Customer Service

So labor day weekend I’m on the road heading to the in-laws and making a few convenience stops along the way. One stop is to get some hose clamps so I swing into Advance.

I find the clamps hanging on an end cap not far from the registers. Anyone familiar with the typical format of these parts stores is that they have a number of people working the parts counters and a general checkout register near the front of the store. Some can check you out either place.

This day, there are two people working the parts counters. The manager is on the phone and there are now two customers in line for the one free parts guy.

So, I head to the front register. There’s the third guy on duty at the front of the store with his back to me. He’s bellied up to a table with hot dogs, hamburgers etc. I can’t tell exactly what he’s doing and about 30 seconds goes by so I make some noise to let him know I’m there.

“So, you guys having a picnic lunch today?” to which he responds without diverting his attention from the table “It’s customer appreciation day!”. “By the way, that register is closed and I’m on break”

I walk back to stand in the parts line and by now there’s half a dozen people there. I stood in line for a couple minutes thinking how ironic that it was customer appreciation day. Stewing over it for that time I finally decided; why should I give them any of my money? Even though it was inconvenient for me, I went up by the manager and placed the clamps in front of him and walked out of the store. The guy at the front was still in the process of constructing his lunch…

Now the best part. I go a couple miles down the road and there’s an Ace hardware. Completely different experience. I walk in and no kidding, this young gal is coincidentally eating a sandwich. She puts it down and asks what I need, escorts me to the selection of hose clamps and then rings me up. When done, she thanks me for my business and goes back to her sandwich. It wasn’t even customer appreciation day either…

Some companies value your business and some, apparently, do not.

How would you feel if you your boss told you that you can’t take lunch because we are busy.

I suspect you would have a lot more respect for them if you had to work a full shift there just once. This apples to many kinds of businesses. It may well be that they should have more employees or maybe not. It seems customers use the herd concept and all of them show up at the same time.

hourly employees get three breaks in a day. Every two hours, and if the managment makes them work through break, the company can be sued in state court under the labor laws, and the fines can be terrific. The way to evaluate the store is not to decide that the intimidated employee with a kid at the day care will scurry to work when she is on her break is good, and the one who takes his break and protects his employer is bad. Rather, talk to the manager, or call the store, or write a letter, and ask why they dont have enough employees to cover the noon rush. What you encountered was poor managment, not irony, and not a negligent worker.

He was on break, probably the only one he gets all day. It’s not his fault they were understaffed. The reason he didn’t want to help you was because it would’ve set a precedent and the other dozen or so people would demand that he help them as well. That would pretty much kill his lunch break. In many cases the lunch breaks are scheduled ahead of time, and he wouldn’t necessarily be able to swap lunch breaks with another person. It’s also entirely possible that he might’ve of legally had to have taken a break due to the numbers of hours in his shift. When I worked in retail, when you were schduled for a break you took it, if you worked through a shift and ran afoul of the labor laws, then you were given a stern and patronzing talking to about how the company can be fined if you work more than X hours in a shift without taking a break.

I have always had good service at my local Advance Auto Parts store. One time I needed a torx head driver to remove the tail light assembly from my Uplander minivan so I could replace a bulb. There were different sizes and one of the sales people came out with me with different torx head drivers so that I would purchase the correct one.

That’s why establishments typically have areas set aside outside of the cutomers’ view for employees to take breaks and lunches in, and they usually have guidelines that the emplyees not take lunches and breaks in public view. This one would appear to be insensitive to the image something like this could create in its customers’ minds.

This establishment cleary created a bad image in your mind, and prbably in the minds of other customers, and will lose buisiness as a result. Free enterprise and its “colleague” competition are alive, well, and working the way they should.

I would have had more respect for him if he had turned around just once to look me in the face. It’s not like most people haven’t had customer facing jobs at some point in their lives. I did a number of times. If we treated a customer like that, the boss would have had a fit.

It wasn’t noon. Who said it was? It was 10:30 in the morning and hardly a rush of customers. The irony is in an employee not understanding the image they present to their customers, especially on a day when they are supposedly recognizing their worth to the company.

Then call his boss and tell him to stop refusing to pay him on his lunch break. I don’t expect employees who are on lunch to help me, especially since they’re made to punch out and cannot get paid for helping customers on their break.

And it’s not like you’re the only customer who will ever want them to stop eating and deal with you. Retail employees learn pretty quickly that, since there’s no incentive for helping customers on their break, and since they can’t extend their break even if the whole break was taken up by helping customers, it’s a good idea not to help customers while they’re on break.


Companies work very hard to craft an image and attract customers. I find it amazing that they allow it to be blown away in an instant by having someone completely clueless interfacing with their customers.

The vast majority of the time, I simply vote with my feet. I expect that most people do the same. Unfortunately, the owners are left wondering what happened to their business…

Did you read the post you’re replying to carefully before replying to it? Pay attention to the first line and the manner in which he delivered the news that he was on break.

When an employee is out in an area where they can interact with customers, it is difficult to ascertain whether or not they are on break. Some form of signage at the main checkout register would have been helpful.

This doesn’t speak well for that employee,in that he didn’t look at you. But I wouldn’t beat Advance up over it. Every employee earns thier break, and I would begrudge him the time. The manager, on th eohter hand, could open another register if the line got long enough.

BTW, did you grab a hot dog on the way out?

Maybe you should read the wage and hour law, Ignoramus9. Workers can be scheduled to work with no breaks.

Sounds pretty low class and downright unprofessional to be eating in sight of the customers and showing that kind of attitude to a paying customer. I don’t blame you for walking out, and it’s something I’ve done a few times myself.
Surely these guys have a room in the back for breaks and whatnot.

Maybe a visit to the Advance website and letting corporate know about this would ruffle a few feathers there.
That kind of attitude could be the same reason the Advance store here went belly-up a few years back.

How would you feel if you your boss told you that you can’t take lunch because we are busy…This is not the issue, it’s obvious the boss said he could eat lunch.

Even though the emp was on break he could have helped the customer since customers do come first. After that he could resume. If he was in fact eating then he should have not been in the area, he should have been out back. Anybody who is passionate about their job would have helped those who pay the bill since customers come first. I can see this happening by emp who are there because they have to be. I have been there working with the public so I know what it’s like but the bottom line is customers come first.

I know workers must have breaks but I have never been a fan of them. I do not intend on sounding cynical but what about times emp are goofing around when they are supposed to be working.

Customers come first

I’ve had some pretty good service from my local one as well. When I stopped in to get some oil for my car, they informed me of their “oil change special” which included 5 single quarts of oil and a filter for $20~27 depending on which kind of oil you got. They looked the part number up and even went to go get it for me. Their computer told him they had 1 filter of the brand/size I needed for my car, I think it was a Bosch brand that came with the special. He went to go get it, but they didn’t have it, so the substituted a K&N filter for me, which cost about twice as much($14 vs $7)

I worked as a telephone switchboard operator. The caller worked for a telecommunications company. She gave me the greatest job review ever. “You’re the first military base operator I called who wasn’t chewing, didn’t shout to another operator for instructions, didn’t put me on hold for a long time and didn’t try having a side conversation while talking to me.” People like basic service and can’t stand things like customer appreciation day when the staff ignores them.

The Advance Auto in Augusta Me. had a good, helpful staff when I bought parts there. I worked in two different kind of jobs in Maine that had a customer appreciation day and every staff member was required to be there until closing. Nobody was ignored. It really should be about the customer.

First,there is no provision for breaks in the federal wage and hour law. Second, retail sales is stressful and the wages are meager… Scheduling is done with little concern for the employees and a 40 hour work week could be 4 days from 4:00 til 9:00 and 2 days from 9:00 to 9:00(sat & Sun) with no breaks. That’s 6 days total and no opportunity to work in a part time job on the side. I have seen the turnover in the McParts stores locally and heard the grumbling from behind the counters. The retail corporate mindset seems to hold counter help in low esteem. From Wally World to McParts, the people you deal with likely can’t make ends meet on the pay they earn and endure a great deal of abuse to endure another week of struggling to get by. The off shoring of manufacturing jobs is crippling our economy. I vote with my feet and go where the service is good and I have done a lot of voting.