Thursday, 28 November 2013

I'm Not Bothered By Your Ps, But Please Mind Your Queues

OK, something happened today that was really annoying. I was shopping at the local Sainsbury's and was at the front of the queue. The lady in front of me had finished her shopping, and had just paid, collected her vouchers, when a man rushed up with 4 tins of soup and handed them to the cashier. After he had been served I explained to the cashier that there was a queue of people waiting and she had allowed him to queue-jump.

She was sorry that I felt that way, but he was with the woman in front of me, and therefore it was not queue-jumping.

I have a simple philosophy on shopping:

If you have started putting your shopping on the conveyor belt, you have finished shopping. If you have forgotten something you can either:

  • Put the stuff back into your basket/trolley, fetch the item, and then go to the back of a queue, or
  • Wait till you get to the till, pay for what you have got, and then go back for the item, joining the back of a queue and paying for it separately

It is annoying when the person in front of you abandons their shopping, rushes off to complete their shopping, and their stuff gets to the till - but the shopper isn't there. So the cashier and the people in the queue have to wait until that person has got the rest of their items...

Sometimes cashiers support queue-jumpers. I was in a WHSmith just before Christmas a few years back, and it was a system of several tills with one snaking line, with one of those automated "Please go to till number...." announcements. One young cashier, I guess a college student earning extra cash on a Saturday, allowed one of her friends to come up to the till ahead of the rest of the queue. After I had been served, I went to customer services and asked to speak to the manager. When he arrived I explained what had happened, and he asked which cashier. I pointed over and said "that woman at that till".

He explained that by saying "that woman at that till", I was verbally abusing her. Staff do not come to work to be verbally abused. The issue for him was not that she had allowed one of her mates to queue-jump but that I was verbally abusing a member of staff - whom I had not actually spoken to. To be honest it's a casual phrase - no different to "that young man at that till" or "that dark-haired woman at that till". As I had verbally abused a member of staff he had no choice but to ask me to leave the store.

When I got home, I phoned a central complaints line for WHSmith and expressed my concern, not just at the queue-jumping being allowed, but the store manager's quite OTT response to me complaining.

Another WHSmith store with long queues. I get to the front of a queue and an old lady had walked through the front door a few moments earlier. Marching to the till she beings "A Euro..." and the cashier gets on with scanning my items.

"Excuse me, I was here first", the old lady says.

The cashier tells her that she wasn't and that there is a queue. Old lady gets a manager involved, who foolishly allows her to go to the front of the other queue and buy her Euromillions lottery ticket ahead of people who had been waiting patiently. So her reward for trying to queue-jump is being allowed to queue-jump.

One of the most annoying was at the Co-op (although I tend to pronounce it monosyllabic, which is appropriate as this involves chickens).

Some shoppers get to the till and cannot make up their minds.

She had - among other things - 2 chickens. The shopping is complete and the cashier tells her the amount.

As she had 2 chickens, she felt she should be entitled to them at a discount. No she can't, so off she toddles to put a chicken back and the new amount is rung up. She spies bananas, and takes them to the till. So they are added. Then she decides she doesn't want the bananas, so takes them back and the amount is taken off her total. She sees chocolates, and goes to examine them. Wisely deciding that avoiding a riot is more important than chocolate, she goes to the till and pays. Finally.

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