Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area

My post today was once again inspired by The Daily Post’s ebook. The prompt was: What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?

I’ve changed it to “What’s the most dreadful experience you’ve ever had as a cashier?”. I worked at Tesco for just over a year and while I was fortunate enough to never have someone be so mean to me that I burst into tears on the spot, I still had some pretty sucky experiences. There’s one in particular that stands out in my mind.

I’ll set the scene. I worked in an Express store which means there’s only one person on the tills unless it gets busy. Till person is also in charge of the self service checkouts, which were the bane of my existence I’d like to point out. There’s a screen for clearing messages (like the delightful “unexpected item in the bagging area”), but if you weren’t on the till right next to it you had to move away from your till to do so. The store had been quite busy, but was quieting down, and we were down on staff that day. My manager had been helping me on the tills for a while, and a customer (self service lady) was having a bit of trouble on a self service checkout while I was serving another lady (blonde lady).

I don’t remember all the exact words but the exchange went something like this:

Me: Hi, how are you? – the usual.

Blonde Lady: Hi… – I don’t remember but I doubt she responded to my ‘how are you?’

Self Service Checkout: unexpected item in the bagging area – and repeat

Me, to BL: I’m sorry! *hurries over, clears screen, hurries back, carries on scanning and packing – this takes about 10-15 seconds*

Blonde Lady: …

Manager: *leaves tills, goes back to work*

Self Service Checkout: unexpected item in the bagging area – and repeat

Self Service Lady: oh no, sorry!

Me, to SSL: I’ll be there in a second!

Self service checkout: unexpected item in the bagging area – and repeat

Here I should point out that I was getting pretty stressed about what to do; leave the self service checkout beeping beeping beeping until I’d finish serving my lady? Self Service Lady was there before I’d started serving Blonde Lady.  It was always unclear on the correct thing to do here, you just had to make a call on each situation.

Blonde Lady: I don’t understand why she’s left you here alone

Me: Oh, she’s very busy *pause, checkout probably goes off again* I’m so sorry! This will just take a second! *hurries over, clears screen, hurries back, carries on scanning and packing*

Me: I’m sorry about that. *finishes scanning and packing* would you like anything else?

Blonde Lady: What I’d like is some good customer service.

Me: Oh…*cue some stuttering by me*

I finished serving her as politely as I could, complete with a loud thank you as she left.

It probably doesn’t come across as well when written down, but her tone was very mean and it was a very unpleasant experience. I understand that it wasn’t ideal, but in that situation I’m essentially serving two customers at once. I am an extremely polite person and was being so while I served them both. I made a call and while I’m assuming it wasn’t what this lady would’ve done, there was no need to be rude to me. It made her shopping trip maybe 1 or 2 minutes longer than it would’ve otherwise been.

Obviously that night I went home and cried about it to my mum, which made me feel loads better. Especially after having to hold in my tears all day.

Rudeness is something I really cannot stand. And I’ll never understand why people think it’s okay to be rude to cashiers/waiters etc – or in other words, people they believe to be below them. It’s so often something out of the person’s control, and yes, maybe the rude person is having a bad day and is taking out their anger on this person they don’t know blah blah blah. That’s not a good excuse to me. All the times I can remember people being rude to me in this job, it was either for no reason, or a reason that was out of my control.

There is no excuse for rudeness in these situations, who is it helping? Do people think being rude is going to get them what they want or get them great customer service? It’s actually something that I find hard to get my head around. I do understand that people aren’t perfect and sometimes they make mistakes but it happens much more often than it should.

Manners really do cost nothing!

One last thing, to Blonde Lady wherever you are now: I really hope that you felt better about yourself after humiliating a teenage girl and hurting her feelings. Because I felt loads better about myself afterwards!*






2 thoughts on “Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area

  1. I totally feel you on this one! I’ve been in retail since I was about 16/17, and still am, so I can relate to how you feel about Blonde Lady. I have a lot of shitty customer service stories, but the one thing that will always pop into my mind is when this middle-aged man yelled at me because he couldn’t use $10 discount coupons on his Christmas lights because he had picked up the wrong ones! He called me all sorts of things like stupid, idiot, bitch, etc. when I told him it had to apply to a specific set of Christmas lights and it got to the point where he was just really mean that I started crying. I was 17 and this guy felt no remorse. He told my manager that I should get fired cause I couldn’t keep my shit together. He ended up getting the discount on the Christmas lights too, only so he’d just leave the store. Apparently, some customers do think that throwing a fit will get them what they want!

    • Oh my god, how awful for you! That guy sounds like the worst type of person, and it sucks that he ended up getting what he wanted doesn’t it! I just don’t understand what goes through people’s minds when they do stuff like this. I do like hearing other people’s customer service stories though, it reminds me that it isn’t just me aha 🙂

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