:13

My favourite was the time I spotted that rare checkout with a staff member waiting to serve and absolutely no customers there. I walked over, placed my stuff on the conveyor belt and her first words were: 'Thanks for waiting' confused grin

RuleBritannia Tue 29-Jan-13 17:55:18

I don't really like being chatted to in supermarkets either. I pack with my hands and watch the price display with my eyes. I know we multitask but I do not want to chat at the same time. Checkout operators should concentrate on what buttons they press, ensure that they do not 'double scan' or even 'non-scan'. I am concentrating on two things - packing and watching.

I just reply, "Sorry, I'm concentrating on what I'm doing."

I don't mind a bit of chat but I would object to chatting about the goods. I know a few of the checkout people at the local supermarkets and I know those likely to chat and those who don't.

bluer Tue 29-Jan-13 19:21:57

I'm all for being friendly and will chat etc but I am very annoyed by the forced conversations which are obviously insisted upon by management. The problem is they don't really vary the script and it can become intrusive.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:24:12

Sounds hilarious! Wouldn't bother me I have to say. It must be such a boring job if they can't chat.

CaptChaos Tue 29-Jan-13 19:24:57

I worked in a supermarket as a stopgap.

During my checkout training (the thrills!) I was taught that you start any interaction with the phrase

'Thank you for waiting!' (even if they haven't)
'Do you need bags?' then using my skill and judgement put exactly the correct number of bags out.... then ask if they need help packing.
make inane and asinine comments about whatever the poor customer has bought.

There are videos. It's pretty soul destroying. Please call the head offices of every major supermarket and tell them that you would prefer that their staff didn't do this.

Please grin

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