Abusive Customers

Before I get into the substantive part of this entry I’d like to say that I have a number of interesting entries that I wish to post (although the others will come sometime after midnight). They’re fairly unrelated and some will undoubtedly be long, so I’ve decided to give them their own dedicated entries. The other topics I’ going to blog on are the continued infringement upon our civil liberties by our Government (a favourite of mine) and a rather more personal entry on the dilemma I’m having over my career plans.

So, the weekend has arrived again and with it comes work. Again, this weekend has, so far, been an utter nightmare. While, we were ever so slightly better staffed and didn’t have Mothers’ Day to contend with we did have abuse to deal with. This abuse was not coming from the Management or other members of staff, but the customers. Exactly, what right does a customer think they have to verbally abuse those who work in shops? I’ll say that today wasn’t too bad regarding abuse from customers (just one customer first thing in the morning). However, this is an entry about the subject in general.

Here is just a taste of the sort of things I’ve been called or accused of over the past 6 months:I’ve been accused of being ageist, sexist and racist
I’ve been called a “useless thick bastard” “cunt” and a “dick”
I’ve been called a “spastic” and a “violent thug”

I could go on, but I think you get the flavour of what goes on. Most of this occurs when I am doing one of the many jobs that I do: Reductions.

Let me give you an example that sticks clear in my mind. This happened around November.

I was doing the reductions (the shop I work in, like most big places, reduces items throughout the day that are to be sold by that day). This attracts large crowds of people (personally I don’t know why as 90% of it is shit and even at 10p isn’t worth the money it’s being sold for) and they use bully-boy tactics to get what ever shit they want. These tactics are sometimes employed against staff and other times against other customers.

So, here I was doing my job as I normally do and the manager comes and tells me not to reduce any meat (at the time we shared a reduction cabinet and at the time were so short-staffed we would usually have to do 2 department’s reductions – I deal with Produce). That’s fine; I carry on doing my Produce reductions. I politely tell customers when they ask about meat (and the other items from the department) that I’m not reducing those items, only Fruit and Veg. That’s fine they accept it, take what they want and go away. However, someone (and there is always) one decides to float around the store for about half an hour.

In the time that she’s taken stuff and floated about the store the Manager had come back to me and asked me to reduce the meat items. That’s fine; I finish the Produce items and move onto the meat ones. Then turns up Mrs X and her husband (who I’d said I was unable to reduce meat to half an hour earlier) and they start complaining. I explained the situation to them and they were having none of it. Mrs X launched into a torrent of abuse and accused me of being ageist (I’d say she was in her late 60s). She accused e of being a liar and being clever (because a member of staff who had just finished their shift had taken the item that she had wanted earlier – now reduced to 80%). On and on she went. The Manager came (just luck on this occasion) and tried to explain the situation to her (this was the very same manager who had been giving me instructions that night). She launched into a torrent of abuse. There is nothing you can say other than keep your cool and apologise (yes, apologise to the very person who is verbally abusing you) and hope they go away.

This is a daily battle between Customers and Staff. Customers believe it is their god given legal right to get stuff reduced that has that’s day as it’s sell by/display until date. However, this is not the case. We, like other shops, do it as it makes commercial sense – we may as well get something for it rather than wasting it and getting nothing. It’s also just one of the many examples of abuse that one faces while working in a supermarket.

Please remember, shop assistants and human and are not their to be abused (verbally or physically).