to hate it when cafe workers and shop assistants say....

(143 Posts)
burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 10:57:59

"are you all right there?" when they mean 'can I help you?'
but of course i don't ......(or else they could have a point!
i often say 'fine thanks and are you all right there too?' which makes them a bit hmm
another one that grates a bit is for example they put a coffee in front of you and you say 'thank you' and they say NO WORRIES!!!

Feminine Tue 23-Jul-13 10:59:07

I don't think it matters.

Forgetfulmog Tue 23-Jul-13 10:59:17

Ummm hmm

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Tue 23-Jul-13 10:59:28

Maybe it's because they have said 'can I help you' to a hundred other people this morning and they want to mix it up a bit before the boredom drives them insane.

I think you need to have a cup of tea and calm down.

Yonihadtoask Tue 23-Jul-13 11:00:05

It's better than just saying "Next please".

Surely ?

SaucyJack Tue 23-Jul-13 11:01:35

I hate it when they approach me full stop.

I'm 32 years old, and quite capable of choosing my shopping myself.

ANormalOne Tue 23-Jul-13 11:01:38

Wow, how dare they be polite and helpful, the cads. hmm

livinginwonderland Tue 23-Jul-13 11:01:51

Well,when you've said "Hi, can I help?" to a hundred people that day, it can get a little bit repetitive and boring...

Forgetfulmog Tue 23-Jul-13 11:02:11

Would it be better if they asked you "what do you fucking want?"?

Sirzy Tue 23-Jul-13 11:02:28

Cant say it has even crossed my mind to be vaguley bothered by that. As long as they are polite i am happy!

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:02:47

grin point taken.....
i am off for an espresso....

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 23-Jul-13 11:03:34

What's wrong with 'no worries'?

Would you prefer that they just walked away? It would make them look very hostile!

Neither of these things bother me at all, thinking about it. I'd be much more irritated if were unfriendly.

Mimishimi Tue 23-Jul-13 11:03:39

Are they Australian? We say "are you alright?' and 'no worries' all the time without really thinking about it.Lots of young Australians go over to England on work visas and do that sort of work.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:04:30

tbh if an Aussie says 'no worries' i do not really mind....

mylittlesunshine Tue 23-Jul-13 11:04:49

I used to work in a shop as a teen and my boss wouldn't let us say 'Can I help you' as customers would say no and we had to try and avoid that.

MrsWolowitz Tue 23-Jul-13 11:05:27

Woah. Non-issue overreaction much?

Shakirasma Tue 23-Jul-13 11:05:58

Will we lowly shop workers ever get it right? If itsnot threads complaining we are ignorant/rude/bored looking, we are being criticised for being friendly/polite in a fashion that doesn't suit sir/madam.

MissBetseyTrotwood Tue 23-Jul-13 11:06:11

Well, I do love good, intelligent service that has a point instead of empty platitudes like the 'Have a nice day' you get at the door of Gap.

I bought a dress a while back at the Vivien of Holloway shop and they were amazing. Dress fits like a glove because it was properly measured and fitted. Service was friendly but laid back and not salesy. Nice.

And while we're here and I'm being a pedant I do like a 'May I help you'. I assume they can help because they are employed by the shop for that very purpose. (Rant over, sorry).

KittyLane1 Tue 23-Jul-13 11:08:34

I work in a shop, we are not allowed to ask if we can help, it has to be a non business opening line, such as hi how are you, are you alright, weather is grand today etc.

We hate it.

we must approach everyone. We must talk to everyone.

We have so many rules about what we can and can't say, do, wear, eat, drink etc at work.

The Company I work for have poor sales and no hours so are desperately looking at ways to get rid of people, we have to do every single think we are told to do or could get in trouble.

MardyBra Tue 23-Jul-13 11:09:17

I don't mind it once. It's when every member of staff approaches me in quick succession. As in:

"are you alright there?"
Yes thanks, I'm happy just to browse.
"Are you alright there?"
Yes thanks, I just told your colleague I'm happy to browse
"Are you alright there?"
(getting forced now) yes I'm fine thanks.
(4th person comes out of stockroom).
"Are you alright there?"
(politely) Look, you are the 4th person to approach me in 2 minutes. I'd like to shop in peace now please or I'll just leave. Thanks.

In Lush recently.

Pudden Tue 23-Jul-13 11:09:45

I hate it when you order summat and they say "no problem"...of course it isn't a problem as a) you are a shop/cafe selling said items and b) I am the customer buying it

Ginocchio Tue 23-Jul-13 11:10:47

Next time, take the question seriously. Launch into a detailed monologue about every aspect of your life - medical problems, work issues, relationships. Maintain eye contact throughout. If possible, manouvre so that they can't easily get away. Ask for their advice. Show them your rash. Ask if they'll speak to your ex about maintenance payments. Call your ex, and hand the phone to the shop assistant. See how long you can keep them engaged. If you make it to 10 minutes, then abruptly stop, look at them in a puzzled way as if you've never seen them before, and walk out.

They may feel a bit uncomfortable at the time, but it'll give them a great anecdote to tell.

Or, y'know, you could just "fine, thanks!" and get on with your day...

MardyBra Tue 23-Jul-13 11:11:17

I do feel for the shop workers though. I realise it's company policy.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:11:33


burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:12:08

yes i expect they are following orders.....

MalcolmTuckersMum Tue 23-Jul-13 11:13:04

FFS - what a self indulgent little whinge your OP is. Have you ever done customer service type work? Then you'd know that it's the tiny little things that keep you from going stark staring crazy. Get a grip and go find something real to bitch about.

KittyLane1 Tue 23-Jul-13 11:14:26

Ginocchio trust me, people do that.

SoupDragon Tue 23-Jul-13 11:14:59

Would you prefer them to say "What the fuck do you want, bitch?"

To be fair, that would make for an interesting visit.

TheCrackFox Tue 23-Jul-13 11:15:52

Have you thought about sticking to online shopping?

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:16:12

yes well everyone is self indulgent sometimes at least i gave you a chance to vent some of your excess bile malcolm, and for that you should be grateful cos you seem to have a lot of it. Have a nice day!

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:16:50

grin @ soupdragon

livinginwonderland Tue 23-Jul-13 11:20:34

Problem is, we don't have a choice. I work in a supermarket and it's policy to ask anyone within 10-15ft whether we can help. If they ask us to show them where, say, the eggs are, we have to walk with them and make small talk, and then ask if there's anything else we can help with. It's all on the mystery shopper checklist and if we are mystery shopped and fail, we'll get pulled up on it/disciplined for not asking the right questions or saying the right things!

ANormalOne Tue 23-Jul-13 11:21:25

i gave you a chance to vent some of your excess bile malcolm, for that you should be grateful cos you seem to have a lot of it.

After your OP that's pretty hilariously hypocritical.

FeckOffCup Tue 23-Jul-13 11:23:17

The general public can be so arsy over nothing sometimes, when I worked on a bank counter I had a man shouting at me for saying "no problem" when he asked to do a transaction, a man storming out when I dared to ask if he planned to do any dangerous sports while trying to quote him for a travel insurance policy (a quote he had asked for btw, not trying to push something on him he didn't want) and someone else telling me I was no better than the nazis for following bank policy which was set out to us by the FSA hmm.

nannynewo Tue 23-Jul-13 11:24:22

wow I did not think how we word things would be such a big problem!

I have worked in many cafe's and restaurants in the past and we can't please everyone. We are told what to say to customers and I do not think it matters whether we say 'are you alright there' or 'can I help you'.
And what on earth is wrong with no worries? Perhaps I would say no problem personally but what would you rather? That waitresses just point blank ignore you?
Gosh, it's people like you that make waitresses jobs more stressful for no reason.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:26:12

ah but normalone my OP was not entirely serious....
and i can imagine that the great British public including myself is actually a PITA

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:27:10

and nanny i am always perfectly polite to shop and cafe workers having worked in cafes and pubs myself.

Fakebook Tue 23-Jul-13 11:27:48

I wish they wouldn't say anything at all. I normally walk out of a shop where I'm approached. If I need help I'll ask for it.

Alambil Tue 23-Jul-13 11:29:23

my colleague says it to me every bloody time she sees me, even if she only asked me 3 minutes ago! It drives me to distraction angry

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:30:47

once my sister introduced to me to her new BF and guess what he said!!?
yes! it was 'are you all right there?'

vladthedisorganised Tue 23-Jul-13 11:31:50

I still have the scars from being told to ask every single customer "How do you wish to pay today? Do you wish to pay by cash or credit card?" We got told off if we didn't ask both questions, even if the customer proferred their credit card first. Madness.

AdorableAardvark Tue 23-Jul-13 11:34:46

YANBU, how dare the shop workers give a shit about their customers and offer to help them. Next thing you know they'll be offering to shorten pants for free and making recommendations as to things that you may look good in.

As for the "No Worries". Perhaps they are Australian. I hate it when our Aussie cousins come over here and work in cafes. What with their golden tans, Roxy T shirts and general cheery nature, they are putting us miserable gits to shame. As a customer I'd much prefer it if they just spat in my coffee.

Fecklessdizzy Tue 23-Jul-13 11:35:56

Two words OP, mystery-bloody-shoppers! ( OK, three ... )

Bane of our lives. Your average shop assistant would be more than happy to totally ignore you until you wanted to pay but if you get one of these buggers and don't flutter around hanging on their every word you get slated in their report.

As for objecting to " no worries ", you do really need to unclench a bit!

Scarletohello Tue 23-Jul-13 11:36:33

Ha you should go to India! The shop assistants literally follow you round the shop, show you everything in it, tell you where everything was made, tell you what good luck it would be for them if you bought something from them ( and sometimes even ask you out...)

The heat is really annoying everyone!

So many threads I read and go 'wtf, really?' grin

I dont think it matters

I used to work in retail.

The best one was having a manager rant at us all because we had had a bad mystery shopping report and following it up with 'but the biggest issue is that the assistant in question did NOT wear their name badge, so we don't actually know who this was...' hmm
Funnily enough, it didn't exactly encourage us to wear our name badges grin

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:41:04

grin to you all, i am off now but thanks for your input - it must be the weather!
byeeeeeeeeeeeee xxxx

Has the heat brought the 'xxxxx's out as well?


FreudiansSlipper Tue 23-Jul-13 11:45:08

should they not be saying 'may i help you?'

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Tue 23-Jul-13 11:46:44

I get unreasonably irritated by 'I'll be with you now'. If you were with me now, you'd actually be here now'. 'I'll be with you as soon as I can/in one moment/when I've put this heavy box down' would at least obey the laws of time and space. <pedant>

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 11:47:21

i often say 'fine thanks and are you all right there too?'

Ahh, you're one of those fucking idiots. You average perhaps one every two days of these types.

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 11:48:28


burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:48:32

no need to break talk guidelines with personal insults stuntgirl, now is there?

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 11:51:29

No need to start fucking stupid threads.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:53:31

well in that case half the threads on this forum should be deleted, oh sorry i mean fucking deleted.

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 11:53:45

And if you came in my cafe with that attitude, Damn right I would be a 'fuckwit' and spit in your coffee.

Crinkle77 Tue 23-Jul-13 11:53:51

Does it really matter? For me it's the level of customer service that is important and they are genuine when they say it.

Feminine Tue 23-Jul-13 11:54:06

op did you not think about why assistants say these things?

Sometimes its important to do that...research a little.

have you ever worked in retail/customer service?

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 11:55:21

i have never been rude to a cafe worker ever, where does it say that? in fact i am unfailingly polite.
i did spit in someones drink tho when i worked behind a bar but that is another story.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 11:57:26

YANBU, it's really poor communication, as they are not saying what they mean. It is confusing, especially to non-Brits.

If meant as a pleasantry, fine. The correct response is 'well thanks', or 'yes, you?'. If said in place of 'what can I get you?' it is obfuscatory and actually prompts the opposite response to the one intended.

A Canadian relative expressed frustration after a cafeteria server had addressed him with 'you all right?'. He responded 'yes thanks', thinking it was an opening pleasantry. She then moved on to the next customer...

Getoutofmygumboot Tue 23-Jul-13 12:02:34

Blimey us lot cant get anything right can we? Would you prefer it if we ignored you? Sometimes that's what i feel like doing especially when you rude bastards are talking on your phone while I'm trying to help you....

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 12:03:08

I often move on to the next customer if people look like they haven't finished making their minds up.

An ''you alright there' acknowledges that I have seen them and I am not ignoring them.

Most reasonable customers just say 'yes thanks' or enquire about something they are not sure of.

Wbdn28 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:03:45

I agree with SaucyJack. I don't like being approached by sales assistants as I prefer to just choose my shopping in peace. However it's probably not their decision, as it's most likely the manager/head office that have decided they have to approach you. A bit like when banks decree that all their staff have to offer you new accounts etc. every time you're at a desk.

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 12:04:47

i have never been rude to a cafe worker ever, where does it say that? in fact i am unfailingly polite.

You're not unfailingly polite to shop assistants though are you? Why not model some good behaviour to your charges? I'm sure you'd expect the same courtesy while you're doing your job.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 12:04:51

<sighs> well obviously that is what i do, usualsuspect, being a reasonable person in real life.

Flobbadobs Tue 23-Jul-13 12:05:15

I used to work with a woman from NZ who said 'no worries' all the time, it's catching! 12 years on and I still say it to everyone.. grin
It's pretty soul destroying to work in customer services in any situation, 'yes please' sounds short and shirty, 'may I help you' offends someone, 'you ok there' offends someone else and having to ask if they need stamps/random chocolate bars at the till gets you a good slagging off or verbal abuse.
The temptation to say 'wtf do you want' must be pretty tempting at times...
And fwiw the phrase 'can I get' from a customer annoys me when I hear it while stood in line.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 12:05:23

yes i am v polite stuntgirl in fact.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 12:06:25

Usual, in my relative's case, he was starving, queuing and ready to order. He was baffled that the server ignored him after her opening pleasantry.

He was just being polite by responding to her asking after his health before moving on to take his order, or so he thought!

Flobbadobs Tue 23-Jul-13 12:07:21

I once started a mini riot while working behind a busy Friday night bar...
Came on shift at the time when we were 3 deep all the way round, without really thinking about it I shouted 'who's next please'...
Oops grin

boxoftricks Tue 23-Jul-13 12:09:26

Kitty do you work for Clarks?? I went into one of their shops the other day and was asked SEVEN times in about 3 minutes by different sales assistants. I only circled one shoe stand...

MalcolmTuckersMum Tue 23-Jul-13 12:09:33

i gave you a chance to vent some of your excess bile malcolm, for that you should be grateful cos you seem to have a lot of it

Yes. Thanks for your witty and insightful analysis of my current condition. I have checked carefully and nowhere can I find where I have started a thread moaning and whinging about being politely addressed in a shop. Perhaps all that excess bile is making me a touch blind. Or perhaps you have made a mistake and it is not I that is suffering from a bilious attack.

I do hope YOU have a nice day and that nobody impinges on your sensitive soul by being, you know, civil to you.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 12:10:06

It's just a classic case of Brits using colloquial terms unthinkingly, failing to recognise this makes them incomprehensible to people who don't share exactly their cultural background. This is why Brits are often worse than speakers of English as a second language at communicating clearly, in English, to an international audience.

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 12:10:42

Gosh you sound friendly OP

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 12:13:47

Sorry but you're not.

i often say 'fine thanks and are you all right there too?' which makes them a bit hmm

When you respond this way you are being facetious, because you know exactly what the staff members are asking, and are giving a 'difficult' answer out of spite. The actual v.polite answer if you don't require any help would be a simple "Yes thank you".

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 12:16:07

but if i am standing at a bar and reply 'yes thank you' then??? they walk off !
actually i have only said that once or twice as i know it does sound a bit arsey.

burberryqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 12:16:39

and there is no need to apologise to me sweetie xx

Flobbadobs Tue 23-Jul-13 12:17:13

Oh, and for what it's worth, when you give a smartarse answer back as you have admitted, be aware that the shop assistant is looking at you and thinking about what an utter Tit you are.
They're trying to help, trying to keep their job safe and ting to get through another day of dealing with the general public.

Nancy66 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:21:40

blimey - they're just people doing their job.

I hate the tedious small talk at the Sainsbury's check outs but the staff are told they HAVE to engage with the customers.

I feel sorry for the poor sods having to deal with the miserable public.

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 12:22:46

And here comes the facetious again...

The actual v.polite answer if you don't require any help would be a simple "Yes thank you"

but if i am standing at a bar and reply 'yes thank you' then??? they walk off!

When you're stood at a bar waiting to be served you do require help don't you? So respond appropriately.

Honestly, use some common sense.

Greensleeves Tue 23-Jul-13 12:24:51




<<always wanted to say that grin>>

ComposHat Tue 23-Jul-13 12:25:48

In record shops if i was being pestered id ask the assistant if they had a wilfully obscure Fall or Stereolab record (or some other artist wih a labyrinthine back catalogue) so I'd be left in peace while they thumbed through their stock, when 20 minutes later they found they hadn't I'd finished browsing.

KittensoftPuppydog Tue 23-Jul-13 12:26:14

I wish the companies would stop enforcing this. Sorry for the shop assistants, but I just walk out if they loom over me.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 12:27:54

Everything on this site and in all our lives is a 'first world' issue. If you mean 'what trivial tosh' or similar, don't hold back!

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Jul-13 12:31:15

Quite frankly, us humble shop/café staff hate it when we get miserable arsey customers who like to pick holes in everything we do! We don't do these jobs for love you know, we do it to earn a crust. There are a million and one things we would rather be doing than serving annoying nobs!

dexter73 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:31:42

It isn't a first world problem though. What if someone in a third world country doesn't like being spoken to like that when they are being served in a shop/cafe?

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 12:32:42

Back to the question from a slightly different angle. In terms of our social conditioning, 'are you all right?' is essentially the same as 'how are you?', a social nicety, requiring a quick, neutral response, absolutely not a precise, factual answer, before moving on to the main issue.

Using it instead of 'what can I get you?', in contrast, requires a specific, factual answer. Confusing and contradictory!

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 12:38:30

But it doesn't mean 'What can I get you?'

It means 'do you need any help?'

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 12:38:57

It's to weed out the ones who are not alright, because they're confused, or looking for something they can't find, or want information, or whatever.

"Are you alright there?"
"Well no, I'm looking for x, y, z..."

Although it's usually more like:

"Are you alright there?"
"Yes thank you"
<staff member walks away>
"Oh actually, I'm looking for..."

I do it myself all the time as a customer and always think "Twat! Why didn't I just say 'No, can you please help me?' grin

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 12:39:09

Well that's how I use it anyway.

ComposHat Tue 23-Jul-13 12:40:07

Well greendleeves You & I live in the first world so by definition are going to have first world problems.

I dobt see you putting up a load of comments about how you've been walking 20 miles with a pot on my head or how the civil war has torn apart your village.

SarahAndFuck Tue 23-Jul-13 12:40:11

I hate it when I've paid for something and get my change back with the words "thanking you."

"Thanking you" makes me feel violent. We could have had a perfectly pleasant transaction right up to that point and then they have to ruin it with "thanking you" and I just want them to die. <not totally serious about the dying part>

But what's wrong with just plain old "thank you"?

I think everyone has a word or phrase that annoys them, and no doubt everyone has one they say frequently that annoys someone else.

To be fair, I'm a mystery shopper and generally take the brief as a rough guideline rather than expecting any staff member to stick to it perfectly.

As long as I get friendly polite service and you know where the bread is you'll get full marks from me, I just tick 'yes' for all the inane questions and phrases the store have asked me to ensure staff say wink

The only things I'll mark down are are rudeness and sullenness when I approach you, being out of uniform or having dirty/messy uniform, ignoring customers to chat to other staff or your friend who's popped in, gesturing vaguely towards the back of the shop when asked where a product is.... I've never marked a staff member down for not approaching me, nor for not saying the stock phrase.

I can't guarantee you all mystery shoppers work the same but the ones I've chatted to certainly do, we're just people trying to earn a wage too you know!

sparkle101 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:42:36

Working in retail we have to ask customers if they're okay, but rather the hard "do you need help" by saying "you okay there?" Let's the customer know you are there but not encroaching too much on their shopping, gives them the opportunity to know you're there if they need a hand but you're not pushing them to make a decision anytime soon.

I don't care how people say it it's nice to be asked but then left alone!

Talking of being left alone, with our last mystery shopping company we were marked on approaching customers, a manager of another store approached this customer asked if they needed a hand and they said no, she was obviously getting her bearings and mentally noting down all she had to mark us on, so he asked her again and she declined again. On the third time of asking and declining he decided she was a shoplifter casing the joint and threw her out of the store. Got a good score for security but not much else!

Wbdn28 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:43:22

> 'are you all right?' is essentially the same as 'how are you?', a social nicety

I think it's rude to ask someone "how are you?" if you've never met them before.

"Can I help you?" is fine smile

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 12:43:34

When you have said 'thank you' 100s of times a day, it's nice to have a bit of variety.grin

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Jul-13 12:44:40

Well that's you usual and makes more sense but I often encounter 'are you alright?' in place of 'what can I get you?', as in my cafeteria queue example above and from waitresses in cafes when I'm clearly ready to order and have just actively attracted their attention.

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 12:45:26


I've heard it all now.

It is annoying but I can guarantee that the person saying it probably hates it even more grin

One shop I worked in had a rule that meant if you didn't go to a customer and ask if you could help etc within 20 seconds then you could have a disciplinary. (It was Nokia...the bastards).

Nancy66 Tue 23-Jul-13 12:47:00

Be thankful you're not in Australia, where they ask:

'How you going?'

..that doesn't even make sense.

RoooneyMara Tue 23-Jul-13 12:49:43

What on earth is wrong with 'No worries'?

OP you're very strange. Are you quite young? You seem to have a limited grasp of 'normal'

AdorableAardvark Tue 23-Jul-13 12:50:28

That's so true Nancy, or they say "How are you doing today.." It seems really personal and always made me feel obligated to buy something. Aussies are really nice though and in general a very helpful, cheery bunch. I lived there for a bit. They give great service, but get very upset if you criticise a lapsed service.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Jul-13 12:50:40

Id not be worrying about what the do say TBH! Its what they're thinking which would make your hair curl!

Norfolknway Tue 23-Jul-13 12:54:24

YABU and a total misery.

Unfortunately, so am I. I work in a shop at the moment and I'm 6. 1/2 month pregnant. I am tired, ratty and if you came in my shop there would be a Mexican stand-off of miserableness.

I'm normally a delight

Wbdn28 Tue 23-Jul-13 13:14:43

Yes, "how are you?" is an over-familiar question to someone you've never met. I'd never ask a person I didn't know how they were. But it's a nice question if you know the person, of course.

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 13:22:59

Which century do you live in,Wbdn28?

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 13:24:11

So if someone looked like they they needed some help
, You wouldn't ask them if they were ok?

KittyLane1 Tue 23-Jul-13 13:27:14

boxoftricks yes I DO work in Clarks. We have god awful guidelines about customer service, its very American. We are not supposed to ask how do those shoes feel, we are supposed to ask how you feel in those shoes.

We have to keep to a logbook about out sales and how many customers we have served and why they did or didn't get a sale. We are plauged by mystery shoppers and area managers popping in.

We MUST offer the customer a second pair of shoes and a handbag, even if the customer doesn't want it.

We even have company HAND SIGNALS to alert colleagues of a potential sale! I can assure you that it wasnt shop workers who thought that one up.

fluckered Tue 23-Jul-13 13:27:51

I would rather a casual "are ye alright there" than a rigid forced" May I help you". I feel more at ease. but then again that opinion is formed from giving this more thought than I ever dreamed I would. Christ on a bike, retail staff are either too rude and now have the cheek to ask someone they don't personally know "how are you?". ugh!

and saying "fine thanks and are you alright there too?" is just rude!!

peggotty Tue 23-Jul-13 13:29:47

Jesus. What a snippy thread! I love it grin

fluckered Tue 23-Jul-13 13:29:57

I do feel sorry for staff of Claire's Accessories ... they must be drilled to approach every customer with a basket and explain in great detail about the 3 for 2 offers or the sale on ONE DIRECTION hair bands or something. I recently popped in for cheap silver studs. I just stood there and listened as I felt bad for her ... she was only young and I could see her cheeks starting to burn up as a supervisor at the till watched over her explaining this to me.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 23-Jul-13 13:35:18

I quite like 'Are you all right there?' It gives you the option to be nice and say 'Yes, thanks' when you mean 'BUGGER OFF AND LET ME BROWSE'.

'Can I help you?' just forces you to say 'No' or 'No, I'm OK thanks'.

I like 'No worries' and I say it sometimes too even though I'm not Antipodean.

I also like the other Australianism 'Hi/Hey, how ya going?'

marciaoverstrand Tue 23-Jul-13 13:47:17

God kitty I worked for Clarks a good few years ago and it was bad enough then!

Trying to sell bloody shoe polish, inner soles etc, which people could get cheaper in Wilkinsons or somewhere!

Hated pressured selling, people having a go at you for asking, not realizing you would get into trouble if you didn't.

LoverOfTheLight Tue 23-Jul-13 13:56:06

I'd rather shops assistants ask. What really annoys me is not being able to find a member of staff to help. DW Sports I'm looking at you. Trying to buy my dc new trainers, there was no one around for 10 minutes, I had to go to the checkout to get someone only to be told he couldn't help. Another 10 mins later finally a less than enthusiastic assistant appears, finds the trainers in the stockroom. I got home to find one trainer had no lace!

Sorry went a bit off topic there. What I'm saying is it's not hard to say "I'm fine thank you, just looking for now" Job done.

GW297 Tue 23-Jul-13 13:56:26

I hate it in cafe queues too. It seems to be happening more and more. At our gym it's always 'y'alright' instead of 'how may I help you?' and at the cinema when there's a massive queue you get, 'Is anyone waiting?!!!'

Wbdn28 Tue 23-Jul-13 13:56:48

> So if someone looked like they they needed some help
>, You wouldn't ask them if they were ok?

That's not what I said at all! "Can I help you?" or "Would you like any help at all?" are absolutely fine smile

"How are you?" is too nosy when there are other alternatives (and yes that still applies in this century!!)

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 14:02:04

They're not asking for a play by play of your day and your mood love. Just say "Fine thanks" or ask them a question if you do need help. Simples.

boxoftricks Tue 23-Jul-13 14:08:02

Kitty ooooh god that was a good guess then!! I literally circled the size 6 sale shoe rail, they MUST have seen each other ask me, and I just got so irritated I walked out. I run a pub. I KNOW about customer service. I write bloody training shorts on it. However, after being asked three times, if I want help, I'll ask for it! I really wanted to ask for the manager and say why I left! I know it's not the assistants fault, but it was so irritating!
Tell me about the hand signals....

StuntGirl Tue 23-Jul-13 14:15:32

I too am intrigued by the hand signals. I almost want to go into a Clarks now just to see if I can spot staff using them!

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 14:24:07

'Are you alright there?' = 'I don't want to hassle you if you don't want to be hassled, I am not about to do high-pressure sales and am happy to leave you alone if you are, indeed 'alright there'. But I am being FRIENDLY and not ignoring you as you may possibly want help but I'm scared of customers jumping down my throat for hassling them when I genuinely just want to know if they are happy just having a mooch about.'

usualsuspect Tue 23-Jul-13 14:27:13

Thank you, ginhag.

Exactly that

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 14:27:16

See what I like is when people in shops/cafes/pubs/the world actually say what comes naturally to them in a friendly fashion, rather than following a script.

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 14:27:59

's alright usual.

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 14:30:53

Now. Lets talk about CUSTOMERS talking to shop assistants and see if they ever say anything as terrible as 'are you alright there...'

<casts mind back>
Hmm I was called an anorexic skinny bitch once, to my face, and I had to smile or lose my job. <ponders> hmmm I wonder if that is nearly as offensive...

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:25

I stand on my stall and say "good morning" to anyone who shows an interest. I think that's nice and polite. 97% of people will reply with "no thanks" or "just looking". I personally think that THAT is pig fucking ignorant! How's that?

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:29

I stand on my stall and say "good morning" to anyone who shows an interest. I think that's nice and polite. 97% of people will reply with "no thanks" or "just looking". I personally think that THAT is pig fucking ignorant! How's that?

SleepyFish Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:47

Well I use all the terms you mentioned OP. It's just what comes naturally to me. Perhaps you should just stay home and make your own coffee/sandwiches.
Oh and if you're on your mobile be warned, I will not serve you.
And maybe swap your espresso for camomile tea.

ginhag Tue 23-Jul-13 14:36:49

I still can't get my head around the OP's response to someone being friendly is to call them A FUCKWIT IN CAPITAL LETTERS IN HER HEAD.

I despair, I really fucking do.

Ragwort Tue 23-Jul-13 14:48:36

I agree with the OP - I wonder if it is an age thing (I am mid 50s grin) - I do find it mildly irritating to be asked 'are you alright there' when what is meant is 'may I help you'. On a recent holiday in this country we had to go in three different pubs before we received anything like half decent service - the Brits are (in general) really, really bad at customer service.

I have worked all my career in retail and hospitality so perhpas I am extra sensitive to customer service.

Another thing I dislike is someone saying 'there you go' when they put down your coffee. Or what about shouting out 'who's steak' when serving food grin. We were taught to write down orders to match where the customers were sitting so we could serve the correct food to the correct customer unless they swapped places.

I get fed up with told to 'use my local high street' when in over half the shops you are treated as though you are doing the staff a favour by entering their shop/cafe etc. grin. Saggy - I love people saying 'good morning/good afternoon' to me, I would always reply politely. smile.


Saggy, that is probably because they are used to being pestered in other shops, so it's become the standard response to a shop assistant sad

KittyLane1 Tue 23-Jul-13 15:42:38

Right so, the hand signals.....

Basicly mime picking apples from a tree to remind your colleagues to gather information from the customer to get a better idea of what to sell them. Example: do they want heels for a wedding? Shoes to walk the dog.

We also had to learn a dance to a girls aloud song to get us suicidal motivated.

Don't mention the shoe care, really, I have blocked the shoe care from my memory.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Jul-13 15:45:58

Whispers its still fecking rude though!

LittleMissGerardButlerfan Tue 23-Jul-13 15:46:06

Ooh kitty I worked there years ago and it sounds like it hasn't changed much! I hated trying to sell shoe polish!

I work in retail now and feel you can't win, you try and acknowledge people with a greeting and you are being rude, you leave them alone and you are being rude <sigh>

SoleSource Tue 23-Jul-13 15:50:27

I was in a café when the assistant asked me if I was ready to order. I deep fried her head. That taught her!

slightlysoupstained Tue 23-Jul-13 15:59:21

It could be a lot worse. I once tried on a pair of jeans in the Levis store in San Francisco. I left without buying after the unbelievably pushy saleswoman peered under the changing cubicle door to shout some question (I think she felt I was taking too long and needed a bit of encouragement, perhaps US customers are a bit more speedy at stripping off).

I don't know if this was typical of US retail because I was too unsettled to try again during the remainder of the trip!

SoleSource Tue 23-Jul-13 18:09:36

How odd slightly. Talk about pushy, would have pissed me off.

Frenchvanilla Tue 23-Jul-13 18:22:42

Lush are awful, Mardybra.

I like bath stuff and smellies. Sometimes I want to go in and browse stuff. But I never do, because of lush's over keen, champing at the bit staff.

It's not their fault, I know it's store policy, but seriously- I never go in there now. Never go in there- never buy anything.

Lush, if you're reading this- be like all other normal shops and WAIT FOR THE CUSTOMER TO APPROACH YOU

Madlizzy Tue 23-Jul-13 18:28:06

I'm not going to read all of this, but shop staff are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Yes, I will say "Are you all right there?" if someone is looking confused or in need or assistance. I will also say "No worries" or "It's a pleasure" if someone thanks me. The majority of customers actually like this and it is our JOB.

gingysmummy Tue 23-Jul-13 18:32:41

when i work for a mobile shop many moons ago we were no allowed to say can i help you? as it was a closed question

Madlizzy Tue 23-Jul-13 18:35:20

Absolutely, gingys. Closed questions do not make a sale. I do love the fact that the OP thinks that we're fuckwits for doing our jobs. Charming.

MotherOfSuburbia Tue 23-Jul-13 19:30:27

Ragwort I am absolutely racking my brains to work out how on earth 'there you go' could be in the slightest way offensive when bringing someone a coffee?


slightlysoupstained Tue 23-Jul-13 19:31:51

Sole yeah, last thing I expected to see was her face peeking up at me, standing there in me knackered grey travelling knickers! Was too shocked to say anything except "er don't think they suit me Ta" as I made a swift exit!

SoleSource Tue 23-Jul-13 19:35:03

Do you think she was curios because you are British? If you are... slightly

EstelleGetty Tue 23-Jul-13 19:46:36

Sorry, but I have to say YABU. What's wrong with 'are you alright?' In the last shop I worked in, we were told not to say 'can I help you?' because it sounds old fashioned, if not a bit suspicious. I say 'no worries' and 'no problem' if I get someone at work a coffee and they say thanks. Who cares about the semantics? It's just the way people talk.

I would ask you to bear in mind, also, that these 'fuckwits' may well have managers breathing down their necks at close range, who will reprimand them if they don't approach customers. You might well be a mystery shopper, for all they know. It takes steel will to be courteous to customers when they brush you off all day and act like you're an irritant. They might be the 3rd shop assistant who's approached you today. You might be the 20th customer they've had to approach. You can walk in and out in 10 mins. They are there all day.

I was called a few unpleasant names during my years in retail (thankfully never fuckwit), having done nothing to deserve it. It wasn't my fault a pompous asshole was having a bad day and decided to take it out on a shop assistant earning shit wages. I despised being treated as if I was thick. I'd just repeat to myself in my head, over and over again, "these fuckers don't know you're doing a PhD."

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