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PEOPLE WORKING IN RETAIL LEARN TO GRIN AND BEAR IT

Having had a handful of retail jobs, I am happy I know what not to do while shopping. I urge those of you who have never had a job in retail to continue reading and try to understand the case of the person who is working behind the register.

I am a fairly new assistant manager at a local clothing store, but have worked in retail since I was 16. What have I learned so far?

Offer service with a smile.

Say "hello," "thank you" and "come back again."

The customer is always right.

Service with a smile is something that should come easily to people working with the public. If they can't handle that, they are in the wrong career.

No matter what kind of day I am having, I try my best not to bring it to work. I don't moan and groan and make the customers feel as though they are a bother.

I expect to be treated the same way. In many instances, employees are blasted by nasty and ignorant customers, just because they are following company guidelines and policies. Yet they are expected to continue to kiss the customers' caboose. I have seen it everywhere, and it makes me furious every time.

Customers shouldn't take their problems out on innocent cashiers or sales clerks. They don't set the rules for return and exchange policies. They are simply doing their job. If people have a problem with company policy, ask for the number to the corporate office.

"Hello," "thanks" and "come back again" should be said to every customer, who should consider tossing a greeting back. This is common courtesy. If a customer blankly stares back at me when I greet them, I feel like an idiot. When checking out, try to put the cell phone away. It's common courtesy as well as common sense. This is where most interaction takes place between the customer and the associate. Honestly, if a customer is that rude, she doesn't deserve a thank you.

The customer is always right. Or is she? I want to offer a few examples and have the readers make their own judgment calls. These are compiled from my experiences and those of friends and family who have also worked in retail.

Example A -- The store policy states that customers can return merchandise at any time for any reason. A customer brings in a pair of jeans that have been worn and washed repeatedly and smell of smoke. She says the reason for the return is because of the hole in the knee. She demands the $30 back, because she has the receipt from a year ago. Is the customer right?

Example B -- A customer finds an item on a sales rack that is not marked down with a ticket or marker. She then sees the item on a regular priced rack but still demands to get it at the sale price, stating this is false advertisement? Is the customer right?

Example C -- A customer interrupts an associate who is already helping someone else, and then calls the associate rude for not assisting her immediately. Is the customer right?

These examples happen every day in the retail world. Most of us just grin and bear it, since it seems customers believe they can treat people any way they want to, especially if they are spending money. I suggest these customers think again.

JOLENE ZANGHI lives in Depew.