Shopping Primer
Posted: 2006-08-28. Categories: Little Caesars

How to appease the clerk at your store.

After reading several articles about poor retail experiences, I felt the need to share several things on the subject.

Before I begin, some background is in order. I have two years experience in retail, one at a franchise pizza restaurant, and another year at a major chain home improvement retailer. I still attempt to maintain a high level of empathy and customer service whenever I approach problems; I am a people pleaser, plain and simple. I have had poor service before, I know what it feels like, and it is truly frustrating.

Having said that there are several topics that I would like to cover, from the perspective of the person on the other side of the counter.

On Returns

The company, not the person working at it, sets the policy on returns. There are some things that I am not allowed to do, and no amount of complaining will help you reach your goal of satisfaction. I want to help you, but I am not going to risk my job just to make you happy. Also, getting frustrated, ticked off, and acting angry, doesn’t make me want to help you, it makes me want to refer you to somebody else who cares even less than I do. Be polite and courteous, and if what I have to offer doesn’t satisfy you, take it up with the company.

On Ordering Pizza

Ok, It’s five o’clock on a Friday. You don’t feel like cooking, and your kids are making a fuss. There isn’t anything wrong with ordering a pizza. However, before you pick up the phone. Make sure you:

  1. Have a general idea of what you want.
  2. Make sure you have some form of accepted payment (other than checks) and;
  3. Speak loudly and clearly once you do make the call. Chances are good that there are six other people calling in at the exact same time, who are just as hungry as you are. A pizza place is a well-oiled machine, and every extra minute you take up because you don’t know what you want, is a minute I can be helping another customer who already knows what they want. Also, don’t try to ultra customize your pizzas, this is the person who has to have everything their way, and have a quarter of the pizza with this, and another quarter with that, it really is a pain, half and half only please.

On Picking Up a Pizza

When I tell you that your pizzas will be ready in 20 minutes, I don’t mean 10, or 15 minutes. I’m telling you 20 minutes to make sure you aren’t waiting in a lobby surrounded by other people. And getting upset, telling me that you ordered your pizza 30 minutes ago, won’t help, especially when I can look at your receipt and then the clock, to determine that you are lying to me. There are other people who I have to make food for, showing up early just messes up the flow of things.

On Having a Pizza Delivered

Most pizza places have one to three delivery drivers. Each taking four to five runs at a time. There is a reason getting pizza delivered takes time. For our store, it’s an average of about 40 minutes. Call ahead of time, don’t complain to the driver, he is legally bound to drive at a certain speed, and not tipping him will not motivate him to get your pizzas there any faster next time.

While on the subject of tipping delivery drivers, tip at least three dollars, no matter how little you ordered. These guys depend on their tips to help fuel their cars. Granted a large number of places have delivery charges included in the price, but this is not a built in tip. Our store charges $3 for delivery, the driver sees about 40 cents of that, the rest goes to the store and the owners.

If you really want to make sure that you get your pizzas on time, be polite to the drivers; tip double what you would normally tip. I know a guy, he tips $20 every time, and I promise you, he never has to wait more than 30 minutes for a pizza.

Also, when you order a delivery, be aware of the time you placed your order. When a store closes, ideally everyone wants to be home to his or her partner within an hour. So when you order a pizza five minutes before we close, its a little agitating. Because we have to put our personal lives on hold, just because you had to be inconsiderate, and order a delivery right before we have to clean the store. The bottom line is — be considerate.

On Talking to Management

Chances are, if I’m not willing to help you, then my boss is going to be every bit as unwilling as I am. I talk to my boss a lot more than you do, and chances are I’m pretty cool with him. So when you are complaining about how bad the service is, you aren’t going to be satisfied.

That’s not to say I’m unwilling to help, If I can’t help you, I’ll refer you to my manager and stay there while my manager helps you. But yelling at me and complaining will just make me want to intentionally frustrate you.

On Cell Phones

I don’t care how busy you are, I don’t care how many businesses you own, when I am ringing you up, either hang up the phone, or tell the person to hang on for the thirty seconds it takes to pay for your purchase, smile, and say goodbye.

On Sensomatics (Door Alarms)

Working in retail, I have one major job, to make money for the company. Serving you is simply part of that job, because happy customers come back and spend money.

I know its frustrating going through a door, an alarm sounding, and then your purchases being reviewed, but we are required to do so. Most high-ticket items have alarm tags all over them. I’ll do the best I can to make sure they are all turned off, but periodically, a few are going to be missed. Just be polite, you aren’t being arrested or anything, just let me find the tag, turn it off, or let me find out what it is that is sounding the alarm, and please wait until I wave and say its ok for you to leave.

On the subject, yes certain cell phones set off the alarms. And yes some really expensive big-boxed items (i.e. electronics and stuff like lawnmowers, have tags that I can’t turn off), getting frustrated and being rude accomplishes nothing.

On Moms Who Send Their Children To Pick Up Orders

Nothing bothers me quite like this. To me this is the epitome of laziness. It isn’t cute to send you’re four year old in with a handful of cash to pay for your food. Chances are, your child is scared out of its mind, and cannot carry all the food you ordered. Park your car, walk the 20 feet to the store, and get the pizzas yourself.

On a similar note, don’t park your car on the curb while you go get your food. I am going to make sure your transaction goes slowly, just to give the police a little more time to show up and ticket you.

On Prices

Don’t be cheap, if it seems like I’m overcharging you, calmly mention it, don’t accuse me of anything, chances are it was a simple mistake and I’ll work to correct it. However, when you decide to order the biggest pizza you can, and throw 12 toppings on it, and then complain about how much it costs, then you can just leave. Just because Little Caesars sells a pizza for $5 doesn’t mean I’m going to. It’s a matter of quality, if you want to be cheap, you are going to be getting cheap service and products.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you need to realize that the people, who work in the places where you spend money, are people, not your slaves. They are people and just like you, I don’t care that you are having a bad day, I don’t care that you aren’t satisfied. Yelling and screaming at me, and threatening to call the company (which does nothing) will not motivate me to help you save a few extra dollars.

Be polite and courteous. Tip me when you feel satisfied, and please don’t make a big deal about the act. Just because you tipped me a dollar for helping you load your car, doesn’t mean I think you are the coolest person in the world, it lets me know you appreciate the help.

Don’t be cheap.

Don’t be Impatient.

And always, always empathize with the person behind the counter, chances are, they are having an even worse day than you are.

~Brandon

6 Comments to "Shopping Primer"

  1. Retail Bandit says:

    Dear Brandon,

    You obviously haven’t been out in the world for very long, so I’ll take it easy on you.

    There are a couple of important points I’d like to make in response to your rather lengthy post.

    “On Having a Pizza Delivered,” as a previous pizza delivery driver, not everyone wants to rush right home after work. Those last minute orders can help make an otherwise miserable night, profitable. As for tips, they are simply that tips. The drivers are paid an hourly wage plus tips, while big tips are nice, they are not required.

    Regarding, “On Sensomatics (Door Alarms).” While the company you work for can require you to check packages, they can not legally detain anyone, unless they are under arrest. I am under no obligation, what-so-ever to stop until you wave me on, no matter what your company requires you to do. Detaining a person for any reason, is against the law, unless they have broken the law.

  2. Anonymous says:

    90% of those orders are somebody who is going to make a driver drive five miles at 11 at night to drop off a pizza, and pay them $2. I don’t know what kind of world you live in, but a driver either makes tip wage (I think its about 2.50 right now) or barely over minimum, about the same that a waitress makes at a restarant. You wouldn’t short-tip, or be inconsiderate to a waitress, why do the same to a delivery driver?

    As for the sensomatic. I never claimed that it was illegal to leave. Its part of my job to help you, and if i don’t disable whatever it is that is setting it off, then it will go off in any other store you go into. Its a matter of customer service.

  3. Retail Bandit says:

    I used to be a waitress in Michigan, where they still pay waitresses $3.00 an hour plus tips. Waitresses here in California have it made where they make the regular minimum wage, plus their tips.

    If you object so much to driving out of your way to deliver a pizza for a mere $2.00 tip, perhaps you should find a new job. Tips are earned for good service, not an entitlement of the job.

    As for the door alarms, I was simply making a point. Who takes their purchases from one store into another store anyway? I remove the stupid sensors when I get home, so if they go off at your store, it is not my problem.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A waitress does not have to pay to have their car overhauled every year, and doesn’t have to pay outrageous gas prices everytime they perform their job.

    Unless you are trying to be rude, tipping, both waitresses, and delivery drivers, is and should be, required.

    And thanks To the recent increase in minimum wage, a majority of delivery drivers will now be paid a tip wage.

    The sensomatics are only a problem when a customer is flustered and gets cranky, all it takes is 30 seconds a “ma’am could you please wait while i deactivate the tags” and a “sorry about that, have a nice day”.

    Its a pity that the older generation looses track of what life was like when they were younger and a tad less successfull.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have a very good memory of how life was when I was younger. In fact, I didn’t sit around an complain about how hard things were. I worked, three jobs most of the time, just to pay the bills.

    Kids today think we should had them the world on a platter. My Grandmother had a saying that is appropriate now, “A little hard work never hurt anyone.”

    Just for the record a tip is given as a gift of thanks, not a payment for services. It is never “required” unless in the case of restaurant who charges for large groups or in the case of your pizza delivery driver where the delivery charge is tacked on by the company.

    In what world do you live in, where tips are mandatory? I tip generously for good service and more for a waitress with a pleasant demeanor. I’ve been known to leave without tipping as well. Aren’t you glad you’ve never waited on me?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t expect the world to hand anything to me on a silver platter. Tips don’t even effect me, because i don’t deliver, but i’ve seen how frustrating it is for a delivery driver to have to take 9 deliverys, and only come back with about 5 or 6 dollars of tips.

    Either way, i’ve deviated from the main reason i wrote the article in the first place. Please just be plesant to your cashier or any other person that serves you in retail. The only thing that arguing and complaining will do. Is take a person that might have been willing to help, and make them not want to anymore.

    And if you honestly belive that a few of you deciding to stop shopping at meijers or the other major retailers will make a difference. It won’t, they make enough money that in the long run, you won’t matter.