Being a cashier is a thankless job. If you do it well, hardly anyone notices. On the other hand, make a mistake once, and a customer might demand to see the manager immediately.
While most of us have heard the saying “The customer is always right”, but what about the cashier? What goes through his/her mind when dealing with customers?
Farid and Izzi used to work as a cashier at a 24-hour convenience store. Here are some of the things they’ve experienced on the job.
1. Some customers throw money at you. Literally.
This happens more regularly than people think. Some customers just throw the money at us, instead of giving it to us properly. Sometimes, the money (which includes coins) end up falling on the ground, and we have to pick it up. It’s degrading, and nobody should be treated that way.
Can you imagine what would happen if the situation was reversed and the cashier threw money at the customer instead? Respect goes both ways, for the cashier and the customer.
2. Sometimes we’re asked to do things beyond our job description.
Our main tasks are to scan items, and accept payments from customers. Occasionally however, a customer would ask us to help carry the things they want to buy from the rack to the counter.
This would maybe be fine if there was no one else in the store – however, we’ve been asked to do this even when there was a long queue waiting!
Not only is this unfair to other customers, but we really can’t afford to leave the cashier. It’s not that we don’t want to help, but it’s a security issue – someone needs to man the cashier at all times to ensure that nothing happens to the cash.
Sometimes, some customers would even ask us to help us top-up their phones for them. To be honest, we’re just as clueless as they are. We have to figure it out too.
Additionally, if we do it for you it’s a liability. What if we screw up? The customer might demand for a replacement, which has to come out of our pockets.
Please understand – our job is to simply sell the credits to you. It’s your responsibility as the customer to know how to top up your own mobile network.
3. Yes our job is to help you, but sometimes we get busy too.
As a cashier, our main focus would be the customer who’s waiting to make payment. The problem is, sometimes another customer would ask us to help them if they can’t find something. This usually isn’t a problem, but like we said earlier, we can’t leave the counter if there are customers or if there’s only one person manning the cashier.
Also, on a busy day, many items move in and out of our store. The restock may be scheduled at a different time. It might be during the current shift, or the previous shift, or not scheduled that day at all. If we’re the only person working the cashier, it’s difficult for us to leave the table and check that for you.
In some scenarios, we might just tell you the items are sold out so we can finish our current tasks. Of course, we don’t do this all the time – we do this mainly if there’s a difficult customer or when the queue is too long.
Most of the time, we’d politely tell you that we’ll tend to you shortly. If you feel like you can’t wait, it’s better to search for it yourself or assume that it’s sold out. At least that way you won’t interrupt the cashier and other customers.
4. Standing at least eight hours a day is exhausting
Most people hate standing and waiting in line. Guess what? It’s part of our job.
We have to stand. All. The. Time. Even when there are no customers. Our supervisor doesn’t let us sit at all during our shift, because he claims that it would make us lazy and neglect the customers.
After eight hours (which is the minimum shift), you can’t imagine how much our legs ache. Most of us go home and crash right onto our beds.
5. Our job isn’t as easy as it looks
While our job doesn’t involve a high level of thinking, it still requires a high degree of patience. We meet all kinds of customers, daily.
We have customers who pay for an item, but then changes his mind and leaves to get something else – while there’s a long queue of customers behind him.
There’s also the customer giving 50 or 100 ringgit for a one-ringgit purchase. You may have noticed – as cashiers, we hate these kinds of transactions. Let me explain why.
For some stores, there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be stored in the cash register. This is to prevent loss of cash due to theft. By limiting the amount of cash in the cash register, a potential robber can only steal a limited amount of money.
However, this also means we have a limited amount of small change to give to the customer. If too many customers hand in 50 and 100 ringgit bills to us in a day, we need to borrow small change from other stores.
There are also many situations when a customer is having a bad day and lashes out on us. We have to put up with these rude encounters without reacting.
Still, it takes a lot of patience for us to tolerate all of these on a daily basis. That’s why our jobs feel so taxing sometimes, even though most people think it’s a walk in the park.
6. We’d really appreciate smiling customers who greet us back
Ever notice how we greet you when you enter the store and when you leave? Or how we thank you for shopping with us? We’re not just being polite – It’s part of our policy.
We won’t lie, having to do that for every customer that walks in can get awkward. Most of the time, the customers would just ignore us (which is hurtful too). So it really makes our day when a customer acknowledges us and smiles back.
There are even nice customers who help fill their own items into the plastic bags, which means a lot to us. These small gestures go a long way into making our jobs more bearable.
Treat others like how you want to be treated
The key word here is to empathize and to put yourself in other people’s shoes. It doesn’t hurt to be a little nicer to the people around us, including cashiers, waiters, petrol attendants, cleaners and so on. It’s hard enough for them making a living!
Next time you deal with a cashier, try smiling and see how he or she reacts. It might cheer you up as much as it cheers them up too!