WWYHD: What Would You Have Done?

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Last Friday night we were in Wal-mart doing some grocery shopping. When we got ready to check out, I chose what looked like the lesser of the evils among the handful of lines that were actually open. Honestly, I should never be allowed to choose a line. I always pick the worst one.


First, we stood there forever waiting for the one person in front of us to be finished. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on, but Brian later told me that the cashier had messed something up.

Finally, it was our turn. Brian took the kids because I had some Easter goodies I didn’t want them to see.

First, the cashier stood and refilled the entire bag carousel even though I had my reusable bags right on top. Then, she had to situate my bags on the carousel. Then, she picked up the first item to scan.

That’s about as far as we got. Someone she knew was on the aisle next to us and he came over to catch up with his friend, the cashier. Now, let me just say, this cashier wasn’t a teenager. She was an older lady who, one would think, would be mature enough to realize that this was not the time to carry on a lengthy conversation.

I wouldn’t have been annoyed if she could have scanned items and talked at the same time, but she absolutely could not. She’d pick up an item, hold it in her hand, talk a bit and finally scan the item.

I was just flabbergasted. I mean, if I’d been the guy who’d come to visit, I’d have realized how discourteous it was of me to distract this lady from her job and I’d have left. If’ I’d been the cashier, I’d have realized how unprofessional it was of me to stand and talk with customers waiting in line and I’d have ended the conversation.

I didn’t know how to say anything without sounding rude. The lady behind me seemed just as disbelieving, so I know it wasn’t just me being impatient.

The guy probably stood there – I don’t know – probably not really five minutes, but definitely more than just a couple of minutes. I actually almost called Brian to ask him to come back over because he could probably have said something without it seeming rude.

The cashier literally only scanned three or four items while the guy stood there and at least once when he started to walk off, she asked him a question and continued the conversation.

I really wanted to ask the guy to leave so that the cashier could get my items scanned and I could go home, but there’s really not a nice way to say that.

I was wishing I’d picked up the magazine that I’d thought about buying. I could have had it read before we finished checking out.

What would you have done?

photo credit calgary reviews on flickr

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  1. lol…oh I have been there! I would have said "Excuse me, I don't mean to be rude or interrupt your conversation, but I have kids and a husband waiting on me to get home, can we please finish my transaction".

  2. It is pretty much what I expect these days in a lot of stores. Sad but true. I would have been pretty unhappy and maybe I would even have sent a letter to management. But more and more,"customer service" no longer exists. You should have seen my face the day the two teenage cashiers were talking about the behavior at a party the night before in front of my kids!!! :0

  3. You know, this is when I play the "KID CARD" – I just say something like. "Wow, I made it through shopping with all the kiddos and we (or my husband) are just about at the melt down point. Would you mind hurrying up so that we can get out of here?" My kids really don't melt down but so many do that it's understandable. We can take it and then the cashier thinks that doing their job is actually doing me a favor.

    Also, I think WalMart is heinous. Why have all the check out lanes when they only ever open 3, no matter how busy they are?

  4. I'm not as nice as you 🙂 I would have said something like "I don't mean to be rude but would be possible for you to continue your conversation after you have scanned my items." Or I would have said "Excuse me, could you please get the manager, I have a question". I'm sure she would have quit talking!! or maybe" Excus me, is it your break? If so I'll go to another lane. "

  5. I would've said "Excuse me, I'm in a bit of a rush, so could you please scan my order?" If the caheir got an attitude, I would've left the line and called for a manager. They need to do their job, not talk.

  6. You must have nerves of steel! There would have been no way I could have refrained from saying something.
    Either I would have had my husband get a manager or I would have left my whole order there and walked out. If management doesn't care to train their employees in basics like, uh….customer service, then they don't deserve your business. You are not alone in your Walmart experience. They are definitely not a "The customer comes first" establishment. If customers don't bring this to management's attention, then things won't even have a chance of getting better…but I honestly don't think they care. I no longer shop at Walmart b/c I end up sinning almost every trip in there…I lack in patience and speak my opinions, need I say more? {lol}

    Have you thought about calling the store? They have cameras over every lane so if they wanted to verify they could. Just a thought.

  7. Oh that's a tough one! I am someone who would have said something but as "PC" as possible since I try not to let my temper actually out of my mouth. I would have simply said, "Excuse me, I am really running late and need to get out of here quick. Is there any way you can ring me out quick?", and then hoped that she took the hint.

  8. Wow… That is a tough one. I would really think in my mind of talking to a manager but then I would probably have chickened out.. LOL I don't like confrontation but I really don't like being rudely treated either. My hubby would not have been so nice and that is one example of why he refuses to use Wal Mart more than he has to. I probably would have done just the same as you and stood there in disbelief.

  9. Just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago…and am chagrined once again that in those last couple of weeks I behaved badly with a customer service representative for the first time in my life. I even went so far as to give her some pointers in courteous customer service while waiting for her supervisor to show up.

    Interestingly, the airline ended up giving me a hotel voucher and meal vouchers for my performance. It was so not worth it, though…the guilt was excruciating. Now I'm trying to figure out if the LORD really wants me to write an apology letter or if it's just my over-sensitive conscience telling me to do that. 🙂

  10. I would have gotten in on the conversation. You know, just start commenting right along with whatever they were saying like you were part of the chat. Nothing rude or anything, but I bet they would have taken more notice of this stranger 'butting into' their conversation. LOL! Then again, they might have just added you in like a long lost friend too.

    That, or I would have plopped myself down on the bottom ledge of that little spinny baggy thing and politely ask her to 'let me know when you are ready'.

    Super frustrating when things like this happen. Grrr!

  11. I would have definitely said something to her. Initially it would have been polite-ish…something like "Excuse me, paying customer here….could you have your conversation after you've checked me out?"

  12. I would have just said, "Excuse me, but my husband and children are waiting for me in the car. Could we please move this along a little." Hopefully, that would have been enough of a hint to both the cashier and the man talking to her that your time is just as valuable as theirs and they should discontinue their socializing. I don't think it's rude to expect someone to do their job, and to do it well.

  13. What I would have done and what I would have wanted to do would have been two different things. 🙂 I'm a chicken when it comes to confrontation, so I'd probably just have stood there and said nothing, even though I would have wanted to say something. In the grand scheme of life it wouldn't have changed anything though. Someone that rude wouldn't change their ways because you said something and would likely go slower just to be more irritating. I have found that even if you go to the management nothing will be done and you've just wasted even more of your time.
    Boy, that's pretty cynical, isn't it? But with Wal-Mart I've found that to be the case. 🙁

  14. Oh, y'all are making me feel so much better. I'm not known for my patience, but I really didn't think it was me in that situation.

    Pauline, what you said is similar to what my dad said. He told me he would have asked for a chair. 😉

    And,Julie, you made me laugh out loud saying you avoid Walmart because you end up sinning every time you go in there. Oh, I'm so glad it's not just me! lol

  15. I am going to be honest, I probably would have stood there stunned wishing I would say something. On my way home as I retold the story to my husband I would have come up with something really great, not rude, to say.

  16. BTDT! I would have politely said, "I don't mean to sound rude, but I have a lot of things to do today and I really need to leave. Could you please finish my order and have your discussion later?" Or, depending on my mood, I would have complained to the Customer Service Manager (aka the CSM @Walmart) and let them know their cashier needs to brush up on her customer service skills.

  17. I'd have stood there and taken it, but I would have contacted the manager or sent an email to the corporate office later.

  18. I used to think that it's better to just be patient and not say anything. But, so many people are in need of a job. If someone isn't willing to do theirs professionally, then their job needs to go to someone who can.

    I had an issue at the library a while back. One of the librarians always had such an ugly attitude. My kids and I were always extra nice to her hoping to brighten up her day. Finally, after dealing with her for well over a year – maybe even two! – I wrote a letter to the library. I didn't name her specifically but just asked that they speak to their staff about proper customer service. I haven't had a problem since.

    All Wal-Mart stores must be the same. Thirty check-out lanes and only 3 open! Cashiers who cannot seem to competantly do their jobs. I actually have a very similar issue, frequently, at our Wal-Mart. The older cashier is incredibly slow and will often hold my items up and talk about how cute they are. She also has talked to others while neglecting my order. It's frustrating. I will take the advice of your followers here and kindly tell the cashier that I am in a rush and would like my order rung up quickly.

  19. I prolly would have done nothing while standing there, but you can bet I would have memorized the cashier's name and sent the store feedback the minute I got home.

  20. Hi! I think it's great you're a homeschooler! Bravo! We are tossing around the idea of homeschooling our kids as well.

    I am also a Wal-Mart shopper…I would prefer not to be, but they are cheap…so I have to. That is so ridiculous what they did!! At least you had your husband with you to take them out to the car! I'm usually shopping with 2 under 2, so if the cashier is slow and my kids are cranky…they better hurry up.

    I probably would have just stared them down with dirty looks and if I was peeved enough I would have said something or asked to speak to their manager.

    It would also be nice if Wal Mart offered people to help you out when you have loads of groceries with a handful of kids. I always have to ask, but it would just be courteous for them to offer. But, hey, pretty much every walmart employee I've ever known HATES their job, so why would they?

    Wal-mart needs to treat their employees better and then maybe they'd act accordingly…like professionals.

  21. Well, bless your heart for not losing your temper. I on the other hand would have said something that I have said before to an absentminded cashier who could not pay attention to me instead of her boyfriend. "Darlin', are you on break? If so, I will go to another lane. If not, lets focus on the task at hand which is getting me well away from a conversation that I would rather not be subjected to."

  22. I wouldn't have been very polite i'm afraid. This cashier who was already inept at her job (witness the customer before you and the delay there.) was impolite to you as her customer. I'm all for trying to be kind and nice, but that's flat out rude and not acceptable. You are paying her for a service and she's not delivering. I really dislike those "self serve" aisles, simply because they are not paying me to do their job, but in this case I might have opted in.

  23. I would have probably been really passive aggressive and sighed loudly a few times and rolled my eyes.

    I am the worst at this kind of thing, I never speak up. (Unless someone is rude to my kids, then… watch out!) But I would have just stood there and then complained later to my husband.

    There's some really grumpy cashiers at our local grocery store and I will sometimes say, "Chatty gal," to my hubby if he is with me. It's from Seinfeld, and probably makes no sense to anyone but me, but I always crack myself up.

  24. There is always some aspect of Walmart that annoys me :-/ but it seems to be the go-to place if you need anything. Ugh.
    I don't know what I would have done since I am not a confrontational person.

  25. Wow!! Although, I'm not surprised. It was quite a culture shock returning from Japan from awesome and polite service to the service in the US. I probably would have asked for a manager. But I'm a NYer and can tend to be rude when I want to! lol

  26. *clear throat* "Pardon me, I don't mean to interrupt, but my husband and children are waiting for me in the car. Would you please finish up my sale?"

    And if the response is *anything* other than "Oh, I am so sorry" and the timely completion of the sale, I'd go right over to customer service, ask for a manager, and complain. They can't fix the problem unless they know there is a problem 😉

  27. Sada,

    That's it exactly, I think. It's not rude; it just states the expected response. Hopefully, I won't have to worry about this type of situation again, but if I do, I think that's just exactly what I need to do.

  28. We NEVER go to Wal-Mart. I mean…like…NEVER. It’s bad for my blood pressure. If I can’t find it anywhere else, then I must not need it that badly.
    Unfortunately, my hubby & I did stop in last Friday evening after 8:00 just to grab some dog food and just because it was on the way home. The place was packed as usual…probably 10 lines open and every one 3 or 4 people deep. We chose a line, stood there for several minutes, and just as we were maybe second or third, the cashier closed. We (and the folks in front & behind us) picked another line. THAT cashier put up a closed sign as well. In fact, only two remained open and they were on the other end of the store! People were literally knocking each other down to get in line!
    That’s when my hubby took the dog food up to the customer service station, spoke with the manager (who acted as if she had no idea why all of her cashiers were closing) handed her the dog food and told her we’d be heading to Kroger and wouldn’t be back. I despise Wal-Mart.

  29. Well…honestly I wouldn't have said anything. I'm a bit of a push-over. I would have not liked it that's for sure. I would have thought of a lot of great things to say (and not all kind and polite) but would not have said any of them.
    I shop at Wally world every month and I've come to expect poor service. It's sad but I'm super happy when it is just 'good'.
    I like the idea of joining in their conversation though. I don't think I would have thought of that one 🙂

  30. A few years ago, I would have stood there fuming – but now I would have spoken up. I would have tried very hard to sound polite – realizing that, if my comment was taken as rudeness, that would be the clerk's problem, not mine. I would have said, "Excuse me, but could you please carry on your personal conversations on your own time? I have things I need to do after this." If I got a genuine apology without attitude, that would have been it and I may even have carried on small talk: "Oh, I know it's hard when you haven't seen someone in a long time," etc. However, if I got even the least bit of lip or eye roll, I would have either gone immediately to the manager after being checked our or ask to talk to a manager at that moment and explain things. I know that sounds harsh – but, really, if a clerk is not doing their job and doesn't care when that's pointed out, the business owner/manager needs to know.

  31. Ugh, I so feel your pain! Our Wal-Mart has 32 (yes, 32) check-outs. I don't think I've ever seen more than a dozen open, and that was on Dec. 23rd and the lines were about 6 people deep. Yeah…

    I'm not a big fan of Family Guy, but there is quote that my boyfriend and I use all the time when anyone is taking a long time and someone is waiting. Basically it goes, "Oh hey Laronda! No, I'm not busy, just got 4 people on hold, but I can talk."

    So yeah, had he been there, I'm sure he would have thrown that one out, but I'm not quite as daring. I think I would have just waited, noted the girls name and check-out number, and then asked to speak to a manager/supervisor after.

  32. I would have said something. I have no idea if I would come across as rude or not (probably would) and I don't know if I'd apologize for it (would, if I realized it.) OR, I would have asked her for the store's phone number and used my cell phone right there to call the store and ask to speak to a manager. Then I would explain to the manager that I'm standing here at checkout number 4 and the cashier is too busy with her social life to ring me up, would they please send me another cashier. Oh yes, I would do that.

    I have called back inside a store from the parking lot when I find an unattended young child in a car. I stay by the car, or pull mine along side theirs, and explain to the store manager on the phone what I've found. I ask them to page the owner by the license plate to please return to the parking lot ASAP. Yes, I've really done that. And then I warn the parents that not everyone would do that, some might take the child while others might call the police.

    I'm not perfect, but I've made some mistakes that I realized later how scary they were and don't want someone else to go through the same with worse consequences.

    If that cashier had a mystery shopper in line, she would likely be fired. Saying something to her could help her realize her error and keep her job.

  33. You know me. I wouldn't have been shy. I would have been the one standing there yelling "OH I AM SOOOO SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOUR SOCIAL LIFE, BUT RING UP MY FREAKING GROCERIES" and then proceeded to chew a new one on the poor unsuspecting manager that comes to see what the commotion is about.

  34. I would have asked her to please her do her job and socialize on her break. I would have tried to say it as nice as possible though 😉

  35. It is gratifying to see that I am not the only one who has problems with confrontation.

    I tend to fume inwardly and then if I do speak I overreact.

    I recently had an issue at Target. I had to go back to the store to resolve it. I took a few moments in my car to get my thoughts in order and remind myself it wasn't the customer service person's fault. I also ran some scenarios through my head so that I could be prepared with different responses depending on how they responded to me. Even with all that I could still feel myself getting flustered, but I handled it.

    Unfortunately, I am sure I will have other opportunities to practice these skills.


  36. I am SOOOOO unimpressed with WalMart's customer service. It is nonexistent. I avoid going in there, but sometimes it's necessary. I don't know if the company just doesn't care or what. I don't mind that they hire older people or disabled people, it's the incompetent people that annoy me!!

  37. What would I have wanted to do? Throw a fit. What would I have actually done? Nothing, blogged about it, and continued to try and shop elsewhere whenever possible.

  38. Like others, I would have very kindly said, "I'm so sorry to ask you to postpone your conversation, but I'm in a huge hurry. Would you mind scanning my purchases a bit faster?" And I would give a really sweet smile.
    If the checker got on the ball, I'd drop it. If she didn't or had a bad attitude, I would certainly talk to the manager.

  39. I think what I would have done would have depended on my mood. I do all my grocery shopping for the month in one day and by the end of that day I get short on patience. Normally I'm not confrontational and I would have just waited it out then complained to a manager after I was done. If I was tired I would have been totally snarky (lol) and said something like "Why do I always end up in the slow lane??" Love your blog BTW. 🙂

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