Social Question


What would you do if you overheard a store employee making fun or talking bad of one of their customers behind his/her back?

Asked by MRSHINYSHOES (13981points) October 30th, 2011

I was at Home Depot the other day, and while waiting in line, I overheard one of the employees mocking and making a derogatory comment about a customer that had just purchased something before me. He mumbled to his other young co-worker, “That guy was so gay. No wonder he bought a flowerpot. Hahaha.” Fortunately, the customer had already left, so he didn’t hear what the employee said about him. Both employees stopped smirking when they saw my astonished look. I gave the young guy a disapproving look and shook my head, and he just sauntered off. What would you have done, if anything? Quite frankly, I felt I should have said something, but the incident caught me off guard. I know the talk was between the two employees, and the young guy made the comment quietly (thinking no one else would hear it), but it was just audible enough for me to hear it. To cover his butt, he could have said to me “I didn’t say anything like that,” or “Sorry, I was talking to my buddy, not you.”

How about if you were the customer they were making fun of, and you overheard them whispering something bad about you?

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23 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I would note their names and tell the store manager.

lillycoyote's avatar

Well, it’s difficult…have you ever worked in retail? I would never say anything that petty, homophobic or juvenile, and most certainly never within earshot of that customer or another customer, and no, I would most certainly not want to be the customer being made of fun of, of course not… but unless you’ve worked in retail for any length of time you have no idea how aggravating, rude, dimwitted and demanding people can be and sometimes, the most aggravating and most dimwitted customer are going to get made fun of by the store’s employee’s. It’s kind of a stress reliever.

I might however, report a racist or homophobic remark as in your example, that sort of thing, but not just general making fun of. It would really depend on the comment and whether or not I witnessed what ever the person did that was being made fun of. There are a lot of stressors and indignities peculiar to that line of work and It’s harder to work retail than people who have never done imagine or understand.


@lillycoyote Yes, I did work in retail, as well as at a fast food place at a busy mall when I was young, and I agree, a lot of people can be very annoying, mannerless, and purposefully irritating. And I say “purposely”. I don’t believe the customer is “always right”. As a matter of fact, many times they are downright mean, illogical and wrong. Many times, as an employee, I felt like screaming, but I didn’t, so I know what you mean. Employees do it as a stress-reliever, I agree, and they ought to, but they should do it discreetly and in private, like in the lunchroom or staff washroom, not near the cashier counter like these two employees. Or at least wait until no one is around.

But what if you were the customer who got this treatment from an immature employee?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d let it pass. It’s just not worth my time. I’d rather spend my time planting flowers in my new flower pot than arguing with an idiot who will stay an idiot.
I might consider going to Lowe’s next time just for spite.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I think I answered that question in my comment above.

iphigeneia's avatar

That was rude of him, but I wouldn’t bother approaching him about it. Sure, where I work we’re pretty good with only bitching about customers based on their behaviour rather than by making homophobic comments, but I know that all too often in retail you need a way to beat boredom or frustration. If I were the customer in question I’d just ignore it: I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, clearly it’s nothing personal. Of course, it’s incredibly bad customer service and I may not return to the shop, but I wouldn’t feel offended.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If? It’s happened every day, all day and all night for the last decade in the businesses I’ve worked. Management from the top to the bottom do it but the idea is not to be overheard by other customers. I really don’t see how it’s avoidable.

mazingerz88's avatar

I would have taken both my shoes off and put it on the counter. Once he asked why, I’d tell him strange as it is, it’s what I do every time I hear a cashier badmouth a customer for no reason. Then without batting an eyelash, I would get my shoes and put them back on, then go to another cashier.

laureth's avatar

I would probably say something like, “Hey guys, I understand, I’ve worked retail too, and I know it’s a drag to deal with bullshit all day, but you should really keep that sort of thing discreet, or better yet do it in the break room where it belongs, lest your next customer not be quite as understanding as I am and create some kind of problem situation for you with your management, ‘kay?”

lillycoyote's avatar

Best answer so far, IMHO, goes to @laureth!

Kardamom's avatar

And that’s why I love you Laureth! You get to the point, you are polite, but you let the wrong people know that they are wrong, and you let the wrong people know that there are possible consequences if they keep it up or try to give you any cr*p.

bkcunningham's avatar

It would depend on my mood or if I was in the mood to fight a little battle to be honest. I think you got your point across @MRSHINYSHOES. Sometimes body language is a very good communicator. If I’d been up for a little cockiness, I’d casually looked at them and just said, “Now be nice.”

I’m not much into teaching everyone a lesson. Some people don’t appreciate it and some people can’t learn. What the hell do I know. I’m old.

martianspringtime's avatar

I could understand being frustrated in retail – a lot of customers are arrogant and rude – so I wouldn’t be bothered hearing someone complaining about that. But making comments on someone’s sexuality or race or anything that doesn’t have anything to do with their treatment of the employee? Uncalled for, unprofessional, and definitely not excusable.

I don’t know what I’d do about it. Maybe mention the incident and their names to whoever is above them. That kind of thing makes me twitch in even the most casual of situations, and I definitely don’t want to hear it from people who are making money off of the customers they’re belittling.

whitetigress's avatar

I would of have told the young man to call for the store manager. I would have asked the young man, “Please repeat to your manager what you just mumbled about that customer who put his hard earned money into this business, which puts food on your table.” There are other deserving unemployed workers. If I owned a business. I would want top notch, high integrity workers who practice self respect and respect for the business.

perspicacious's avatar

This is life. This is classless behavior, but it’s here to stay. I would do nothing other than perhaps give him a shame-on-you look. Everyone is different. I’m sure you have made similar remarks so why try to come off here like an angel. Get a hobby!!

whitetigress's avatar

@perspicacious I’m pretty sure he’s a grown man not poking fun at people in public while they go about shopping. At least not out loud and in an immature way. Why else would he bring this upon the table of discussion? I didn’t notice an angelic appearance. And besides he did give them a shame on you look. Perhaps for @MRSHINYSHOES discussions are his hobbies hence the reason for him being on Fluther. Please think about what you’re saying before you personally attack someone. It comes off as scummy.


@perspicacious Yes, I might make similar remarks out of frustration and stress, but I certainly wouldn’t make it under such circumstances——near other customers on the work floor. I would express my opinions in a more appropriate setting, such as in the lunch room or staff washroom, or just wait until there are no customers around, and EVEN THEN say what I want to say in a low voice, so that management doesn’t hear me.

Why are you so against what I asked? No, I am not an angel, but I certainly don’t attack other Jellies because I don’t like what was asked. Maybe look at yourself for the reason why I ask such a question. To me, it speaks volumes about why I encounter such mean-spirited things everyday.

KidCurtis's avatar

I don’t nor ever had to work in an environment where I had to directly deal with customers but if I had heard that I would probably ignore it assuming that I do the same job or the same level job that they have (not supervisory or managerial). If I was in a supervisory position over them I’d tell them to not say anything like that while out on the floor where other customers could potentially hear them. If I was in a supervisory position but not directly over them I’d mention it briefly to their superior and let them handle it.

Ayesha's avatar

@laureth Great answer!

OpryLeigh's avatar

To be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn’t have done anything. I would be a hypocrit if I did because I have slagged customers off myself. Now, I wouldn’t make fun of someone for being gay (or appearing to be gay like in your example) but if I have a difficult customer then I vent to my colleagues about it and I am not very nice about the person I am venting about. I certainly don’t let other customers hear me though, that’s just dumb!

As for how I would feel if I was the customrer being made fun of. I am sure I probably have been at some point but as long as I don’t know about it, it doesn’t bother me.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The comment was not made to you, about you, or for you. Do you know anything about the exchange that the customer in question might have had with the young employee? It’s a bit tasteless, yes, and I might do what @laureth said, but I’d probably ignore it. There’s the possibility of way too much backstory that you don’t know. Calling the manager seems over the top in the situation as described.
If they were speaking about me in my hearing that would be entirely different.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

If I ever end up in a situation like the one you have described, I hope I can be brave enough to make a show of putting all of the items I plan to purchase on the counter and asking “So, now that you see everything I’m buying… what sexual orientation does that make me?” with a knowing wink, a devious look in my eyes, and a smirk on my face. I’m also thinking about it said with the “I heard what you said… and you better not say something like that ever again if you care what’s good for you” tone of voice. That should shut ‘em up. Nothing else seems necessary. Unfortunately, I can’t see myself ever being that brave.

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