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Diatribe On Hospitality: Don’t Make Me Wait While You Help Someone That’s Not Even Here.


I paid my dues working in retail so I know how unrewarding it can be to spend a day on your feet in front of a cash register.  Providing any level of customer service is a challenge to those with the brightest of personalities when the customer, who thinks he’s always right, is often an offensive dolt.

Yesterday morning, as on many prior occasions, I encountered one of my biggest pet peeves … a cashier that takes a telephone call while in the midst of my transaction.  We were talking as he was ringing up my items and determining how to best arrange then in a bag for transport when the telephone beside his register began to ring.  He answered after the first ring as if the store’s telephone police would  swoop down and haul him off if he didn’t respond to the call quickly enough.

He didn’t say “Excuse me, I’m supposed to answer this” or “I’m sorry to be rude but this is part of my job”, he noticeably diverted his full attention to the person on the telephone and away from me … the customer that physically presented himself to do business in person and was in the process of spending several hundred dollars!  Anyone who studies hospitality managementwill tell you that this is a big no-no.  After his lengthy telephone conversation, the cashier smiled and continued with my transaction as if the call had never happened.

Surely, I’m not the only person that thinks this is remarkably rude!  It’s even more unacceptable when there are other customers waiting in line.  And ruder still when there are other employees in the store that should be perfectly able to answer telephone calls!  I’m a proponent of a “phone first” shopping style but, when I call a store, I expect to have to wait for assistance.  I assume that the person answering the telephone is “with a customer”.

It’s not just retail stores that do this.  I often can feel my blood pressure rise when I go to a fast food restaurant (or any other place with a drive-thru window … Hello, Starbucks!), get out of my car and go inside to place my order only to be treated as inferior to the lazy schmoe on her cell phone sitting in her minivan outside the window!

I understand that fast food restaurants can make more money from transactions at their drive through windows than they do in their “dining rooms” but there is no excuse for a customer in a restaurant to be ignored in favor of someone sitting outside in their car.  If you don’t want us to come inside your restaurant to buy and enjoy your food, then don’t unlock the door.  Frequently, it’s faster to wait in the line at the drive-thru than it is to go into the restaurant … and that just doesn’t seem right.


From → Diatribes

  1. Years ago, at Christmas time, I was shopping at Macy’s and the young lady working the register, while checking me out, took a phone call.
    And it was obvious that it was a friend calling. After that call she continued to ring me up, and then got, and took, another personal call.
    After that call the phone rang again, and I reached over the counter, answered the phone, and said, “_______ is at work right now, taking care of a client. She’ll return your call on her break.”
    I set the phone back down, looked at the girl and said, “That’s how you do it.”
    The group gathered behind me, waiting to check, began to applaud.
    i felt like a star!!!!


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