A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

32 Things Your Salesclerk Won’t Tell You

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


We reward kindness

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. Find out some more secrets your mall salesperson won’t tell you.

White roll neck sweater folded on wooden background. Beautiful patterns and quality woolen yarn. Fall and winter clothes.

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

I’m not here to chat with you

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

Sales assistant in clothing store

I won’t ask yes-or-no questions

Instead of “Can I help you?” I’ll ask something open-ended like “What can I help you find today?”

istock/Mike Gatt

Don’t be that person

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.

Side View Of A Young Woman Sleeping Near Messy Clothes On Shelf

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. Here are some more of the biggest pet peeves of Victoria’s Secret employees.

istock/Todor Tsvetkov

This isn’t a garage sale

No, I can’t give you a lower price just because you haggle.

Trendy hipster asian woman looking for fancy jewelry and accessories in a flea market shop

We’re always trying to make a sale

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. Watch out for these sneaky ways stores trick you into spending more.

Spent all the money. Beautiful mature woman looking confused spreading her arms at the shopping mall after spending all her money broke poor no money helpless confused lost perplexed shopaholic
Nestor Rizhniak/Shutterstock

We’d rather you didn’t make a scene

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.


Don’t toss that receipt

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 slickdeals.net track the prices of hundreds of products from retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, and Sears. Find out some tips for getting a refund on almost anything.


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.


Consider taking our advice

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


“Greeters” serve another purpose

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.

shoplifting in the cosmetics department
Lisa S./Shutterstock

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.”

gold christmas coupon holded by hand over white background. focus on coupon.
Aleksandra Gigowska/Shutterstock

We appreciate the unwitting birthday wishes

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

I only know so much

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.


Please check store hours

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.

Window display with red sale board for Black Friday shopping. Vintage filter effect.
Kanchana P/Shutterstock

Not every store is part of the big holiday rush

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.


We’re salespeople, first and foremost

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

Can you bring me on more dress please! Beautiful young woman holding clothing and looking at camera with smile while standing in fitting room at the store

We appreciate being appreciated

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

Sorry, kids don’t get a pass

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?


We know you’re lying

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


We’ll go the extra mile for valued customers

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. Find out some more savvy shopping tricks you’ll wish you knew all along.

istock/Eva Katalin Kondoros

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.

Red shopping cart in store aisle

We know where (and when) to find the deals

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. Here are some more money-saving secrets Target employees won’t tell you.


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.

Woman standing on tip toe in a changing room at a store as she tries on clothes, view of her feet under the wooden door

Fitting rooms get really gross

What is it about fitting rooms that bring out the worst in people? You stick gum to the walls and even leave dirty diapers in there. Find out the craziest things Walmart employees have seen at work.


Patience is rewarded

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

Woman hand holding smartphone against blur bokeh of shop background with word promo code buy now
4 Girls 1 Boy/Shutterstock

There are more ways to save than ever

With savings clubs, email deals, coupons, Internet discount codes, and other incentives, fewer and fewer people are paying full price. For instance, here are some secret store policies that can save you money.


Outlet stores aren’t the best places to bargain shop

Outlet stores likely sell special outlet merchandise, and it’s not the deal you expect. Check out these things thrift and consignment shops won’t tell you.

istock/Todor Tsvetkov

We may fib

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.

hand on handle door for open to entering restaurant

Our job security is often in your hands

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. Read on to learn some handy insider secrets to save money at all your favorite stores.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest