Adressing service people by name

If you encounter people in service industries who are wearing name tags, do you address them by name? At my local supermarket, I make the effort to notice people’s names, and address them by name.

Not really. It feels overly familiar to me. If I encounter the person more than once, or we talk for an extended period of time, then yes, I will get their name. But for a brief exchange, not really. I will be friendly, and smile, and be polite, and try to make their job easier if I can, but I’m not really comfortable using their name.

My step MIL goes out of her way to learn the name of every service person she meets, and she loudly attempts to be their buddy, and it sounds to me kind of patronizing and phony (not saying it always is, just the way she does it.) My step MIL is not a phony, she is a very nice woman, but not for the faint of heart, and I always feel sorry when she talks to complete strangers like she’s known them for years.

No, I don’t, unless I’m a frequent customer, and usually only if I’ve been asked MY name, or if they make a point of telling me their names. I’ve had to wear name tags. This doesn’t mean that I wanted customers to know my name, it means that the company I worked for wanted customers to know my name, presumably so that if I messed up, I could be identified.

Most people who deal with customers are not looking to engage in social interactions with the customers, they’re just trying to get through their shift.

Now, I do take note of various service people (like the guy at Half Price Books who knows my tastes in science fiction and fantasy, and lets me know if they have anything he thinks that I’d like), and I chitchat with some of them. But for the most part, even though they are friendly, they aren’t friends. They are just doing their jobs.

I ONLY do this at my Shaws (I go to the same one every time), and only really with checkout and baggers.

Ugh - don’t do this - it’s overly familiar and creepy. These people don’t want to be your friend, they want to ring your groceries and get you out of there ASAP so they can move on to the next person.

If you stopped doing it to people who you’d been addressing by name, they’d probably wonder if they had offended you. But really, most clerks just don’t really care for it, it feels invasive.

Yah, that’s true actually - if you’ve seen the same checker and packer twice a week for the past year and been calling them by name it would be weird to stop now, but if it’s new people every time I wouldn’t start using their name until you’ve seen them at least a half a dozen times and they show some sign of recognizing you when you go through their lane.

No, never. I don’t like it when they address me by name (after getting it off my debit/check) as company policy forces them to, and assume it’d feel overly familiar to them too.

The only time I ever call retail people by their name is when we “know” each other. By that, I mean that we can recognize each other by faces and they know my name. When I go to buy beer and Vern waves at me and says “Hey Flat, how are you doing today” I’ll call him by name and make some lame joke about how my day is going to get much better now that beer is happening. When the clerk at the supermarket calls me “Ms Lined”, I know she doesn’t care and I just thank her and leave.

However, if I’ve gotten great service, i.e. someone who went out of his/her way to help me find something that I’m clueless about, I will use their name, but that’s just I will remember it long enough to get home and call the manager to offer up compliments.

If you’re a regular and you use it normally, sure. Otherwise, no. Speaking of someone who used to be on the other side, it felt creepy. When I was a waitress in college, I used to hate it when customers used my name. I had to wear a nametag, they knew my name, I didn’t know their name. There was a certain type of people that would use my name often and frequently, as if to make a point. It almost seemed like a show of dominance, not a friendly thing. I’m sure there were some regular and friendly people that noticed my name and wanted to use it as a kindness, but there was just too much negative connotation from the people that used it like a weapon.

Hopefully, I didn’t make that sound like a HUGE deal. It was a minor annoyance, really. Just enough to make my teeth itch when I heard “We’re ready for you take our order, JENNIFER” or “can we get the check, JENNIFER”

All of the above is understandable. However it seems to me that people who find themselves addressed according to their name tags and don’t like it really should be objecting to (or about) their employers, not the customers. I mean, wearing a name tag is wearing a sign that asks people to address you a given way.

I can think of three types of interactions involving customers using my name.

  1. Customer will stroll up to me and say “Cazzle, where do I find the paperclips?”, and then I find myself giving directions to the paperclips while trying to figure out if I actually know them or if they’ve just read my name badge. I hate that.

  2. Customer will pointedly look at my name badge as I’m finishing up their transaction and say “Thank you, Cazzle”. The sentiment is appreciated, but it comes across as patronizing.

  3. Regular customers gradually begin to use my name after we’ve established a pattern of recognising and acknowledging each other. That’s cool with me. It doesn’t feel forced and false like the other two kinds of interactions, and I’ll try to learn and use their names too (where possible).

This is what I was trying unsuccessfully to articulate at 2am last night. There are people who are friendly, and then there are people who use your name like they’re oh-so-magnanimous to acknowledge you’re a person. I’ll take apathy over cloying overfamiliarity any day, personally.

No. I figure since service people aren’t looking for conversation, they don’t mind that I’m as mute as possible when I interact with them.

I grew up in the deep South, and I can’t imagine calling anyone I wasn’t introduced to anything but “ma’am” or “sir”.

People with strong feelings about this subject one way or the other are way too uptight/neurotic.

It’s creepy because it’s a question of boundaries. The people who used it as a dominance thing were making the point that they could intrude into your boundaries, while you had to show them respect. Some people have very few personal boundaries, and really don’t understand why someone would not want to be bestest buddies with a customer. The fact of the matter is that most service people don’t define themselves by their jobs, and would prefer to have some barriers between their personal and work lives. The suits think that by being forced to wear a name tag, this makes the whole store seem friendlier and more personal to the customers.

Agree with Lynn – though I’ll sometimes use their name if they go out of their way to help me with something extraordinary or otherwise seem to be an extremely outgoing person desirous of making a connection (not to be confused with just regular, friendly customer service). Oddly enough, I tend to avoid using names even in those circumstances when a woman with a name tag is attractive and is even flirtatious (apparently). That would seem pretty creepsville to me.

If a person has given me stellar service, I make a point of first noticeably looking at their name tag (so there’s no “do I know her?” confusion) and then saying, “Thank you so much, Jennifer, you’ve been really helpful.”

If there’s been a customer service issue and someone has told me something I think I might need to reference later, I’ll say, “What was your name? Oh, thanks, Jennifer.” Just cements it in my mind if later I need to talk to the manager and she wants to know what yahoo promised me the world and couldn’t deliver.

What about a waitperson who introduces themselves by their name as in ‘Hello, I’m Sue and I will be your server this evening’?
That feels more like an invitation to call them by name than merely wearing a badge.