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To feel sorry for people who have to work with the public?

(168 Posts)
SomeoneStoleMySausageRoll Thu 13-Nov-14 13:39:22

Last week I was in a cafe and I was queuing up for the hot drinks and to pay. There was a woman in front of me who seemed to be in a bit of a bad mood anyway as she kept tutting and sighing.

When the woman got to the till she asked for just a black coffee. The lass at the till charged her £2 for it and this is when she got a bit stroppy and pointed out the sign in front of her and snapped "it says it's £1.50 there for an espresso, are you trying to rip me off?" The cashier then explained nicely that an espresso was just a tiny shot of coffee and if she wanted a full coffee it was an americano and that was £2. At which point she started raving and ranting away at the cashier telling her "it was a bloody rip off!" and "you should make it clear!". Still the cashier remained polite and cheerful throughout.

Then when she got her coffee she snapped "where's the bloody sugar?" and again the person at the till pointed out politley where it was (it was right in front of her) but instead the woman picked up her tray and went to the other till to look for the sugar. And again when she couldn't find any (there was more sugar on that side, again right it front of her) she again snapped "where's the bloody sugar?" only this time she sounded much more aggressive.

Then when again the girl pointed out nicely where it was, the woman then stormed back over to her, picked a handful of sugar up and threw them in her face before storming off to sit down with her coffee. The poor girl was like this shock and so was I.

She did tell me though that this wasn't the worst she'd had to put up with either.

My sister used to work in retail and the amount of abuse she had to put up with was astounding.

Seriously, how do you cope with all the idiots?

cocacola1 Thu 13-Nov-14 13:43:56

I just pretend it isn't real, it's not real life and these things don't happen in the real world, a bit like a game and I'm being tested, but after 6 years in a customer facing role I don't know how much longer I can play

angelos02 Thu 13-Nov-14 13:49:34

picked a handful of sugar up and threw them in her face

There is no way I would have let that go. If I was the girl I'd be seriously thinking about ringing the police.

popcornpaws Thu 13-Nov-14 13:50:07

I work in customer service and it is very hard to keep the thoughts in my head from coming out my mouth sometimes!
You cope with all the idiots because that is exactly what they are!
But it is getting worse, people are so demanding and entitled its laughable!
And its funny how everyone that has a mad complaint works in customer service themselves...

Siarie Thu 13-Nov-14 13:51:05

Customers are so much fun, I think everyone should have to work in a customer service role at some point. Then maybe we wouldn't get those types of customers.

I always kept my cool and dealt with it in a really pleasant manner, winds them up much more.

PinkAndBlueBedtimeScares Thu 13-Nov-14 13:52:24

That's horrid :/ I used to work in woolworths and the abuse I used to get for telling people if they would like a bag it would be 3p, and the money goes to a different childrens charity each month was astounding!!

cailindana Thu 13-Nov-14 13:54:15

I worked in a shop for three years and met some choice customers. It didn't actually bother me that much but I didn't do it full time so I know that helped a lot. There was only one incident that got to me - when a woman started shouting and calling my coworker a bitch. Aggression can be really scary.
Rudeness I just put down to someone having a bad day and felt a bit sorry for them. I didn't take it personally - that's how I dealt with it. Similarly when I was a teacher and some parents were shitty to me I just remembered that they were worried about their kids and it wasn't really about me. It was stressful though.

19lottie82 Thu 13-Nov-14 13:55:23

I worked in pubs and restaurants for years and now the rudeness / stupidity of Joe Public never surprises me. My technique used to be really sarcastically nice to them. The first couple of times was a bit upsetting, but they just become amusing after a while.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Thu 13-Nov-14 13:55:41

I work in a customer heavy industry but am back of house so all my customer contact is over the telephone. I sometimes wonder how some adults have managed to get themselves to the ages that they are.....the questions I get asked, the lack of commom sense.....

It means I rarely want to talk to anyone when Im home from.work.

cailindana Thu 13-Nov-14 13:56:14

I agree with Siarie that a calm, cool approach is the best way to deal with difficult customers - it gives them no ammunition and the majority of people just back down when faced with a calm, reasonable response.

JackSkellington Thu 13-Nov-14 13:56:30

I work with the public (not retail, contact centre) and can't handle it anymore. Although that said, I never was that good at taking the abuse but I've been unable to find any other job since I graduated.
I'm going to my GP for advice on coping in the meantime, and hoping future interviews bear fruit!

26Point2Miles Thu 13-Nov-14 13:57:43

I'm on my break reading this.... Work in retail in a large store. Not had any abuse today but I've a few hours of my shift left to do yet!

getdownshep Thu 13-Nov-14 13:58:53

This is why I stopped working in retail.
I had shoes thrown at me, was shouted at and called names, a woman tried to grab me once over the till etc etc.
People just think they can talk to you like an idiot because you can't answer back.

Solidur Thu 13-Nov-14 14:01:12

Wow! shock

I am so sorry for all of you who have had to deal with the idiots in your places of work.

I work with the public, and it's lovely because the "public" I deal with are primary school age children and their parents/carers.

I get smiles, waves, and cheery "hello!" from the children and their parents. I don't know if this is because I smile and say hello or some people who PP have had to deal with are arseholes. sad

MissHJ Thu 13-Nov-14 14:02:27

I have worked in a supermarket and it was unreal how rude some people were. They would just assume you was a idiot because you were on a til, never thinking you worked there while studying for a degree.

I have had things snatched out of my hand, been shouted at, and others have dealt with being hit and had racist comments.

Luckily I don't work there anymore but my oh does. Last Christmas Eve he had a customer shout at him 10 mins before the store closed because they had no turkey. Apparently it was my oh's fault the stupid man left it til the last minute to get his Turkey. I recall he thought bollocks to this and just walked away which he never generally does. My poor oh, all he wanted was to be with his son on his first Xmas and he was dealing with idiots like this

nancy75 Thu 13-Nov-14 14:02:36

I worked in retail for 15 years -you get to a point where nothing surprises you. For much of it I was a store manager and after so many years of rude people I just didn't put up with it - I asked people to leave the shop on more than one occasion. As a customer myself I am always overly nice and polite.

The job I do now deals with people on the phone/email more than in person, while people are not as rude to me now I have noticed that a lot of them are very daft. Some of the questions I get asked really do make me wonder how these people have managed to get themselves dressed in the morning - let alone get a job!

ElphabaTheGreen Thu 13-Nov-14 14:03:19

Being a check-out chick drove me through my degree. It made me realise I did not, no matter how difficult studying got, ever want to do a minimum wage service job again. You just get treated like brainless shit.

The one that sticks in my mind was the time an item cost $3.25 and the customer gave me $5.25 (dollar signs deliberate - this was in Australia). She simpered and looked at me patronisingly over her glasses, saying, 'Have I totally confused you?' angry I felt like saying, 'Yeah, that advanced calculus I did in high school and the Bachelor of Science I'm currently completing are really letting me down right now.' hmm

Ironically, I'm now shop-floor clinical staff in the NHS, but the patients mainly appreciate you and realise you have a qualification.

Hobby2014 Thu 13-Nov-14 14:03:52

I work in a shop. Not a life and death kind of shop. A craft shop. I've been called a cunt countless times. None of which have ever been called for. Like if a 'customer' pays for parking and then we don't sell what they want it its out of stock. Or if they pay for something that's 29p with a £20 and I don't have a £5 note in the till. Yes all of that is frustrating, but it's actually not my fault and I don't deserve that. Once a thief thought I was following him and watching him, I wasn't, I was already working down that aisle when he arrived, cue him backing me in a corner calling me a cunt and that he'd do me in. We've also had customers shitting on the toilet floors, peeing anywhere but the loo, being sick in boxes that we sell.
And all of this is tame compared to some people! shock.

nancy75 Thu 13-Nov-14 14:05:28

MissHJ, supermarkets are the worst, I worked in one while doing my A levels and was told more than once that I was obviously stupid which was why I didn't have a better job.

One Christmas I had to break up a fight between 2 customers over a box of Christmas crackers - one of the women threatened to follow me home and burn my house down!

Stupidhead Thu 13-Nov-14 14:05:43

99% of the time it was great but the horrible 1% cancelled all that out. I used to work in a bookies, no training, shit hours, it was hard. I was alone in a shop when a customer (regular) accused me of giving him the wrong ticket and he'd lost £20 on a bingo win (it was tv bingo you could buy tickets for). I'd given him the next draw instead of the winning one - it was my fault as I was sooooo slow apparently. I stood my ground then burst into tears confused

Two old regulars who'd pop in for coffee tried to make me feel better but their concern made me cry more!

Argh, hated it. Handed my notice in the next week after 6 months there. My boss (who he was threatening to tell to get me sacked) was amazing and her or my colleagues would jump to serve him in future so I didn't have to.

googoodolly Thu 13-Nov-14 14:06:12

I've worked in customer facing roles for the last nine years, and honestly, I've only ever had a couple of bad customers. Maybe I'm just lucky but most of my customers are generally pretty polite, calm and friendly. Yes, you get the odd few that are exceptionally rude or abrupt, but I still like my job.

The regular, friendly, chatty customers more than make up for it and I love chatting to the elderly people who come in and want a chat.

The trick is not to take it personally, they'd speak like that to whoever was behind the till/counter, so just be polite and professional and remember that it's just a job. It's just not worth getting upset over, but I think that takes practise and it can be hard to have a thick skin over it all.

EatDessertFirst Thu 13-Nov-14 14:07:52

Having worked in supermarkets and pubs most of my adult life, nothing shocks me anymore.

It was really upsetting the first few times dealing with choice customers, but you learn to deal with it in many ways, depending on what type of customer you get. Being really really nice to a rude person is very satisfying! People do make massively unrealistic and stupid demands.Its normally the 'naice' people that have the vilest attitudes.
What these people don't realise is they are mocked mercilessly by the staff they abuse. And they deserve it.

Hobby2014 Thu 13-Nov-14 14:08:02

I now say 'Please don't speak to me like that otherwise I can't help you.' I've been polite so can't be reprimanded but actually tells them their behaviour is bad. A few times this hasn't worked and I just say 'I'm not being spoken to like this' and go back to whatever I was doing.

grunty Thu 13-Nov-14 14:12:29

I worked in a shop when I was doing A levels and at University. The amount of shit that shop workers have to put up with is unbelievable. I agree that everyone should work in a shop just to see for themselves. They also get treated badly on the whole by their employers.

I also worked in a major tourist attraction near Baker St station. It was rare to get through a day without death threats and the most incredible rudeness, ranting and abuse imaginable. The management was worse though. A staff member was slapped round the face by the customer and the manager apologised to the frigging customer.

CornChips Thu 13-Nov-14 14:15:07

I have also worked on the checkout while studying and one time I was a bit distracted and did not get the right change out of the till. I realised straight away, opened the till again and got it out. The customer sort of hmphed and muttered to himself, but audibly 'well, checkout operators are not known for their intelligence, are they?'

I looked at him brightly and said 'Actually, I am working here while I finish my medical degree, but don't let that put you off'.

Arse. I agree that everyone should work in a customer service role for a bit. It can be so demoralising.

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