Service of Who Cares II

September 12th, 2022

Categories: Arts & Crafts, Customer Care, Customer Service, Jewelry, Retail, Security, Who Cares

I’m not the only one who has noticed a surge of overt indifference by retail employees lately and it’s not been exclusively in NYC where I start.

At a Manhattan branch of T.J.Maxx I heard a lively conversation of what turned out to be three sales associates hovering in housewares. I interrupted them to learn whether the store carried an item I needed. I was surprised they were so bold to turn the sales floor into a catch-up-around-a-water-cooler-like scene for such a long time.

At Home Depot, also in Manhattan, where I’ve always been treated courteously by sales associates, a guard on street level, seated in a wheelchair meant for customers, was slumped over his phone oblivious to his surroundings. My grocery cart accidentally slammed to the cement floor, the handle making an alarming clatter, and he neither budged nor looked up.

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

The same week I heard from EAM who shared examples of apathy towards customers during a trip to California. She visited Gumps, a favorite haunt of her parents. It was 4:40 pm, she wrote, and the store closed at 5 pm. She was looking at jewelry and “they started pulling it from the cases, one man throwing velvet covers over some, putting the jewelry onto trays as well.”  While this was going on, one salesman was attentive and answered her questions. She continued: “Overall, I was appalled by this experience–that a high-end store would treat people so rudely. One saleswoman had made an assessment, based on my appearance, that I wasn’t a serious customer. In fact, my parents, over the years, had made some significant purchases.” 

That same week EAM reported on a booth selling art glass vases in the $200+ range at a craft show. “To ask a question my sister literally had to interrupt the four salespeople in the booth huddled in conversation. They seemed clueless about their dismissive sales approach. She returned to check out the vases before purchasing one and was so turned off by their lackluster attitude towards her that she left. They lost a sale.”

Is something in the air? Are we all exhausted? Were these interactions coincidental? Is it because businesses are shorthanded and have lowered their hiring standards? Have you noticed similar lack of enthusiasm at retail?

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5 Responses to “Service of Who Cares II”

  1. ASK Said:

    I think there is a lack of politeness on both sides of the retail store counter. But nothing is more aggravating than a lackadaisical clerk, who might also be the same person who one day simply doesn’t show up for work. Such behavior should have consquences, but alas, too often does not.

  2. Elizabeth R Baecher Said:

    Nobody cares? Neither do I, and this store/business doesn’t see me again. When it’s retail, the saying “nobody is indispensable” (stolen from the French) works. If the issue is with a corporation, a complaint to a supervisor, responsible for the actions of his staff, brings positive results, if for no better reason than he wants to keep his job. Fighting back not only makes likes easier for oneself, but for the next purchaser as well.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Currently employees have employers by the short hairs. It will be interesting to see what happens to employee engagement when the job market flips. A friend took me for a surprise at a bakery-with seating. The seating was closed. Employees went back to school. Oh my!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It sure gets tiresome having to complain and fight all the time. My friend was on vacation. She was taken aback by her treatment at what once was a luxury store. At discount places you take your chances. I’m always amazed at how lovely most are at Trader Joe’s, for example. And as I wrote, the sales people at Home Depot have been good to me. The security guard there was a striking anomaly.

  5. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    Curious that you had that experience in Gumps, I had the same experience in GUM at 3 Red Square in Moskva!

    Must be the war!

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