Rude customers can not be an excuse for bad service

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Mary Portas deserves a pat on the back.

The retail adviser might have a bob so razor sharp she could take up a freelance job giving close shaves, but she’s also doing us a massive favour in taking on some of our high street stores.

On Wednesday, she’ll delve into the murky world of customer service – and it’s certainly a topic that needs to be tackled.

There can’t be a single person who hasn’t felt their blood pressure rise when they’ve been confronted by someone who should never have been given a job serving others. People who find it hard to say hello and smile simply shouldn’t work in shops.

I don’t expect anyone to run around after me, mop my brow or tell me I look fabulous in a skirt that’s really meant for someone a decade younger and three dress sizes smaller.

But what I do want is some appreciation of the fact that I’ve chosen to hand over my hard-earned money to the company that pays them their wages.

Too much to ask? I really don’t think so.

Of course there are many times when customers are just downright rude to shop assistants. I’ve worked in retail myself and been on the end of a shopper’s lousy attitude many times.

When I once politely told a woman in the posh Cotswold town I worked in that it was probably a good idea if she removed her rampaging toddler from our shop window, she had the nerve to bark ‘Why?’ back at me, while little Tarquin merrily smeared his snot on the glass.

I was desperate to say ‘because it took me two hours to make that window look pretty you stupid woman – and I work here and I’m telling you to get him out’.

What I did say was: ‘Because he might hurt himself if he touches the electrics and the display is made of glass.’

I wasn’t rude because I was being paid not to be. That was my job. And everyone who works in retail has to do a certain amount of tongue-biting.

Some people are just morons and it isn’t nice when those people are rude to you.

But many shops don’t know how to treat their customers regardless of whether they’re nice or not. And that isn’t the way it should be.