How Not to Be A Horrible Customer

So, to start, I work in customer service. It’s what I am good at. I am a natural at providing quick, genuinely friendly service and for doing all that I can to ensure all customers who encounter me are completely taken care of. Now, there are is a spectrum of different types of customer service. Food service, for example, is a much different shade in comparison to grocery store service. Those two are my areas of expertise. Any kind of cosmetic customer service or anything NOT to do with groceries or food, I have no idea what I am talking about when it comes to specifics. On the other hand, there are some general rules of not being a COMPLETE asshole when walking into an establishment where you will have one on one contact with a customer service professional.

With all that being said, I will list some general rules for how not to be a horrible customer in a grocery store, or in more positive terms, how to be at the very least a pleasant customer.

1. When interacting with ANY employee at ANY type of establishment, DO NOT SIMULTANEOUSLY HAVE A PHONE CONVERSATION. This is something everyone is guilty of, and it does not matter what your excuse is, it is always rude. Customer service professionals are literally hired and paid to connect with the guest and to make sure they have a great experience, and you being on the phone completely cuts off communication with the person who is essentially handling your possessions (your money paid for your groceries).

2. OPEN your eyes while you are walking around a grocery store.

  • a. If you are turning a corner and looking the opposite way, just remember driver’s ed. If you had to take drivers ed again in a grocery store, you would fail.
  • b. Open your eyes when you are looking for an available cashier. There is usually one person who is right in the line of sight that gets stuck with ALL the work because customers do not see the other SEVEN cashiers who are open and waiting for them.
  • c. Pay attention to things like setting your HOT COFFEE on a rotating belt (where it is likely to get knocked over and spilled). Also let it be noted that setting your still-in-diapers child on the rotating belt is also a hazard.
  • d. There are signs. Read them. The card machine does indeed say PRESS GREEN FOR CREDIT across the top. Just read it. It will save everyone time.
  • e. If you are in the self serve bulk section, please WRITE DOWN THE PLU code for the product you are purchasing. Remember, there is no visible difference between organic and not organic flour/rice/cashews/ANYTHING, and many bulk departments have hundreds of items, so they need an identification number for the cashier to put into the system for both pricing AND inventory purposes. Knowing the price is almost the most useless information. Remember the plu code, the NAME of the product, and then the price. You will save your time and the people in line behind you.

3. Keep calm and shop on. If your bill looks too high, or if the cashier charged you wrong for something, please understand that they are expected to know HUNDREDS of produce codes, and deal with HUNDREDS of customers daily, and if they mess up one or another, just give them a break and correct it with calmness. They are there to help you, after all.

4. COMMUNICATE. If you have a back injury and you want your bags packed light, you do not even need to tell us about the injury, just ask for your bags to be packed lightly! If you need ice or would like anything left out or separate from the other items, communicate that. If you need to know where the carts or baskets go, ask. If you need help out to the car, ask. If you have coupons or anything of that sort, hand them to the cashier or place them on the item.

5. Be courteous, for goodness’ sake. Overfilling a soup bowl so that it is spilling out all over the counter is just disgusting and juvenile. What if you get seafood soup and your cashier is allergic to shellfish? Have some consideration. If you are having a rough day, do not take it out on the cashier. They get to hear about/witness dozens of strangers’ grumpy days, and it is not fair for an innocent bystander to get caught up in your drama. Do not ask a cashier if they are bored. That joke is not funny. It never will be. Also, when a cashier is checking your 100$ bill to see if it is real, yes, we know, you just printed it this morning. Nobody is laughing. We hear that joke every single day.

6. Have common sense. Do not set down a basket in the middle of the floor where someone can trip on it. If you spill liquids on the floor, do not just walk away from it. Would you do that in your own house, with children or anyone walking around? No. It is inconsiderate and simply ignorant.

7. If someone asks for your ID and you do not have it, do not get mad at the cashier. In fact, SHAME on you for being an irresponsible adult. I am a law abiding citizen, and if I do not see proof of identification when I ask for it, I do not sell someone alcohol. I don’t care if you’re 45. I don’t care if you’re 65. If you look under 30, I am following my store’s policy and asking you to show ID, and if you do not have it, either go get it or forfeit the alcohol. Period.

8. Parents, everyone knows you have difficult jobs, but please just be diligent in keeping your eyes on your kids. This comment is a must, because everyone has experienced the screaming child not being dealt with by the uncaring parent.

9. Some more (unlikely occasion) miscellaneous tips

  • a. Take a shower before you shop. Nobody wants to smell your B.O.!
  • b. Sex jokes are never appropriate
  • c. Standing around for 5 minutes talking to the cashier after your transaction is complete is rude and hinders their ability to do their job properly
  • d. Please pay for your food before you eat it. It’s a general rule. You don’t take the car home before you buy it. That would be called stealing.
  • e. An extra special comment for those really rare occasions: If you have something negative to say about a cashier’s appearance, keep it to yourself. Your opinion is not as valuable as you think it is, and ruining someone’s day is simply selfish and very juvenile.
  • f. Don’t snatch the receipt out of my hand. Rude.
  • g. Do not creepily involve yourself in a cashiers personal business.

10. I like even numbers, so lets think of one more thing… SMILE. You’re grocery shopping, not working. Everybody loves food, so be excited about what you’re going to eat!


A cashier who adores her job.




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