Angry Rant: Store Clerks and Phones

Is it just me or is it a really stupid idea to answer a phone while you’re in the middle of doing a customer-service-related function?  Just to be really clear about this rant, I am NOT talking about Store People who will answer their personal cell phone in mid-conversation with me.  That is clearly F’d up and deserving of an entirely separate and particularly caustic rant.

No, what I’m talking about is the situation when you are shopping, looking, or wandering lost and confused in a store and need help.  Or clarification on a product.  Or some similar feedback requirement that will enable you to open your wallet and/or purse and fork over the green.  Perhaps you need to empty your dangerously overfilled bladder, and you cannot for the love of porcelain find the super-secret hidden wardrobe entry to Narnia where the pissoir is located.

The logical person will find an employee and ask the relevant question.  In this logical scenario, the helpful employee will answer.  Actions ensue, Nirvana is achieved.  I’d guess that nine times out of ten this is pretty much what happens.  Until you inevitably encounter the tenth time of ten…

Here’s the scenario: I’m in a store, looking at shit I might conceivably buy.  If you know me, you know I am not shopping in the ‘want’ mode.  I only trouble myself with shopping when I slip past ‘want’ and into ‘need.’  Anyway, I have the Candidate Posession in hand, but I always wonder about it.  Does it take batteries?  Is it resistant to urine?  Are there hidden features that require further purchases (like batteries) to ensure complete functionality?  You get the idea.

So with Candidate Posession in hand, I approach the clerk and post my question.  As the answer is issued, the inevitable occurs – the store’s phone rings.  Someone else in the need mode who is too damn lazy to get up and look at stuff.  The clerk answers and I hope to hear, “Thanks for calling, please hold,” and have the clerk re-engage me.  Instead, I get the dreaded Long Conversation.  One time it sounded like this:

“Hello, how many I help you?….yes, yes we do…  is that the one in Asia, or Africa?… no, we don’t normally ship to those places… uh huh, yes, I understand…  I’m sorry he’s in a foreign prison, but that country is under embargo…  yes…  blue…  forty-seven…  we’re open daily until eight PM…  234 Main Street…  yes, I can; do you have a pencil?…  ok, M… A… I… N…  hmm, I don’t know let me pop back to the storeroom and look, can you hold?”

I fail to get the guy’s attention as he turns, without so much as a word or even silent finger in the air to say, ‘sorry, one second,’ and walks off into the dark, creepy bowels of the store.  During this exchange three more customers have queued up.  We look at each other sympathetically as if to collectively say, ‘WTF? Really? For real?’ 

Again, then, I ask: is it just me, or is it stupid to put a live, cash-carrying customer effectively on hold in favor of a random caller who will more than likely assume you’re busy and call back if nobody answers?  Have we become so relentlessly conditioned to answer phones that we cannot resist the siren call of the long-distance yakkity gadget?  I don’t know about you but I find it insulting.

The end to this scenario of course depends on the relative urgency with which I need the Candidate Posession, or how much trouble it was to locate the store to begin with, or my general Fun Meter reading at that moment in time.  My favorite response is to put the ex-Candidate Possession on the counter to make the jackwagon re-shelve it, and just Walk. My. Ass. Out.


One Response to “Angry Rant: Store Clerks and Phones”

  1. outkast86 Says:

    As a professional Clerk while attending collage, I, of course, have a response.
    Now first off, the main point to note is that I am in collage, so do not expect this capability of your normal moron behind a counter with no ambition or hope in life to be worth more than a provider of manure.
    When the phone rings at my store, I am required to answer it according to my mamagers. When I answer the phone, with a customer standing before me, I first say “I apologize, just one second.”
    Me, “Blah-dee-blah-dee-blah, this is blah, how may I help you?”
    On the days I’m feeling gutsy I say, “What do you wamt?” In a polite manner, but still rebellious.
    Than I proceed to listen to the lazy-ass on the other end while assisting the cash-in-hand customer before me.
    But I do get to witness my moronic coworkers making the same mistake as mentioned before.

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