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When Customer Service Goes Too Far

Updated on September 28, 2011
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

Bad Economy = Desperation

Due to a poor economy, many stores and sales associates have become outright desperate. I've noticed a sharp increase in overzealous sales people in the last couple of years. Certainly, no one likes to walk in a store and feel totally ignored, but it is possible for customer service to go too far. I would like to take the time to explore this issue and discuss: how much is too much customer service?

No Means No

Let's first discuss the super enthusiastic customer service approach many stores are forcing their sales associates to engage in. When I walk through the door of a store, it is really nice for someone to greet me. It is even better if someone tells me what is on sale. It is OK to ask me if I am looking for something in particular. That's about it.

Some stores are now turning the sales people into stalkers. It is not enough to ask me if I need some help. If I tell them that I do not, apparently they do not believe me. That is when I notice the sales person creeping around behind me. Ummm... stop. This is not going to make me feel comfortable. Instead, I am now afraid. Whatever I was going to buy, I don't care about it anymore. Sometimes I really am just looking. I do understand great customer service is supposed to be a theft deterrent. However, most people are not there to steal; most people geniunely want to shop and need to take their time looking at products. Stop stalking me! It is scary!

Also, please pay attention to how many times I've already been greeted. When I was shopping recently, I was literally asked 5 times by 4 different sales associates if I wanted a hand basket. By the time the last person asked, my answer was, "I swear, I really don't. I promise I am only picking up a few things!" I should not have to explain myself to sales people. After that incident, I barely bought anything. I was too busy trying to hide from sales associates.

Even worse, is the desperation in the sales associates eyes when I try to leave. Please don't ask me if you can get me anything. You can't get me anything. You can get a life. I am so afraid that one of these days someone is going to grab on to my leg and not let me leave the store. Creepy!


Not the Dressing Room

If you are in customer service, here is a little piece of advice I can't express enough: don't follow me in the dressing room! 

It is so not appropriate to follow me into the dressing room.  What are you thinking?  Am I five years old now and you are my mom?  No!  Back off.  You can check on me while I am in the dressing room, but don't peek over the door.  You are freaking me out!  And don't just stand there outside the door.  I know the training manual may say that is OK.  It isn't. 

Basically, I need my space in the dressing room.  I feel like most women do.  If someone wants that kind of customer service, they have issues that need to be addressed.  Shopping at a clothing store is not going to fix that kind of problem.

I'm Not Trying to Be Too Clingy

I wouldn't want to bore you anymore with my rants about customer service. After all, I don't want you to find me too clingy and desperate! If you are in customer service, I hope you agree with my observations. Maybe you can even tell your manager about this hub. I hope this helps you in some way. Most of all, I hope you find a new job soon. This economy stinks.

I've worked in retail on and off for years, and it is no picnic. My advice to you: if you work at a store that encourages "customer stalking," you need to go to another store. Not all stores force that method of customer service on their sales people. I know this for a fact - those are the stores where I like to shop.


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks so much for your comment. Sometimes I just avoid certain stores now. It is terrible, but it can easier to order online rather than have a sales person stalk you.

  • Nora411 profile image


    8 years ago from Chicago, IL

    yes!! I know !! I cant stand it when I walk into a store and the associates creep behind you.. waiting to pounce. It really does make you feel less like browsing and more like exiting. Interesting hub!

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I know exactly what you mean. There is a store at my mall that is closing down right now. I noticed the doors have been closed and they are packing everything up. It makes sense because even though the clothes were reasonably priced and cute, the sales people were too aggressive. I would see something in the window, like it, but never go in since I did not want to be harrassed. You would think stores would get it by now.

  • BusinessTime profile image

    Sarah Kolb-Williams 

    8 years ago from Twin Cities

    I once made the mistake of going with my fiancé to buy jeans. I could not make it clear enough to the salespeople that I was NOT there to buy. I tried explaining "I'm just waiting for him, thanks." I tried looking intently at my phone. I tried sitting down in the waiting area. Finally, when people who had ALREADY greeted me started coming back around and asking me my pants size, we both left. Now, I'm not shy about explaining to salespeople that I'm leaving their store because I prefer to shop in an environment where I'm not being harassed by commission-based salespeople.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I am glad we both agree. I can't stand sales people that follow you around all over the store. I just want to know what is on sale and then I can look for myself! Thanks for reading my hub and thanks for the comment!

  • Teylina profile image


    8 years ago

    Late reading, but worth it! I absolutely cannot stand personnel "stalking" me or asking me over and over if they can get me something. Everything you said was so true! And, yes, no means no!

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Wow, that sounds really awful. Stores and managers are just so desperate now to make sales no matter how impossible that might be. I am glad you got out of there. Thanks for reading my hub!

  • dhockabout profile image


    8 years ago

    It may not be the salespersons fault. I sold home appliances for a major retailer. When low sales put a block on new hourly employees, the store responded by increasing commission staff, with no respect to the amount of available buyers. The sales people were forced to scrap for whatever sales they could just to survive The rule was that everyone had to be on the floor on Saturday. When I finally quit, there were 21 salespeople in the appliance department on Saturday during the middle of the day when the shifts overlapped.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I know what you mean. Sometimes a sales person is just too aggressive. I am not able to even think if the sales person is pushing me too hard. So many stores think this is a good technique, yet they are losing customers. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

  • rikabothra profile image


    9 years ago

    your hub really got me thinking about all the times when i have had very similar experiences. It is true that sales persons need to be careful with the way they deal with customers. There are times when I have walked out of the store because the over zealous sales persons made me uncomfortable.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Yes, I've been taking a walk down memory lane! I really like some of my old hubs, like this one, and other hubs, not so much. I figured I could share a couple of hubs a week with followers and see which hubs are still good and which I should maybe hide forever! Hehe.

    I've also noticed Kohls totally leaves customers alone. It seems like the smaller stores are way too crazed. I believe I wrote this after going shopping for shower gel. I thought one guy was going to cling to my leg and not allow me to leave the store.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

  • Cogerson profile image


    9 years ago from Virginia

    Hey Jeannieinabottle...this has to be one of your first hubs you wrote...I imagine that 7 months later and with the economy still struggling that it is even worst today. My wife shops at Kohls the most...and I never see the stalking employees there....but when we go to some of the high end mall stores...I see the behavior you wrote about....nice donely...interesting to compare you writing style back then to your writing style now....voted up and interesting.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I am hoping some stores will realize they are scaring customers away. I am the type of person that can figure out what I need. It is pretty rare that I need help. I know not everyone is like that, but sales associates need to understand that some people want help and some don't. If I run away, I don't need help.

  • imatellmuva profile image


    9 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

    Yeah, customer service has changed in some places to the point of annoyance, than service. No matter what, it should have a genuine feel, and should never, ever be to the point of making someone a one-time customer opposed to a long-term customer.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I know. Clothing stores are definitely the worst. At C&B, we were actually supposed to be more aggressive. We just didn't do it. The Loft is really hardcore, too. I've also noticed all bath and beauty stores are too overzealous now. They were always too much, but it has really gotten out of hand now. I don't even buy as much as I'd like because I feel so uncomfortable. What kind of store does that?

  • CarissaHolly profile image


    9 years ago from Argyle, Texas

    What I have noticed in my years of customer service: clothing retail is the worst when it comes to stalking. At DB we were told that if we did not greet, inform the customer of the sales, ask if they need help finding anything AND inform them about our credit card within five seconds of them walking in the door... We would be in trouble. C&B I believe was the most lenient when it came to the greeting. At DB we also had to take the items they had to the dressing room, add some items we thought were their style to the dressing room, talk about the credit card. And then go back and bug them at least twice while they were in there. We literally have to stalk the customer "or else". I'm sorry, I'm not going to stalk someone the minute they walk in the door. I was happy when C&B wasn't that aggressive. Some customers really enjoy being stalked but the majority don't.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you so much for the compliments. Yes, customer service has gotten out of hand in the U.S. You must live in a great place! I guess customer service is different depending on where you go. Thanks for following me!

  • Haunty profile image


    9 years ago from Hungary

    Umm, is this happening in the US? Bite me if I ever walk into a store in the US. Fortunately, this doesn't happen where I am. They don't greet you, they don't make offers, they don't ask - maybe they can't speak? I've never thought of it like that... Voted this funny, because it is. Sorry, if it wasn't so funny in life.

    Oh, and anyway, for a newbie, you write awesome. Please stay with us. I'm willing to beg. ;)

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I know there is some bad customer service out there. Sometimes it is frustrating to be the customer. However, I have worked in retail and it can be frustrating being at the register, too. Sometimes it is just poor training or poor working conditions. It depends on the situation. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading my hubs, Vishaaa.

  • Vishaaa profile image


    9 years ago from Somewhere on this earth..

    Great one. It's so real. I have had some worst situ in some other way. When I ask for something, they will simply say they don't have without even checking. If I insist them to check it in polite way, They will just stare at me and say "I said we don't have it, Didn't you hear what I said?"

    Most of the time I'm scared to visit the shops if I'm going to buy one or two items. Because the sales people or the cashier will do the billing in a very sarcastic was as if I'm the most disgusting creature in the world. Though I don't annoy them to look for items most of the times. But am I not better than people who just do window shopping or just spend their time inside the shop to pass their time?

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for the comment. Mostly, it seems like the little stores at the mall are full of overzealous sales people. It is my understanding that a lot of stores now base the number of work hours a sales person gets a week on how many sales they bring in. No sales means no hours. I think because of the economy, this has caused some desperation.

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    9 years ago from North Carolina

    Hi jeannieinabottle, wow , I used to be in retail too, so this hub was very interesting and nicely done.Wonder though what companies you've had some of your worst experiences in? I know places like Dillards have their people on commissions vs say, Kohls who do not. Thanks for hub.


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