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Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

Top 10 Holiday Shopping and Restaurant Courtesies

Have a stress-free holiday season

Published: Friday, December 12, 2008 - 08:39

As we move into the frenzy of the holiday shopping season, most of us will have encounters with shopping center store personnel and restaurant staff. Stores and restaurants will be filled with people looking for that perfect gift, then quickly digesting a meal to be prepared for another crazed journey searching for another perfect gift. Let’s hope that we can do so with a minimum amount of stress and confusion. In that regard, here are my tips to make that a reality:

  1. Store personnel should greet us with a smile and a friendly greeting even if they are tired and exasperated. As has been said: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made." Frankly, if store personnel want to separate me from my money I want them to treat me as if I were the store owner.
  2. Advertised specials should be in stock and be in abundance. Recently, I have discovered that store computers are uploaded with products on sale before the actual items arrive. This means that even though you called the store and got assurances that the item is in stock, you will be disappointed upon arriving when no one can locate it. In those instances, I want an additional discount given when the item comes in to compensate me for my inconvenience.
  3. Please don’t hand me a receipt that contains a survey about customer service unless you provide me with $5 off on my next purchase. In my opinion, most surveys that offer large cash prizes are bogus, because I have yet to talk to store personnel who are aware of a winner’s list. And evidently, people that have returned to a store stating that they have won are nonexistent.
  4. Message to toy stores—please remove those irritating fake guinea pigs that chase a plastic ball inside a cage. I don’t want one and it won’t entice me to enter your store just because you have one display.
  5. If there’s a tip jar in your store or café, please don’t think that it’s my responsibility to raise your minimum wage or your standard of living by filling it with crisp Lincolns. The price you charged me for my over-the-counter meal or for an item I purchased should cover your salary.
  6. My calendar lists December 25 as Christmas Day, so if I extend such a greeting to you, I expect you to reciprocate. Yes, there are companies that feel such a greeting is verboten. But if that is the case, just whisper it in my ear. And if shoppers identify themselves as employees from the American Civil Liberties Union, I think you should write “Merry Christmas” on their receipt.
  7. Don’t refer to me and those in my party as “guys” as in “how are you guys doing?” When did “sir” and “madam” go out of popularity?
  8. Restaurant staff—don’t come by our table and ask: “Are you still working on that?” That question is only valid if I’m constructing a LEGO rocket ship at my table. And if you add the words “Are you guys still working on that” I might just spill your tip jar on the floor.
  9. The words from the store clerk “Were you able to find everything?” make me think that store personnel are hiding items and I’m supposed to be on a scavenger hunt. My response to that question is: “As a matter of fact I did. The 10-dollar bill behind the box of prunes was most unexpected—so thanks.”
  10. Christmas background music should be playing softly in the background, but please refrain from making us listen to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” or “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.” Anything by the Carpenters will do just fine, thank you.

So those are my holiday wishes. I hope all you guys…er, sorry, I mean ladies and gentlemen have a joyous holiday season, that store and restaurant personnel smile and at least pretend as if they are glad to see you, and that you, too, find a 10-dollar bill behind a box of prunes.


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


Number #11??

Just the article I needed to read today to put a smile on my face. I will definitely be using #9 the next time the opportunity comes up. When I do Bill, I'll be sure to make a deposit in your tip jar.

One item didn't make the list though. Message to stores - please put more display racks and shelves in the aisles of your stores. Why would people actually want to walk in your store? Maybe to shop? NAH! If those racks and shelves are an attempt to get me to stop and buy product off of them, it ain't workin'! They are simply obstacles made impassable by an irate mother pushing a stroller and dragging two other crying kids on one side and a dazed shopper stopped with a Sears shopping cart in a non-Sears store on the other.

Ahhhh, tis the season.......