How to not be an ass during your holiday shopping
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
The holiday season is supposed to be a wonderful time of year that brings people together and fills everyone’s heart with joy—that is, unless you work in retail. If you do happen to be one of those poor, poor souls, then the holiday season is a time of stress, insane amounts of overtime, and frequent minor workplace injuries. In fact, the only thing that grows more than your collection of bruises is the dread over having to do it all again next year. As someone who works in retail, I am here to tell you exactly how you can avoid becoming the bane of some mild-mannered department store lackey’s existence.
To be clear, I am not here to judge. As someone not entirely filled with the Ho Ho Hos, I understand that the weight of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list and having to battle your way through your local mall to do so can be incredibly stress inducing. I’m just here to let you know what problems a retail worker can’t fix for you.
- There is no magical horde of things in the back room. If you ask if an item is in stock, and the employee says no, then it’s not. You insisting that they check in the back is generally a waste of their time and yours. Retail workers are not dragons so they are not hording all the good stuff in the back so that you can’t buy it, that defeats the purpose of retail. However, if you ask if an item is in stock and an employee replies that they might have it in the back, then you’re a-okay! Not everything can go on the shelf at once, so asking is good—it’s the demanding that makes you a jerk.
- Don’t get mad if they don’t know what you’re asking for. Stores in general are large buildings filled with a lot of stuff. If you only have a general idea of a very specific gift one of your loved ones asked for, it’s not the employee’s fault that they don’t know what you need. If all you can remember is “camera,” and not the specific make or model that your intended wants, don’t be surprised if someone making minimum wage can’t tell you the exact item to buy.
- Websites can be wrong. Never take information available on a website as gospel when it comes to what a store’s inventory may be. If you’re travelling a long distance to hopefully pick up a much desired item, there’s a magical device called a telephone. Calling and asking someone in the store if they have an item ensures that it will be there when you arrive to buy it, and if the employee is especially nice, they might even set it aside for you. Getting angry and yelling when information on a website misled you won’t help anything—you’re still not leaving with that item. All you’ve done is make someone else miserable too, and that’s totally not in the spirit of the season.
- Don’t be mad if you get passed around. Larger department stores are generally guiltier of this as opposed to smaller outfits, but if one or two employees get someone else to come and help you, it isn’t because they don’t like you. In general, people working at a store will have a couple different specialties; they might know the items in one department really well, but fail when it comes to any other department. Sometimes, they might just be there because they’re really good at sweeping floors—all of that is normal. So if an employee says they need to call someone else to help you, don’t take it as an insult. Sometimes you might have to repeat your question four different times to four different people, and if you don’t think you can handle that, then try shopping online.
- Saying you’re going to go somewhere else isn’t a threat. With how busy stores are during the holiday season, every retail worker is secretly hoping that you go somewhere else, especially if you’re the type of problematic customer that uses this phrase as a threat. Retail workers are not company owners—they don’t care if you take your money someplace else, because they don’t profit from you spending money at their place of employment—that is, unless they work on commission—so they get paid whether you buy that overpriced red toaster or not.