More Things Your Salesclerk Won’t Tell You

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

3. 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.

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.’

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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

12. 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?

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

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

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

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

19. 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.

Sources: Retail sales associates in North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, and Florida, and a clerk in the Pacific Northwest who blogs at

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest