Service in shops and online

sales assistant holding customers shopping bagsI sometimes wonder if business owners and shop staff who deal with the public realise how important good customer service actually is. Or after-sales service for that matter.

If I receive bad service or bad after-sales service I never shop there again. I vote with my feet and my wallet.

In Shops

My pet peeves are staff who:

  • follow you around the shop as though you are going to steal something
  • follow you around the shop trying to get you to buy certain products
  • ignore you totally to chat to other staff even though you are hovering next to them clearly wanting help
  • don’t greet you or make eye contact when you pay
  • tell you how awful whatever product it is you are using now, even if you are very happy with it
  • try to sell you an entire range of something when you just want one item
  • show no interest in the product you are interested in buying
  • don’t know anything about the products they are selling
  • don’t take no for an answer if you say you are just looking or are not interested
  • refuse to check the stockroom or look on the computer to see if an item is available at other branches
  • regard the relationship with you as over once you leave the store. Should something go wrong they are not interested.

I fully accept that in a pound shop or Primark you can’t have your own personal shopping assistant. I also accept that anyone can have a bad day for all kinds of reasons (not feeling well, personal problems etc). But constant bad service really gets on my nerves!


my pet peeves are:

  • not being able to find products, product information, shopping carts and shipping costs quickly upon entering the site.
  • no response to emails
  • slow postage
  • bad product information such as bad or undetailed photographs, no measurements, no detailed product specifications
  • no communication about the process of your order. Has it been dispatched? How has it been sent?

BUT my biggest hate of all is snobby shop assistants in expensive stores. The ‘big mistake’ scene in Pretty Woman resonates so much with so many people because it is true. And I can never understand why assistants in designer stores are often so snooty. Do they feel that because they work in Gucci rather than H and M it makes them better?

I had a student once who loved Louis Vuitton shoes. She saved all her money for nearly a year to be able to afford a pair. When the big day came she was nervous about even entering the shop. She wore her best clothes and did her hair and makeup all nicely. When she got to the shop they were rude to her before she could even tell them what she wanted. Then they told her (I kid you not)very abruptly that LV shoes were for model feet only. She left in tears. In our class the following week we read a newspaper article about the same store asking someone to leave because she was an immigrant, poorly dressed and ‘obviously not there to shop’. In fact, she had money to buy something but that seemed beside the point to them.

Anyhoo, at the end of the term the group the ‘shoe lady’ belonged to usually went on a field trip with me – shopping! They would speak English in all the shops and restaurants we visited. This is amazingly good training in real-life small talk, polite chat, making transactions and ordering from a menu. BUT this time we made Louis Vuitton our first port of call. We all spoke only English so he didn’t recognize his former customer who didn’t have model feet. We kept asking him to show us different bags. As soon as he took one down we pointed to the next one. I know my bags inside out so I made him take all the bags off the shelves, and interrogated him about all the previous LV collaborations – my favourite is the Julie Verhoeven one which he had never even heard of. Then I made him take all the drawers out of the travel trunk and swanned off to the other side of the shop leaving him to put them back in. When he spoke in English he had a fake French accent. What a prat. My students really enjoyed that. And about a month after that I organised some LV shoes for my student who wore them specially to the next lesson to show me her thanks and how pretty they were on her ‘non-model’ feet.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. Customer service definitely ain’t what it used to be! Unfortunately, nor are customers (present company excepted, of course).

  2. I agree 100%, Janet. Some people are just rude and ignorant. Some people really need an attitude adjustment!

  3. Living here in rural France the people in shops are very polite when you enter shops and in dealing with enquiries. But I know exactly what you mean about how some people behave in shops and on-line shops.

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