Throughout college, and for a few months after graduation, I worked as a jewellery and watch sales associate at a department store.
My salary was commission based, and while my paychecks could be really high because I worked in a mall in an affluent suburb, I often had to bite my tongue with customers.
Here are some of the things they did that made employees’ blood boil.
1. Not believing a sales associate when they say the store is out of something
Yes, I know you really want that Michael Kors rose gold watch, but if I tell you the company is sold out, I’m probably not lying. Think of it this way: sales associates want to make a sale, so we’re going to do pretty much anything to make that happen. Trust me, my paycheck and I also wish we still carried that watch.
2. Buying something knowing you’re going to return it
If you’re not sure about a purchase, don’t make it. Go home, think about it, and come back if you still want it.
I once had a customer buy $1,000 worth of jewellery from me only to return all of it a few days later. Like all returns at the department store I worked at, this came out of my paycheck, plus the customer specifically asked for me to process the return. Department stores aren’t rental stores. Those places do exist though, so if you’re looking to rent, go there instead.
3. Interrupting a sales associate when they’re already helping someone else
Sometimes it seemed as if the customer I was helping was invisible to other customers looking for assistance. I would be mid-sentence with one customer, when another would butt in and demand “how much is this?”
This would not only interrupt my sale, but would sometimes lead me to attempt to help two customers at once, which is difficult and technically not allowed where I worked.
4. Coming into the store a few minutes before close
If you want to spend 45 minutes browsing Kate Spade earrings, be my guest, just don’t choose to do it five minutes before the store is supposed to close. Employees who have been on their feet working for the past eight hours want to get home to their families too. Come back tomorrow — the store and earrings will still be there.
5. Going from one sales associate to another
A word to the wise for those shoppers who don’t know much about how department stores work: most employees work on commission, which means their pay is a percentage of what they sell. So if you start with one associate, stick with them. If you start with one person, and then end up buying from someone else, the original associate who started helping you in the first place isn’t going to get the sale they deserve.
Yes, employees are supposed to have floor awareness and know who is helping whom, but customers can also help with this. Consider it common courtesy in the shopping world.
6. Talking on your cell phone while working with a sales associate
I’m not here to listen to you coordinate your daughter’s pick up from school. I’m here to help you buy something. So put down your phone and let me do my job. It’s also simply polite to wrap up your call before grabbing a sales associate.
7. Carelessly leaving merchandise where it doesn’t belong
Yes, it’s part of a sales associates’ job to put merchandise away. But did you really have to leave those tangled necklaces on top of the watch counter? At least bring it to an employee so they can deal with it then, and not find it two minutes before closing.
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