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The Retail Rant

We are humans, too.

So, since the age of sixteen, I have had various roles in retail. My, how things change. Back in those days, customer satisfaction seemed the epitome of my role. Making sure that my customers had access to everything they needed at all times, always being available to help when they needed it.

Just, (yes, JUST ,dammit! I’m not that old!) over a decade later and my how capitalist the world has become. Fame and money is the be all and end all.

I grew up being comfortable. We were never really that well off, but we were happy. We had friends and we had the things we needed. But today, our society puts so much ‘stock’ in needing money as the root of all happiness. We have become too material and it’s not the world we wanted to bring our three children into.

My first proper job was working as a Saturday girl stocking shelves and I could only dream of being allowed to work the tills. I loved that job so much. It was a well-known chain in our area that has since closed down unfortunately. We had a loyal base of customers who would frequent to our store and I loved being able to help customers find what they needed.

Contrary to popular belief and my reclusive nature, I am a people person. I thrive on social interaction, I just need to be around people who I can completely let out my weirdness too.

Back then we knew so many of our customers on first name terms and it was friendly and we were all about helping them. As a customer, we had no worries in asking if someone had an item in the warehouse. As an employee, we were only too happy to help and those who began their working careers still carry this friendliness with them. But more and more, youngsters are taking over the workplace. And with that it has brought on a sense of entitlement they have been born with, a low work pay means that they are surlier and less inclined to be helpful.

Alongside the massive mood switch, and the gratitude to actually be in work in our current climate, we have businesses.

I get that businesses are out to make money. Yet to me, it seems like more and more of a working day is about hitting targets to make a business profitable at the cost of customer satisfaction, and for that matter, employee satisfaction.

I love my job I am in now, it holds great career challenges for me for the future. Or maybe I will go down a different path, I’m still young and have plenty of choice. I am just unsure retail is where my heart is anymore.

I have worked in healthcare settings and everything seems number and target driven at the expense of others.

Work in a hospital, you have a target number of discharges to hit due to a bed shortage as more and more people need treatment. Work in a residential home, you will find more and more areas where the target is to convince as many residents as possible to get to bed before the night staff come on shift, or as many out before morning staff come in.

Maybe my husband is right and that I am naïve. But why would I not want to live in world where I choose my own bedtime? Or I know that I can go to a shop and not have ‘buy one get free’ adverts shoved in my face to make the companies more profit, thus increasing the worlds food wastage.

We are literally throwing money away at what we think is a good deal.

But is it though?

Certain items, I understand, aren’t necessarily constrained by use by dates, and they tend to be more advisories than absolutes.

Take meat for example. I watched a television programme recently showing that you can store meat for a longer time than people would think. Also quick tip #1 freeze mince in a freezer bag and flatten it. It defrosts quicker, easier to store and it’s better on limiting ice crystals formation meaning better quality meat. Just a little something I learnt.

Some things may be a good idea to bulk buy and in the US there is such a massive culture for coupon collecting, it's inspiring!

We don’t get so much of that over here and I have looked, perhaps in the wrong areas. We do tend to take advantage of these deals but you have to think who is getting the better end of the deal for these?

Are these items going to keep for a good amount of time before going stale? I would love to see the statistics on the number of items that are thrown out as a result of overbuying through deals like those of the multi-buy deals. Pay attention to these because they are extremely devious. Some deals may be actually charging you more. Always read that small print because retail merchandise these days seems to be all about legal scamming for profit.

It’s such a sad state of affairs that we would rather have a customer come through our doors order and leave quickly with bad service. This opposed to 100% of our attention and quality they actually pay for.

All the target bases seem like such a lose-lose situation and it doesn’t work out in the long run. People may perfect the way they work, but everyone has an ‘off’ day and it just takes one mistake to set off a chain of events that leads to a complaint.

Mistakes give base for criticism. More pressure where people are treated like they are disposable doesn’t do for a conducive work environment. It takes its toll on the staff when we work to the bone but it’s never enough, struggling to hit such high targets.

Take restaurants for example. If things go wrong, it’s going to be put to the manager. The manager isn’t going to take to complaints lightly and a further chain of events is carried

Its a blame chain. It’s passed down the staff because food was rushed out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. The complaint will end back at the chef who made the mistake. But when you sit and think about it, who is to blame really? I think we all have a part in it.

We set ourselves ridiculous targets in everyday life and even more unrealistic targets on employees of our favourite carvery for example. They weren’t just stood there waiting when we wanted to collect our meal. Must make sure you remind him to switch on his psychic abilities next time he is on shift. We blame the manager because his staff were ‘faffing’. The staff then blames the manager because when on shift, they can’t be seen standing around and have to complete other jobs as well.

Its an unfair chain that all comes from the whole root that is targets. Get through as many customers as quickly as possible so they leave and we get more in spending money. Money. That’s what it is.

A small piece of paper or metal with a promissory of a number in your bank account. We have become a world so obsessed with numbers that the higher the number apparently means we are happier.

But what’s the alternative as communism doesn’t work? We need to find that balance. That’s a long time coming when already we are so honed in to the idea that we need money to make us happy.

Don’t get me started on wages, that’s just a whole different account entirely!