36 thoughts on “June 11, 2016

    • Doing it deliberately, yes. But you’re telling me that you’ve never gotten sidetracked to the point you’ve forgotten about a customer (or they’re sure you have)?

      • Not even sidetracked. Sometimes I’ll go to the stockroom to look for something — we actually DO have some backstock in our stockroom — and by the time I get back, the customer is gone.

    • There is no best price, its what is posted. When I get asked this I always feel like asking them “Is this a swap meet?”. My adult response is “Price as marked.”

      And with staffing levels, this happens a lot more than you think.. At my store, one person for the entire salesfloor except grocery. So he might get back to you an hour later or in this case not at all since he had to punch out.

  1. In Cooper’s defense, he did not say he would get back to the customer with the answer; he merely said that he would ask the manager.

  2. What retail employee (at least a member of management) hasn’t been asked “what’s the best price you can give me on this” as if the retail establishment is some sort of flea market.

    • Haggling used to be normal in almost all, if not all, retail establishments. But that was phased out well over a hundred years ago right? I mean, when I think of that, I imagine medieval shops. So surely this guy isn’t just thinking how it used to be, right?

        • John Wanamaker is responsible for eliminating haggling, as well as allowing returns, January Whites sales (i.e. phasing out last year’s stock of linens), and the “customer is always right.” Although, to be fair, he said, “the customer is always king,” and given his other policies regarding how his employees were to be treated, he clearly didn’t mean that the way the general public has warped it. Anyway, he opened his first store in 1868. There may have been stores in the 1940s that still allowed haggling, but the vast majority of retailers had adopted Wanamaker’s model prior to the Great Depression.

          • Correction: the customer is king. There is no “always” about it, which is actually the distinction. Wanamaker made plenty of exceptions, and he did not like his workers being disrespected.

    • The thing is that frequently there are articles online and occasional news stories telling people to try haggling at these stores because it can save them money

      • Who writes these articles? The only times that works, the employee owns the store. I can knock an occasional 10% off, but no one will settle for that.

        • At my store only supervisors can do that, and only if the item is damaged. The closest thing I have seen to haggling is that our store ad matches and it gets to be a pain around the holidays when everyone comes to us to buy [insert toy here] that another store is using as a loss leader and gets mad at me when some technicality of it means we will not match the ad.

  3. He is asking the manager….Marla went out to get lunch and left her phone in the office.

    When people ask me that, I pick up the price tag and read it “Tag says $29.99,, that’s the price” The problem is all these coupon blogs say to haggle and you’ll get a better price, although that is wrong. Save the haggle for the garage sales and flea markets.

    • Norm did exactly that strip quite recently. Cooper looked at the tag and quoted the price. Customer didn’t like that answer either.

    • This is true. Coupon and “shoestring” blogs are always saying to haggle on a price, no matter where. At a flea market or a garage sale, that is fine but not in a retail store. It won’t work. Much like many of you, I’ve worked in retail too and people are always trying to get away with something.

      • There was a Cathy strip on this very topic. Cathy asks if the store can knock a little off the price and the sales clerks point at her and laugh. Cathy turns to the reader and says, “When they say haggle on the price they must mean something other than [names low-ticket item].” (Working from memory)

      • Or at least stick to the small stores where the person you’re talking to is likely a owner and has the authority to haggle.

        • indeed, in large chains the staff normally as almost no power over pricing if they have any at all, and it is normally the later. even the manager is limited by corporate policy.

  4. I think there was a strip a few months ago with Amber who was asked a similar question. She quoted a price $10 higher than the one on the tag. I thought this was the perfect response.

  5. i did something similar. a guy in a wheelchair (who did not knock or so much as gesture at the door) was pissed that the doors did not open automatically.
    I pointed out that the doors around the corner DID open automatically.

    He started yelling ‘by state law ALL doors should open automatically.- GET ME A MANAGER.’

    “sure.” (walks away never to return.) i clean toliets and take out trash this is above my ‘give a s–t” level.

    i heard on the walkie he found another victim.

    ‘uh…(cashier manager) there’s a angry guy in a wheelchair asking for a manager, he wants to know why all of our doors are not automatic…..not sure what to do…’
    LEAVE!

  6. I have tried and failed to be allowed to give flags or colored paper with my name on it to customers that want something from the back. So I can find them again. (They will definitely have moved.) We are a greet every customer store. I greet about 3500-4500 customers a day. (official customer count from paperwork). Remembering that the person is a middle-aged Caucasian is not helpful, if the store is filled with them.

    • And when you’re in a grocery store near a major retirement community and you’re trying to find the Lady, Grey hair, Short, white sweater, shopping basket folded up in the cart, and you STILL have 40 of that description to hunt through.

  7. Norm,
    Thank you for writing your “Pretending You Care” book. I am training my co-workers with it AFTER they have become disillusioned from following the official company literature. VERY HELPFUL. Thank you. It also helps me see the real why of company chosen customer interactions. Much easier to say ‘greet every customer and make them feel welcome’ than to say ‘assume every customer is a thief and make sure they feel like all eyes are on them’ On a side note, customer theft has gone done by 15% since the ‘greet every customer’ program was started.

  8. And when I say ‘training them’. I am in no way copying the book. I am encouraging them to buy their own copy and telling them the useful anecdotes for their situations.

  9. Why do I think Cooper was on his way out the door at the end of his shift when he was ambushed by this stupid person.

  10. I had a guy once try to haggle with me at the checkout because he wanted to buy batteries for less than he paid the thrift store next door for his walkie talkies… It turned into him shouting $2.00 and me repeating the price off the register until he got exasperated and left yelling about how he was going to to go back and return the walkie talkies to the thrift store. “Supervisor to register 4 for a void sale please.”

    • I was a very new cashier at my first grocery job. A guy whom I recognized from my church came through my line. I rang him up and read the price off the register. He held out a lesser amount of cash. I repeated the price on the register. He said “But you’ll settle for (the lesser amount).”

      I said “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Fortunately he did the right thing and paid up. I could have seen having to get a manager and have him fight it out.

  11. I blame the ridiculous “news” stories (can’t even dignify them by calling them news, really) that tell you to ask for a manager and (politely!) ask for a discount. Sometimes they tell you to look for a small flaw–missing button, missed stitches, things that are easy to fix if you want to–other times they just say if you ask very nicely, the manager will often mark the item down. It’s worth noting that the stores they try this in are usually high-priced to begin with, so knocking off a few bucks isn’t going to hurt them. And if a person is standing there filming you, are you going to go hard-line on them and refuse to deal? Not likely. But these stupid features give people the idea that everything is up for negotiation, regardless of reality.

    • I agree mostly, but if an item is damaged/defective (like missing stitches or buttons), it shouldn’t be sold for full price. It should either be discounted or not be available for sale. An item that has to be fixed by the customer should never cost what a “perfect” one does.

      And have you ever tried to match a button to the ones on an article of clothing? Usually not that easy to find something even close. Why a lot of button down shirts come with extras.

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