TDmonthly Magazine!
October 2013 | Vol. XII - No. 10


Retail Shoppers – Your 50 Pet Peeves About Retail Employees

In the past few weeks I’ve received two pleas from retailers whose stores are about to close.

They want to know how to attract customers. One seemed to think it was just a simple matter of getting more people in the door, even though he has yet to achieve break-even.

Let me be very clear…

Marketing alone won’t help you.

Paid ads, storewide sales and hosting free events are a luxury you don’t have. Until you take a laser focus on your customer, none of the rest matters.

That’s why I asked my 6200 Facebook fans for their retail employee pet peeves. Most of those who responded are retailers themselves. The main consensus seemed to be that until you value what customers say they value, you are often missing the bull’s eye of creating an exceptional experience.

Review this list, then look at your training program. How are you committed to removing these obstacles to purchase?

Here Are 50 Pet Peeves About Retail Employees:

What they don’t do for you:

1. They’re not knowledgeable about their product.

2. They don’t call for more help when they have a line at the register.

3. They don’t load your cart.

4. They don’t greet you.

5. They don’t double-check that they gave me all my bags/products.

6. They don’t smile. I can’t stand a grumpy cashier!!

7. They don’t thank me. They just say "have a good one."

What they do

8. They stand in little employee groups ignoring customers

9. They talk on the phone, never missing a beat in their conversation, leaving you to walk out without ever having spoken a word to you.

10.  They give you the once-over as if to say, “You couldn’t POSSIBLY belong here…”

11.  They speak to you in a language other than English.

12.  They give you a handful of change without counting it back.

13.  They do busy work instead of taking the next person in line.

14.  They text on their cellphone on the sales floor.

15.  They complain about their wages/benefits in front of you.

16.  They fail to acknowledge the customer in a timely manner.

17.  They talk to another employee about personal stuff while ringing you up.

18.  They put a caller before the live person.

19.  They share too much about their personal life.

20.  They have no sense of urgency

21.  Their check their phone while waiting on me

22.  They chat with other employees and ignore me.

23.  They have personal phone calls while standing at the register/behind the counter on sale floor.

24.  They gossip.

25.  They make you find someone to wait on you.

26.  They eat on the sales floor in view of customers.

27.  They follow behind you and straighten up right after you pick something up.

28.  They expect you to get out of his/her way if they are moving down an aisle.

29.  They point to a general location of merchandise.

30.  They chew gum.

31.  They tell you how to get assistance when they could provide the assistance by at least being a liason.

32.  They can’t do simple addition or subtraction to figure out correct change when they incorrectly enter amount tendered

33.  They talk to you while looking over your shoulder… clearly not interested in being present with you!

34.  They walk by as you’re standing at another department counter obviously waiting on help, instead of asking what you need and then calling another employee if needed.

35.  They don’t say excuse me when they step in front of you.

36.  They watch you like you’re going to steal something

37.  They look miffed when you ask for help, after they asked you, “May I help you?”

38.  They forget everything in the store is new to you, even if it's been there for two weeks.

39.  The first thing they do as you walk in the store is say, “Is there anything I can help you with today?”

40.  They allow other customers to butt in line.

41.  They follow you around as you try things on in the mirror….waiting……

What they say to you

42.  They complain about other employees, or their boss, to customers.

43.  They ask you if you found everything you were looking for – after you’re in the checkout line.

44.  They talk about their breaks. “Have you had your lunch? Have you had your break?” We haven’t had our break. We don’t care. Hello! I’m right here – the lady with the money that helps pay for your breaks!

45.  They use the canned phrase, “Are you looking for something special?” (No, I am looking for something boring and ordinary….)

46.  ”It’s not my department”

47.  ”There you go” is not a euphemism for “Thank You” when you are either handed your receipt or change.

48.  ”If I do it for you, then I would have to do it for everyone.” Um, no, that’s not necessarily true.

49.  They ask if you have any coupons. Then you feel like you’re getting ripped off for not having any! Takes the wind out of the purchase.

50.  Saying have a nice day without making eye contact.

You know what’s funny?
You could probably hear these same pet peeves when people talk about their doctor, their child’s teacher or a their own boss.  Customers – people – everywhere hate to be ignored, have to wait or be treated poorly.

If you’re looking to increase your retail sales, you need to spend the time to remove such pet peeves and obstacles to purchase from your store. It involves hiring better, training better and treating customers as human beings, not things that can be taken for granted.

Bob PhibbsWriter's Bio: Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor®, a best-selling author and speaker who has helped thousands of independent businesses compete. His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business has received praise from both Inc. magazine and USA Today and can be found at your local bookstore or ordered at He and his work have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine. Questions? Contact Bob at This article was reprinted with permission of the author, Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor®. Read more articles by this author


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