What are some small things you can do to help service people?
December 7, 2016 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Service workers of Metafilter (retail workers, contractors, plumbers, baristas, etc.): What are some small, non-obvious things customers can do that are a big help?

If you are, have been, or know someone who deals with customers: what are some things that people can do (or avoid doing) that make your job smoother, easier, or more pleasant? I don't mean the basic "if you don't like the food don't take it out on the waiter" stuff, but things that customers probably wouldn't realize unless they'd worked a similar job.

I'm thinking of examples like "this certain kind of drink always takes a super long time to make, so don't get cranky if you think I'm being slow", or "if I had the measurements of the rooms my electrician job would be 100% easier" or something.

posted by amicamentis to Human Relations (50 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
When buying clothes or other items with hanging tags (price and UPC codes), make sure there is a tag on the one you pick out. If there isn't and you want that exact one, bring another up to the register and explain the issue. Usually the cashier can scan the other one and bag the one you want, setting aside the scanned one to be reshelved. It also saves you and the people behind you in line time, but this is really helping the cashier's speed rating.
posted by soelo at 7:23 AM on December 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

Call people's managers and report good service.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:26 AM on December 7, 2016 [34 favorites]

When I waited tables, I always hated it when people stacked their dishes or otherwise tried to clear their table, trying to help the servers/bussers (unless they did it right). I had a way to unobtrusively clear dishes, etc. that enabled me to be efficient and tidy. If guests did it themselves (stacking their own way, stuffing napkins or wrappers into dishes, putting silverware on or in dishes, trying to hand me stuff) I couldn't undo their efforts without being rude, so it just caused me more trips.
posted by Pax at 7:31 AM on December 7, 2016 [16 favorites]

Whenever I go to Home Depot if I have any large, heavy items, I always put them in my cart in such a way that the barcode is easily accessed. That way when they walk over to my cart with the hand scanner they don't have to search for the code or lift anything out of the way to get at it.

I assume they appreciate it.
posted by bondcliff at 7:34 AM on December 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

When you decide you don't want an item either return it to its original place or, at the very least, bring it up front and hand it off to someone. Don't drop it on a random shelf halfway across the store.
posted by blackzinfandel at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

When you are calling a service, please have your account or other identifying information available and be ready with a concise explanation or request. Call center employees are being timed for how quickly they can complete a phone call. It looks bad for them whenever someone makes them stay on the phone while they try and locate their bill or tell them a long drawn out story.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 7:43 AM on December 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

When you decide you don't want an item either return it to its original place or, at the very least, bring it up front and hand it off to someone. Don't drop it on a random shelf halfway across the store.

This goes double for bookstore-cafe beverages. Please throw out your cups in a nearby trash receptacle when you've finished (or half-finished) drinking them. Picking up a bookstore at the end of a busy holiday shopping day is grueling work, even more so when people are careless about cleaning up after themselves.

Even though I've been out of the retail game for about five years now, my rule of thumb for any store I walk into is to treat it like a campsite: Always leave it as clean or cleaner than when you found it. If that means doing a little bit of straightening while I browse, so be it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:48 AM on December 7, 2016 [19 favorites]

In libraries, unless you actually know about shelving, don't put the book back yourself, put it in one of the many, many places nearby for staff to shelve. Back when I did that type of thing, I could shelve dozens if not hundreds of books in the time it could take to find a single mis-shelved book.
posted by rockindata at 7:48 AM on December 7, 2016 [26 favorites]

Back when I worked retail, it drove me nuts when people would demand we "check in the back!" to see if something not on the shelves was hiding in the storeroom; even worse were the ones who'd ask, then not liking the answer ("sorry, we're out of x") would sneak into the storeroom to root around themselves..... look folks, if we had any x we'd have it out on the shelves so we didn't have to go through all that!

Don't tell obvious lies. I once had a woman demand a full refund (without a receipt, which was by itself against policy for refunds) on a kid's bicycle she insisted she'd bought just three days earlier: the bike frame was literally broken in half, covered in rust and cobwebs, and the tires were bald.... but she'd bought it 'only three days' earlier. Yeah.

Don't take out your bad day on some stray salesclerk/barista/whoever. Not saying all salesclerks/baristas/whoever are paragons of service and good customer relations, but don't be a jerk to someone who had nothing to do with your bad mood.
posted by easily confused at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

Retail (food)
- agree with the general good advice to not leave things you don't want on random shelves, and add that this is especially true for refrigerated food. We had to throw out anything fridge/frozen found on an unrefrigerated shelf - if it was handed over at the till we could get it put back.
- if sales staff do faux-friendly or upselling stuff that you personally find annoying, there's a good chance they are being told to do that by management. I had to make a positive comment about at least one item, plus try to sell our store credit card. Many customers hated it, and so would I have done, but I'd have been disciplined if I didn't do it and was noticed.
- many of our customers had the idea that the store room was a huge warehouse with backups of everything we sold. It really wasn't - it was there for a few excess/bulky items, and to unload deliveries into before they got put out, which was timed to be soon after. Stock levels are carefully controlled and we had a fairly good idea at any given point of what was and wasn't in the stock room. So if a staff member says they don't have any of something, please don't insist that they go to check the stockroom anyway - it's pointless and they'll just stand in an empty room for a few minutes to humour you.
posted by Catseye at 7:57 AM on December 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

If a cashier doesn't have a pen and needs one (to get you to initial a cash back for example) give them your pen to keep if you have a cheap spare on you. Often cashiers have to bring a pen from home and if they forget or someone steals theirs it makes their shift much more difficult.
posted by hazyjane at 8:01 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I always remove clothing from the hangers and I am always thanked by the cashier.
posted by ezust at 8:07 AM on December 7, 2016

You might find the answers to this question useful.
posted by catch as catch can at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have worked a number of service jobs and honestly I never wanted people to "help" me. I have my way of doing things and that is how I want to do it and you aren't helping by moving things around or whatever. Just stay out of my way and be polite.

Sorry if that sounds crabby. I am also one of those people who doesn't want help in the kitchen! Just let me do it.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:30 AM on December 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have worked a number of service jobs and honestly I never wanted people to "help" me. I have my way of doing things and that is how I want to do it and you aren't helping by moving things around or whatever.

This is very true at places that have been the same since the beginning of time and is true for me when I work at the library. Trying to meet normative expectations without doing something extra that would "help" (if only everyone did it that way, which they don't) isn't always helpful.

At the library, I appreciate

- people who have their books all ready at once and don't leave them on the checkout desk as they go gather children and get more books
- people who return books in the drop when it's open/available, not leave them on the counter when I'm right there
- people who say thank you (please is nice but somehow I don't care as much)
- people who only reshelve when they know exactly where the book is from. Reshelving is part of what someone does, it's no bother
- people who are ready to go on time when the library is closing and don't view closing time as the time to rush up to the desk to check things out (probably true in a lot of places - be out the door at closing time unless you've been told otherwise)
- and yeah campground stuff, leaving stuff better than you found it. Going the extra step to push down paper towels in the trash can in the bathroom or put out a roll of toilet paper (or let us know if it's out) or toss out someone else's garbage does help us do our jobs better

I've also been trying to get better at that "Oh I have an extra 12 cents" thing because while it soothes my nerdy math brain it can be like SURPRISE MATH for the cashier and is not cool.
posted by jessamyn at 8:49 AM on December 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think this one goes both ways to help service workers and customers. Stop handing over paper bills with change precariously floating on top of the paper! Put change in their hand where it won't slide around, then hand over the bills on top.
posted by cecic at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2016 [23 favorites]

If guests did it themselves (stacking their own way, stuffing napkins or wrappers into dishes, putting silverware on or in dishes, trying to hand me stuff) I couldn't undo their efforts without being rude, so it just caused me more trips.

This was a big one during my restaurant years. When you stuff a paper napkin into a half-empty soda cup with ice, you create a disgusting mess for the person bussing your table and for the person taking out the trash. It helps nothing. Keep trash separate from dishes, and don't empty all the trash from your pockets onto the table--it would drive me BONKERS when I bussed a table and there were random gum wrappers and ATM receipts among the napkins and straws. Extra-bonkers if it was all tucked into dishes.
posted by witchen at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

May be a bit niche-y but, as a web developer, no you CANNOT sit and look over my shoulder as we work on the site together.

As someone working on your computer hardware, could you please stop talking to me so that I can concentrate on what I'm doing and what the computer is doing.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:09 AM on December 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

Yeah I think the campground rules are a really good one. I used to work at a movie theater and I'm here to say that no, it is absolutely not okay for people to leave their trash in the theater. People do it all the time as if it's totally fine, but after every movie gets out, the cleaning crew has to go in there and try to sort it out fast. The most common reason a theater wasn't open early for the next showing was that there was so much trash it was taking us forever to pick it all up. We used to have a leafblower. A fucking leafblower! To try to wrangle all the trash as quickly as possible, but it was just really terrible at times.

Agree about the coins/bills thing cecic mentioned. And the upselling speak that Catseye mentioned. At the concession stand, we were required to ask if you wanted to upgrade to whatever popcorn combo we had going that month, and if you wanted XYZ candy with that. It was annoying all around, but if we got caught not saying it to the customers, we were reprimanded.
posted by FireFountain at 9:14 AM on December 7, 2016 [13 favorites]

In general - be ready. You know how you're going to pay and you have your card check cash ready. Know what you want to drink or eat. If a guy is coming to fix a thing move all the junk around the thing before he shows up.
posted by fixedgear at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Actually DO let management know when someone provides good service. Hours are always cut and it may help that employee to get a few more hours scheduled (which helps when paying bills.)

And if corporate has those "let us know about your experience" surveys and you had a good experience, let them know. Of course the newest gimmic from corporate is to count surveys against the store if the results aren't perfect 10's (which results in the loss of a quarterly $50 bonus if all other metrics are met - anything to stiff the staff, you know!)
posted by mightshould at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

count surveys against the store if the results aren't perfect 10's
Seconding this! Don't fill out the survey for an individual unless you are going to give them all 10s or you want them dinged. Also, don't take out your problems with the company on the person being surveyed. If you have a complaint, send it in on a form or email and not on the survey.
posted by soelo at 9:57 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

leave concise voicemails. put your phone # and account information at the very beginning of the message, not at the long rambly free-associative end of it grumble
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:19 AM on December 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

Also say your phone number slowly with pauses between the sets. 555 pause 555 pause 12 pause 34.

When I'm doing service work in a home it's really nice when people lock their roaming pets away. Both because despite your reassurances I'm not really trusting your Doberman/Poodle/Pitbull/Golden retriever isn't going to bite, your cat isn't claw the shit out of my back, your Komodo Dragon isn't going to do whatever they do but also so I don't have to worry about them escaping when I make a trip out to my truck.

Also I don't really mind moving furniture to get to your defective receptacle or replace your ceiling fan but I charge by the hour so it'll be cheaper for you if you have that cleared out of the way before I get there. And I'm going to have to get your electrical panel regardless of what I'm working on so knowing where it is and having a metres space cleared out in front will be helpful.

PS: I've had great luck getting stuff from the back room at both Canadian Tire and Staples; the people at Staples often volunteer to look. And because Home Depot is stocked, at least partially, by their vendors who only come once a week there is often stuff on the upper racking when shelves are empty. Look for the stock number on the tag and see if you can see the same number sharpied on the boxes.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

As someone working on your computer hardware, could you please stop talking to me so that I can concentrate on what I'm doing and what the computer is doing.

Seems to be something people don't understand unless they're in the tech and/or support industries (I have to admit it didn't click with me until I did some of that kind of work) - just because we're on the phone together right now doesn't mean it has to be a running conversation.

Now if we could get people on conference calls to understand that it's not a 2-way conversation and different rules apply...
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

oh, and - use the support system, or email in the absence of a formal support desk, if possible. Phone calls to support systems are so often a vague tangle that at best results in a ticket being generated (that probably will need more clarification than if the user/person with problem had typed it out in the first place).
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2016

Another voicemail tip: say your number twice, including the pauses. I always appreciate it when people do that for me. No matter how well you pause, it's your phone number so you're used to rattling it off. If you say it twice, I don't have to back up and listen to your voicemail again if I've missed a number or two.
posted by purple_bird at 11:07 AM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Retail (Kids Toys & Clothes)

Please don't leave half-eaten things of food or almost empty drinks on shelves, the floor, or near tables full of nicely folded shirts.

Please don't put your almost completely full drink in the trash can behind my register because when I go to empty that trashcan later that evening I will end up spilling soda/coffee/whatever all over me and my station, which is seriously stressful and time consuming to clean up.

Please don't let your small child run wild, pull everything off the shelves they pass as they race around our store, and then laugh about it because you don't feel like putting everything back.

Please don't disassemble clothing sets and put together a set of your own just because you want the pajama top in size 6 but the pajama bottoms in a size 8.

If you take a toy out of its box to look at it, don't just leave the toy out because you don't know how to reassemble it -- you're just making it 10x easier for someone to shoplift the stuff you left behind.

Nthing the bring merchandise up with a tag and don't expect us to magically produce a tag if you've picked something that doesn't have a tag (or if your kid has taken the tag off and thrown it somewhere after you gave your kid that stuffed animal to hold while you shopped).

If you have a card that's unsigned and I need to get the security code off of it to finish a transaction, please be prepared to show your ID.

If there are like 20 other people in line and you decide mid transaction that you want to open a credit card with us (a procedure that will take 15 minutes), please understand that transferring you to a different register to wait so we can process other guests first is not an insult -- it's a courtesy to everyone in the store, including you.

Please, please, PLEASE don't leave a table full of shirts or pants look like the site of an explosion just because you wanted the size that happens to be at the very bottom of one stack.

Please don't leave clothes you or your kid have tried on in the middle of the floor rather than hang them up again.

Wanting every single item in your 20 item purchase individually bagged so you don't have to wrap them may cause a delay in service.

It is super, super cool if you want to help me bag stuff, though, especially if you do have particular preferences regarding placement/distribution/whatever. It is even more awesome if you enthusiastically agree to help me situate that GIANT box you want bagged in the bag with me because teamwork rocks.

Glass ornaments of any kind are not toys for your kids to play with.

We can hear you when you insult us, our merchandise, or our store's decor, and no, we don't look at it as feedback or constructive criticism. It just makes you look petty and immature.

"Please", "Thank you", and "Hi! How are you?" really do make a difference. So does, "Hey, I am super exhausted; can you help me [find this thing]/[make this transaction go faster]?" and "I have had a super lousy day, I'm sorry," if you get short with us for whatever reason.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

former cashier and barista

-if you're paying cash and it's busy, please don't try to use the cashier as a substitute for a bank teller by asking them to break a large bill and requesting things like "can I get change in fives?" We get suspicious because that's occasionally a setup for a quick change scam (if a store refuses to break large bills, that is why); also it takes extra time.

-leave heavy/oversized items in your cart and just have the cashier use the scanning gun to get them. It saves time and their poor back if they don't have to wrestle a 30 lb bag of dog food off the conveyor.

-if you have odorous trash (White Castle wrappers, or what have you), don't hand it to the cashier and ask "can you throw this away for me?" We do have trash cans under our registers but we also don't want to smell aging White Castle or Taco Bell or ketchup packets for the next five hours.

-grouping helps cashiers, if done right. If you want all your meat bagged separately, grouping all your meat together on the conveyor belt helps speed it up. If you're purchasing 50 cans of cat food and they're all the same type, you can put them all together and let the cashier know they're the same, they will count 50, and then can enter that in the register instead of scanning each can separately.

BUT if some of the cat food is Ocean Feast and some is Chicken Dinner and some is Liver Festival, don't hand the cashier one can and say "50 of these," we have to 1) at least count the total # ourselves to make sure it's accurate; and 2) separate those flavors out because it affects inventory and stocking. (Some cashiers won't care, but they're supposed to).

-observe if the cashier's lane light is actually on or off. If it's off and they're finishing up with a customer, don't zoom into that line. I know some shoppers get on autopilot and forget to look at the light, but you're delaying their break or shift end when you do that. Also if the lane light is blinking (to signal a manager to come over for assistance), don't get in line and then get huffy because you have to wait.

-coffee drinks take longer to make if there's anything unique or special about them. Soy milk, skim milk, "half caf," "extra hot," "two pumps mocha, one pump vanilla, half pump caramel...," if you're going off menu you need to be patient. Also for 'extra hot' drinks, we were limited by law for how hot we could actually make them.

-if you drive a car or truck with a diesel engine, park and go inside the restaurant to order, or at least shut off your car when you're ordering at the drive through. It's painfully loud and none of us on headset could hear anything besides 'RRRRRRRR-Hi I'd like-RRRRRRRRRR-and-RRRRRRR-ccino with-RRRRRRR-illa?-RRRRRRRRR'

-we can and will serve you ten minutes before close, but often we were already halfway through draining out the coffee pots, cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen equipment and running dishes through the dishwasher. A "ding" at the drive through at 8:53 PM made everyone groan. So if you want to cut service staff a break, try to avoid ordering food within 10 minutes of close.
posted by castlebravo at 11:38 AM on December 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

Not a retail worker any more, but whenever I'm at the grocery store, I always return my cart to the cart return place and stack it in there nicely. It seems like most people (if they bring them over there at all) will just get it within the confines of the cart return thing, without nesting them together properly, so after 2 or 3 askew carts, the thing is "full". I'll fix them if it's bad, and if I'm walking past a stray cart on my way to the cart return thing, I'll grab it, too. And then I get to feel morally superior for a minute or two.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:49 AM on December 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

Cart runs are miserable in bad weather. And even in good weather, you never have enough time to do them. If you are physically able, put the cart back in the cart corral or as close to the store entrance or cart corral as you can. If nothing else, you can put your cart in a grouping of carts. The goal here is to make the employee on the cart run do as few stops as possible when collecting all the carts and not make them run all over the parking lot in the freezing dark.

Is the cashier talking to someone else? DON'T INTERRUPT unless it is a life-or-death emergency. If you interrupt, the cashier has the shitty options of either a) ignoring you and making you made enough to make a complaint or b) ignoring the original customer they are helping or getting distracted and making a mistake, making them mad enough to make a complaint. Being in a hurry is not an emergency. Wait your turn.

Talking on the phone: don't say OH, say ZERO. Spell your name even if you think it's obvious. And like others say above, be ready with your question or method of payment.

Don't put stuff back yourself. You may think you know where it goes, but you don't know if there are rules about: handling checks/checks for breakage or expiration date, arrangement on the shelf (does the label go out? Is there a pattern on the shelf to maintain? A certain level of even fullness?), secondary/feature locations, or subtle color or detail variations that might be present that you aren't looking for.

In my library, every book that gets reshelved by the pages gets counted as circulation, and more circulation gives us more money, so please let us do the work for you.

If stuff is thrown on the floor, pick it up even if you didn't do it so it doesn't get stepped on and broken/soiled or worse, become a trip hazard. People tripping in a store is dangerous and awful and also a whole horrible ordeal for the employees, who will be determined to be at fault even if they're doing their best to tidy in a busy environment. Put it with other stuff you don't want, either ask where, or somewhere obvious.

Corollary to NO LIQUIDS IN THE TRASH: if you want your coffee with room, ask for it at the order station. If it still doesn't have room, ask the barista to dump some out in the sink. Don't dump it in the trash-- same liquids-in-a-leaky-bag problem.

Don't want the credit offer, extra sale, or add-on purchase? A simple "No thank you" will do.

Sometimes the cashier is a little hard-of-hearing or has a language barrier or is distracted. Saying the same thing over and over again is not going to help if they didn't get it the first couple of times. Try to rephrase and say the same thing in a different way.

An interaction with a cashier is not an appropriate Avon sales, flirtation, or witnessing opportunity.

Don't automatically help lift or move stuff. It is insulting to the employee who is doing their job to assume they can't do it. More importantly, it is a liability issue. If you drop a box on your foot or slip and fall, you can sue us and that employee can get fired.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:55 PM on December 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Agree with most of these, but consider this: Is a customer's out-of-their-way helpfulness contributing to job loss? Take the matter of grocery carts.

I certainly don't dispute the previous comment, which sounds like it comes from experience, but my experience was different. For us, a cart run was a welcome break from mopping spills, sanitizing the fish counter, cleaning the diaper-change station, and other low-seniority tasks.

And if every customer wheeled their empty cart to the cart corral or -- even more helpful! -- to the main cart line by the front door -- there would have been no errant carts about, and no cart runs. And our employer would have cut back our hours, or even laid off an employee, in the blink of an eye.

That was a different time, and generally good weather. My point is not to argue the details, or claim one eliminated task = layoffs. But I do suggest being mindful about what is called, in union shops, doing someone else's work. It's frowned upon for good reason.
posted by LonnieK at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't come over with your baby and ask us to turn the music down. this is a bar.
posted by speakeasy at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2016 [12 favorites]

tip waitstaff and bartenders in cash whenever possible
posted by AFABulous at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

My plumber remarked that he appreciated that I cleared out the shelves in the closet behind the shower so he could easily access the panel. I had also removed the bath rugs and basically made sure he had a cleared area to work.

My electrician's pet peeve is when people don't have their fuse boxes labeled - he has told me that he wastes more time than he should trying to figure out which outlet goes with which circuit, but ultimately it's their dime as he's paid by the hour.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I go to the bar to order another pint, I always bring back the glass I just finished drinking. I don't know if that's helpful.
posted by bendy at 2:13 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

From a barista, things that seem obvious, but people do ALL the time:
- when you hand over your credit card, that means you are ready to complete the transaction. Do NOT watch me run your card, then order 3 more things. Do NOT hand me the card and then wander off to choose more snacks while I make your drink.

- if you are with your friends, but are paying separately, do not order all at once. This signifies that this is going to be part of a single transaction. If you are paying separately, wait in line and take your turns. Same thing goes for several people piling items on the counter, then waiting until they are all rung up to say, oh no, these are separate. WTF?

- if you and a friend are ordering the same thing, it may be helpful to let me know so I can make them both together, but be sure to let me know then if you are paying separately.
posted by catatethebird at 2:14 PM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


- be mindful of how long drinks take. A pour-over will take a ton of time, because first you have to choose what kind of coffee you want, then I have to grind it, then I have to slowly pour the hot water over it, which alone takes about three minutes. At my small coffee-shop, if you ordered a pour-over on a Saturday morning, we would all hate you, because everyone else's wait time just multiplied, which meant they hated us.

Espresso drinks can take a few minutes, unless you are literally just getting an espresso. If it's the Saturday morning rush, and you're at the end of a long line, I can guarantee ten people in front of you ordered four lattes each. Chill, or get a drip coffee.

- Actual live human beings have reduced me to tears over coffee. Don't be that person.

- The things that drove me most crazy were just...respect issues, I guess. Respect the people that make your food and drink. I'm not stupid just because I'm behind this counter; no one here is. I have done hard manual labor in a baking dry-dock in the middle of summer, and being a barista was harder (for less pay). Be friendly, especially if you're a regular; I still really warmly remember a lot of my regulars/customer crushes. It's very, very easy to make your service person's day a lot nicer, just by treating them as a human being.
posted by kalimac at 2:25 PM on December 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

After signing: Leave the pen! Do not adopt and bring the new pen home to the drawer of pens you already have.

The pen is happy at the server/clerk who LENT you it.

So: Sign, then drop pen. Step away. Let pen lie.

(Depending on what recipt paper is used, only some pens actually work well. Loosing a good pen sucks.)
posted by Rabarberofficer at 5:28 PM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

- people who are ready to go on time when the library is closing and don't view closing time as the time to rush up to the desk to check things out (probably true in a lot of places - be out the door at closing time unless you've been told otherwise)

Very much worth quoting. A guy once commented, as we were trying to get him to leave the bookstore where I worked, that it was odd because "restaurants let you stay as long as you want."I don't really think you should do this in restaurants, either, if you are the last ones and are no longer eating or drinking anything. But in a retail store, if you're there past closing time, you are keeping everyone from straightening up and going home.
posted by BibiRose at 6:12 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you see a manager or assistant manager at a chain store berating an employee or doing something extremely inappropriate please contact the corporate office. If you ever contact corporate about any incident provide the date, the time of day, what section of the store it happened in, specific language you heard or touching you saw. If you want to describe the people involved and they are all wearing uniforms please reach beyond hair color - don't hesitate to say "the fat bald guy" or "the chick with bad acne" if that's all you can remember. It is so, so hard to corroborate an employee's account of something a manager did to them for a variety of reasons; it is extremely maddening for HR if they know in their gut that something happened but have only one person's word against another. Your independent account is especially important if a manager is flipping out on an employee who messed up or is obviously bad at their job and has motivation to exaggerate.
posted by good lorneing at 6:34 PM on December 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you're at a strip club, please make clear to a stripper as early as possible in the conversation if you don't intend to spend money on her.

It is frustrating to invest time chatting with someone who ends up saying, "Actually sorry, I'm not looking for a dance." In that environment, conversation is work.

I've been doing this a little while so I know to time my offer of a lap dance early enough in the conversation that I won't feel super annoyed with the customer (and myself) if they end up declining. (I generally spend 5-10 minutes with a new person, maybe 15, depending on my mood and how busy the room is.) But even so, if I can save myself 10 minutes of conversation that isn't going to lead to money, this saves me from adding another drop of water into the "burnout" bucket.

I don't think a guy who declines after 20 minutes of conversation always comes from a place of bad intentions.
- A lot of guys don't realize that at most clubs, dancers pay to work. (Not always obvious.)
- A lot of guys need conversation to gauge chemistry in order to determine whether they want to shell out for lap dances. (Totally understandable.)
- A lot of guys are aware that other guys can be assholes, and they don't want to be those assholes by making a stripper feel rejected right off the bat. But they don't realize that wasting our time is rude as well.

Polite phrasing: "I know you're here to make money and I want to be respectful of that, so I should let you know that I'm not looking to get a dance today. I don't want to be one of those guys who wastes your time. But you [are beautiful/danced beautifully onstage/have a beautiful dress/have a beautiful smile], and I hope you have a great rest of your shift!" *

I get rejected like that a couple times a week, and I always thank the guys for telling me up front. It's a small thing that makes my job easier.

Obviously the best thing to do is be respectful of our bodies (ask permission, not forgiveness) and be respectful of our time (spend money, because OMG SO MANY REASONS). But if you're not going to spend, or you're not going to spend on a particular dancer, this language is how to be respectful about declining.

*Do not say, "I'm just here for a drink," because NO YOU'RE NOT. Your favorite bar doesn't just happen to have a stage with a constant rotation of live naked girls. You're not here for the Very Special Beer at this establishment; you're here for the live naked girls. You've just decided that you are a Very Special Snowflake with Very Good Reasons why you are not obligated to pay for the latter.
posted by Peppermint Snowflake at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

It mostly comes down to respect for me. If someone greets you, look them in the eye and acknowledge it, even if you just say hello. Eye contact goes a long way.
posted by shaqlvaney at 9:22 PM on December 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Former bartenders have told me that if you want to order a large round which contains Guinness (or similar) you should mention it first so they can start to pour it first. Means they can be making/fetching the other drinks while it settles rather than standing around doing nothing.
posted by neilb449 at 11:00 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If asked, I always complete post-customer service telephone surveys; apparently they really can be important. Now I also ask if they want me to answer 9 or 10 because a few people have asked me to select 9 because in some systems will record "10" as "1" if you're too slow with the "0."
posted by Room 641-A at 9:56 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hand your coins to people! Picking up nickels and dimes off of a flat surface is not fun and frankly a little bit degrading. I'm a person, treat me like one.
posted by MadamM at 10:33 AM on December 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I work client service for a software company (I don't interact with any clients face-to-face, so maybe this is a different kind of service than what's intended with the question) but my biggest pet peeve is when clients don't include their contact info in their signature line of their email.

If we have a call scheduled or I need to contact you quickly, only having your email address isn't helpful and if you work for a Huge Corporate Monolith, it can be hard to know which location to call to track you down.

Put more broadly, make sure you've left accurate contact information for the person who has a need to get in touch with you.
posted by Twicketface at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

When handling voicemail, I always appreciated people who left their phone number at the beginning and end of the message.

As a bicycle mechanic (and I suspect this applies to a lot of repair work) detailed descriptions really help move things along. Something as basic as "It clicks every turn of the pedals, but it's fine when I'm coasting" is enough to diagnose the problem with ~80% confidence, so I can give you an estimate on the spot. A lot of folks just report "some kind of noise," which means I won't be able to estimate cost or completion time until I check it over. If the shop is busy, that means you'll probably have to leave it and wait for me to call you when things quiet down - a (slight) nuisance for both of us.
posted by sibilatorix at 11:47 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't call a business the second they open, if your needs are not urgent. Employees are usually on the clock only briefly before that minute and they are usually trying to finish listening to voicemail, put out certain kinds of fires, etc. The sound of a phone ringing the moment of the posted opening-- or worse, repeatedly in the hour before it-- always makes me think, "Here we go." If it's really urgent, fine, but otherwise it is really nice if you can give them a little bit of time.
posted by BibiRose at 7:33 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is one of the best threads I've ever seen.
posted by LonnieK at 7:50 PM on December 18, 2016

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