68 thoughts on “June 10, 2016

  1. Love it when customers assume we know the ins and outs of every bit of machinery there. As if we take these things home to try them out and see if they work right.

      • Customers could take a moment and read the box themselves before asking an employee for their opinion, but asking a customer to read is asking too much.

        • Retail employees are some of the most entitled group of people. Don’t ask me questions. Don’t ask me to follow rules. Grow up. That’s why you work in an industry that barely pays minimum wage.

          • Retail customers are the most entitled…Don’t ask me to read the coupon restrictions, don’t ask me to read the product packaging, don’t ask me to read the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain an allergen…..

          • No one says you can’t ask, just don’t scream at me when I say I don’t know.

          • Right. Retail workers are sooo very entitled. Listen pal, when you are expected to “just know things” for crap pay and continuously having your hours cut and deal with the crap customers put out – you have no idea.

          • Wow, just wow. I can’t tell if you’re trolling or genuinely that clueless. Retail employees exist to provide customer service. The vast majority of us understand this. The vast majority of us also human (for the time being).
            Don’t ask me stupid questions. Don’t ask a male what type of tampon they use (actual event). Don’t, ask the electronics about pantyhose. Don’t start off with “I know it’s not your department, but…” and expect a solid answer. In short, all ask of the people we meet everyday is this: please, don’t be stupid. We don’t get paid enough to endure that.

          • Expecting me to know exactly how every item works, especially if it’s new and not on display, is a bit much. Especially in department stores. I mean, come on. Do you really think companies will pay to train every employee about the intricate details of each blender? And expect them to remember them, and get new training every few weeks when new stuff comes in.
            When my store gets new things (we’re a small store) we do what we can to figure it out. We plug them in/test them out where appropriate/possible, and we check reviews on our website and, when applicable, sites with the same brand/item.
            We are also regularly asked to BREAK the rules. Stated return policies, changing prices, inventing discounts, taking expired coupons/coupons the computer can not accept, staying open late, opening earlier,etc. what rules are retail people NOT following that you are speaking of?

      • At a big box store there’s not much point. The training (and stated goals) for employees consist of how to sell credit cards. If you’re lucky you’ll get someone who’s worked there for a long time and has happened to pick up knowledge, but that depends on the store treating employees well enough that they stay.

      • 99% of the time it is a product we do not use ourselves even if it is in our department. Items cycle in and out so fast and the inventory is so varied that keeping up is nearly impossible even if you want to. granted he would have been better off just answering “no, I just stock them” or some such.

    • She didn’t say “what do you know”, she said “do you know”.. I used to work in a bookstore and I’d get the question all the time over whether I’d read it or not… It’s not ridiculous to ask an employee if they know about a product- perhaps they’ve used it, someone else has, or they know it’s recommended from customers who buy it.

      • there have been times I’ve basically read the product packaging to a customer, because i honestly didn’t know squat about the product. but there have also been numerous times where i could give ~some~ information based on how often the item was returned, or if it was popular enough we had trouble keeping it in stock or if it got good reviews on some website. sometimes customers would come in and tell me that they used the product and liked it/hated it. honestly that’s about 75% of what people want to know, anything else, i’d call a coworker to see if ~they~ had any more info.

      • We used to frequent a particular video rental/sales place because one of their clerks was an avid movie fan … and had seen movies in a lot of genres, not just one or two. He always seemed to be gathering information from customers about what they’d seen, too.

        OTOH, I learned to almost never ask for recommendations at bookstores – I have some fundamental disagreements with the way they currently classify some books.

      • Spot on. All the lady was asking was if the knew anything about them. As I said above, retail workers want a pay check but do not want to earn it.

        • And all the retail employee did was answer the question. I’m sure in your world everyone is given adequate to learn every detail about their job before it becomes an issue and you’ve had to look up anything ever outside of a seminar or classroom. If so, in not sure whether to envy you or pity you.

          • no, he really did not.

            The answer would have been “sorry, no. I only do x”

            instead, he did something that would be considered rude by many people for good reason.

        • “As I said above, retail workers want a pay check but do not want to earn it.”

          How is it Donnie’s job to know about all the products in the store? I assume this store is probably the size of a Target, so there are tens of thousands of items. He just unboxes them and puts them on the shelf, he has no obligation to research the ins and outs of any of them. Everyone has a cell phone these days, it should be up to the customer to pull up a page on product reviews.

      • I use to work in a video store back when those existed and got a similar type of question from our regulars, on a few occasions it was about what an R rated movie was actually R rated for because that can at times be a tricky thing for parents with teens. They would also ask which of the weeks movies we liked because it can be helpful in that kind of setting.

    • The thing is that, as a retail employee, one should have at least the opportunity to learn the ins and outs absent spending their own hard-earned money in order to figure them out because a customer has a question on something the employee won’t get a commission on selling.

      It would be an easy matter of cycling through display models on, say, blenders to give something of an idea on how they work. But, that would mean treating retail workers as though they actually need the resources they need in order to do the job they’re expected to do (and admitting that they’re expected to do that job any time before they haven’t perfectly done the job.)

      • One should, but one doesn’t. The other thing being missed here is that Donnie is a stock monkey, not a salesfloor person. His only need of product knowledge is how much it s weighs and it goes.

        • *and where it goes.
          Ugh, so many typos. Or would they be considered swypos? Either way, next time I really should use my computer to reply.

      • “the employee won’t get a commission on selling.”

        AHAHAHAHA! You think most stores give commission anymore? I worked at a truck stop, and I regularly upsold $300+ GPS units and CB radios. You really think I made a dime more on those sales than on the people buying soda and chips?

      • “She asked if he knew anything about it. She did not tell him to inform her about it.”

        In my experience, there is no real difference between the two.

        When a customer asks, “Do you know anything about this product?” or anything similar to that, it is almost always a rhetorical question. They’re expecting you to say yes.

        If I say that I’m not familiar with an item, my customers always scrunch up their faces and say something like, “Aren’t you supposed to be knowledgeable about the merchandise?” or “Well, is there anybody here who knows something about the products you sell?”

        We all learn things over time about the specific products in our store, but even all of the employees COMBINED can’t be expected to know about every one of the literally thousands of products that a store might carry, especially a large one like Grumbel’s.

        Folks, life is not an English language textbook.

        When a customer says, “Can you get that item from that shelf for me?”, they are not asking if you are physically capable of getting the item. They’re telling you what they want, and they expect you to do it.

        Similarly, when a customer asks “if” you know something, or know the answer to a question, they are NOT asking if you know. They are telling you what they want, and they expect you to provide it.

        That has always been my experience, anyway. If your experience has been different, fine, but don’t assume that that’s ALWAYS how it is.

        • And yet you do the exact thing, inferring a generalizing and demeaning statement about customers from your limited personal experience.
          *facepalm*

          • Demeaning?

            You make it sound like it’s a value judgment to say that people don’t use textbook-perfect English in everyday speech. As opposed to, say, just a factual description of how people talk.

            Some of the commentors here have basically been saying, “She didn’t ask him for information about the item. She only asked IF he knew anything about it. Therefore, she wasn’t expecting him to know about the product, and if he had just said that he didn’t, everything would have been fine.”

            That’s what I have been taking issue with. Because, in real life, you can’t take the literal meaning of a person’s words and just assume that that’s what they mean.

            It’s like when Marla says to Cooper, “I need somebody to take the trash outside. Could you take care of that for me, please?”

            I think that most people will understand that when the boss asks you to do something, they are not really ASKING you to do it. They are, in fact, giving you an order, even though they’re phrasing it like a request. That’s just how people talk.

            The commentors are taking the customer’s words and drawing a conclusion from them that simply isn’t realistically justified.

            By the way, I also like how people focus on the EXACT phrasing of this woman’s question to determine what she means … and yet, you completely ignored the fact that I specifically said, “That has always been my experience, anyway. If your experience has been different, fine …” In other words, I was describing MY experience in this comment, and also acknowledging that other people might have different experiences.

            Yeah, *facepalm*.

            Honestly, I cannot imagine a place where it’s routine that somebody asking “Can you get that box down from that shelf for me?” is literally just asking if you are physically capable of doing it, but if you say that’s your experience, I will take your word for it.

  2. 1) Plug it in
    2) Put desired food or beverage inside canister
    3) Be sure to keep lid on
    4) Choose blending speed
    5) Poor into suitable container or glass

    What else is there to know about a flippin’ blender?

    • Will it last a month or multiple years? Will the electronic parts fall apart if they’re crappy? Will the rubber seals separating the liquid and motor fall apart and ruin it?
      Companies do make less-than-perfect products maybe there’s another blender next to it that is a better brand.

      • True. Which is why we have “Consumer Reports” and similar resources to look up and compare the quality of different brands. So the customer who needs a blender can actually do some research beforehand. Whereas the kid working in a department store with a billion different products for sale can’t possibly be expected to have that kind of information readily available.

    • Blenders have specs. The box should list the motor power. What you really want to know is stuff like “this company isn’t known for making good blenders, it will die if you try anything that requires more power than a smoothie.” And you’re not going to hear that from somewhere like Grumbel’s.

  3. Okay guys, in defense of the customer, she did ask “if” Donnie knew anything.
    It didn’t sound as if she was EXPECTING him to know.
    And I don’t see anything wrong with a customer asking for an opinion or more information. It’s not unreasonable to think that someone on staff would have been given some product knowledge training.
    She couldn’t be expected to know that she just happened to have asked someone from the stock team for product information.
    Kudos to Donnie for trying to help her out.
    Had I been in the same position, I would have said “no, I don’t know anything about it, as I work stock, but I would be happy to try and find someone who does”.
    Have we all become so jaded toward customers that we even belittle them for making an honest and reasonable request for service?

    • canuckrcp
      “It’s not unreasonable to think that someone on staff would have been given some product knowledge training”
      It is totally unreasonable. Where ever did you get the impression that staff receive any training in anything? Or have time during their shift to gain that product knowledge? Or did you honestly expect them to take home all those user manuals that come in the box and memorize them on their own time?
      Customers ask lots of stupid questions. The question the customer asked was stupid. Starting with it’s open ended. As in what does the customer need to know. It’s a blender. It is pretty much exactly like every blender that’s ever been sold for the last 70 years. What is there to say?

    • We get no product training and are expected to take care of multiple departments. Yes it is getting unreasonable to expect big box employees to have any of that product knowledge. My other favorite question. “Is this your department?” No they fired all the specialists a few years ago.

    • I agree with Canuckrcp. It is not totally unreasonable. It is just possible the employee has some personal recent experience buying a blender (or a relative or friend) so he might know something. You never know and it doesn’t hurt to ask. Unless of course you run across a rude employee who wants you to know that you’re stupid for asking.

      • MaryC,
        Me buy a blender at what I get paid? Excuse me while I wipe up the milk that just spurted out my nose.
        You should try working retail. This comic strip is a lot funnier when you’ve had that experience.
        Now let me tell you about the guy that brought in this limp dead green thing all wadded up in his fist. It was apparently a plant that had been growing in his yard and he wanted me to identify the corpse. He asked, quite bluntly, “what is this?” I answered, quite bluntly, “it’s dead.”

    • after 40 plus years in retail I can tell you this much, honest perhaps, reasonable, not in any shape or form. Do you honestly feel an employee should know everything there is to know about a products in a big box store that sells a million different items? in my lifetime and my familys we could not have tried every item the store I worked at sold. now if your at a store like best Buy than you can expect the personnel in computers to know computers, but not necessarily to know refrigerators – – its not belittling the customer to expect some sort of common sense

      • It is, however, belittling the customer to be critical when a simple, reasonable question is asked. And yes, it *is* reasonable. when walking into a store to buy something that can probably be bought much cheaper on-line, to think that there is something beyond instant gratification provided. Let’s be practical about it. Aside from food, how many items do you *really* need right away?

        All Donnie had to say was “no”, politely. Yes, he was trying to be helpful and he deserves credit for that, since it really isn’t his job. But to someone who doesn’t know him, it would seem to be a flippant response. Especially since she had no way of knowing he isn’t floor staff.

        Employees should know more about products, especially higher end ones. Of course, it’s the company’s fault that they don’t provide the resources or the pay to make that happen. But that customer service is supposed to be part of the retail experience. And typically is, when shopping at a store that doesn’t have rules made in some corporate ivory tower.

        I bought a gift card at a local restaurant yesterday. Before I went in to buy it, I called to ask a question. The person who picked up thought she knew the answer, but asked me to hold a moment while she checked. When she came back, she had found she was right. And she apologized for making me wait. As if that was necessary, since she was doing it to help me. Plus, it was maybe a minute. But I still appreciated the courtesy.

        Don’t jump down the customer’s throat for making a simple *reasonable* request in a polite manner. Yes, some customers are jerks (witness slushie lady from a few days ago). But that doesn’t mean all are. And really, what percentage actually behave badly?

        I get that this strip is about the worst life in retail has to offer. But remember that it is a comic strip and that all (most) customers aren’t ogres.

  4. I’d have been so tempted to say something snide like, “It’s not a mixer, it’s a blender, and all I know is they’re heavy especially when you have to lug a bunch of them out here.”

  5. I think the fact that she was annoyed when Donnie read the box moves her from being an annoying customer to one who made a (frankly fairly reasonable) assumption that turned out to not apply. It’s the ones who don’t read the box and then are amazed at what a expert you are with just the box info that are being lazy. This lady just assumed that there was a difference between the store and Amazon. And since the store hasn’t gone out of business yet, it’s not a horrible assumption to make.

  6. The days when salespeople are trained about all aspects of the products in their departments are long since over. Stores don’t bother with training, employees certainly can’t afford to buy every item and test it themselves, and we have this handy-dandy tool called the Internet where people can look up everything they need.

    Unfortunately, an awful lot of people haven’t gotten the memo. They can’t be bothered to do any research for themselves, and get annoyed when the salesperson can’t give them the answers they want, or picks up the box and reads the specifics. “Well, I could’ve done that much!” So, why didn’t you?

    • And yet some stores (not many, mind) do still provide some of that level of service. It isn’t unreasonable to think to ask the question. And she didn’t snap at him when he didn’t have a proper answer. Which really just should have been “no”.

  7. If you work at a mega-store, it’s your responsibility to know all 40,000 products carried by your chain at heart. That’s common sense.

    Practical sense, however – aka what used to be called “common sense” – would indicate that such a feat is impossible. So it’s best for the customer to read the box or use Amazon’s barcode scanner to read reviews to understand products like this blender.

  8. it amazes me the number of people who comment in here that have never worked, an never will work in retail. After 40 plus years in the business from line cashier to store manager I can tell you the customer is not always right

  9. My experience must be very different from some of the commentors here.

    Whenever a customer asked me “Do you know anything about this product?” and I said no, they would always contort their faces and ask “Why not?” or snidely say “Well, is there anybody around here who is knowledgeable about the products this store sells?”

    In my experience, when customers ask “if” you know something, it’s a rhetorical question. They’re expecting you to say yes.

    When a customer asks “Do you know the difference between these two items?”, they’re not really asking if you know. They’re telling you that they want information, and they expect you to provide it.

    When a customer asks, “Can you get that box down from that top shelf?”, the customer isn’t asking if you’re capable of doing it. They’re telling you what they want, and expect you to do it.

    When customers asked, “Can I use my teacher’s discount on this book?” when the book is clearly marked “No discounts allowed” in bold letters … It may SEEM like the customer is merely asking if they can, but I can assure you they are not.

    That’s my experience, anyway. When customers asked me these questions, it was almost always a rhetorical question.

      • How is THAT the key word here?

        Commentors here have been asserting, “She only asked IF he knew anything about the item. Therefore, she was NOT expecting him to know about the product.”

        You say that “almost” in “almost always a rhetorical question” is the key word.

        First of all, once again, that’s just how people talk. Most people, in MY experience, at least, tend to use “always” and “almost always” virtually interchangeably. I don’t think I was even consciously aware of the fact that I had written “almost always” instead of “always” when I wrote that post.

        Second, even if you took what I said literally … According to you, the fact that there was a TINY percentage of the time when customers asked me those questions in a non-rhetorical fashion means that I have to conclude that the question MUST have been non-rhetorical in this comic strip?

        No offense, but some of you folks here remind me of that English teacher who was constantly correcting students that it’s “May I do something?” instead of “Can I do something?”

        Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that the difference between asking “Do you know what is …” and asking “What is …” is not nearly as significant as some folks here were making it out to be.

        One thing’s for sure. In the stores I worked in, if I had taken those questions literally instead of rhetorically every time they were asked of me, I would have had a lot of really annoyed customers.

        Going a step further, I have to disagree with you, MDS, when you said that Donnie should have just said “no” instead of reading the box.

        As some commentors have pointed out, many customers don’t read the box,and very often, the box and shelf have the information they would have wanted.

        I think that, more often than not, saying “no” to that question would leave the customer more unhappy than reading the box and relaying the information to the customer.

  10. Folks would be amazed at the number of customers I’ve helped just by reading the box to them. The box has everything you need to know, you just have to know what you’re looking for.

  11. I think the customer should have been more specific, and I think that might be what Norm was going for here. If she wanted to know the specs for this item, they’re on the box. If she wanted to know the price, it’s on the shelf tag. If she wanted to know if it’s a good, durable product, that’s a specific question and should be asked in that way. To be fair, Donnie could have said “What exactly do you want to know about it?” It’s possible she would have gotten snarky then, but that’s beyond his control.

    • Based on the way she askec the initial question and her response in the final panel, snarky is unlikely. Not to that someone else might not have reacted differently.

  12. I don’t mind a customer asking me; however, I can’t count the number of times a customer has asked me a very detailed – specific question about a product and when I say I’m “not sure” they come back with – “don’t you work here?”

  13. I’ve never had a customer get indignant when I’ve repeated the same information as the packaging.

    They never read that stuff to begin with.

    I once had a customer ask me if a glass TV stand could support her 60″ TV. The box was labeled “50-INCH TV STAND” in large print. Even if these things can hold more weight than they give themselves credit for, that’s up to her to find out, and not for me to affirm.

  14. And it isn’t any better on the other end of the aisle. I have over 30 years experience in Lawn & Garden and when I do answer their questions, they don’t listen!

    I have lost count how many time I have had to explain that Black Spot on your Roses is a Fungus. But even then they want to know why the Insecticide they used didn’t work. It’s not a bug, it is a Fungus, a disease.

    I explain exactly how to use a product and they get mad when it works exactly as I said. Sorry, but the plants are not going to scream and fall over when you use Weed -B-Gone. It takes two weeks for full effectiveness.

  15. I’ve had this scenario happen to me several times and did the exact same thing when I didnt have knowledge of the product. I would also inform the customer if I’ve seen a lot of returns on that item and let them know how it was selling.

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