View Full Version : What is the correct thing to do?

06-20-2014, 05:12 PM
At work I am frequently asked by customers where this or that is in the store or other questions that don't concern me. I am not employed by the business where I do my work. It's a grocery store, but Hallmark is my employer and I only deal with the HMK department. I'm often clueless about what they ask me. But, I do shop regularly at this store myself, so I often am able to direct customers in the right general direction.

So, today a man came up to me, and I could see he was frustrated. He started by saying that he had seen an ad for a deal on T.P., telling me the cost and the discount, giving me a good description, and that he couldn't find that T.P. anywhere in the store. I know right away I wasn't going to be able to help him, but was feeling a little intimidated by his attitude and didn't cut into his rant. He finished, and I told him I don't know, I'm sorry, I work with HMK, but asked if he'd checked the T.P. aisle. He got really annoyed then and said "yeah!" in a "duh!" kind of way. I think he was annoyed that he'd told me the whole saga of his problem and had vented all his frustration, only to be told that I wasn't going to be able to help him after all that. "All I want is to find someone who works here!"

( I suppose I could have offered to help him find someone, but, of course I didn't think of that in the moment.)

My question: when I can tell that I'm not going to be able to help someone, do you think it is better to kind of interrupt (for lack of a better term), or should I wait until they finish asking the question? Sometimes they do take a little longer getting to the point than necessary, so I feel like they're wasting their breath. Granted, with this guy, it wouldn't have made a difference no matter how I'd responded, he was going to be ticked. What do you prefer? To be interrupted, or to finish your question? I feel kind of dumb standing there waiting till they finish asking. I'm not sure what I'd prefer.

06-20-2014, 05:52 PM
Yikes I don't know. I would have done the same thing if I were in your position. I think I would probably wait till the first pause they make and let them know I don't work there and try to help them find someone who can help. I know how frustrating it is when you need help and it seems like everyone is hiding.
Then of course, there will always be people who will be frustrated no matter how you handle it.

06-20-2014, 06:46 PM
While they're talking, start using some non-verbal cues. Widen your eyes a little, open your mouth like you want to say something but can't find an opening to do so, indicate with your hands toward your Hallmark badge (if you wear one) or toward the cards, etc. The people will see you doing this and will usually pause to see why, and then that's your opening.

But lacking that, I would prefer to be interrupted than to go through my whole spiel and then have to go through it again with someone else.

06-21-2014, 05:53 AM
I would wait until the end, but only because I'm scared of interrupting. It probably is best to interrupt, so they don't feel like they've wasted their time asking the wrong person.

06-21-2014, 06:14 AM
It can be difficult to judge, but I probably wouldn't interrupt if he was in a rant. My worry would be that if I did then he could take it as rudeness, and if he's already frustrated then that may not go very well :( I would probably do what you had suggested afterward - try and help him find someone who did work there or take/direct him to customer service to see if they could help.

06-30-2014, 05:07 PM
Just seeing this--how lame of him to be mad about tp. If I were the customer. I'd prefer you to hold your arm out indicating we're about to walk and then interrupted with, "I don't work in that part of the store, but let me help you find someone who can help you. Either way, it's not worth getting huffy over tp--betting he'd be huffy no matter what you say.

06-30-2014, 05:26 PM
I wouldn't interrupt. If there was a pause I might try a Sir/Ma'am to interject but otherwise I would just wait until the end. If I had to get offended by one or the other I would be more offended over being interrupted than I would be by wasting my breath.

06-30-2014, 07:06 PM
That name tag that I had been forgetting to wear has come in handy since that incident. Now when people start telling me their life story :) I just point to the tag, and they stop themselves.

07-02-2014, 09:11 AM
I recently had a similar experience in reverse. I wasn't on a rant, but did want to speak to someone about a problem I had with one of the self-service checkouts at a supermarket. I thought I was speaking to someone from customer services - there were 2 people behind the counter where the customer services place was - and started telling her my problem, but before I had got very far she said,'Excuse me, before you get any further.....' and then explained she just sold cigarettes and that I should speak to the customer services guy who was right beside her. I found her to be perfectly polite and I wasn't in the least bit annoyed about being interrupted.

In your situation I would probably have suggested they ask at customer services - maybe they should have done that in the first place? - but at what point in the rant I don't know.


07-03-2014, 10:11 AM
I've had people ask me randomly where something while I'm shopping in the store, then they feel embarrassed when they find out I don't work there. (I usually stop by on my way home from work and what I have to wear for work is very similar to what Wal-Mart employees wear.) If I have someone just start ranting and raving like that I direct them to customer service and tell them that is what those people are there for.

07-23-2014, 06:08 PM
That name tag that I had been forgetting to wear has come in handy since that incident. Now when people start telling me their life story :) I just point to the tag, and they stop themselves.

I'm more blunt and direct, so normally I say something like, "Let me be rude and interrupt ...." and then explain that I can't help them. Then again, I've gotten used to politely interrupting people (patients) and bringing them back on track, etc.