How To Be a Good Customer

That seems kind of harsh. It’s preferable to throw food away than give it to hungry people?

I’m sure this is mentioned because it’s happened before…


Ok, are people just too lazy to put on any clothes to run to McDonald’s, or is this just like some kind of goofy prank?

Yes, it is harsh.

It’s a liability consideration, especially in this day and age. This was discussed in a previous thread a few months ago, when a hotel threw away 300 dinners. The company giving the food away is generally responsible for any illnesses/injuries attributed to the food (remember the McD’s hot coffee case?).

For example: This McD’s decides to give its food away to the homeless that night. One of the said homeless doesn’t eat his hamburger right away, but stashes it in a coat pocket and forgets about it until 2 days later, when he eats it and comes down with a serious case of food poisoning. All he’s going to remember is that it was a McD’s hamburger that made him sick, and a possibility to make a little cash from it. Yeah, it’s a stretch, but this is what food establishments try to avoid, because it could happen.

It bugs me, too, that most of the restaurant industry has resorted to having to throw away food, but when it comes down to liability and health & safety issues, it has to be done.

Unsolicited advice for customer service folk:

  1. If you wish to work retail, work for a place that treats the employees well. Silly customer questions can be annoying. But they can also be a part of the job that’s fun, funny, and an insight into the quirkiness of humanity. A lot depends on how happy the overall conditions of the job are. It’s no surprise to me how many “big box” store retail workers seem to be the unhappiest with their customers.

  2. Customers are never going to change, no matter how many threads we run here. They will never read the signs, control their kids, understand simple store policy, or be prepared to wait. Accept this from day one on the job.

  3. If you can’t laugh at most customer’s foibles, get out now. Work in a place where you’ll feel happy as life is too short not to do this. Our regular customers include “Fred”, who spends WAY too long in the bathroom and thinks the police are out to get him, “Jenny” who believes everything has deadly mold on it and dangles crystals over the food to see if it is safe, and “The Bonnises” an elderly couple who can’t stand anyone or, it seems, each other but who buy ridiculous amounts while always returning things for strange reasons. I could list 100 others. Who needs TV sitcoms?

  4. When the especially rude or obnoxious customer comes along, move away when it gets too hairy. Pass them off to the manager. If your management will not protect you from exceptional rudeness or sexual harrassment from the customer, seek employment with someone who will respect you.

  5. Get good at customer service and then demand higher pay from the boss. If you don’t get it, there are plenty of retailers out there who’d pay you better to work for them. Green Bean, if you’re ever unhappy at your retail job, come work at mine. We’ll pay you more and give you good on-the-job benefits. We save our lowest pay for those who don’t like customers–that is until we can replace them.

Green Bean is my new hero- If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was my sister, the retail queen. My sister manages a CVS drugstore, and has the patience of a saint. I’ve seen her in action, and the care and attention she pays to her customers who are a HUGE pain in the ass is unreal. Carry on…

From when I was a supermarket cashier:

  1. If your coupon is for a 12-pack of Pepsi, you will not get money off a 12-pack of Coke. Or a 12-pack of Sprite. No, there is nothing I can do about this.
  2. You cannot buy cigarettes with food stamps. No, there is nothing I can do about this.
  3. You cannot buy your lottery tickets here. But you can buy them at the counter underneath the big sign marked “Lottery Tickets.”
  4. No, we do not sell alcohol here (note: this was in PA). You can buy beer at the distributor down the road, and wine at the state store elsewhere in this shopping center. No, I cannot change state policy to allow the sale of alcohol in this supermarket.
  5. You cannot buy laundry detergent or cat food with food stamps. No, there is nothing I can do about this.
  6. I can’t call the bus company to find out if the bus is running late. You see, this cash register does not transform into a phone.

I might as well chime in to offer the point of view from a customer service representative for an e-commerce company. Fortunately for me, I’ve moved onward and upward in the company. Some of these suggestions work for anyone, really, and not just when a customer interacts with customer service. (And yes, I know there is the word ‘service’ in the job title, but ferchrissakes, it can be easier for everyone involved…)

  1. When you’re buying something on line, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING. You’re dealing with live ammo. You’re ringing up your order yourself. Sit down, read the FAQ on the website, make sure you understand the shopping cart, and don’t assume it’s going to be the same as Bob’s House Of Software’s shopping cart.

  2. When calling customer service, have some basic information on hand. Useful things, like the order number we gave you when you placed your order, or the emailed confirmation you got after you placed the order. You know, stuff that sounds like it might be important.

  3. If you purchased a downloadable product, and you’re having trouble with the download, call us when you’re at your computer. This is sensible. Don’t ask us to troubleshoot a computer problem when all you can say is “I’m not able to download … no, I’m not anywhere near my computer, why do you ask?”

  4. Look at the refund policy. This ties in with #1. If you blithely go ahead and buy a product from a vendor with a ‘no return’ policy, who also made that policy readily available to anyone who would look, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

  5. The part of the process that says “this is what you’re ordering and this is where you’re shipping it to. Do you really really wanna do this?” REALLY MEANS IT. Don’t think you’ll be asked again!

Oh, well. I did my stint in the trenches …

EnderW23, sorry, I should have been more clear, We had it shipped overnight and we paid for the shipping, not the jacket, and I will never ever tell you where I work.

It does amaze me though the things that customers get away with when they are unstisfied. I think some people have turned it into an art form.

There was another situation recently where, one of the employees forgot to take a sensor off one of the 13 items that a gentleman bought. For whatever reason, it didn’t beep on the way out, so the customer didn’t discover it until he got home. When he came back he was furious, I guess he had a right. I apologized profusely on behalf of the person who had made the mistake. It wasn’t enough. He was pissed that he had to drive seven miles, out of his way to return them. I was really sorry and had my manager issue him a twenty-five dollar gift card for his trouble.

I know that my store was in the wrong in this situation, but the customer was also carried away. Even though i was the person on the register at the time of his return he made a point of going over to the girl who had made the mistake, and berating her.

I know the customer is always right, but the girl was brand new and more than a little nervous the day the incident happened. It’s a huge store, we do ariound 60,000 dollars a day in sales, it is only human that she made a small mistake. We rectified the situation, gave him something extra for his trouble and still it wasn’t enough.

All I have to say customers, is please be patient, I am not perfect, nor is anyone. I will try my hardest to not make mistakes, but when I do, publicly humiliating me isn’t going to make the mistake dissapear, in fact it’s probably going to hurt. The girl he yelled at quit, in tears, and we had to hire someone new, starting the training process over again.

I’m not saying that retailers have the right to treat customers carelessly, or should a customer be forced to deal with constant rudeness or stupidity. But try to have a little patience. Your understanding will certainly help us do our job a little better.

I am a cashier at a supermarket. I have the privelege of dealing with people in their worst moods, doing their least favorite errand of the day, week, whatever.

  1. It’s not my fault you read a sign or ad wrong, “thought” you saw that something was on sale, or let your coupon expire. I really don’t care how much you pay for something and yelling at me or my manager won’t change that.

  2. At my particular store, only office staff personnel (all of whom are in possession of override keys to the registers) are able to type in the price of something if it isn’t in the computer. So no, I can’t “just type it in” and the fact that you’re in a hurry doesn’t change that.

  3. I’m sorry that I have to see your driver’s license with your credit card. I’m not trying to obtain valuable personal information, and I’m not implying that I don’t trust you. It’s a policy, and I have to follow it.

  4. I have to see your driver’s license whether you have already copied what you believe to be the neccesary information on the check or not. I could walk into any retail business, copy bogus numbers onto a check, and rip the store off. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, but don’t yell at me because I have to re-write or verify your information.

  5. If the register stops working for some unexplained reason, do not yell at me as if I have intentionally sabatoged the machine in order to delay your shopping experience. I don’t know how or why it broke anymore than you do, nor do I somehow enjoy making you pick up and move. Yelling at me and storming off doesn’t change the condition of the machine.

  6. When I ask for ID on alcohol, don’t simply tell me your birthdate. Use some common sense; your birthday means nothing to me. Your ID is what gets you the alcohol.

  7. When I greet you, and I say “did you find everything you needed?” please keep in mind that this is not because I care in the least if you found everything or anything at all. I am paid $7.25 and hour to make you happy. This includes greeting you a certain way; it doesn’t include genuinely caring. Therefore, please don’t get on a 5-minute speech about how we don’t carry <insert obscure item here> and how we should because Kroger does and blah blah blah. If we don’t have it, we don’t have it. It’s not my fault.
    On this same note, nobody find its funny when you respond to the aforementioned question with “too much” or “everything and more” or some variation of these. We hear this from every other customer. You aren’t the first.

  8. Finally, you making a big scene about something has absolutely no affect on us whatsoever once you leave. You are usually ridiculed before we forget about it and move on with our lives.

Nope, I got the point. I got the point a little too well.

You may have titled the thread “How To Be a Good Customer,” but the OP is a rant about customers that do things that annoy you. I responded to the content of the post, not the title of the thread. Maybe you missed my point. I will restate it:

Oh, and please, please, PLEASE-if something does not scan, do NOT NOT NOT say, “It’s FREE!” and then laugh like a hyena. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? You are NOT original!

*I usually answer, No, it’s whatever I want it to be!


As someone who’s usually ordering Happy Meals at the drive-through because she’s too busy to do anything else for dinner, I’m eternally grateful for this. I got SO tired of sitting behind people with minivans full of children who spent ten minutes asking about which Beanie Baby they could get.

My kids complained about the bags being opaque. I told them McDonalds’ wants their toy to be a surprise.

Okay, I echo the sentiment that customers will always be annoying and that they will never change. However, I am here to offer some suggestions on being a good customer in an area that you don’t commonly think of yourself as a customer–the hospital. These are some suggestions that you may not have thought of:

**If you are calling to check on someone, please at least have a vague idea of how to spell the person’s last name. Saying, “I don’t know.” and repeating the name does not help me at all when I am trying to type the name into the computer. Additionally, you can hardly be mad at me when I can’t find the person because I cannot spell the last name closely enough to find it in the computer.

**On a related note, if you call and ask me if someone has been here and I tell you “No”, insisting that they are does not help. I will ask you if the person might go by a different name or if there is a unique spelling but after I have exhausted the possible sources and cannot find it, you will need to call another hospital in the area.

**Just because your neighbor has been gone for four hours and that’s not like him, don’t insist to me that he must be in the emergency room. Call his family. Go over and knock on the door. Ask him to leave you a detailed note everytime he leaves his house.

**Do not call me and ask me where that ambulance you just saw driving down your street is going. I don’t know–and even if I did I could not tell you.

**Do not call and ask about that kid with the red hair and the blue shirt you saw standing beside the wrecked car earlier today unless you have the kid’s name. I cannot give out any information to anyone about any patient unless you give me the first and last name of the patient.

**While I realize that it may be proper and common for people of your generation to only refer to a woman as Mrs. John Smith, it will not get you any information on Mr. Smith’s wife. You must know her first name. We may have seven or eight Ms. Smith’s in the hospital and we do not list them by their husband’s names. The same thing goes for sending mail to Mrs. Smith at the hospital. If you address it to Mrs. John Smith, we have no choice but to return it to you.

**On a related note, any time you send mail to a patient in the hospital, please include your return address. Patients are often discharged by the time mail arrives for them and we usually forward it to them at their home address. However, if you have addressed the card to Mrs. John Smith or “Cookie” Jones (when the patient is listed as Barbara Jones), without a return address, your kind card and warm wishes goes into the garbage.

**Understand that I cannot ring you into the Intensive Care areas just because you want to speak with a physician about your neighbor’s daughter. The Intensive Care Units (adult, neonatal and pediatric) are restricted areas. The patients do not have phones because if they were well enough to chat on the phone, they would not be in ICU. The patients in these areas need rest and we do not like for there to any more noise than absolutely necessary. That is why general overhead pages in the hospital are not broadcast in there and that is why we do not ring callers into those units. We have a family advocate who can give you the patient’s condition and how they are resting (which is the only information we can release to anyone over the phone anyway) or we can ring the waiting room for you to possibly speak to a family member.

**Do not call and insist that I page overhead at 3am for your roommate’s boyfriend’s sister’s fiance’s grandmother because you want to tell her that the cable is out at home. It is 3am and people are sleeping. We do not page overhead after 11pm unless it is an emergency so that patients can get some much needed rest. Also, do not ask to be rung into a patient’s room at 3am. The phones are turned off to all patient rooms at 10:30pm so the patient can rest. If it is an emergency, tell me so and I will ring you to the nurse’s station so they can take a message for the patient.
Okay, I think that’s enough for now!

Patient’s Suck is affialited with Customer’s Suck.
Don’t use cell phones in a hospital-they block important equipment…

Wheeeee! I thought I was the only one who used this line!

If you don’t know about it already, go to and click on the “useless users” link towards the bottom of the page. You are not alone!

Oh my gosh! Thank you! I can’t believe I forgot that one. I second that…it’s not funny! In fact, allow me to make a general statement right now. Most of the stuff you say at the register regarding some aspect of your transaction isn’t all that amusing to us. A well-trained monkey could do my job…It’s mundane, repetitive, and any quips you have on hand regarding your particular experience at my register are gonna go in one ear, and zip right out the other one. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes.

So you would like to eat what otherwise would be trash? Interesting. <Insert obnoxious quote regarding your eating habits here>

Green Bean, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of what was going on in my mind. I’d be extremely surprised if you had greater knowledge of my intentions than I do. I stated in the OP that this is not a rant, just some tips that shoppers might like to know to make the lives of the people they deal with in the store a little easier.

Sometimes at work I will think: “That really bothers me. I know that person doesn’t mean to bother me, but maybe s/he has never worked retail, and doesn’t know that it’s kind of annoying. I’d love to tell him/her that it would make my life easier if they didn’t do that, but that would be rude. Hm, maybe I should tell the Dopers. I’m sure they would prefer to be considerate rather than rude, and maybe if I post some tips, it’ll make their holiday shopping just a little more pleasant (because the people they deal with will be pleased to have such nice customers).”

Some people have turned this thread into kind of a rant place, but that certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when I started it, or I would have posted it in the Pit.

While I realize that parts of my post seemed rant-like, this is what I was trying to accomplish as well. People don’t seem to apply the same kind of logic to customer service issues in a hospital as they do elsewhere even though much of it is similar.

Also, many people are not aware of how very, very important patient confidentiality is in a hospital and they don’t consider that many of the things they get irritated over us not being able to do are for the protection of the patient.

Sorry if I was ranting earlier, I was just trying to be helpful by bringing info to people who might not understand how things work.