It’s officially Christmas month and I am marking my 4th year of selling Christmas pies (or tarts or fruit mince pies or whatever). I kid you not. I really do love the festive season but Christmas time can also be stressful for the seemingly easy job in a bakery due to the holiday rush and last minute entertainment purchases. Most of the time, though, it is the customers who really get to us (me and my colleagues). Instead of sharing with you my wish list for Christmas, here is something you’d probably enjoy more – The 10 types of customers I’d love to hate during this festive season.
#1: Indifferent parents with annoying kids
Scenario: A parent (usually the mum) comes up to buy bread while the child/ren either
- plaster their faces onto our glass displays leaving traces of their gunk or
- bang loudly on the glass displays or
- reach over the tastings container that they obviously can’t reach and then subsequently knocking over the whole container.
Mum just stands there and does nothing even when completely aware of what is happening.
What we are thinking: We’d really love to smack your child for you if you don’t.
#2: Space invaders
Scenario: A man comes up to buy bread and leans over the counter so close to you leaving just a mere half foot (6 inches) distance between your faces.
What we are thinking: Hey buddy, please respect our personal space bubble. Plus, we really do not want to smell your breath specially if it’s not minty fresh.
#3: Grumpy old people
Scenario: An old man walks up to the counter and the rest goes like this:
- Me: Hi there, Sir. How may I help you today?
- Old man: (in a very angry tone) Do not say “hi”. Americans use “hi”. We are Australians. You should say “good day, sir”.
What we are thinking: WTF? Racist much? We really do not need to be lectured on proper salutations of different nationalities. And we know it’s probably lonely living alone but do not take out your frustations on us.
#4: Ghost whisperers
Scenario: These are the people who simply refuse to speak up. The whole conversation usually goes like this:
- Us: Hello. What can I get for you today?
- Whisperers: (hardly audible) Could I please have a white sandwich loaf?
- Us: Sure! Did you want to have that sliced thick or thin?
- Whisperers: (hardly audible) Thin.
- Us: I’m sorry, did you say thick?
- Whisperers: (hardly audible) Thin.
- Us: *proceeds to go slice the bread thick*
What we are thinking: We’d really love to ask you questions only once coz we know you’re in a hurry and, quite frankly, we’re in a hurry too. We’re being nice if we asked the second time to ensure that you get exactly what you want. But, hey, buying and selling is a 2-way street. Speak up, for goodness’ sake. It’s not like we’re aksing you how much you have in your bank account. Speaking up avoids confusion. And for the record, thick and thin sound exactly the same to us on the other side of the counter (unless you really stress on the CK and N).
#5: The she’s-hot-you’re-not couple
Scenario: A guy walks up to the counter with his girlfriend to buy savoury rolls.
- Him – sloppy dresser, ugly haircut, altogether not good looking, does not know the words please and thank you, rude, makes inappropriate side remarks to the younger staff
- Her – great dresser, killer body with good looks, says please and thanks, sometimes looks embarrassed by her boyfriend (due to the above)
What we are thinking: OMG. You guys haven’t broken up yet? Darling, what are you still doing with a slop like that?
#6: The pointer
Scenario: A person walks up to the counter and goes…
- Pointer: Can I have 2 of that? *points to whatever that is*
- Us: Um, which one?
- Pointer: That. *points to that again*
- Us: This one? *points as close to what pointer was pointing at*
- Pointer: No. THAT, the one below. *starts wiggling his finger to indicate the lower deck*
- Us: Oh, this. *points to the lower deck*
- Pointer: No, another one down. *wiggles finger again*
- Us: THIS?
- Pointer: Yes. THAT.
What we are thinking: Could I please slap you now? Product labels are clearly put up and stuck next to the products so that we could avoid the whole THIS and THAT shenanigans. Now could you please try to read the labels next time? If you dont speak English that’s fine. All we ask is that you try and we’ll most likely get what you’re trying to say anyway before you finish saying the whole word. Pointing is not appreciated. If you think you are pointing clear enough, well, here’s a newsflash: Your angle is different to the angle we are seeing.
#7: Phone fanatics
Scenario: These are the people who are already talking on their mobile phones when they walked up to the counter. We don’t even need to actually say anything to each other because they dont even hear you when you talk to them. Then they start becoming the pointers. Mostly it becomes a sign language.
- Phone fanatics: (while still on the phone) *makes a peace sign indicating 2 of something then points to something*
- Us: *points to whatever we thought she pointed at*
- Phone fanatics: *shakes head to indicate that was not it and wiggles finger to indicate higher or lower*
- Us: *points above or below the point of origin*
- Phone fanatics: *nods indicating we got it right then winks and gives us a thumbs up*
- Us: *turns around and grumbles while getting the products*
- Us: *returns to the counter with the products* That would be $2 please.
- Phone fanatics: *hands over a $50 note*
- Us: (self thought) Seriously, a 50 for 2 bucks? Here’s your change. Have a nice day.
- Phone fanatics: *gets changes, pick up purchases and leave while still on the phone*
What we are thinking: It really is not difficult to tell the person on the other line to “hold on a sec” or “I’ll call you back”. Talking out loud on the phone while sign languaging with us is plain rude. As much as we love Hollywood gossip, we couldn’t care less whose boyfriend cheated on who with whoever’s cousin. Here’s a simple tip – stand aside, finish your call then come up to the counter. For all you know I may have shortchanged you but you wouldn’t know anyway because you don’t even know how much your purchases cost in the first place.
#8: The special-flour kind of people
Scenario: Life was so much simpler when all we had were white, wholemeal, grain, rye, and malt bread. Then, along came news and findings about alternative flour like gluten free, spelt, lupin and others that are supposed to be better for you. Something like this is always bound to happen..
- Special flour people: Do you sell gluten free/spelt/lupin bread?
- Us: No, sorry we don’t.
- Special flour people: Why not?
- Us: There is not enough demand at this stage for us to make that type of bread.
- Special flour people: Well, (Insert competitor’s name) sells them. *walks away looking disgusted*
What we are thinking: If our competitor makes that type of bread and you know that they make it then go buy it from them. Simple. There’s only like 1 in 50 of you special flour kind of people who come to our shop so it really is not worth the cost of making 1 loaf of that special flour bread just for you. That’s what speciality stores are for. Wholemeal bread is good enough too if you’re trying to be healthier. People allergic to gluten may be forgiven at this stage but only if they are not the other types of annoying customers.
#9: Choosy people
Scenario: Some people know exactly what they want so much so that it becomes annoying.
- Choosy: Can I please have a white sandwich loaf?
- Us: *proceeds to pick up a loaf then gets interrupted*
- Choosy: No not that one. I want that one over there.
- Us: *picks up the one over there*
- Choosy: Um, actually that’s a bit too high. It won’t fit in my toaster. Do you have a low down one?
- Us: *searches the whole pile for a low down loaf*
- Us: They’re all pretty much the same height. Maybe this one? *shows choosy a seemingly low down loaf*
- Choosy: Okay sliced thick please. And could you put half in 1 bag and the other half in another bag?
- Us: Sure. No problem.
What we are thinking: You just wasted 5 minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back. What’s worse is that we have to go through this process EVERY single time that you are here. Honestly, we’re not really “searching” for a very low down one because we know they’re all of the same height (with probably like a 1 centimetre difference at most). And how do we know that? Because they are all baked from the same batch. Quite frankly, too, we do not give a damn about your toaster.
#10: FUBARs (if you don’t know what this means please Google it)
- FUBAR: *walks up to the counter of a bread bakery* Can I buy bread?
- Us: o_O What kind of bread?
- FUBAR: I don’t know. You know? Bread. *makes shapes using hands trying to show us the bread she’s looking for while trying to be funny*
- Us: Is it for something in particular?
- FUBAR: Uh. No. Not really. Just bread, you know.
- Us: (self thought) I really don’t know.
This is, by far, the number 1 kind of customer that we’d love to not serve (if given the choice).
What we are thinking: You want bread? No kidding. Hello? Obviously you want bread. Why else would you come to a bread bakery? Telling us you don’t know what kind of bread you want makes us lose interest. And it’s not as funny as you think it is. At least have an idea of what you intend to do with the bread then we can start from there. We’re happy to help – just don’t come to a bread bakery asking for “bread“. It’s like going to a Toyota showroom and saying “Can I buy a car”? Uh no. We don’t sell cars here. Or like going to a bookstore and saying “Do you have a book?”. Uh, no honey, this is not that kind of a bookstore.
But if all shoppers are like the ideal customer the world would be a much happier place.
Our ideal customer is a friendly chap/lady/elderly who knows what they want and have made up their minds (or questions) prior to approaching a sales staff. It goes something like this:
- Us: Good morning! How may I help you, sir/ma’am?
- Ideal customer: Hi! Can I please have a wholemeal loaf with sesame seeds, thickly sliced, if there are no sesame seeded ones left a plain one will do and also half a dozen white knotted rolls with no seeds on top.
- Us: *proceeds to get the order ready*
- Us: Anything else?
- Ideal customer: No thanks.
- *a monetary exchange happens*
- *Us: Thank you. Have a nice day!
Quick, simple and specific with no frustrations whatsoever. You leave happy. We feel happier.
So, if you think you are not one of the 10 kinds of annoying shoppers you are more than likely to get a good to great service.
***Happy Christmas shopping and Season’s Greetings***