13+ Things Your Salesclerk Won’t Tell You

Salesclerks give us the scoop on what really goes on at retail stores.


1. If a good customer buys a dress, I'll hang it up for her and put it in a nice plastic bag. But if you've been rude to me, I'll smush it into a bag that's too small.

2. Sure, I’ll put that sweater on hold for you. But most of the time, you don’t come back. So don’t blame me if I sell it to someone else.  

istock/Kali Nine LLC

3. Even though I seem friendly, I'm not your friend. Please don't take me hostage with your small talk.

4. I won’t ask a yes-or-no question like “Can I help you?” Instead, it’s always an open-ended “What can I help you find today?”

istock/Mike Gatt

5. It is way tacky to buy placemats, use them for your party, then return them to the store. At least wipe off the food crumbs first.

6. My pet peeve? Customers who paw through a stack of shirts. Now I’ve got to spend 15 minutes board-folding that whole pile again.

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istock/Todor Tsvetkov

7. This is not a garage sale. I can't give you a lower price just because you haggle.

8. Even though most of us don’t work on commission, sometimes we’re given a sales goal for each customer. If we meet it consistently, we’ll get bonuses and, eventually, a promotion. So when I tell you about a pair of earrings that would go perfectly with that sweater, I might have an ulterior motive.


9. If you start to throw a fit in front of other customers because I won't take a return, I'll probably give in and offer your money back. But I really want to kick your tush.

10. After you buy something, keep your receipt and pay attention. Most mainstream retailers promise a refund if the item goes on sale within a certain number of days after you buy it. Websites like priceprotectr.com track the prices of hundreds of products from retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, and Sears.


11. Need me? Don't wave like you're hailing a cab, whistle, yell across the store or stand in front of the fitting room waiting for it to magically open. Just ask nicely.

12. When you ask me if something looks good on you and I suggest a different style, take the hint.

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13. The greeters who welcome you to our store aren’t really there to greet you. If we look you in the eye as you’re coming and going, you’re less likely to shoplift.

14. Most shoplifters aren't the people you'd expect. They're great customers who come in all the time, buy a lot of stuff, and are really nice to you. I guess they're thinking, 'I'm a good customer, I deserve a little something.'


15. Our store sends out a birthday coupon to customers on our mailing list. When people redeem it, I often say "Happy Birthday" as they walk away. Sometimes the customer will say "you too." I know it's because they aren't really listening, but that cracks me up.

istock/Eva Katalin Kondoros

16. If you call the store to ask if we have an item and we don't, don't ask me where you can get it. I have no idea.

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17. If you don't know a store's hours, call. We hate the people who come in five minutes before we close and want to shop for a whole wardrobe.

18. Plenty of stores have great prices on Black Friday, but mine isn’t one of them. Still, you line up and wait for us to open.


19. Some of us will tell you anything to make the sale. Especially if you haven't been nice.

20. Please don’t tell the cashier no one was helping you after I brought you six different sweaters in the fitting room. It’s rude.

istock/quan long

21. I don't understand parents who give their children some merchandise to keep them occupied, then when the child destroys it, the parents just stick it on some random shelf and don't say anything. How is that different from stealing or vandalism?

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22. Literally everyone who returns anything broken claims it broke the first time they used it, no matter when they purchased it. Um, yeah right.


23. If you want some extra attention or you need something special, call ahead and see if the store will let you make an appointment for a private visit. In a lot of stores, especially upscale ones, clerks are willing to open a little early or stay there a little late for a loyal customer.

istock/Eva Katalin Kondoros

24. I just spent an hour putting that display up. So if you want to try something on, ask for help. Don't grab a pole and leave a naked mannequin on the floor.

25. New merchandise goes at the front of the store, bargains at the back. The endcaps on the back side of aisles at Target, for instance, usually have items 15 to 75 percent off. If you want a deal, try to figure out when your favorite retailer does its markdowns. Some do them on Thursdays or Fridays, others at the end of the month.

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26. We do a lot more than unlock fitting rooms. We scrub the bathrooms, Windex the mirrors, dust the shelves, answer the phone, and clean up after our customers. And that includes two-year-olds.

27. What is it about fitting rooms that brings out the worst in people? You stick gum to the walls and even leave dirty diapers in there.


28. Everything gets marked down eventually. Watch and wait for the discount, then pounce.

29. With savings clubs, e-mail deals, coupons, Internet discount codes, and other incentives, fewer and fewer people are paying full price.


30. Outlet stores likely sell special outlet merchandise, and it's not the deal you expect.

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istock/Todor Tsvetkov

31. If I'm $200 from my sales goal and having a tough day, and you ask me if it's going to be cheaper tomorrow, I may lie.

32. Many retailers count the shoppers who come in, then calculate the percentage who actually buy something. If I don’t “convert” enough browsers to buyers, I hear from my district manager.
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