How To Be A Good Customer

Some news to share with you. I left my retail job because I start an office position on Monday.  Wait!  Before you get all excited, the job isn’t my dream job but I will be utilizing my skills as an administrative assistant.

It took me almost two years to find an office position but that’s another post about ageism.  What I want to talk about today is something that we can all stop and think about.

Hey—even I need to practice what I’m preaching!  It’s how to be a good customer. Or basically a nice one.

But before I get into the “how to’s”, there are a couple of things I want to address.

The store I worked in was Nordstrom. I worked with some really great people and made wonderful friends there.  My manager was amazing and comes into the second place of best boss I ever worked for. After all—he took a chance on hiring an older woman with no retail experience. I have to be honest when I say that there is no ageism at Nordie’s.

Nordstrom. To add to my resume

This is the store where I worked.  Bravo to Nordstrom for being anti-ageist!  Bravo to Nordstrom for having great customer service!!

Alas, retail just wasn’t for me.  I am a creature of habit.  I like knowing what my bi-weekly pay will be because I like to budget and the unknown amount of salary stresses me out.  I like my hours of 9 to 5.  I don’t want to work weekends. I don’t want to work until 10:30 or later in the evening.  It just isn’t me.

Money money money

Well, I’ll never have a million bucks–but I DO like to know how much is going into my account on a regular basis!

My daughter, Oona, loved working retail throughout college. It was great money and, for her, the hours worked well!  Many people love working retail for the same reasons that I don’t. It’s all what makes you happy!  My son, Jake, worked retail for one day. Then he quit. Roman worked at Barnes & Noble–literary retail.  He enjoyed it!

My absolute favorite part of my retail job was meeting people. I was fortunate enough to meet two people from our little circle of friends here at Atypical60!  Sharon and Joan!Happiness is Me and My Friend Sharon D!

It really is the best feeling meeting friends for the first time!  Sharon and ….

Joan and me

Joan lightened my days when they came into the store!  Meeting Joan was a 100% surprise!! It was great!!

I also loved just talking to the customers and helping them decide which handbag to buy or not purchase. Overall, I had a great, great time with 99.9 percent of the women who came in to purchase handbags or just to browse.

Orange Furla bag not you r color. Don't buy it!

Yes. This is a Furla bag. However there is a reason it is in the clearance section.  You cannot wear this color every day. I know this. I HAVE an orange bag and I wear it only around Halloween season!

And I also learned a lot about engaging with people. In the short time of employment, I also realized that I had not always been the perfect customer in the past.

I could be curt—especially if I felt that a sales assistant was being pushy.  I could also be a bit dismissive because when I go shopping, I know what I am looking for.  I could also be impatient if I have to wait on a line. That isn’t nice. And I’m sorry.

So sit down with me on the sofa. Grab an iced coffee or an iced tea and I’ll tell you how to be a good customer. Actually, I’ll tell you how to try to be a good and nice customer—even if you already are!

When a sales assistant approaches you and asks if you need any help, please don’t angrily tell them “No”. Be kind in your answer.

You may not be aware that the sales staff is doing their job when they ask you if you need help or assistance.  Their job is to “sell”.  They are expected to keep up with sales goals.  If you honestly don’t need help or assistance, please be pleasant in answering them.  It can be hard to approach a customer at times, especially if there is a full department of sales assistants. Sometimes the assistant isn’t aware if someone else has already asked if you need help.  Kindness counts.


If a sales assistant asks you if you need help, please don’t put on your resting bitch face.  Smile and just say no thank you!

Too many sales assistants asking you for help?  Here’s how to handle it.

One thing that continually stuck in my mind was something I learned in training. The customer will go to whomever they want to go to.  So—if you feel that too many sales assistants are asking for help, scout out the one s/a who you would want helping you if you do need assistance.  Maybe you like the way they are dressed or the way that they smile. Maybe you notice that one of them is closer to your age—whatever the reason, choose your soldier. Trust me that “sold”ier will make sure nobody else gets anywhere near you!

timing gif

Whatever the reason, seek out the sales assistant that you can relate to.  I would pick this guy! He would definitely “get” what I want!

Beware the “sharks”.  Choose your Sales Assistant wisely.

This is touchy.  In my experience with retail, the majority of S/A’s were great. If a customer came up to the register without any sales assistance, the good S/A’s would ask the customers if they were being helped. There is a reason for that and it is called “commission” (More about that later).

In fact, many of the top sales assistants are incredibly knowledgeable about the inventory of the entire store—not just their specific department.  They are proactive without being sharks. They won’t steal a sale, they will actually split a sale!

A shark will prey on you.  They will try to sell you anything. They will not pay attention to your needs or your preferences. They will push you to buy, buy, buy.  I’ve had customers return items only to tell me they were “forced” into making a purchase that they really didn’t need.

A shark will also take advantage of any of your retail weaknesses. If you are indecisive, they will swim you over to the most expensive item in the department. If you tell them you don’t know what you want—watch out!  Don’t let them walk all over you.

If a shark suggests an item that is downright fugly or absolutely not your style, smile and say. “You know, that isn’t me and I’m not crazy about it.” “But it might look great on YOU!”

You are being a good customer by giving the shark a subtle hint. You are no pushover.


A good customer will not allow a shark to devour her retail goals!

If you do need help, seek out the sales assistant who may be tidying a shelf or display. Seek out the one who isn’t hanging onto the cash register.  And seek out the one who will give you honest opinions.

Please shop to “keep”. Please do not shop to “return”.

People do not shop to keep any more. They shop to borrow.  The one thing that drove me nuts about the department store was their return policy. It is, hands down, a nightmare for those who work there.


From the Cosmopolitan site.  As soon as someone asks this question, you KNOW the item is coming back!

Did you know that returns are drawn against the sales assistant’s commission? Oh yes they are. Up to one full year!

People will purchase designer handbags for their teenaged daughters to wear to Prom and return that same bag afterwards without any guilt or remorse. They will wear a pair of shoes to a wedding only to return them two days later with a “They didn’t fit right”. And I’m not talking about cheap shoes either. I’m talking two, three hundred dollar pairs of shoes!


Oh. A very minute amount of people actually save receipts from five, ten, fifteen years ago. It is their safety measure for long-term borrows.

I’ve had people return handbags that smelled of cigarette smoke, had crumbs in the bottom of the bag—I even found a necklace in one bag—and say, “I never used the bag” or “It didn’t work for me”. I cannot make this shit up.  I’ve even had someone return a bag, with the original receipt from 2010 and tell me that the bag didn’t hold up the way she thought it would!! Luckily the period of commission draw was over for the sales assistant who sold the bag.

Brown Le Pliage. It's a mess and I won't return.

This is one very old Longchamp bag that I’ve had for years. YEARS!  It is filthy. It is ripped. I will never return it because it has gone through NORMAL wear.  I may, however, bring it to Nordstrom to have the little hole repaired. Did you know that Nordstrom has a “Bag Doctor”?  It’s a great, great service.  For a small charge (depending what the damage is), he will repair your bag. I cannot tell you how many women have used this wonderful service for bags that they love!  Don’t return. Repair!

If you want to be a good customer, just tell the truth. Don’t lie that you never used a bag that was used for years.  Just say you are returning the bag. End. Of. Story.

Another time a woman I was assisting ran into her friend as she was getting ready to purchase a bag.  The friend was a bit “meh” about a bag she was thinking of purchasing because she clearly wasn’t crazy about it.  Anyway, the woman I was helping turns to her friend and says in a really loud voiceBuy it anyway”. “They take anything back”!!! 

I stood there dumbfounded. First of all there was absolutely no need to say that in front of a sales assistant. Secondly, it was such an entitled statement. And her tone just turned my stomach. And no, Nordstrom does not take anything back. Nordstrom will not allow you to return an item you purchased at another store such as Macy’s, Walmart, Target or Wegmans.



I’m sorry but we do NOT take anything back.  

The woman purchased the bag and returned it two days later.

Please be a good customer and keep your thoughts to yourself. The sales assistants are aware of the return policy. They do not need to be reminded of it. It is painful enough without the customer announcing it to the entire store!

There are also “serial” returners.  These are people who have nothing better to do than shop.  They will browse, purchase, return. Repeat. Browse, purchase, return.  After a while you get to know who they are.


This is an impulse buyer aka “Serial Returner”. That look on her face–she’s thinking about which pair to return later today!

And you avoid them.

Please, I am begging you. Please do not become a serial returner.  It is much, much better to be remembered as a nice and respectful customer. You do not want to be labeled as a serial returner. It is a worse label than being labeled a thief!

Most stores pay their sales assistants on a commission-only basis.  A good—actually a GREAT customer respects this.

While I realize this isn’t the case for all stores, most of your larger department stores pay on a commission-only basis. If commission is not met the s/a will receive an hourly rate. However the hourly rate is not a high one.

This is where being a good customer is so important. It is also really important that the good customer understands this.  If a sales assistant comes up to you and asks if you need help, and, at the moment you do not,—please, ask them for their name or ask them if they have a card.

If a sales assistant has been helping you and leaves to go on a break or lunch, please tell the person at the register that __________ was helping you and you want the sale run up under her /his  name or number.

If you really, really don’t need any assistance at all, please seek someone to help you just a tiny bit. Even if you approach a sales assistant who may be tidying up. It would be a pleasure for the him/her to ring something up for you.

When shopping, even before working at Nordstrom, I’ve always asked sales assistants if they are on commission. If so, then I get the name of the person who assisted me and make sure they get that sale.

When you do decide on your purchase, beware the sales assistants who hover around the cash register.

Yeah. I call the cash register area the “shark tank”. That’s where the sharks hang out.   They won’t ask if anyone is helping you.  They will hover around and hoard any sale they can—especially if it isn’t theirs.

And so, I beseech you, my friend.  As a good customer, please tell the person who is hovering around the register that you were being helped by _____________________.

Please don’t lead the sales assistants on. If you really have no intent on making a purchase, release them and let them work with a paying customer.

Leading an s/a on is almost as bad as being a serial returner.  Sometimes it is just fine to browse. We all do it.  How are we going to see what’s out there if we don’t go out and look?  But when you approach a sales assistant on a very busy day and you have absolutely no intent on buying and ask a million questions about a particular item, you are leading the sales assistant on and taking a possible sale away from them.

Everything is relative. Trust me. S/A’s love to give you information about product. Especially when it isn’t busy in the store. That’s the best time. But during a big sale or a busy weekend. Let’s keep the browsing to browsing.


Lucy it doesnt work

Do you mind if I ask you a hundred questions about this item that I have no intention of purchasing?   Yes. The sales assistant does mind–but only if you ask on the busiest of days. When there’s nobody around, the sales assistant will answer two hundred questions!  Be respectful. 

Dream Customers:

Are pleasant. Are willing to take suggestion.  Are nice people. Are always happy to have a helping hand. React positively to honesty and constructive criticism. Will ask your name. Will seek you out when it is time to make the purchase. Will shop to keep.

And 99 percent of customers are dream customers.

It’s just that sometimes a gentle reminder can be in order. I sure know that I need a gentle reminder now and then.  So here’s to you, the customer. Because without you, many people would be out of a job!


A pleasant customer is the best customer!!  And a great customer is not clueless!

And now, as I return to the life of a customer, I will definitely be on my best behavior!

Here’s a fun shopping song by Toni Basil and a blast from the past! Shopping from A to Z! XOXOXOXO!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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52 Responses to How To Be A Good Customer

  1. spearfruit says:

    Congrats on the new office job Catherine – I am very excited for you. Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Terry!! Yeah. I’m just so happy to be getting back in the groove of what I’m used to doing! It makes life easier. You have a great weekend to my love! XOXOXO!!!

  2. Nancy says:

    Congrats…I hope there are some stories in the new job that will as entertaining as the ones from retail work.

  3. Leslie Preston says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. I wasn’t aware of sharks, so am glad to know this and will pay closer attention…

    I totally agree about retail and the crazy hours that are assigned. That’s not for me, either. I worked in the vault (not on the floor…thought it would be better) at Home Depot and only lasted 8 weeks! OMG!!!

    And now, I’m looking forward to hearing about what happens at your new job. Congratulations!!!! Your writing truly brightens my day!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Leslie. Yeah. I’m glad I made you aware of the sharks. They are the most vile co-workers. They will literally steal sales away from anyone. That’s why it’s so important to get names of sales assistants who are helpful.
      Yeah. Different strokes for different folks. Some hate office work. I love the routine!
      Thank you for your positive comments on my writing–I appreciate it to the fullest! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. Jane Martel(totally French) Billman says:

    I used to be the lingerie department manager – it was jaw dropping what people had the nerve to return ….

    Best wishes on your new job ! Woo hoooo


    • Catherine says:

      Oh. Jane. I’ve heard about what sorts of lingerie people return. I’ve heard the stories. And they are pretty much disgusting. Who would bring back dirty, used underwear?? Even to a high-end store!! It’s just wrong on so many levels!! XOXOXO!!!

  5. Terri Lee says:

    Congratulations on your new job! 🙂 While retail wasn’t your “thing”, I will say that Nordstrom is one of my favorite stores. Their customer service is like no other on the planet; they set a very high standard others should take note of and copy. Knowing now that they do not tolerate ageism makes me love them all the more!

    I agree with you about rude, obnoxious customers. I’ll bet that people who treat sales assistants so badly also treat other service people that way, from wait staff in restaurants to front desk people in hotels. They’re probably lousy tippers, too. Unless a service person is rude or nasty to me first, I’m always pleasant and considerate. It actually makes the experience more enjoyable for ME, too! Who doesn’t enjoy banter and fun conversation with other human beings as you go about your business out in the world? What a nicer place it would be if we all aspired to be that way!

    • L Nelson says:

      Thanks for the reminder about commissions. I waitressed for many years and that gives one a special appreciation for service workers.

      Congrats on your new job. Please keep in mind that anyone who has been in business for a while typically prefers a mature employee. I work with a number of temp workers on my job (20 or more at a time) and always breathe a sigh of relief when I scan the group before I train them for the day’s work and see some gray hair and wrinkles! Mature workers aren’t ignoring their duties to text, they have helpful suggestions based on life experience, are rarely late and often assess what needs to be done and dig in to accomplish a task without being asked. I always have a great time with them! The person who just hired you is very lucky. I wish I could fly you to the Midwest to work! 🙂

      • Catherine says:

        Hi L. And I would definitely fly to the Midwest to work for you!! Thanks for the congrats! I’m glad that you are appreciating the reminder about commission. It’s a toughie and sometimes I don’t think people realize that. I definitely need to be reminded of it because we could all use that gentle reminder! XOXOXOXO!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Terri Lee. Oh. Nordstrom is incredible in the fact that the corporation embraces diversity to the nth degree. The corporation hires different religious cultures, older people–there is no “ism” in the company. And that is the beauty of it. They also do hold customer service to the highest degree.The customer service is beyond excellent. But with that is people who take advantage of the corporation’s good graces.
      And you are spot on about rude customers, they will be rude anywhere. What makes them tick anyway? What about kindness? Ugh. Don’t get me started. LOL. I can’t even…
      But the world would certainly be a better place if we were kinder and engaging! XOXOXOXO

  6. Joan says:

    Hi Cathe!
    It was so nice to meet you at Nordstrom, a truly pleasant surprise. You are just as cute in person as you are on your blog!! Even though I hate that photo of me! 😉
    I hear you about treating the sales associates with respect. My daughter and son both work in retail, both at very high end stores, and some of the stories they tell me make me cringe. It’s pretty hard not to be nice to the s/a’s at Nordstrom though, they are all pretty super.
    Congratulations on the new job, and I hope you are very happy there. I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to see you at Nordstrom!


    • Catherine says:

      Hi Joan! Hey. I was THRILLED to meet you! That photo of you is adorable!! Yeah. That’s the one thing about Nordie’s is that the sales help really is outstanding! Oh. I can just imagine the stories your kids tell you—and I wouldn’t be surprised at any of them!!! Thanks for the congrats but maybe we’ll run into each other at KOP Mall! XOXOXOXO!!!

  7. Terri says:

    Congratulations on the new job! I am looking forward to hearing about your office stories.

  8. Margaret says:

    Congratulations Catherine, well deserved!! This post was very thorough, I wish everyone would read it (it should be printed on the back of receipts, lol). Thanks for the Bag Doctor info, I never knew. Hope you enjoy your new job!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Margaret. Oh. The Bag Doctor is probably the greatest service in the world! I’m glad that you enjoyed this informative public service of a post–LOL!! It’s the little things that we sometimes don’t realize that can be brought to life–or is it light??? XOXOXOXO!!!!

  9. New job! Brilliant! Congratulations, Catherine. 🙂

    Nordstrom sounds like a great company to work for, but I’m glad you found a job that suits your experience (and your life in general) much better.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Strawberry. Yeah. Nordie’s IS a great company to work for–and for those who love and enjoy working in retail, those who are at Nordstrom are the cream of the crop. The opportunities are definitely there but for those of us who thrive on 9 to 5, we are better off as customers! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  10. calensariel says:

    Well thank you for that primer! I am pleased to say I am a good customer. 😀 The only thing I would not have thought of was getting the sales assistant’s name if necessary. I will most certainly be aware of that now. We don’t have many highfalutin stores around here anymore. Penneys, Macys, and Dillards would be about it. Salt Lake is better. Nordstroms is still down there.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lady Calen. I figured you were a good customer anyway! Yeah–it’s always a good thing to get the s/a’s name–especially when they go above the call of duty! XOXOXOXO!!!

  11. theturtle says:

    Congratulations on getting the job you’ve been aiming for and in which you feel you can excel best (although we suspect you would be good at just about anything 😉 )
    I had no idea people were such “returners” but maybe here the reality is different . General rules are, 15 days after purchase to return anything , original tags must be on the item , no signs of having been used , and no returns on lingerie or swimming apparel , original receipt must always accompany item 😉
    And now I know how good a customer I am 🙂 when I can go shopping 😉
    Turtle Hugs

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Turtle. Here in the States, the return policies are absolutely disgusting. The Europeans got it right—Bonaparte told me that in France, people actually purchase to keep and returning is looked down upon and is very difficult to carry out. I think sometimes we aid and abet with returning. What people fail to realize is that the minority of serial returners make it bad for the consumer–they are one reason for the higher price point at certain stores. Thank you for being a stellar customer! XOXOXOXO!!!

  12. Q.D says:

    But of course Orange is a year round colour! Black is for formal occasions and orange is for always 😀 (Maybe it is the Australian in me)

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Q.D! LOL. I think I have an association with “Orange” and Halloween because here in the States, Orange and black have been the Halloween colors. Although presently Orange is the color of Donald Trumps skin!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  13. Bernadette says:

    A store with a generous return policy can be a nightmare for the sales assistant. When I worked for tem, I had customers return including high score they board shops.

  14. Bernadette says:

    OK, the words in thereply were supposed to be, when I worked for Talbots,l had customers return clothing I swore they bought in thrift shops just to return and make some money😐

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bernadette. LOL. Were you typing on your phone? The horrors of “auto”??? LOL! Ugh. Now THAT’S a surprise to me. I thought that the Talbots customer was pretty much the customer who knew what she wanted and didn’t return much. See? It happens in EVERY store!!! Thanks for that little bit of info! XOXOXOXO!!!

  15. iolacontessa says:

    BRAVO……………….YOU SPELLED IT OUT for the IDIOTS who are unkind and RETURN MAVENS!
    NOW, will YOU be FEATURING your NEW FLOWER CHAPEAU tomorrow at THE OFFICE?!!!!
    I will WANT A FULL REPORT!!!!!!!!!!XOXOXO

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Elizabeth!! There is no reason for people to be unkind! Oh. Of course, I’ll be wearing my new flower chapeau to the office. I need to make a GREAT first impression!!! I’ll give you a full report!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  16. Rhonda says:

    Congrats on the new job! As a former owner of a retail business, one of my pet peeves was the people who would come in and ” rearrange” the displays, or dig through merchandise and leave items strewn about everywhere, leaving the store in total chaos. Please ASK if you can’t find what you’re looking for!

    • Catherine says:

      Rhonda. Excellent point! I forgot about that one. Oh–I actually had a customer, literally destroy a display by taking every handbag, inspecting it, throwing it back down on the display, and then come up to me to tell me the display was a mess. I couldn’t help myself. I asked her why, then, did she throw the bags back without placing them in the proper place?. It also seemed that people would love to destroy the displays about five minutes before the store closed! You are correct. Can’t find it? Ask!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  17. Rhonda says:

    Not to mention the ones that let their children have a field day! Even today, if I’m in a store and I see/hear wild children, I can’t help but giving them all my “evil stink eye” ! The rudeness! I sooooooo DON’T miss the retail world! And yes, working in retail gives a person a whole different take on the shopping experience! BTW, that orange handbag wouldn’t last a minute here in orange and blue Denver Bronco country! Xoxoxoxo

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Rhonda. Don’t even get me started on the morons who let their children run rampant. I swear to you, people have been shopping in the store, at closing time and after–as late as 10:15, and their screaming kids have given every worker a headache. What kind of parent takes a child to a store that late anyway? It is so rude and discrespectful and downright selfish!! The orange bag–LOL! XOXOXOXO!!!

  18. doodletllc says:

    Ha what a Hoot…and all true! I had 15 years in Retail as a so called, Retail Executive…I started out in Daywear (Ladies underwear – camisoles, tap pants, panties, slips, petticoats and woolies)…I was an Assistant Buyer with Federated – Abraham & Straus (sadly long gone)…I thoroughly enjoyed myself – so creative, fast-paced, crazy fast-paced and something always new. By the end of the longgggg day, never having seen the light of day, my feet throbbed but my spirit soared. I moved on to Executive Development (training other buyers and managers), Personnel Manager (hiring employees), and Advertising (Catalogs). All Fun! All Exhausting! Now All so Different. Enjoy your Office Job…Keep working…You’ll have Tons of Fodder to Blog About!

    • Catherine says:

      Doodle. A & S was a great store. When I was really young, before moving to Long Island, my mother would take me shopping at the old Abraham & Straus in Jamaica, Queens. It was a beautiful store. It’s too bad that store went under–it’s also too bad that B. Altman and Best & Co. also went under. They were great stores! Sounds like you were at the fun end of retail though. You were in the creative part! XOXOXOXO!!!

  19. Judy says:

    Good luck in your new job, Catherine, though I bet your good customers are going to miss you!
    I don’t know if retailers work in the same way here in the UK, but your whole post is a very good reminder of treating people – ALL people – how we would like to be treated ourselves. How sales assistants keep their cool is amazing, as I have seen some customers treat them like dirt, not pretty.
    I’m looking forward to reading all about your new admin-based life!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Judy! OMG. I have literally raised my children with the rule of “treat people the way you want to be treated and you’ll be fine”. So far it’s worked! But it’s so true–we really need to stop and think that all people should be treated kindly and fairly. I see that things in the UK aren’t all that different than shopping here! XOXOXO!!!

  20. JulietC says:

    Congratulations and good luck in your new job – you will be absolutely ace and whoever your new employers are they are damn lucky to have you. I have 2 biggish shops I wander through regularly in Glasgow – John Lewis (you’d be hard pressed to find many sales assistants wandering the floors, they are all corralled behind the tills but super, I have certain ladies I am very fond of and always ask how they are or notice when they are on holidays etc, but they are between me and the bus station/home so I know some of them pretty well) and House of Fraser where sales assistants have their particular brand they work for and dont stray far from their territory. I TRY to be a good customer, partly (well mainly) because I still fear my mothers back hand smack across the head if I misbehave (40 years and 12 000 miles doesn’t diminish the fear) so I always say up front if I am browsing/doing a little reconnaissance before pay day – that way if they are busy and wanting to sell etc they can move on and leave me be, if I am not sure of buying something I say I will run it past the 21yr old daughter (or mentally check if she would roll her eyes at whatever it is) and I always say thank you whatever. I guess one of the things that I really appreciate about european shops (and the shops when I go back home) is the expectation of good manners on both sides – a hello as you enter and a good bye/thank you as you leave etc hurt no one and that basic standard of human interaction on both sides makes for a nicer atmosphere. I have seen some truly rude people in shops and I wonder why they came out with that attitude and although I know sales assistants are there as assistants I am amazed at what they are expected to put up with – but then I have no idea how the rest of the day is going for some of these people so I suppose so should try not to judge

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet. I almost choked on my water after reading about your mother giving you a back hand smack across the head if you misbehaved. Do we have the same mother? Honestly, I would never “act up” in a store when I was a child because if I did then I (or any one of my siblings) would have to deal with “The wrath of Germaine!!”, my mother! But there is something to be said about that. She made me very aware of using good manners socially. I think that’s what is lacking here sometimes.
      When I’m in France, I love going into shops because everyone is so polite! It’s pleasant.
      You know–you’re right about being judgy. I should try not to be so judgmental. Thank YOU for that reminder!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • julietC says:

        I would LOVE to be related – maybe if our mums are cut from the same cloth! I think good manners cost nothing and a little bit of pleasantness along with that makes the day better for everyone, the sad thing is – good manners once laid down are instinctive – it takes a lot of effort to be rude (and why bother) so I feel for children who don’t have the basic good manners taught instilled as I think they are missing out on an easier life as bad behaviour slams doors. I really feel sad for them (not that I am advocating a swipe to the head for anyone!!!!). That said friendliness has got me in a spot of behaviour before (oops) a love note from a regualr bus driver (why me??!) and the ticket guy at the station this morning told me I have a lovely smile and why isn’t everyone so nice (ha! he should see me after a day being ground down in the office – I have a face like an old boot and a lower lip for tripping over)!

  21. Sisty says:

    I’m embarrassed to realize I may be a serial returner. I do tend to return things with some frequency, but it’s usually because I want to think it over at home, try on with other things, etc. And I wind up keeping more than I return, over time, so the store profits. What I didn’t realize is that returns are “charged” to the sales assistant. Now that I know, I’ll be much more careful about what I buy in the first place.

    On returning used things. No, never. Never ever. To wear something and then return it — which means it cannot be resold — is not “borrowing,” it’s stealing, plain and simple. I can’t believe people even consider doing such a thing.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sisty. Oh…the one serial returner that all sales assistants at stores like are the “online returners” That’s because the online returns don’t go against anyone’s commission!
      I think that’s really nice of you to say that you will be more careful–especially since you didn’t realize that returns are charged back. Many people aren’t aware of that.
      And yeah–it isn’t borrowing. It IS worse…..people do it. Anyway, thank you for being a good and kind customer!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  22. Suzy says:

    Hi Catherine! First, I don’t think I’ve commented before – I LOVE your blog. I was born in Philadelphia, and grew up there, and then moved to a Bucks County suburb as a pre-teen…so I kinda feel like we’re from the same place. (I now live in Virginia.) We have a Nordstrom store here (not a huge one) and I do love their customer service. I have always been aware of their return policy and it did help several times when products became defective in a relatively short time. I was SHOCKED one day, however, when a very nicely dressed man was at the counter returning ARMFULS and PILES and PILES of men’s clothes. It blew me away. Did he just grab an entire rack or two and buy everything to try on at home??? or for a relative that couldn’t come to the store? Wow. They were nice as could be about his giant return. Question: I’ve been cleaning out my closet and found a handbag, still in the box, with tag, and the receipt folded into the box that I purchased as a gift, but for some reason forgot about it. It was for LAST Christmas!! Over 1 1/2 years ago. Can I return it? I feel so awful about it. Obviously I could never be a serial returner!! And Congrats!!! on finding the type of job you’d really like – consistent hours etc. I get it. My husband’s health is declining and he will probably be cutting back working, and I’ll be back out there looking myself!! So I will look forward to hearing how it goes for you! Thank you so much for all that you share with us!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Suzy! First of all, don’t worry about returning the bag. It’s in the box, never used, and has the receipt. It’ll be fine. Bring it back with a smile! Yeah, I’ve seen people bring back ridiculous amounts of clothing and other items–it’s astounding! Thank you for the good luck wishes with my new job!! I’m thankful to be back in an office! Prayers and good wishes for your husband!! Thank you again!!XOXOXOXO!!!

  23. mareymercy says:

    I have a friend I love to go shopping with, but I swear she has something she wants to return every single time. She shops a lot online, which I think is how it happens. Buy it online, then if it doesn’t fit or work out return it in the store. I don’t even return things that end up being defective for the most part, much less just stuff I bought with the intention of possibly returning!

  24. This post is great and so relatable! I also work in retail and it can be so challenging at times, especially when you have rude customers to deal with. I love how you made a post about “how to be a good customer” as opposed to the typical posts about why sales associates need to be nice to customers. I once read a quote that said, “maybe you’re receiving bad customer service because you’re a bad customer” and it is so true! If you don’t show respect toward the sales associate then you can’t demand respect from them (even though we are always taught to be nice no matter what). Overall, loved the post 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hi RetailSurvivor!!!! Whew! I’m no longer in retail. I went back to office work. But–I’ve always been a “good” customer because that was the way my mother and father raised me–to be polite to everyone. And, as a good customer, I was appalled at the behavior of many customers. For the most part, the customers at Nordies were a very nice bunch–but that minority of rude and entitled customers is just uncalled for. These are the people who get all hot and bothered when their credit cards are denied and act as though they own the world when, in fact, they owethe world! Granted, there are a small amount of rude S/A’s but those numbers are small. Respect is virtuous–and unfortunately with our political outcome, respect is now something of the past because our president (not mine) is the most disrespectful individual on earth!!! XOXOXOXOXOXOX!!!

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