Rant & Rave

By Garrett Choy

Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Wholesale rudeness
irks retail clerk

CASHIERS and others on the front lines of business are usually told that customers are always right, but are they? Sometimes, but only someone with a huge ego would walk into a store and actually believe, "I'm always right." They probably got that idea from hearing the phrase, "The customer is always right," so often.

Sure, cashiers should be courteous, polite and helpful, but etiquette works two ways.

I'm sure there are many working in retail establishments who would probably enjoy having customers try being in their shoes for a while.

There are many things that customers do that not only irritate employees, but also slow lines for other rushed patrons.

I took some time to write down some of the ticky-tacky things customers do that slow business for everyone, and made up some rules of shopping etiquette:

Bullet Please acknowledge when the cashier greets you. Say "hello," and, if at a bank teller window, state your business. This is common sense. Employees can't read your mind, With no response, it sometimes feels like we're talking to a wall.

Bullet Have all your goods when you are checking out. Don't say, "I forgot this ... can I go get it?" This only works if you're the only one in the store.

Bullet Read signs carefully. Don't assume the price of items and wait until you're in line to make a stink. The cashier doesn't set prices, so complaining won't get you anywhere. If the price is not there, find somebody who can tell you the price.

Bullet Don't ask a clerk to check in the back for an item, then disappear. That's rude. Please stay where you are. If you change your mind, that service effort was a waste, and time could have been spent on another customer.

Bullet Regarding charge slips, don't assume that you can separate the sheets yourself after you sign it. Leave it alone because the cashier must make sure the signature matches.

Bullet Be sure that you give money, coupons, credit cards, anything pertinent to your purchase to the cashier before the sale is rung up. If you wait until after the fact, the sale may have to be canceled, and this usually involves getting a manager's signature -- once again wasting everyone's time in line -- and the sale must be rung up again.

SHOPPING etiquette also extends to fellow consumers. Remember, you are usually not the only one shopping:

Bullet Don't block the aisle. If you run into a friend in the grocery aisle, move to the side so others can pass through.

Bullet If you take an item and decide you don't want it, put it back where you got it. It's no different from home, listen when mom or dad tells you to return items where they belong so you can find them the next time you need them.

Bullet Wait your turn; don't ask something unless you are next to be served. It's very rude to the customer who is being served.

Bullet Don't ask for clean dollar bills or to exchange dirty coins. Dirty money, clean money, who cares? Cashiers just grab whatever's first and have no choice as to where it came from.

Bullet Don't drop a lot of small coins on the counter as payment. What are we, a bank?

There are other behaviors that don't help to make a cashier's day, but I can't list them all. I've listed the major ones.

The main thing is to be patient and understand that being a customer doesn't make you exempt from following the golden rule: Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Been there, done that. Garrett Choy
has worked as a retail cashier for three years.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
Speak up by fax at 523-8509; by answering machine at 525-8666;
snail mail at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802;
or e-mail,

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin