7 Signs You’re an Annoying Retail Customer

When I applied to work in a fast fashion store two and half years ago, little did I know that retail is a tough job to be in. First of all, there’s a lot more poop involved than I expected (the fitting rooms are not bathrooms, people). You’d be shocked to find out how frequently people actually just lose control of their bowels or bladders in my store

More importantly, working in retail has opened my eyes to a less-than-pleasant side of people that I hadn’t seen before. I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, though, so if they do something rude or irritating, I assume it’s because they’ve never worked retail and don’t know they’re being rude. So while I don’t mean to offend anyone with this list, these are my top seven retail pet peeves that some customers do.

1. You get mad at employees for things beyond their control

Listen, I think the return policy is “dumb” too. And I’m sorry that someone stuck that shirt you like on a rack that had a sign that says it’s $5, but it’s not. And no, I can’t hold your bags from other stores at the front while you shop.

People seem to forget that most retail employees are just normal people who’re making minimum wage. We’re not corporate minions deadset on squeezing as much money from you as possible for the company. We’re not out to get you, and we didn’t make up these rules to target you specifically. Please don’t yell at us and understand that we’re just following the store’s rules, which are there for good reason.

2. You mess up the clothes a lot while looking at them

I know that it’s not your job to put the clothes back 100% perfectly, but you could at least try. Especially if you can tell that a table’s clothes have just been carefully folded down as it can take one to two hours just to fold all the clothes depending on the size of the table. One time, a lady looked me dead in the eyes, and told me with a straight face that she wasn’t even going to bother trying to fold the shirt the right way because she would just mess it up. The shirt was just folded in half; it wasn’t even a box fold.

Something else I’ve noticed a lot of people do while shopping is violently skim through the hanging clothes, and I truly don’t understand why. Are you angry at the clothes? Does throwing them around help you see them better? Whatever it is, please stop doing it. It makes a mess and usually causes clothes to fall off the hangers and an employee, like myself, has to clean them up.

3. You make a mess in the fitting room

Working as a fitting room attendant on a busy day is probably one of the most stressful positions you can hold in retail. There are people coming at you from all angles, either rushing into the entrance (despite the fact that you still have to count their clothes and take them to their room) or throwing their unwanted items at you as they dash out of the fitting room.

When you go into a fitting room, please be patient, put your clothes back on the hanger correctly and hand them back to the attendant on your way out. If they’ve got a lot going on, just wait a second until they can take your items, instead of throwing them on whatever rack you can find. Few people seem to know that one of the racks is usually being used to sort the clothes based on where they go in the store, so you shouldn’t just throw your stuff in the middle of it.

Finally, please don’t leave the clothes you don’t want in the fitting room itself; the whole point of counting out your clothes and giving you a number is to make sure the same amount that went in comes back out, which is impossible if the clothes don’t actually come back out. Plus, with upwards of 30 full fitting rooms, it’s really hard to keep track of which room you were in and whether or not you brought all your clothes out.  

4. Stealing, in any capacity

I know this sounds obvious (and it really should be obvious) but somehow, it’s not. A lot of people think that when they’re stealing from a corporate chain store, they’re sticking it to the man or something. You’re not; you’re only negatively affecting the employees, who will get in trouble for not catching you and will have to cut hours to make up for the cost of the merchandise you stole. Plus, you can go to jail. Don’t. Steal.

5. You leave trash in the store

The amount of times I have found nearly-full Venti cups from Starbucks is honestly baffling. You probably spent close to $8 on that drink; why would you just leave it in a store? It happens all the time, and the employees are left to clean it up. We don’t have a housekeeper (although some stores do), and the mall’s janitorial staff doesn’t clean our store. We do. So try your best to keep every store you go to as clean as possible.

6. You constantly make employees take things off the mannequins

This really isn’t a big deal, but it is super annoying. I’ve got a million things to do on any given day and changing mannequins takes a long time out of my work schedule. If you really need or want an item, of course I’ll take it off the mannequin for you, but 75 percent of the time, I see the item on a “go-back” rack an hour later. Just try to be realistic about how badly you need an item before you make someone stop their day to take it off the mannequin.

Also, sometimes we really aren’t allowed to take things off the mannequins, so please don’t throw a fit when we tell you we can’t (yes, this happens a lot). I’m not trying to keep it from you, I promise. I want nothing more than for you to have that item if you really want it, but sometimes our corporate office tells us we have to keep them on the mannequins, and we can’t do anything about it.

7. You treat employees like they’re not people

I don’t know why, but people that would be my peers in any other setting suddenly feel that I’m their servant as soon as they see my employee lanyard. I am in the service industry so I am here to help you find what you’re looking for, or offer suggestions, but I am not your servant.

My pet peeve is when people come up to me and just blurt out what their looking for in the form of a question, without even stringing together a full sentence. For instance, someone will just say the word “jeans?” to me as opposed to “excuse me, where are the jeans?” It happens all the time and it drives me nuts. I’m a person, please talk to me like one.

You also don’t have to be nervous to talk to me. I know I’m in the middle of airing all my grievances right now, but I’m actually really nice and happy to help you. People seem to get skittish when I ask them how they’re doing or if they’re finding everything alright, but it’s literally just part of my job to ask you that. I’m not gonna latch onto you and force you to buy stuff just for responding.

Working in retail is hard: you’re on your feet for about 8 hours straight, probably making minimum wage and doing a lot of emotional labor to keep customers happy. Next time you’re shopping, just try to be polite and patient; employees like myself will truly appreciate it.