Retail Heaven and Hell

retailWorking in retail, one requirement of my job led a customer to actually refer to me as Satan. Yes, you read right. Satan. Seven hours into my nine hour, Saturday pay-day weekend shift, I never expected my name and the devil to be combined in the same sentence.


One would think I had negatively remarked on the fuchsia pink, floral, peplum dress she was purchasing (too many trends in one, no?) or perhaps I had insinuated that this item was not going to withstand the copious amounts of fake bake on her body from the neck down? No. I was simply offering her what all serial shoppers have encountered on more than one occasion (and some are still alive to tell the tale); the infamous store card.


As the transaction slowly draws to a close, I can feel the dreaded words bubbling in my throat. My palms become clammy in disarray; I have tapped ‘total’ on the generic till screens and I can feel my manager’s eyes burning into the back of my head. Now, how to make the pitch? I have all the ammunition I need; stats, figures, discounts, but which one will come out winning? Which one has the best form of tackle?


I’ve rehearsed my script. I know my lines. I take the plunge. I’ve opted for ‘Did you know?’ as my first port of call (it always gets the ears perking). She immediately catches wind of what I’m about to say. Interest is dwindling, her iPhone just received a text message, I have to strike now while the iron is still hot. “You could get 15% off your next purchase AND a free £5 voucher to spend, if you’d like to open a card today?” but alas, she cuts me off with a blunt, straight forward ‘NO’, halfway between ‘15% off’ and ‘purchase’. She comments “Don’t tempt me, Satan”, whilst she holds her hand up to my face, almost as though she’s halting traffic.


I feel embarrassed, yet this is a familiar situation to me. This is the same story with every one of the 300 customers I serve that day. When one young girl actually shows some sort of interest, her mother steps in to give me a frightful look which says ‘shame on you’. I pull back, defeated.


This is usually the way my working day goes and in the unlikely event that one customer actually listens to what I have to say and accepts my ‘offer’, I’ve actually cried out ‘really?!’ in disillusionment. For you see, I rarely succeed when it comes this element of my job and when I do, it is a joyous moment!


So you see, we sales assistant aren’t merely robots trying to get you in debt; we just want to give you all your options without an angry glance or the raise of a hand.


This article is no way trying to justify or defend the use of store cards but merely to let people know that there is a person on the other side of the sales counter and we do not take kindly to being referred to as Satan.


By Fiona Anderson