Tis the Season to Abandon Reason

Just after I graduated from University I had a hard time finding a job, in order to pay my bills (mostly student loans) I started working in retail. For the most part, working at the mall was not too bad. I loved meeting people, talking with them and helping them solve their problems. Christmas is, of course, the busiest time of the year and I worked in the children section of a relatively large store in the mall. There were all kinds of people looking for a variety of things and I did my best to help them out. For the most part, people were grateful and courteous, BUT there were always those few who were already bent out of shape. Usually, by being calm and knowledgeable you can hammer out their shopping needs and get them on their way, but some are determined you are personally out to get them.

It was around this time I made the list of Christmas Time Retail Shopping Faux Pas, the things as a customer you should remember while shopping.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #12
–Final sale means you cannot return or exchange at all. This would be why it’s called a FINAL sale.
I can understand the need for a deal as much as anyone, especially with Christmas just around the corner, but I am a firm believer that you are taking your chances when you purchase something that is final sale. Especially if there is a huge red stamp on the bottom of the receipt that says final sale, and the table you got it from has final sale on it, and the tag says…. Final sale
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #11
— If you speak in one word sentences, you cannot be mad when people do not understand you.
This happened to me multiple times. Someone would walk up arch an eyebrow and say “sizes?” or “sale?” or “shoes?” I am sure there are stores out there organized in a way where this technique would work, but not many. The sale one was easier since there is generally a sale section, but the others, I just needed more information. Chances are, the sales associate could help you find what you are looking for if you said “size four?” or “girls shoes?” That is just one more word, not too bad.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #10
— Do not interrupt a sales associate when they are helping another customer. Your problem is not more important…
Stores get pretty hectic the closer it is to Christmas, but manners still apply. I cannot count the number of times I have been helping someone and another person strides up and completely interrupts by demanding I find them something… and NOW. Yes a sales associate can deal with two people at once, but there is no reason to make other customers uncomfortable. 

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #9
–The week before Christmas, lines for the checkout are to be expected…
Lines, lines, lines everyone complains about them and hates standing in them. We are all human and doing the best we can. If you don’t want to stand in the line, Christmas shop in July, not December 24th.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #8
–It is generally considered bad form to ask a sales associate a question and then immediately ask a different person the same question.
When I worked retail I was there 6 days a week and I knew my stuff. I knew what sizes we had in the back and how they fit. Many MANY times, someone asked me a question and, after I answered, turned around and immediately asked someone else. *Sigh* at least do it behind my back so I can’t hear you.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #7
— Traffic laws still apply in mall parking lots in the month of December.
This one is self explanatory… parking lots are zoos this time of year

Photo by: Sara Pickersgill

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #6
— Believe it or not, the sales person you are criticizing actually hopes you don’t come back.
I always found it funny when customers shouted and threatened to NEVER return to the store. I get paid minimum wage and that is not enough to deal with your drama, I hoped they didn’t come back. I could understand this with a cell phone company or another entity, but with a clothing store… 
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #5
— Expressing displeasure about the return and exchange policy is best done to someone who could do something about it…
This was somewhat special to the store I worked in. They had a horrible exchange policy and I agreed with most customers. However, reaming me out about it is not going to change anything. I usually agreed with them and directed them to the comments section of the website. I think a lot of people thought this was a trick because they all gave me funny looks…
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #4
— Ignoring the sales person you just called to assist you, by conversing in another language with your shopping partner, is not helping them to help you.
This was a personal pet peeve of mine. A customer would call me over then converse with their partner in another language without asking me anything. If it were English, I could listen to what they were saying and come up with gift ideas or get them sizes. Since I don’t understand the language they were speaking I had to stand there with a polite expression on my face until they decided to let me in on the conversation. 

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #3
— When you walk up to the cash register this means you are DONE SHOPPING. This would not be the opportune time to ask for sizes or decide to buy something other than what you brought to the counter… (see tip #9)
While working on the checkout line, a lot of people would wander away while I was scanning their items. Which meant when I was done, I would need to get their attention and call them back over to pay for their items making the wait for others even longer. 

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #2
— The big size, at the bottom of my neatly folded pile, looks the same as the small size… except bigger.
This kind of goes without saying, but society in general would be shocked at the amount of people who just rip the biggest size from the bottom of the pile. Of course, this completely unfolds the rest of the pile. I also realize sales associates are paid to re-fold the clothes, but just because a janitor is paid to clean, doesn’t mean I make a mess on purpose so they have to earn their pay.

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #1
— Being unpleasant to store employees does not make them want to serve you better
This one kind of works both ways. I have had an encounter or two where the sales associate I dealt with was abrupt and unpleasant. This puts a damper on my mood and causes me to be less cheerful with them. I usually make an effort to be a happy customer. If a store doesn’t have my size, or their return policy doesn’t suit me, it isn’t the employee’s fault; they just work there. They’re human, with families and problems of their own; just like everyone else. It is really easy to forget these facts when you’re in the moment. Enthusiasm is infectious and tis the season to spread joy and happiness.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

As everyone is Christmas shopping this holiday season, remember that we are all human beings and imperfect in our own ways. If you like challenges, find a sales associate who is miserable and gives you poor service, and try to make them laugh. It will be more fulfilling than complaining to their manager or breaking them down further. Your generosity will also be paid forward to the next customer they deal with.
I wish everyone happy holidays and I will post again after Christmas festivities!!