Grocery store etiquette


#1

Hi, this is sort of a wierd thread to start, but I’m just curious about how people feel about a couple of things.
I am a cashier in a grocery store and I notice rude things on both sides of the redgester that can make a day frustrating for everyone.
one example are cellphones. People come in my line talking away on their phone and don’t say two words to me. I am very friendly and like to talk with my customers. It’s hard to be a good Christian when this is my pet peve. I try not to get upset, but I find myself doing one of two things when these people come through my line;

  1. I completely ignore them. hand them their change and don’t say a word. don’t ask them if they want plastic don’t tell them their total, etc.
  2. I aske them a zillion questions to interupt their conversation. I ask them if they want plastic, if they found everything they were looking for, if they want their change broken up any certain way, if they have any cupons, if they have their Upromise card. I find any question that we are supposed to ask the customer and I ask it as loud as I can.
    I am SURE I am not doing the right thing here. I just want them to know that I’m a human and deserve a little attention. what would be a better christian way to handle this?
    Any advice?

#2

That is a tough situation–it makes being charitable so hard! I would try my hardest to go out of my way to be sweet to those especially “difficult” customers and offer it up as an act of love for God. Easier said than done, I know :slight_smile:

While I’m writing this post, let me just say… that people who go through the express line with many more items than are allowed, are not always in the wrong! It has happened to my mom several times where the cashier of the express lane calls her to be checked out there, even though she has a full cart, because there aren’t any other customers waiting. The cashier really insists until my mom decides to leave her line and get rung up. Then, while all her groceries are being rung up, the line forms behind her, and people glare at her. Sorry that was a bit off-topic, but I just wanted to make people aware that things are not always as they seem. Take a little time, especially now during the Christmas rush, to smile at other customers and be very appreciative of the workers at stores! :tiphat:


#3

Sue, you are in a job that people regard as “furniture.” Me too – I’m a pretty high level administrator but to the people I work with and for my best feature is being as reliable and as silent as “furniture.”

It’s great for your employers that you are friendly. But I wouldn’t hold the customers accountable for their rudeness if it’s just that they’re ignoring you. As a cashier, you see a LOT worse stuff than that from crude, arrogant and thoughtless customers.


#4

I would remind myself that it isn’t personal.

I am a very friendly and outgoing person but I prefer not to converse much with people who run the check-out because I’ve had many experiences I didn’t appreciate. I don’t want a running commentary about what I’m buying and why. I don’t want to discuss that yes, I am buying some tampons and yes I happen to be pregnant but might it occur to the checker that they could be for someone else? And no, I don’t care that the checker didn’t like that brand of bread or turkey. I don’t appreciate the checker opening up whatever card I happened to pick out for my husband, reading it, chuckling, and then winking at me and saying, “Whose THAT one for? Bet he’ll like it!” as if it’s any of their business. When I open my wallet and the checker sees pictures of me with my husband, I don’t want to hear how “hot” he is. Or be asked how much my wedding ring cost.

I don’t want to treat anyone unfairly, but all of what I mentioned above has happened. Many times with some examples. I don’t feel it’s worth it to make a concerted effort to befriend every checker I happen to run across. I smile and say hello and give one word answers or simply don’t answer if someone asks an intrusive question or comments inappropriately.

I don’t make it a habit to talk on my cell phone in stores, because usually I can’t hear very well and I’d rather concentrate on my actual shopping. But if I happen to be in the check out line and my husband calls, I’m not going to give deference to the check out person. He’s calling for a reason and I will answer it.

Yes, you deserve “attention,” as you mentioned but I think you’re looking for it in the wrong place. I think it’s very rude to purposely ask a million questions when someone is on their cell phone. Do you wonder why they don’t want to talk to you next time? I think the answer is rather obvious. The silent treatment is also immature. Announcing a total one time is a lot different then interrupting with every possible question you might be able to ask in order to purposely interrupt them. It sounds like you have a lot of resentment built up over unfair expectations and need to have your attention-need met elsewhere.


#5

Having worked retail many moons ago - I try to make the effort to be friendly to every cashier, stocker, etc. Sometimes people are a bit put off and do not know how to react to me (I have dwarfism), so, I make every attempt to diffuse that situation with a big smile and some chatting.

When I have to shop on a holiday I will always tell them that I appreciate their coming in to work that day. I know that person is not working the register for the glamour of the job ;).


#6

originally posted by CatholicSam
While I’m writing this post, let me just say… that people who go through the express line with many more items than are allowed, are not always in the wrong! It has happened to my mom several times where the cashier of the express lane calls her to be checked out there, even though she has a full cart, because there aren’t any other customers waiting. The cashier really insists until my mom decides to leave her line and get rung up. Then, while all her groceries are being rung up, the line forms behind her, and people glare at her.

While waiting in line with a full cart, I was called, by the cashier, to her express line. As I was checking out, a guy in back of me began to loudly proclaim that I was rude, rude, rude! He also swore at me loudly. I told him that I was invited to this line but he kept screaming at me. I was so upset!! Instead of telling this jerk that she’d invited me to the line, the cashier called a mgr and asked him to please help “this gentleman (NOT) in another line because he is obviously in a hurry” :eek:
As I was leaving (and shaking from embarrassment and anger), the cashier said, “Hope you have a better day”.
I will NEVER shop in that Safeway again. NEVER! And that means I have to drive an extra 5 miles to the next town. I don’t care and have made sure that everyone I know hears of this awful experience…


#7

I greet the checkout operator but find it annoying when they keep talking to me asking personal questions. A few ask about the specialty foods I’m buying for allergic kids, and I don’t mind answering those, but constant chat when I’m trying to deal with five kids isn’t welcome as it’s hard to unload and co-ordinate the kids at the same time while trying to remain polite to the cashier.


#8

Well, I’ve been on both sides of the cash register and I must say that the older I get (and now I’m only a customer), the more I like workers who are quiet and accurate.

I strongly dislike the trend most evident in certain types of restaurants where the waiter introduces himself and is so familiar with the diners that he seems like he might sit down and join you for dinner. But then you can’t seem to find them when you need more water… I tip these type of people less than 10% with the hope that someday they will realize that their fake-friendliness is more of a unpleasant detraction than something that enhances my dining experience.

I feel the same way about hairdressers. I wish that they would be quiet, stop asking questions, and just cut my hair. Since I go to places like Great Clips where the stylists are inexperienced they seem to make up for the lack of expertise with conversation. “All I want is a haircut, not your life story, thank you,” is what I’m thinking as these women feel a tremendous need to fill the silence with useless dribble.

As for grocery store cashiers, when I check out I am viewing the small screen, or the cashiers larger screen, making certain that every item scanned shows up at the price I saw posted on the shelf. I don’t have time for chit-chat because I’m watching the cashiers accuracy. Once, I was charged for 66 bagels when I only bough a half a dozen! I really appreciate the experienced women or men that greet me, process and bag my groceries quickly and correctly, and thank me for shopping at their store. I always have a word or two of praise for the competent employees, like the sort of person the OP probably is.

Retail is tough tough tough. It’s important to be extra patient around Christmas. I try to let mothers that are pregnant or with babies/toddlers go ahead of me whenever I can, because I’ve been there… it so hard to check out when your baby is screaming. And a screaming baby must be practically unbearable for the cashier!

Holiday shopping is the perfect time to work on a variety of virtues. God bless those faithful retail workers that put up with their customers graciously at this time of year.


#9

I think you have to remind yourself that you are there to serve the customer. It’s not a social occasion where folks are obligated to interact with you. The person on the cell phone might be talking to his mother because his father is on life support in the ICU, and she lives across the country. Or, his son might have just broken his leg and his wife left the other kids at home to take him to the ER, and he’s picking up a few groceries before going home to care for the other children.

So yes, be friendly by all means. But sometimes people have a lot on their mind and don’t feel like interacting with a total stranger. Try and be sensitive to their needs and I agree with Abby, don’t take it personally.

(I know what you mean about cellphones though)


#10

[quote=catsrus]While waiting in line with a full cart, I was called, by the cashier, to her express line. As I was checking out, a guy in back of me began to loudly proclaim that I was rude, rude, rude! He also swore at me loudly. I told him that I was invited to this line but he kept screaming at me. I was so upset!! Instead of telling this jerk that she’d invited me to the line, the cashier called a mgr and asked him to please help “this gentleman (NOT) in another line because he is obviously in a hurry” :eek:
As I was leaving (and shaking from embarrassment and anger), the cashier said, “Hope you have a better day”.
I will NEVER shop in that Safeway again. NEVER! And that means I have to drive an extra 5 miles to the next town. I don’t care and have made sure that everyone I know hears of this awful experience…
[/quote]

I assume that the cashier was trying to diffuse the situation by getting the loud, angry customer out of the store as soon as possible. When I worked in retail, it was routine to call a manager when we had a customer like that in order to get another and a more “in charge” person into the situation. The cashier was probably just doing her job.


#11

[quote=catsrus]While waiting in line with a full cart, I was called, by the cashier, to her express line. As I was checking out, a guy in back of me began to loudly proclaim that I was rude, rude, rude! He also swore at me loudly. I told him that I was invited to this line but he kept screaming at me. I was so upset!! Instead of telling this jerk that she’d invited me to the line, the cashier called a mgr and asked him to please help “this gentleman (NOT) in another line because he is obviously in a hurry” :eek:
As I was leaving (and shaking from embarrassment and anger), the cashier said, “Hope you have a better day”.
I will NEVER shop in that Safeway again. NEVER! And that means I have to drive an extra 5 miles to the next town. I don’t care and have made sure that everyone I know hears of this awful experience…
[/quote]

Don’t let this rude man cause you to spend extra time driving and extra money on gas just to go to a different store! Do what my mom did–vow to never again go in the express lane with more items than are allowed, even if the cashier asks you to. Just tell him or her that you’re fine where you are and want to leave that lane open for customers who are in a hurry. Have you written to the manager? He or she might even give you a coupon/gift certificate to spend at the store in an attempt to not lose a customer (and many others through you sharing your story).


#12

An interaction with anyone is an opportunity to be Christian.

I try to find something nice about a cashier and then mention it. Something like, “I love your hair!” or “You have such a beautiful smile!” Or even, “Thank you so much! You sure are a professional at what you do!”

You’d be surprised how far a little graciousness like this can go. I’ve seen people actually beam.

And if you happen to be wearing something like a cross or a crucifix, you might just plant a message that will, in time, bear fruit.


#13

Number 1 seems the way to go. These people are in the middle of a conversation and it would be rude to interupt. They aren’t at the checkout to make a new friend, just get their stuff and go. If they were concerned about any of your questions, they’d let you know. Personally, I don’t use my phone while paying because I want to make sure everything is rung up correctly. and bagged the way I like.


#14

originally posted by ElizabethAnne
The cashier was probably just doing her job.

Yes, I’m sure she was doing her job, however, the entire mess could have been diffused if she’d have just backed me up and told the guy that she had indeed bidden me to come into her line.

originally posted by CatholicSam
Have you written to the manager? He or she might even give you a coupon/gift certificate to spend at the store in an attempt to not lose a customer (and many others through you sharing your story).

No, I did not write. I did consider doing so but was so angry at the time that I didn’t want to put my thoughts on paper when I was so angry. Afterwards, I decided to just let it go and move on to another store. Which I have done.


#15

The rare times I actually go to the grocery store (husband usually does this task:) ) I tell the checker (cashier) here are my coupons, here is my store discount card and I will bag myself (most kids now a days do not know how to bag groceries).
I do not chat with them, I am not there to chat. I want to pay for my things and get out of the store before another person rolls over my toes with their cart or shoves me out of the way to get a loaf of bread.


#16

I don’t really care if people talk to me or not at the register. One thing I hate though is when people try to make convorsation when they’re cutting my hair. I know it might be kinda arkward if no one says anything when you are all around me head, but I take a haircut as a very relaxing thing, and I hate to be interrupted with convorsation.


#17

Well…a lot of people on here know how I feel about customer service issues. :slight_smile:

The way I feel about cell phones is this. If you are talking about a serious matter, you know, life or death hospital issues, or to your child maybe, or you know, something important, well, then you might have to go ahead and use the phone but try to be polite to the cashier while doing it, don’t just ignore them totally. They’re human beings, not furniture, like someone else said.

If it’s not important, save it for later. I’ve had people chatting to their friends in line (“oh my gosh! like, what happened then?? hahaha!” ) while I’m trying to get them to look at me so I can give them their total. Then they shove off without a thank-you, still shrieking into their stupid phone. That’s plain rude. You should always give deference to the person who you are in person with. (which is why service people should wait on you before they will someone who is on the phone.)

Frankly, most likely the cashier wants to talk to you less than you want to talk to her/him. I know by the time I ended my stint in retail I barely spoke to people because usually I got rude answers back anyway, so what’s the point. Some cashiers do like to talk though because that’s just their personality. If you give quiet and short (and polite) answers though, they should get the hint that you don’t feel talkative today.

(Also as far as registers go, just a quick note - the one I used always showed up on the screen the original price of the item instead of the sale price, with a symbol next to it that I understood as far as what the discount is. People would FREAK OUT when they saw they original prices : “you’re doing it wrong!!” etc…they barely controlled themselves long enough for me to explain…just something to keep in mind. People would reach across me and actually try to move the screen around so they could see better. I’m totally serious.)

Bottom line, just because someone is there to wait on you does not mean that they do not deserve courtesy and friendliness. Just as you do. :slight_smile:


#18

[quote=kage_ar]Having worked retail many moons ago - I try to make the effort to be friendly to every cashier, stocker, etc. Sometimes people are a bit put off and do not know how to react to me (I have dwarfism), so, I make every attempt to diffuse that situation with a big smile and some chatting.

When I have to shop on a holiday I will always tell them that I appreciate their coming in to work that day. I know that person is not working the register for the glamour of the job ;).
[/quote]

That’s so nice to hear kage ar! I’m sure those cashiers appreciate your efforts very much. :slight_smile:


#19

wow, there are a lot of oppinions on here. but that’s kind of what I wanted. I see hundreds of people every day. and no, I am not looking for “attention” as an early poster said, but I would like a little kindnessl Just a hello and thank you will do. I don’t give my entire life story to someone, but I would like for them to be available for me to ask questions. like if they have a huge bag of lemmons, I ask them how many they have, so that I don’t have to spill the bag all over the counter and count them. and, sadly, most people who are on their phones, are talking about their boyfriends, the mall, or a movie.

I try to be very effeciant (I’m human and mess things up. once, I accidently rung up a Christmas tree instead of tomatoes because the code was one number different, you can imagine the customers shock…ooops :slight_smile: )

It’s just hard when you are standing in one place to be ingnored by everyone who comes through the line. but I do appriciate your advice and I am trying to be better, that’s why I asked. I pray every day to be Christ to my customers and the devil just rubbhs his hands together and says, “oh let me see how I can mess this up!”


#20

I hate it when people loudly yak on cell phones in public. I think very few people are talking to their mothers about their sick father’s in the ICU… mostly they are just blabbing away with no regard for anyone else. They clog the isles at the grocery store and then I’m not suprised that they rudely ignore the cashier.

I like the idea of interrupting their conversation to ask paper or plastic… how many lemons… do you have your saver’s card… etc?? You are just doing your job… a very difficult job, as I former cashier I can vouch for that!

Blessings!
CM


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