“I’m Not On The Clock Yet”

I thought maybe we had hit the bottom in customer service. With all the snotty behavior, exhausting hold lengths on the telephone, and misrepresentation of products I believed things were about to get better. That companies were finally beginning to realize they were going about things the wrong way and those endless ‘your call may be recorded’ speeches really had something behind them. That there was a COMEBACK of customer care and consideration! Boy, was I wrong. Just when you thought you’d seen the bottom of the dark customer service ocean another creature pops up—the disgruntled grocery store man!

A dear friend of ours—one of those sweet ladies with a smile so endless it makes her glowing face prettier—was finished with the weekly shopping duties. Keep in mind this is someone in their eighties. So off to the parking lot she went to unload three or four bags of groceries.  After loading her eats and fanny paper in the car, the nice lady headed back to return the grocery cart.

Being a good grocery citizen, the nice lady was in the habit of returning the grocery store carts to the designated area for used carts. You know, the area that is sort of a halfway house for used carts. During the cart return she noticed a young man, in a shirt identifying him as a store employee, walking toward the store. Clearly, he was reporting for work, or in this case, non-work. Since nice people think everybody else is nice she asked the shirted grocery store man the following “young man, do you mind taking this cart back to the store?” After all, since he was a nice young man wearing a nice grocery shirt, going toward the store, why wouldn’t he return the cart?

That question was answered with his response to her request:

“Lady, I’m not on the clock yet”

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard all of America’s Customer Service Disaster an idiot like this comes alone. Unbelievable. But wait a minute. There is much more to this story than the behavior of this knucklehead. Truth be told he is just acting like his friends do. Just like the rest of us he is subjected daily to lousy customer service. The case may be that he is coming to work in a bad mood because he just endured a 57-minute hold with the local cable provider and got cut off when he got too excited with the ‘customer service attendant’—better named the “customer hatred rep.”

But there are more far-reaching reasons for this kid’s behavior. We’ve become so touchy and feely with addressing people that you can bet he doesn’t get any effective or direct leadership from management. He also knows he does not have to hold up to any standards because his type of behavior is commonplace among his cohorts in the store. How do I know this? Because I’ve been in the store. Proudly displayed throughout the store are large poster telling customers how anxious employees are to help. Really? If you think those posters are valid, try this . . . just ask one of the ‘helpers’ for help!

What you’ll get in response is a disgusted look and a lost grocery cart.

If you shop on our website you’ll see the other side of customer service.

I’m on the clock and I guarantee it.

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