Working in retail has taught me many things: namely, what not to do as a customer. One of the biggest things that you should never do as a customer is shop when you are in a hurry. It just creates a huge problem for yourself, the store employees, and everyone involved. Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to shopping in a timely manner and not being “that” customer:
Allow Yourself More Time Than You Need, and Set Realistic Expectations
One of the biggest things you should do when shopping, whether that’s grocery shopping, stopping to pick up a snack or small item, or even making a big purchase like a new computer or a car, is to allow yourself significantly more time than you think you will need, especially if you already have an appointment or something planned for later in the day.
If you are planning on buying a car, and you expect the process to take only an hour, you may want to come in when you have more time. Even if you are paying cash, you still have to test drive the car, do some paperwork, etc. On a good day, with cash, you can expect the car buying process to take about an hour from start to finish, but even then, you must prepare for the worst: technical difficulties in the computer system (they happen), your own failure to sign the documents correctly, thus generating reprints (again, it happens), or simply a delay because a manager is taking a few minutes to get another employee what they need. It happens. And planning your car shopping around your schedule is unrealistic if you don’t have realistic expectations. If you know that you have somewhere to be in an hour, don’t come in an hour before that thing. Come in either three to four hours before the event, or come in after the event is over. That way, no one is on a time crunch, and you can be sure you are getting exactly what you want/need, with the best service possible, without stressing out the employees around you.
Even if you are buying something small, like a snack or a CD, you should still go in earlier than you need to. If you are heading to an appointment after you run your errand, try to make your errand for at least two hours before the appointment, if possible. That way, should the computer crash, you get stuck in a long line of people with only one cashier, or the customer in front of you wants to talk to the cashier for a long time, you won’t be late.
Don’t Shop With Less than Half an Hour to Be At Work
While I mentioned above that you should typically allow yourself two to three hours of shopping time in advance of any appointment, there is an exception to this rule. You can shop up to half an hour before you have to be at work, as long as the place that you are shopping at is less than ten minutes away from your place of work. If it’s not, you’re better off waiting to get that item until you get off work, or picking it up on your lunch break, if you’re able to, if it’s truly that important.
At many car dealerships that I’ve been to, I’ve seen people come in with a trade-in vehicle, they want to test drive the car, get financing, sign the paperwork, and be out the door in fifteen minutes, because they have to be to work in fifteen minutes. Ok, if you’re going to do that, come back later. With everything that you’re needing to do, the process is going to take a MINIMUM of forty minutes. Ask the dealership to put a hold on the car for you until you can get off work or have a day off. Just because you see something doesn’t mean you have to buy it right that second. If you want to make sure it will still be there on a day that is more convenient for you to go buy it, ask the store or dealership if you can put a deposit down to hold the item or vehicle. Nine times out of ten, the answer is yes, and many times, it either won’t require a deposit at all, or won’t be a very large deposit. If you do put an item or vehicle on hold, however, please make sure you ask how long the hold is good for. Most stores will only hold items for 24 hours, and most car dealerships will only hold vehicles for a week, so it’s good to know what their policy is so the item doesn’t get returned to inventory and sold out from under you.
Don’t Create A Complex Transaction Or Be A Difficult Customer When On A Time Crunch
When I was a cashier for a big box electronics retailer, we had customers who would come up to the register with over $200 of small items, would ask me to verify the price of every single item as it was being scanned, then wanted to pay with cash, debit card, a gift card, and an in-store coupon. If an item’s price came up higher than what was listed, they would then ask me to go verify the price and correct it. They also would want to price-match an item to one of our competitors, would have no sort of ad with them from said competitor stating the price, so we would then have to look the price up online or call the store to verify inventory and pricing. OR, they would be tax-exempt and not tell us until halfway through the transaction, or would refuse to let us see their ID or credit card as necessary for processing the transaction. Then, of course, there would be some sort of issue with the machine, or the customer would request a manager for something, and then complain because of how long everything was taking, stating, “you know, I do have places to be,” or “can we hurry this along somehow? I have to be to work in X amount of time.” Then for Pete’s sake, please! I can’t stress this enough, if shopping before work or when on a time crunch, keep the amount of complexity in your transaction to a minimum. If you MUST get that price match or extremely expensive item, and you MUST use three or more forms of payment, PLEASE shop when you have more time.
If Making A Big Purchase On A Debit Card, Do it During Normal Business Hours, and Call Ahead to Verify That Your Card Limit is High Enough for This
This is perhaps the one thing that I must stress, because I see it all the time. Whether you are purchasing $2000+ worth of computer products, or if you are trying to pay a down payment on your vehicle, if you’re doing it on a debit card, please do so during normal business hours, if at all possible. It is crucial to keep in mind that, at least in the United States, banks typically close at 5:00 PM, so if you’re shopping after 5:00 PM and making a big purchase, if you have to raise your card limit with your bank to get the transaction to go through, the odds of you being able to reach a representative who can help you are fairly limited.
If you cannot avoid shopping outside of normal business hours, then what you should do while the banks are still open is call and let them know that you will be making a larger-than-normal purchase later in the day. For example, if you typically only spend about $20-$100 per day on your debit card, and you are suddenly making a $500+ transaction, you need to call your bank and have them temporarily raise your daily spending limit. Most debit cards will only allow you to spend about $500-$1000 per day, regardless of how much you actually have in the bank. Therefore, if you know you will be making a big purchase, it is best to call the bank and have it raised at least $200 above what you actually need to spend, that way, you can have confidence that your transaction will go through smoothly, even if you’re purchasing the item at 8:00 at night, and you won’t have to worry about being locked out of your card should you also need to purchase groceries or additional, smaller items, later that night.
Shopping can be a daunting task, and shopping when in a hurry can be frustrating for both customers and employees alike. Should you ever find yourself contemplating shopping in a hurry, please consider the tips mentioned above. If you follow all of these guidelines, everything should go according to plan, and will be stress-free for everyone involved.