Are you receiving bad customer service? Maybe the problem is you… 33



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I was in the shops recently when I received bad customer service. It wasn’t until I recalled the conversation to my husband that I realised that it was me who had caused it.

I went to buy my favourite lipstick from a department store and was in a hurry. I knew which type I wanted and I knew exactly where to take it off the shelf and pay for it. But when I started to approach the lipstick display, a female shop assistant came over and asked if I needed any assistance.

“No, I know what I’m looking for”, I replied, hurriedly.

She asked if I wanted to put the lipstick I had chosen behind the counter while I browsed. I snapped back, “I want to buy it now if that’s OK”.

The young woman looked taken aback but at the time I read this as rudeness. I had essentially passed my bad mood on to her but didn’t consider it was due to my own abruptness and not her lack of customer service skills.

I walked to the counter with my lipstick and she advised that if I bought another item, I’d qualify for a gift pack. I didn’t respond and simply handed over my card. Just remembering it now makes me feel terrible. She under her breath, “OK then…” and asked if I wanted a receipt and I snapped back “If that’s not too hard”.

She passed it over to me and I walked away before I could hear her say “Have a nice day”. I went away feeling annoyed and like I was trying to be sold things I didn’t want. It was not the most frustrating encounter I’ve had but what my husband said afterwards put it into perspective for me.

“Sounds like you were the rude one”, he said. “You went in there and wanted good customer service, but when you got it, you didn’t recognise it”.

“No wonder she was annoyed!”. But how dare she try and make me buy more? I just wanted one thing.

“How was she supposed to know that? She’s just doing her job”, the hubby said. I knew he was right and it made me think about all the stories I’d heard over the last few weeks, months and years from friends with bad experiences.

One of the common denominators was the customer’s attitude. Though of course that wasn’t exclusively the case, but the principle of treating someone how you’d like to be treated really applies, even to people serving you.

Go in with a smile and you’re more likely to get a smile. Go with a frown and guess what? You’ll get a frown.

I called up the store and told the manager that the girl who served me was very helpful and I appreciated her service. It’s easy to forget to give compliments and not just complaints.


Have you ever had a bad customer experience but realised you had been wrong? Or do you feel that it’s up to the staff member to do what they can to turn your mood around?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. You were wrong and later even appreciating that staffer’s effort by ringing the department manager is not correct.

  2. My husband has several times spoken up for nice staff who were having their heads snapped off, his pet hate, and he isn’t backward at telling people to pull their head in when he sees it. I don’t get rude unless people are actually very rude to me, but my life is in a slower lane now and I’m happy to pass the time of day with cheerful staff.

  3. Having worked in retail I know only too well how rude some customers can be, especially people on their phone while expecting to be served.

  4. Hooray, someone who sees it as it is! Working in the public eye is not always easy! Some people you can NEVER, please!

  5. The saleswoman was doing a great job and needs to be applauded for her patience and continued good manners. My favourite part of this story, though, is the fact the writer not only realised her mistake when it was pointed out to her but was humble enough to admit her mistake and then share it with us. I just wish she had gone back and apologised in person – imagine the impact such an outcome would have on this delightfully helpful and patient young woman.
    Good share and something for all of us to remember 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing this story so honestly with us. It’s a great little reminder for us all to check our own attitude often. Sometimes we can simply be distracted by our own thoughts or our need to be somewhere else and we fail to give appropriate attention to those around us. I’m sure I’ve would have been guilty at times …

  7. There are too many people who forget the salesperson is a worker like all of us have been. I have seen how rude people can be to very caring and polite people too often. It doesn’t cost much to be kind and friendly. An apology can help so much.

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