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An Open Letter to Customers, From Every Retail Employee Ever

Because you never hear a child respond to the question, ‘What do you want to be when you’re older?’ with ‘I want to be an overworked, underpaid sales assistant!’

Dear disgruntled customer(s) of any and every retail store,

Let me jump into this letter with a very blunt statement: nine times out of ten, no one sets out in life to become a sales assistant in the retail industry. You never hear a kid respond to the question, ‘What do you want to be when you’re older?’ with ‘I want to be overworked and underpaid as a retail sales assistant!’

Most people work in retail simply to make ends meet – not because it’s their dream job. Shock horror, right? I’ll give you a minute for that to sink in.

With the previous statement in mind, please understand that, while telling us in an unsatisfied huff that you’re taking your business elsewhere might give you a momentary power trip, it doesn’t affect us in the slightest. We don’t care. When it comes to rude customers like you, we think, ‘good riddance!‘ Seriously, good luck to you; you’re going to need it. Rude customers like you expect us to beg for you to stay (‘Please, don’t go, stay and make my day more miserable!’) – well, it’s just not going to happen. Soz about that.

Believe it or not, retail employees actually have a life outside of the store! Contrary to what you might think, we don’t live there and we do actually need to go home at some point in the day. Many of us will often stay a little longer after our shift ends, purely out of the goodness of our hearts. There are times, however, when this isn’t an option – places to go, people to see and all that jazz. So please don’t expect us to stay after our shift has ended; just accept that someone else will be with you in a moment. Retail employees are people too!

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I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but we don’t control the prices! Even when we have to reduce some items, we have rules and guidelines to abide by. In fact, as lowly sales staff on the shop floor, most things are completely out of our control. In this case, ‘most things’ includes: hiring staff, stock levels of certain items, discontinuation of items and store opening times. So, by all means, contact Head Office if you have a complaint – just as long as you can get to grips with the fact that we’re not purposely hiding hoards of tinned baked beans from you to make your day a living hell.

And now to tackle another common misconception. I’ll try to break it to you gently. Much like you, retail employees only have one pair of eyes and hands. I know, it’s a bit of travesty that we’re simply human and not blessed with supernatural gifts or extra limbs. Please, therefore, refrain from shouting abuse at us, and giving us looks that could kill for not noticing that you were in front of the current person we’re serving in the queue… dude, it’s an accident. We aren’t going out of our way to pretend you don’t exist (you’re not that special, FYI) and we’re also not going to stop in the middle of serving someone else just because you want to butt in and tell us that we need to serve you first. Our apologies, oh perfect one who has never made a mistake before.

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Remember when you were younger and you were (hopefully) taught to use basic manners such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? Well, those words still apply in retail stores, folks! Aside from the fact that basic politeness should be hardwired in your brain, manners really do go a long way and can make a huge difference to our day. This is especially so as retail employees work hella long hours on our feet, while receiving little to no recognition, praise or money for it as it is.

So, please, be a decent human or take yo’ business elsewhere!


Every retail employee, ever.


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