Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tales from the other side of the Till

She's orange.
She's rude.
She's patronising.
She complains openly about her job.
She talks to her co-workers instead of serving you.
She points somewhere and says 'over there' when you ask for something.
She 'doesn't know' when you ask for something.

Recognise her? I'm sure you do - we've all been there at one time or another. But lets face it - the list above could be attributed to any sales assistant in any store - not just beauty girls (except of course - the orange part, unless the poor thing has a failing liver). They could also be attributed to men - have you tried talking to a man in a mobile phone shop lately?

My concern is that the list of sweeping generalisations above does not describe the people that I have worked with in the industry - I mean we all have off days, but come on - we're not ALL like that!!!

So strictly in the spirit of fun - I thought I would provide you with a glimpse of the view from behind the till - you general public are not all sweetness and light you know!

The 5.30pm 'Makeover'

Going our for the evening? Want your makeup done? Just ask. Spare us the excuses about not having any time to get in at the weekend/during lunch/ever. Most of the people I know are more than happy to do makeovers - they love makeup - that's why they got into the industry - except me of course - absolutely no point asking me - I can do it but I don't enjoy it - one word people - delegation - I'll tell you how to fix your skin though...
Just ASK. In most cases you'll get asked what you're wearing/what the event is/what colour would you like etc. (Well except for Trish McEvoy. If you want those ladies to touch your face makeover-wise you need to commit to purchasing two products - but at least they're open about it...)

Don't roll in half an hour before closing time in a feather boa and say you're going home to watch Corrie.

Mobile phones

Whilst you're having your makeover that we are very happy to do - do us a favour, DON'T ANSWER YOUR PHONE. Let me tell you what your Mama never told you because they weren't around in her day - IT'S RUDE. Don't do it. This goes for all times - but especially when you're having your face done - and especially the lip area - d'oh - do not be surprised if you're MUA downs tools and walks off - I don't blame them. Rude.
Also, if you are buying something and are at the till paying - same rule applies. Rudeness. By all means answer and say you can't speak right now BECAUSE YOU ARE BEING SERVED and hang up. Thanks. We appreciate it. So do the people waiting to be served. You're not THAT important.

The 'Hold This'

Baby? Dog? Handbag? Starbucks cup? Banana Peel? Yes. Banana Peel. If we don't offer we don't want to hold it thank you. If we do offer recognise that we are nice - not butlers.

The 'I know your range better than you do'

Woman approaches counter: 'You make this gel in that colour in a powder - I want one.'
Sales Assistant: 'I'm terribly sorry we don't make that item in a powder form - do you have it on you so I could see what you mean?'
Woman: 'You DO make it - I've been using it for years.'
SA: 'I'm really sorry Madam, I can assure you I know the range inside out and we definitely do not make that item that you are describing.'
SA: 'Well then Madam may I direct you to the Lancome counter - this is Sue Devitt'

The 'I don't need' Customer

We all know that sales assistants are targeted and told to link sell. But we don't always do it for monetary purposes - some of us are nice and are actually trying to help.

'I don't need moisturiser - I've used soap for years and my skin is fine - I just need a REALLY good foundation.' 
What we want to say is: 'Look love - you resemble a sharpei - the lines are queuing up on your neck to get on your face - but WHATEVER'

'I don't need a new deodorant - I use a crystal.'
What we don't say: 'That's why you smell like a cheese and egg sandwich left on top of a radiator then.'

'I don't need an eye cream - my mum never used one - why should I?'
What we don't say: 'Because your eyes look like two pissholes in the snow - but WHATEVER'

'I don't need a new way to do my eyes.'
What we don't say: '1967 rang - it wants its look back.'

The 'Do you know who I am?/How busy I am?' Customer

Most stores I know don't do take out or drive thru. So pulling up outside a store, rolling your window down and snapping your fingers is probably NOT going to get you served.
Likewise, shouting 'For Christ's Sake I'm double parked!!!' in the middle of Harvey Nichols when there is a queue of people in front of you showing great patience? Not your best move.

And 'famous' people. If you're really famous you won't need to tell us who you are. And if we don't KNOW who you are - we probably don't care. Seriously. I don't care if your mum/dad was a famous footballer/singer/actor. You're not. Settle down. No-one cares.

Coming up in Part Two:
Returns and Testers. The JOYS.


  1. So funny! My mother worked on the Estee Lauder counter in Harrods, and this reminds me of the tales she used to tell me! She used to talk about rich oil magnates opening suitcases of money to pay for their goods! It was the early 80s I suppose! x

  2. Ha ha ha! Love the sharpei comment. I get a lot of suggestions about eye cream. No guessing why, ooops!!
    Jane x

  3. Banana peel? Really? Jeepers!

    Great article

  4. Great post, I'm chuckling away to myself here. Have never worked on a beauty counter but some of these customers sound damn familiar from my days working in fashion retail, coffee shops, bars, and in fact anywhere that customers forget you are a real person and leave their manners in the car park.

  5. Hahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Loved it, I have been the rude orange girl and I have many a tale to tell!!!!!!!!!


  6. Loved that post, you're the best :) Working at a counter is definitely not an easy job! x

  7. this made me laugh a lot!

  8. I've witnessed the hold my dog, coffee cup, baby etc. whilst talking on the phone types at the Bobbi Brown counter in House of Fraser in Nottingham more than once. Benefit, Clinique and Estee Lauder attract a different but BB SA's are really put through their paces.

  9. ha ha ha ha! This is very very funny. lovely to meet you on Tuesday night and love the blog. Cat

  10. Love this! Very funny and it's good to get the other side. Can't wait for part 2

  11. Hilarious, thank you for adding to my wrinkles by making me smile! Oh, and massive thank you for your post on cleansing massage am a convert to doing it properly now it feels great, so thanks!

  12. Heyyyy! I love 1967....just sayin.

    You're totally bang on with those.
    Especially THE CELL PHONE~~
    ugh! people, She says it, I say it, I'll tell my're not that important, lol..

  13. I LOVE this post! It's such a tricky job trying to help people, plus hit targets, plus deal with cranky people whilst plastering a smile on your face even though standing on a marble floor for 9 hours non stop has compacted your spine so much it's only two inches long!!! xxx

  14. Hi from Canada! I'm loving this post and your blog in general! I worked at a drugstore cosmetics counter while in high school and university and I've experienced or witnessed everything you wrote about. My most cherished memory was spending my coffee break with a mean elderly lady who used my forearm to test about 20 shades of lipstick, yelled at me for being rude when I told her I had to get back to work and left without buying anything.

  15. Love this! Made me laugh out loud! :) Thanks for sharing. :) xx

  16. Great post (as all of those that you write), thank you for making me smile :) x

  17. Haha very cute! Love this read! Followed.

  18. brilliant post - had a good chuckle to myself!
    beth x
    beauty gu. com

  19. Bloody brilliant. Bring on part two!

  20. Did you ever do the part 2 of this? I can't find it :(

  21. Hilarious and so accurate!!! I've only just come across this little gem after following you for years! I worked on counter for years and all my friends/family used to always say "You have such a glamorous job!" and I'd always reply "You don't know the half of it!" - so many stories! :) x