Column: Whatever happened to good customer service?

It seems the price of everyday life is increasing by the second. In many cases, we learn to adjust, but we grumble.  Grumbling makes us feel a little better.

While prices go up, the quality of service plummets. Common sense would dictate that the more you pay, the better the service.  That is no longer true.

Today I’m using my column to grumble.

One of my pet peeves concerns store cashiers. First let me say, I worked as a cashier in retail establishments when I was younger. Our basic training required us to be friendly to customers, pay attention to them (rather than chat with a fellow employee), and, by all means, be accurate when dealing with their money.

It’s rare these days to go through a checkout and find a cashier with even one of those qualities.

Too many times, the pressure is on me to watch what is being scanned to make sure it is registering correctly. The cashier is often talking to the bagger about non-work related subjects. 

It also seems to now be the customer’s responsibility to make sure all purchases make it back into the cart or bags to make the trip home. I’ve had to return to the store for an over-ring or to retrieve an item that didn’t get bagged.

Here comes the serious grumbling part. What happened to cashiers counting back our change? Some of them can’t even get it right when the receipt tells them the right amount. Isn’t counting it back a good checks-and-balance system for the customer, cashier and store?

One day recently, a cashier shorted me $20, and the very next week, another shorted me $80. Holy cow! Fortunately, I check my change before I step away when they do not count it back. While I’m there with receipt and cash in hand, I can still prove the error without question. Since when did that also become the customer’s responsibility?

So, as I was counting my change from a large bill one day, the cashier at the counter stood there watching me. I said, “You know, you really should count back change, especially when it’s this much.”  Her reply: “Who? Me?” I shook my head in disgust, stuffed the cash into my wallet, and walked away thinking, “Yeah, you!”

Don’t even get me started about employees stocking shelves while customers are trying to make selections. I’ve had to excuse myself to get to the item, because if I patiently stood there until they noticed, I’d be there all day.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it our patronage that makes it possible for all of these folks to be employed?

When I think about the extra time I spend to make my selections, assure they are packed up for the trip home, and count back my own change, I figure the store should pay me.

Dianne Garrett is a staff writer for the Columbus Messenger newspapers.

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