A Heads Up If you will.
Dear customer, it has come to my attention that you are totally unaware of the potential pain that may be heading your way. Karma Is an understatement.
I really don’t know if you are actually to blame for this and the problem is caused by circumstance ie, was it the chicken or the egg that came first? Are you a bad customer because you are born that way or has it been created by the big retailers.
I am wanting to think it’s the latter and with that give you the benefit of the doubt. I want to think that all customers are still human beings and there is still good in them. I understand there will always be a few bad apples, god knows, here in hell, I mean retail, there’s a few bad ones here too.
But I have faith, I feel we can overcome these bad apples and create a retail utopia where one day, pink unicorns and fairies are everywhere…
In any case, allow me to help you, shed some light on a few things that you may be not be aware of. My goal is not to rid you of this earth, god no. I NEED you to survive, to pay my bills, and you need me too. Together we can aim for a better, pleasurable shopping experience. If we can move forward even with just one little baby step, both our lives will become that little bit better and positive.
Allow me to introduce myself, I am a salesman, I work in retail.
Lets start with some of the popular myths about being a salesperson in retail. The guardian wrote an article back in 2013 about the top 10 myths about working in retail, I will use this as a starting point.
Myth 1: Most retail workers are teenagers or young adults who do not really need the money.
The average salesperson is in their mid 30s and you will find that they are there because they need the money to support their family, Dah!, However because the cost of living is so high now, especially in Australia. There’s a good chance that the other partner (if they have one) is also working because they can’t survive on one income alone. When you put dependent children into the mix this scenario just goes into fucked up territory. On one hand working to support your family is the thing a parent has to do, but a parent also wants to spend quality time with their kids.
The issue is that most big retailers on the surface say they are family friendly and maybe there are a few pockets of businesses that are.
However jobs are scarce, everyone wants them and beggers can’t be chooses when there are bills to be paid.
In a perfect world only one parent should have to work while the other looks after the kids, in a perfect world our shifts could reflect school times, in a perfect world those pink unicorns would be around too.
Increase workload, minimal staff, and(sometimes) lower wages also means working your ass off to make ends meet and in some cases to the point of exhaustion, We have workplace agreements
that say a worker shouldn’t work no more than X amount of days straight, yet no one is going to question this in fear of losing shifts and therefore no money for the family. If you are lucky you will get a day off but what is the good of you to your family if your “resting” and stopping yourself from looking like the walking dead.
A viscous cycle.
Myth 2: Retail workers are unskilled
Before you think that shelf stacker is unskilled or an uneducated baboon. Please remember that they obviously went through an interview process to get the job in which education and previous experience all come into play.
Most employees have finished high school and from my own personal experience a lot of them have a university or tafe degree or in the process of finishing one. Yes a lot of them are usually younger people, but they still have debts and surprise surprise are intelligent. Another shock would be the guy in the technology department may have actually been employed because of his technology background. Just because he doesn’t know what the white, thingy-ma-jigy, that connects to the flux capacitor is, or isn’t a mind reader because your not explaining yourself proper-like, doesn’t mean can’t break down a computer system and rebuild it, remove viruses and malware, know exactly what an on-the-go-cable is and most importantly whip your ass in world of warcraft. Trust me, it takes a lot of skill and patience not to say something to a customer who thinks they know everything and be sooooooooooooooooooooo wrong. Yet we are respectful…..to your face.
For the rare occasion you do get a retail worker and they don’t seem to know about a particular product, think, Did the person come to you to ask for help and perhaps they are from another department, saw you waiting and thought they would see if they could help, you know, going beyond the contract so you didn’t have to wait for the ACTUAL person you need to speak with. Could they possibly be new to the store and still learning where everything is? Do you know how many pages are in the book WAR and PEACE?, no. But you could google it, and dare I say it, so can the salesperson if need be. Chill Out…
MYTH 3: RETAIL WORKERS MAY EARN A LOW WAGE, BUT MOST OF THEM ARE ONLY DOING THE JOB TEMPORARILY UNTIL THEY MOVE UP TO HIGHER LEVEL JOBS OR OTHER CAREERS.
Not exactly, With the exception of previously mention University students just trying to make ends meet until they get the dream career that they have spent tons of fees on. I personally find most adults who are parents (especially) would be happy to continue on with their job if the conditions were right for them. They only move on to greener pastures when the environment in which they are working finally “breaks them”. I believe there is a scale of tolerance, I would say teenagers to early twenty’s you would find themselves leaving an uncomfortable job quicker, especially if it’s only themselves to worry about. I would say Mid twenty’s to mid forty’s people will take a lot more abuse and crap from the employer because they are needing the money for their family, and they know at their age work isn’t that readily available. The end of the scale is the older set 55+ who really don’t need to work as such and sometimes only work for extra cash and in some cases, dare I say it, something to do. They could walk away at anytime and nothing lost.
There use to be an old school way of thinking, we were raised that if we start at the bottom sweeping the floor we could SOMEDAY become the manager. It was to instill a work ethic that you put your head down, work hard, take the crap and one day you will be the one dishing out said crap. Not only does this rarely happen in retail anymore, if you are fortunate enough to climb the ladder you will only get a few runs up and find your still getting majorly shit on by a higher-level manager that has been a ring-in from a totally different background and has no prior experience with the company, most likely came from a business course at university and only previous retail experience was flipping burgers at MacDonalds. These type of managers are the ones who actually need to spend some quality time on the floor with retail workers, To see it’s not all about numbers and profits. There is indeed a human side to retail, something they all miss.
Myth 4: Retail work is meant to be just an entry-level job
NO, see response above…
MYTH 5: RETAIL JOBS ARE PRETTY GOOD JOBS – AT LEAST WORKERS ARE INSIDE WHERE IT IS WARM, AND CONDITIONS ARE SAFE
Most of us who work in retail, love it. We do it because we actually enjoy working and talking with customers. Especially if it’s something we love, ie Technology or Stationary (everyone loves stationary). Most of the big retailers have a very big emphases on safety, and yes it can be nice and warm in the winter and cool and the summer. Unless your out in the docks, that stuff gets nasty.
MYTH 6: IF RETAIL WORKERS REALLY HAD PROBLEMS ON THE JOB, THEY COULD APPROACH THE EMPLOYER AND ASK FOR A RAISE – OR REPORT LEGAL PROBLEMS TO THE GOVERNMENT
Yeah, sure. There “ARE” avenues to go down when things aren’t right. However as previously mentioned when you are an older employee and your supporting your family you aren’t going to complain unless it’s an earth shattering thing, ie safety, abusive etc. Most won’t complain about bad work conditions to Management and Higher management won’t talk to you until you’ve gone through all the normal channels aka, talk to your manager. You do most of your complaining to your spouse who would usually say why not go and see the Manager about said problem.
The old “choose your battles” saying comes to mind. It would be nice if there was a Spartacus like, group stance on an issue, however everyone would be worried to speak out in fear of losing shifts.
MYTH 7: MOST RETAIL WORKERS PREFER TO WORK PART-TIME, SO RETAIL SCHEDULING WORKS WELL FOR THEM
I think of lot of people wouldn’t want to work at all, a lot would rather spend the time with the kids and if not, work with a roster that is as close to kid friendly as possible. But as I have already mentioned it doesn’t work out that way most of the time. You get what you are given and basically be grateful you have a job. The sucky bit is when you have to pay for childcare and their rates are nearly as much as you make per hour. Which makes you wonder why your working in the first place. Ohh that’s right, centrelink requires you to work rather than be there to raise your children.
MYTH 8: A LOT OF RETAIL WORKERS ARE LAZY AND DO NOT WORK HARD ENOUGH TO HELP CUSTOMERS
If retail workers where lazy, they wouldn’t be there in the first place. I think you will find one of two things, either they have been working so many consecutive days without a break and they are just burnt out, or they have been working 8 hours prior to your arrival and have ran out of fucks to give. There’s a very good chance the last 3 hours of that shift was covering two other staff members who called in sick because they too are burnt out and this poor sap you are calling lazy has been doing the job of three. You should be grateful that they are even smiling at you and not planing your demise. There’s also a chance that they just dealt with an asshat of a customer and are still a bit shellshocked. OR… Your just a jerk.
Working in retail is like a theater performance, everyday you do the same thing, sometimes twice a day. You perform, you give the performance everything you have, even if your feeling like crap inside, emotionally drained, personally issues, family issues. It is all put aside and covered by a smile and a friendly hello. The problem is when they get home their is no more energy for the parental, the partner performance, the family performance. God forbid if you have a social gathering, you just cant face the small talk to strangers or even friend.
The thing is, even star theatrical performers have understudies to relive you when you are feeling “off”.
MYTH 9: RAISING RETAIL WORKER SALARIES WOULD GET PASSED ON TO CONSUMERS, RESULTING IN MUCH HIGHER PRICES
Not if the retailer wants to play fair. There is so much profit getting made by the big guys that why can’t we all have our cake an eat it too. The cost of living is getting ridiculous, there was a time
where one household could live on one average income and actually safe for a house. I say why not cut the profit margin slightly, increase the wage slightly but more importantly hire more staff. That’s where the customer service is, it’s in the staff. Most staff lessens the load on those already burnt out, and gives customers a better level of customer service.
The guardian writes on this myth, “Studies show that higher wages do not necessarily translate into significant price increases. In fact, one study found that if Walmart (United States) raised wages and passed 100% of that onto consumers, prices would increase by only $0.46US per shopping trip, or $12.49US per year, for the average shopper.”
Buy all means, a CEO could always take a pay cut (smile).
Myth 10: Most retail workers want to work on holidays in order to get more pay
It goes without saying, if you are made to work a weekend, a weekend away from your kids who are home from school you have better make it worth my while. If you want me to sacrifice whatever private life and personal life I have left, then you are definitely going to have to pay the premium…
End Of Part One…
Top Ten Myths about Working in Retail: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/25/10-myths-retail-sector-jobs