The Customer Is (Not) Always Right

Rule #1 in retail: The customer is always right.

I’m here to tell you — that’s a lie.

Customers can be impatient, demanding, rude, and even down right disrespectful. It’s not often, but it does happen.

It happens because society has normalized the idea that a paying customer can do no wrong. We have created arrogant and entitled customers.

For example, today, I spent ten minutes of my day being yelled at by a customer because the rack of ribs he bought smelled funny, and he thought that returning his money and replacing his product wasn’t a good enough solution.

Now, while I understand that this is frustrating as a consumer, the facts of the situation from my view as a retail manager are as follows:

  • The ‘use or freeze by’ date on the package was 11/7/19 (today is 10/20/19)
  • The package had left the building for over an hour. How am I supposed to know that the customer didn’t leave the meat in the car, or unrefrigerated, causing the product to spoil?
  • The product in question had arrived at the store on the delivery that very morning, and was never put in a position by us to have the integrity of the product compromised.
  • The customer had returned a different meat product the day before as well (and received a free replacement item more than double the original items value).

However, having been in customer service for over a decade, I decided to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. That is what we are trained to do, and I believe that most customers mean well and are not out to take advantage of the system.

I told him that I would refund him the money he spent on the ribs, place a product complaint with our supplier, and allow him to take any replacement product of his choice at no charge.

That was when he began to yell, because he was not satisfied with that solution.

I never did figure out what he expected me to do for him.

Once I realized that he was not going to calm down on his own, I told him that I didn’t have to tolerate him speaking to me that way, and that he could either lower his voice, or leave. He left.


Another example:
The customer was an older gentleman, who began to yell degrading and racist remarks at one of our bilingual cashiers because she was speaking in Spanish with a customer who spoke very little English. Needless to say, he was immediately asked to leave. We also asked him not to return.

These are obviously extreme cases of the customer in the wrong, but none the less, these events occur on a pretty regular basis. People have it in their head that they can get whatever they want from retailers, because they are a paying customer.

I want to make sure that everyone remembers that human decency will always trump “paying customer” with me, and I will not hesitate to call you out if you are trying to play the system, or if you are verbally attacking one of my cashiers.

Retail workers are people too. If you can’t behave accordingly, then stay home and shop online.

I put on my customer service every day, and honestly, I will NOT pass up an opportunity to take it off and tell you to kick rocks.

Don’t like it?

Feel free to call the customer service number at the bottom the receipt. My name is Brittney. Please make sure you let them know how helpful I was today.