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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the back for about a minute, i shit you not, and when i asked what was wrong (i thought maybe she'd noticed they were out of date or something), she said, "Do you know how many calories are in these?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?

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

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.

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.

FryOneFatManic Tue 29-Jan-13 19:10:23

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.

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."

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

MurderOfProse Tue 29-Jan-13 17:37:20

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.

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.

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 17:08:20

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.

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!

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?

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?!

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.

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.

ConfusedPixie Tue 29-Jan-13 13:53:19

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

PureQuintessence Tue 29-Jan-13 13:31:46

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.

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.

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.

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...

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