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TOP 10 Customer Service Pet Peeves

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Top 10 Customer Service Pet Peeves

Is it just me or has good customer service taken a nose-dive over the past few years?  I’m talking about the customer service you get when you actually visit a retail store in person.

Way back in the 1980’s, I worked in retail.  I worked all through high school and college at a local drug store, and at a popular women’s clothing store. Good customer service was a key focus with both of these retailers. We were constantly being reminded of the ways to provide good, no, make that excellent, customer service to our clients.

Things have changed a lot since the days of Madonna and her bangles, and a Flock of Seagulls and their hairstyles including, in my opinion, good customer service.

I’m not a mean person, and I typically try to see the good in everyone but, I’ve run into more than my fair share of awful customer service experiences over the last year. So much poor customer service, in fact, that I’ve decided to put together my own Top 10 Customer Service Pet Peeves list. These have ALL happened to me.

We all know that the customer is supposed to come first, correct? That the customer is always right?


So here they are, my:


#10. Gum chewing or eating food: Hey, we all need to eat, but that is what coffee or lunch breaks are for. I’d rather not see you scarfing down a bag of Doritos, licking your orange fingers, and then proceeding to handle the merchandise I’m about to purchase. Save your snack attacks for the lunchroom. Don’t even get me started on gum chewing and bubble blowing.

#9. Not acknowledging my presence: When I arrive at your counter, please have the courtesy to acknowledge my presence, and PLEASE don’t carry on the conversation with your co-worker about last weekend’s wild party. I don’t need to know all the details about how much Johnny drank, or about what someone was (or wasn’t!) wearing.  I just want you to ring my items through quickly and I will leave…so you can get back to your party stories.

#8. Assisting other customers: If you have already started to assist me with something and another customer interrupts you to ask you to help them, please don’t leave me in the dust as you run across the store to find what the other customer is looking for. Politely tell them you will be with them in a moment, and finish what you started with ME first.

#7. Saying hello…repeatedly: While I love to be acknowledged when I walk into a store, once you have done so, please don’t hound me as I’m browsing around your store. I don’t need you to keep checking on me every minute, or letting me know about every sale or discount you have going on at the time. As long as I know I can reach out to you if I have a question, I’m good. I don’t wish to feel like I’m being stalked as I shop.

#6. Stalking me:  While we are on the topic of stalking, please don’t follow behind me as I browse through the store, “rearranging” or “tidying up” everything I have touched or picked up while browsing.  Yes, I admit, I sometimes make a mess while browsing and I can’t quite put something back together exactly the way I found it but, please wait until I am gone to do your tidying.  Doing that while I’m there makes me feel like I’m a nuisance to you.

#5. Arguing about your own store policy:  If it is clearly spelled out, and I am following the rules of the store policy, don’t try to tell me I’m wrong. If you don’t understand your own store policy perhaps you should do a little research, or ask your manager more about it.

#4. Completing those customer service surveys: If you ask me to fill out one of those customer service surveys (for my chance to WIN something!), and I leave a comment about a problem I had in the store and request that someone follow up with me – FOLLOW UP!! Otherwise, why are you even asking if my shopping experience in your store was a good one? I guess you really just want to hear the positive feedback.

#3. Not following through on what you say: If I have a legitimate complaint about a product or experience in your store, don’t brush me off. Don’t tell me you will refer it to the Manager and get back to me (once the Manager is back from lunch)…and then never follow up. Don’t make me have to call back and track you, or the Manager down. Regardless of if you can help me with my complaint or not, don’t make me even more upset by dropping the ball and not getting back to me.

#2. Opening another cash. It’s great that you opened another cash up when it got busy, but please make sure you ask the NEXT person in line to join you first. Don’t let the jerk at the end of the line bud in and be the first customer you serve.

#1. Answering the phone: Yes, you heard me correctly. No, please don’t answer it. Not while you are serving me at the cash. I have taken the time to come in to your store to make a purchase and I’m the customer standing in front of you. By all means, take the call…after I’ve left. When I call your store, from the comfort of my home, I will expect that you will help the customer in front of you before chatting with me on the phone.

How many of these have you experienced while shopping in a retail store?

Of course, great customer service hasn’t disappeared from the retail landscape, and I’ve experienced some exemplary customer service as well.  Some of you may remember reading about my experience with Associated Brands, the makers of J-Cloths. They provided me with one of the best customer service experiences I’m ever likely to encounter. While it didn’t happen in a retail store, it definitely deserves another mention.

So, what are YOUR customer service pet peeves?

And for those of you who work in retail…I’d LOVE to give YOU the chance to speak out….what are YOUR pet peeves when it comes to customers?




  1. January 29, 2015


    I’ve got one: How about a “Thank You for your purchase…” or “Thank you for coming into our store”.

    I should not be the one to say thanks after he/she puts my purchase in a bag and hands me my change.

    • January 29, 2015


      Oooh! That’s a good one, Dreena! Yes, that happens to me often! I always feel like they are doing ME a favour when that happens. That one definitely belongs on the list! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. January 29, 2015


    Sandy, I have experienced all of these and more! My top pet peeve is when sales staff on the floor look me up and down and ask me if I could afford what was in the store. Yes, this has happened to me, and their manager was the next person I spoke with. It was disgusting, and I warn people about the poor customer service I received at that store.

    • January 29, 2015


      What?? Wow!! Now that is awful!! I would be mortified if someone said that to me, Lian. So glad you went right to the manager. The nerve of that person to assume that. I sure hope she got reprimanded for that 🙁 Thanks for sharing your pet peeve, Lian – that’s a good one!

    • January 29, 2015


      Did you know that happened to Oprah Winfrey when she was shopping in Europe?

      • January 30, 2015


        Noooo! Wow! I had not heard that, Paula. Oprah! LOL that salesperson would never live that one down!!

  3. January 29, 2015

    Lee-Ann S

    The thing that bothers me the most is when I send my 7 year old to the cash register & she waits patiently for service – even saying excuse me to get the clerk’s attention – but is ignored and then when an adult comes up they are served right away!

    • January 29, 2015


      Oh that is horrible, Lee-Ann! Can’t believe people would do that 🙁 How does she deal with that? It probably makes you feel worse as a mom than it makes her feel. That could definitely be added to the list! Thanks for reading and commenting!!

      • January 30, 2015

        Lee-Ann S

        She’s knows I’m usually watching so she’ll usually come to me or call me and then I usually have my say with the clerk or manager. I’ve been known to follow up with corporate offices if needed. She’s also learning that it’s okay to say “I WAS HERE FIRST!”

        As a mom I do feel bad, but let her know it is not her fault and mom will get things fixed.

  4. January 29, 2015


    Your number 2 is one of my top peeves but more against the customer than the clerk; let me add …
    customers who prefer their phone conversation to the clerk checking out their purchases;
    those who violate the number of items in an express lane;
    those who leave their cart in line while they continue shopping;
    those who exceed the stated (or implied) limit for a special sale;
    those who give their children items to distract them, that are then eaten or destroyed –> one clerk told me that the cost of those items comes out of her paycheck;
    those who open a package to see/taste (much worse in a bulk food store).

    • January 30, 2015


      I totally agree, Paula, #2 is more often the customer’s fault but, I always commend cashiers who specifically ask for the “next” person in line to come up or, physically come over and get the next person to come with them. LOVE your list of customer pet peeves! I’ve definitely seen most of those happen! Especially the extra items in the express lane. Had no idea some cashiers have to pay for items kids have eaten or destroyed 🙁 What parent allows their kid to do that? Sheesh! Thanks for your great comment Paula!

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