The Counter Culture: The Other Side Of The Experience – Assistants Tell All Part #2

By | January 16 2012 | 37 Comments

Sex and the City girls

Last week we had part one of beauty and fashion sales assistants telling all about the horrific things customers do. Have a read if you haven’t seen it already – Thai brides, dirty protests and pervy perfume purchasers abound. This week, we’ve got the frustrations of a beauty counter gal to be humbled by.

“I’ve been working in a prestigious cosmetics hall for eight  years and I think I’ve seen it all. I do love my job really. 99% of my clients are lovely. It’s the few people who make you feel like a servant – that’s the worst feeling!

“One of the worst was when a customer threw a lipstick at my face because we were out of stock. It was Christmas week and somehow the tester was left out. Customer picked it up and waited to be served. I went up to her and she had the tester and asked for it. I said ‘sorry we’re out of it’. She threw the lipstick at my face and said she couldn’t believe she’d been waiting 10 f**king minutes and we don’t have it! She didn’t even give me a chance to say we had one almost exactly like it in stock!

“Another lady came up to the counter one day looking really ill. She asked would I do her make up. I said of course. She sat down and began to tell me that she just had swine flu and felt like crap and couldn’t sit in the house any longer and wanted to feel better … now I felt sorry for her but come on! Then she sneezed on me … And that’s actually a common occurance! Lots of my colleagues complain of clients coming in with cold and flus. I’ve been sneezed on more than once –  we are people too! We pick up colds too!

“Another thing that we see a lot is clients coming in to get their make up done for an event. I always ask if they are wearing make up as I’ll have to cleanse it off. The response … ‘only what’s left over from last night.’ Yup!

“I’ve had clients eat the head off me because something’s been discontinued. I know it sucks but it’s not our fault.

“But one of the worst things clients do is the following, and again really common occurance. I come accross it about twice a day: Client sitting on the chair getting make up done … phone rings in their bag … cue major search in the bag to get phone and then continue to have a conversation while I’m standing there waiting like an eejit. I have been in the middle of doing eyeliner and next thing the head is down looking for phone, without a sorry or warning. I feel this is one of the rudest things a person can do. I rarely get a person who won’t answer the phone when it rings during make over.

“The worst story comes from a hairdresser friend who said a client answered her phone while her hair was getting washed over the basin! Just got up mid wash went to her bag and got her phone … then complained her back was all wet!”

If you’re a beauty or fashion sales assistant and would like to let us know about some funny/awful/jaw-dropping experiences you’ve had, we’d love to hear them! We know from talking to sales assistants and makeup artists over the years that there are many more clangers out there we’d love to tell. It’s totally anonymous of course, and you can email your stories to Cheers!

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37 Replies to "The Counter Culture: The Other Side Of The Experience – Assistants Tell All Part #2"

  • Daisydaisy says:

    Oh lord….seriously, who lets these people out in public. I would die if i thought me or anyone belonging to me acted like that to a shop assistant. As for the phone thing, yes that is extremely rude. I used to work in a bank and so many people would land at the counter while on their phone and expect me to read their minds as to what they wanted doing!!! So rude…its not to difficult to put it on silent for 20 mins….

  • Chris says:

    You can’t fix stupid. You really can’t…

  • Melancholia says:

    I used to work (well still do in holidays) at a certain wuperbug store. The worst customer was either elder ladies with a max factor lipstick that they had just used up from the 80s wondering if I could find it for them again. People wanting a lipstick that stays on all day, but doesn’t dry your lips and for £3.99. It is not possible. Chanel can’t do it so I don’t know why you expect it from Miss Sporty! Then trying to explain how you can have hydration but reapply or clingy lipstick that will need industrial balm at the end of the day.
    Also, customers that just come up to you and say “soap”. I once answered back “sponge” and added that I thought we were playing a game of word association (only on the good humored looking ones!)
    And please stop asking if I work there. I will answer in a sarcastic tone “Oh no, I just get my kicks from stacking shelves”.
    Agree with the discontinued thing too. It’s no good telling me. I just advise them to contact the company directly and then they usually wander off muttering angrily.
    Having gotten that off my chest, there are some absolutely lovely customers who talk to you at the till, no phone or earbuds in sight and you can have a nice little chat while you scan items and both of you are happier for it!

  • Sarah says:

    I work in a retail outlet ‘mildare tillage’ *wink wink* and work in a shop sellings a section on childrens clothes. Having worked there for the past four years, ive seen it all and to be turly honest, my spirit is broken from it. People constanly undermine, belittle, anger, let down and are just plain rude to be. One in particular happened recently.

    A woman came into the shop with a babygrow. A white one, completly neutral. It was white vellure and had a baby’s soother etched on the from and ‘mon bebe’ on the back. The garment fitted the child, she simply didnt like it. It was two seasons old, no recipt and no tags. When this grown woman was told sincerely apologetically that there was nothing we could do, she stomped her foot, literally cried as she said ‘what the f*ck do you expect me to do with this now?!’ Im 20, work in a childrens shop and was already having a bad enough day but that aside, who uses language/behaviour like this in a childrens shop!

    Each weekend I leave the place a little sadder then when i went in. People constantly coming in at 5.55 knowing we close at 6, expeting us to stop our lives to serve them. I genuinely couldn write enough about what I’ve experienced in my time in retail, even though its only been 4 years and i am still very young. People genuinely never cease to astound me with rudeness!

  • ceci says:

    I worked in Penneys and Roches when I was in college and I can’t imagine having to go back to that, particularly Penneys. People would treat you like you were their servant or like you were stupid, very frustrating.

    Roches on Henry Street really was a lovely shop though. I worked in the cafe there and some of the older ladies came in every day for their tea and had been coming for years and years. They were so sad when it closed, Debenhams just doesn’t have the same feel to it.

  • Harto says:

    The phone thing… I always let mine go when getting hair or make up done… now the nice people looking after me often ask do I need to get it but honestly whatever it is can wait the half an hour or so until I’m done. I look forward to unreachable salon time!

  • AshBrazz says:

    I work in a pharmacy and completely agree that it is so rude when someones on the phone when being served, especially when theres a queue…

    Also, this didnt happen to me but a girl that i work with had a horrible experience over the summer, similar to one of the stories in the last post on this. a fairly elderly man came in looking for johnnies but couldnt find them so asked my colleague, which is perfectly reasonable considering theyre in an awkward place. when she led him to them, he started askig her for “advice” about them and went so far as to ask which ones she found most pleasurable! the poor girl has to hide every time he comes in!!

  • Kitty In The City says:

    Sarah, my heart goes out to you, that is awful.

  • Nora says:

    The most recent one that happened to me..I work in a shoe shop in town. A lady came in with our bag and a pair of boots she had bought in November. She came up to me and went ‘i’d just like to return these’. I asked of course ‘Have you the reciept?’. She handed it to me and I noted that date…early in November. I said this two her and explained our sales/return policy (WHICH WAS PRINTED ON THE RECEIPT IN CLEAR WRITING). She insisted ‘ that I thought you have 6 months to return stuff to shops’. I told her, this would be extremely unlikely in the case of footwear/clothes because of the seasonal changes etc., that her receipt said otherwise and she should of referenced it before coming in. She was adamant and I went to my manager, she also said no also. The woman literally stayed 20 minutes in my way…saying is there nothing you can do, i didn’t know, the usual sob story etc. I gave in and told her that she could look around and perhaps exchange for a full priced pair of shoes only. Anyway she looked around, asked for boots/shoes, I was running up and down the stairs. Even other customers were looking sideways at her. She didn’t change in the long run and she left with her boots. Chancing her arm, as a lot of people do.

    Sometimes I just don’t know whether putting in so much effort with people is really worth it. You try so hard sometimes, and people end up taking the piss completely asking for shoe after shoe after shoe. Then if the customer doesn’t get their way or find a shoe, they complain in your face, or online, or to friends about your shop when really it is their appalling attitude and manners. No doubt customers who are absolute dickheads in stores, are dickheads in life also. I pity them when they have nothing better to do than look down their nose at you.

    Sorry for my rant there but it does get annoying sometimes.

    It’s funny though, working in retail makes you very aware of how you are as a customer and I always appreciate sales staff to the best I can. I shall email on some stories!

  • Buttons says:

    I feel for you Sarah, no one should be treated like that, but I have to say it really is a bugbear of mine when you go into a shop before they close and the staff are dead rude to you. If they are open until 6 and it’s 5.55, then you are still open!

    I work in childcare, and we would never be rude to a parent who is late for their child. If it gets really late and they have a habit of doing it, we do have a charge but I have never charged it, and none of my colleagues have either.

  • Caroline says:

    Sarah life is too short – leave!!

  • Wow all that from a single sales assistant? Poor lamb, I feel for her.
    Unfortunately people tend to forget a simple thing call “respect” when they’re out of their home, what happened to “don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you”?
    I bet those people are the exact same complaining about every single little thing that don’t go their way!
    For crying out loud even if you’re not happy it doesn’t excuse not being polite and respectful. That’s how I live my life and I’d love to see more people doing it too.
    It makes my blood boil when I hear stories like that, really.

  • Sugar says:

    I’d hope I’m not a nasty customer. I feel really guilty now for having one earphone bud in when I paid at a register in Dunnes earlier now, but it didn’t bother me when I worked there. Just difficult to juggle everything when you’re alone.
    Worst I had when I worked there was getting chatted up by underage teens trying to buy drink while a queue built up behind them.
    Also had a lovely old lady empty about 2 years worth of 1 cents everywhere to pay, they bounced off everywhere, on the floor, on the till, my chair, some even went down my top. Haha then she goes ‘I suppose you’re the expert in counting!’ and winked. That was funny though!

  • Aifs says:

    I worked in a children’s clothes shop before. The majority of customers were lovely. Every few months they shop would do “25% off everything” promotions. There was a lady in one of those days and she had a voucher for €150. I was trying to be the helpful sales assistant and told her that the total came to something like €130 but if she wanted to get something priced €25 she would get it for €20 today. She said no it’s fine I have everything I need. I said perfect and handed her back a €20 voucher. She went MENTAL. She was telling me I should be giving her a €25 voucher back. There was no reasoning with her. I kept repeating that the offer was on today if she wanted to avail of it – not that you get more vouchers back. She eventually picked up something to avail of the offer but it was done with huge sighs as if she was doing me a favour! I wish I had just kept my mouth shut.

    That shop also did Buy one get one HALF PRICE. The amount of people who read buy one get one free was unreal. We used to also group items so that the customer would get the best value but they used to always assume you were doing them out of money. A couple of times I had to go through the whole thing that I had just put through going “You got this so this was half price” Others would pick up a pair of €40 shoes and €5 socks and expect to get the shoes for half price.

    I also worked in a department store and had a pile of clothes thrown across the counter to me when I politely told a man (a few days before Christmas)that he would have to join the queue – he skipped a queue of about 20 people.

  • Aifs says:

    Oooops my maths is off in the first story! lol!! It was years ago. It was something like that. :) I worked it out on the calculator for her that day. You get the idea anyway!

  • Marie says:

    I used to work in a pharmacy and most customers were lovely. One day though, a woman came in to order MBTs. They have their own version of sizing, so you have to measure the customer’s foot first. The woman kept insisting she was a size 6 while I tried to explain several times that that didn’t matter. Finally, she clued in and I measured her foot. I then had to fill in the order form and as I was writing it she went ballistic altogether and starting shouting at me to hurry up cos she was double-parked outside and didn’t want to get a ticket. I tried to write as fast as I could so I could give her the receipt but she just continued to make a spectacle in front of everyone in the shop. She then told me it would be my fault if she got a ticket – and not, ya know, her own for double-parking!

    Some old men used to be really pervy too. One really old guy used to come in and incessantly make innuendoes and even smacked one of the girls I work with across the ass one day!

  • Sarah says:

    @Kitty In The City -Thank you, it sucks!

    @Caroline- Im trying, hard to find a job though :(

    @Buttons- If I am rude to a customer, I get a verbal warning, so I can assure you that is not the case. Parents running late to collect their child and someone coming in sauntering around the place having a browse, expecting us to wait until theyre done are completly different things. I completly understand someone rushing in to buy a last minute present, a pair of pants because their child had an accident, or a jacket because its arctic outside, heck ill gladly help them and chat away, but when they come in, unfold tops, turn hangers the wrong war round, leave garments in a heap on the ground, I tend to get annoyed and try my best not to show it. People forget that we have to stay until the store is clean again, we may not get over time, get no thanks. It in turn makes us late, late getting home, late getting the dinner ready, late collecting our children from day-care? Im just using it as an example. After a 7-8 hour shift on your feet all day, all you want to do is get home asap! I will achknowledge that some sales assistants are pricks and I have no idea how on earth they get away with it, that astounds me too!!

    I am by no means going OTT here, you genuienly would be shocked at what goes on! It really makes you think twice when your in a shop after working in retail.

  • Shanna says:

    Sarah, that’s terrible! You’ve some patience, bless you – hope you find something better for you.

    Have very little retail experience, but used to work for local council – the abuse I got on a daily basis was disgusting. People just could not get it into their heads that I was just the receptionist. I used to get it in the neck about people’s water, the roadsweeper blocking their entrances, why they didn’t deserve a parking fine, why they hadn’t gotten a council house yet, why their rent went up, why someone didn’t ring them back, why they got a litter fine, – you name it. Had a constant headache in the place, and genuinely encountered some of the rudest, most ignorant people on this planet. It made me very, very aware of how I behave in any situation that involves speaking to an assistant or receptionist – even if I’m having the shittiest day known to man, I try really hard to be polite and smile. Manners costs nothing!

  • Julia says:

    I work answering the phone at a domestic service company and everyday I am astounded by rudeness -was told today to ‘not sigh’ by an extremely rude woman who had no instance details to give me and expected me to know all her details and the fact that she had married and her name had changed. It is all my fault that machines have broken, it is as if I have designed them with a timed mechanical breakdown bomb in them! I will never get over how vile so many people actually are – it has made me cynical about the human race!!

  • Fee says:

    Shanna – I hear you. I work in the public service and experience that problem from the other end i.e. the poor receptionist putting someone through to me really apologetically because they haven’t been able to help the caller and the person has been really rude/aggressive to them. Only, funny enough, when they get through to me they’re not like that at all. It really shows people up for what they truly are.

    I worked in retail all through college and wouldn’t have any super horror stories except major rudeness. One woman did come in looking for something one day which I genuinely thought was out of stock; after she found one in the shop she came back up to me specifically to accuse me of lying. It was Christmas, the shop was crazy and she was obviously super-stressed, but then so was I! Get a grip, like.

    It wouldn’t be funny if I was experiencing these stories personally I’m sure but you have to laugh. Shouting at someone in a shop cos you’re double-parked or crying cos you can’t get a refund, seriously??!! It’s SHOPPING. No-one is making you do it!

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