I am surprised at the attitude of salespeople at all these new supermarkets. Some just stand there that you think they are mannequins. Some are so reluctant to look for the specific stuff you are looking for. 'No D size in that brand ma'm.' 'arrey, I have bought it before, can you look again?' 'oh then we don't have it in stock ma'm'. And then there are those salesgirls who seem so offended when you pick up stuff and take a look? They hover around and the minute you put it back they pounce on it and try to arrange it back on the rack/shelf? I say sales 'girls' because the sections I frequent usually have girls. Yesterday I was looking at some handbags and this girl came and stood next to me and every time I took a bag she gave me a look that seemed to imply "that's too expensive for you lady. Look at that jute bag you carry. Stick to that." And she had to adjust the bag after I had hung it bag on the rack. I thought I was imagining it. She did the same to the next bag I checked. It seemed that she was more worried about having to rearrange the display than selling anything. Slowly I have learned to ignore them and look for what I want on my own.
This pathetic situation is because of the high turnover and these shops have to employ anyone who is willing to work long hours at low levels of salary. Most of the time despite being sorely tempted I do not complain to customer service only because I feel sorry for them. They obviously need the money and I don't want to be the reason they get fired. I guess they get away with so much indifference because most people don't complain for the same reason perhaps.
And I don't think the establishments take any efforts to train them to do their job well either.
Yesterday I was at one of the Big bazaar outlets and had over 20 items to check out . The cashier  asked me if I wanted plastic bags and I said I didn't as I had my own bags in the car. he said "you could have brought the bags inside. Now the security will not allow you to take the stuff without the bags. So I will put them in 3 bags. It is three rupees per bag." I refused the bags and said I would explain it to the security guy and if he insisted I could always leave the trolley with him and get my bags from the car. On the way down in the elevator a few salesmen were with me and they looked at the trolley and said "on the security is definitely not going to let her walk with that" and another added "they pay so much for all this but worry about paying three rupees for a bag." All this in Tamil little expecting me to understand. I calmly turned and said it isn't about the three rupees but about avoiding plastic bags and added if the security stopped me I would call customer support. The boys were obviously shocked and started apologising.  Starting from the cashier down to the salespersons to security they had no clue why plastic bags were being charged. I am sure the cashier is 'selling' quite a few bags to the customers who come without their own bags and may be feeling even happy about it. May be I will talk to their Customer care when I go there next.
Talking of Customer Care, I was quite impressed at the token system at the Jayanagar Head Post office.

You go straight to this machine and punch your business and it gives you a token with a number and you can be seated till your number is called. So you  assume that there would be no crowding at the counters? Wrong. People take the token and go and crowd around the respective counter or any random counter. And there is just as much confusion as before.

you don't expect one machine or a government ruling to change who we are, do you?  I can understand the attitude to plastic because the harm isn't so visible, but why do we find it difficult to queue up, to sit comfortably and wait our turn? Are we only capable of change when it is forced upon us with a stick attached? Either that or that we are all too selfish and care nothing about others, not even our own future generations.

24 Responses
  1. yaadayaada Says:

    Oh.. In Mylapore railway station, they have this token machine and a policeman to make sure everyone is sitting and waiting for their turn. He has a big stick in his hand and keeps repeating that people should wait for their turn every 30 secs and bangs his stick on the floor! Common sense is not common I tell you!!

  2. R's Mom Says:

    Oh I so agree to what you experienced and wrote has happened to me so many times that I have stopped going to supermarkets...I just send RD to do the shopping!! I get very embrassed when someone hovers around like that as if I am going to steal something :(

    and that plastic bag happened to me at Shoppers Stop..I dont them, I dont want the plastic, and they are like where will you carry it, I showed them my jhola and the way their face changed :(

    And the token system sounds great..but in India, we lack patience and basic manners! In the Vodafone store also, they have token system..but no one sits, everyone crowds around and wonders why their turn is not coming!

  3. Very true. Lack of common sense. Utter nonsense behaviour is what puts me off in these counters. Nice post.

  4. Debjani Says:

    I wonder whether this extra charge for plastic bags is going to support some environment-friendly project? I doubt! This is just an occasion for shops to pocket the extra money. So the salespeople have no clue that people might not actually want to use plastic bags.

  5. Usha Says:

    yaada: Ya, it seems that along with the machine we need a policeman with a Kolu to implement changes. :)
    R's mom: It is things like this that take the fun out of shopping for me.
    Ashwini:when I look at these I can't but wonder how our society reached this level. Were all the changes introduced by force?
    Debjani:Makes sense.

  6. Raj Says:

    I wonder why none of these supermarkets display and sell cloth bags near the counter.

  7. Usha Says:

    hi raj, here some of them do have such bags. I see people buying them but I dont see anyone carrying them. So may be they buy and forget to bring them back when they come shopping?

  8. Hip Grandma Says:

    we are Indians and we will be 'like that only'.

    Like the sales girl we will not treat our profession with respect.

    It is below our dignity to wait in a queue and/or await our turn.

    It is cool and prestigious to walk out with our stuff neatly packed in plastic bags with the name of the supermarket printed on it for how else will people recognize us for the person we are.

    E garbage? plastic garbage?

    unempolyed people from under developed countries/background talk of these things.

    We are a nation set out to become a super power and tou have the gumption to crib over non issues? shame on you lady!!

  9. Usha Says:

    Padma: :). Ya, that seems to be the popular thinking. so sad no?

  10. Loved the blog…

  11. passerby55 Says:

    Hi Usha,

    Feels good to see you back. Reminds me of those Fond memories.

    Hope to read many such more,


  12. passerby55 Says:

    Hi Usha,

    feels good to see you back. reminds of those great fond memories.


  13. hillgrandmom Says:

    I've been thinking about how to get people's attitudes to change and I guess the one way that us Indians will even think about change is if the new behaviour is extolled and the old behaviour ridiculed/criticized by accepted heroes in movies or in popular TV serials. Education from the lowest classes in schools is all very well, but those very same kids, when they grow up, conveniently forget what they learnt in school.

  14. It was a good experience to read the articles and contents on this site.

  15. ~nm Says:

    I so agree about everything you have written. Attitudes require changing from within..not rules.

    I sometimes get really irritated with people who just barge in as if their work is most important and not bothering that there are people waiting before them. As if others time is of no value.

  16. Swarna Says:

    I had a tough time convincing one of the employees at BB in Pattom, Trivandrum. A majority of customers, besides the store's employees, have no clue why we should avoid as much plastic as we can. My solution - I don't go to BB at all, and carry even my empty kitchen container to the local grocer.

  17. dipali Says:

    Really sad state of affairs, Usha- common sense sorely lacking, as is proper staff training.
    I also hate having salespeople hover around me when I'm browsing in a store:(

  18. Reema Says:

    So right with the salesperson attitude. Very bored expressions and totally not into "service". As for token system, Indians dont have the concept of queues and waiting for one's turn. At every possible location they try to break line.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    When one goes through daily experiences such as the one you went through, it is always healthful to come back home, take off your shoes, position yourself on your favourite chair/posture, and listen to the likes of:

    My apologies if this URL catches you in the midst of a kirthana, but I suggest in particular, you listen to "Jaya Durge" lifted all weights of my shoulders.....and alas, filled me with all sorts of memories, happiness/joys lost....and yet, life must go on, it seems, if it is to no happy end.

  20. Ash Says:

    really nice post, usha ji.... you've very aptly described salespeople at most stores!

  21. birdhouses Says:

    This is a great post. Your complaints are so true.

  22. ashok Says:

    visiting your blog after a long time...nice post

  23. Vanu Says:

    Awesome ... so it seems we need to invest some manner always ...

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