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Time To Memorize 10,000 Barcodes!

, , , | Right | September 12, 2021

I am a personal shopper at a major national supermarket chain. I have never worked in any other department of the store, nor have I been trained in how to do the jobs of other departments.

On slow days, I am sometimes asked to help out in other areas of the store, but that typically only involves stocking shelves with items that department’s staff has already pulled from the back. I don’t have to search for the items in the back myself. We do carry handheld computer devices that can scan barcodes to tell us the price, aisle location, and backroom location of products, but we have to have a physical product or price tag so we have a barcode to scan!

I am heading over to Lawn and Garden to assist with stocking when a customer flags me over to an aisle of kitchen appliances.

Customer: “Can you check some prices for me?”

Me: “Sure!”

The customer points at three display models of air fryers.

Customer: “I’d like to know the prices of these.”

I look at the shelves below and find boxes for two out of the three air fryers. The boxes are so large they hang over the edge of the shelf, hiding the price tag underneath. All I have to do is lift the boxes up and read the prices for these two.

Me: “The larger one is $119 and the smaller one is $79.”

Customer: “And what about the third one?”

I look on each shelf. The third air fryer is not on any of them. I quickly search the entire aisle to see if it was stocked in the wrong place. Nope. I look for a price tag for it, but none of the stickers on the shelves match the display model. I even check the top-stock shelf on top. The air fryer is not there. There is no barcode on the display model’s description placard either. There is nothing for me to scan to determine the price.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, I don’t think I can price-check this one for you. It seems like this air fryer wasn’t stocked.”

Customer: “Can’t you just go get one out of the back? I really want to know the price of this one.”

Me: “The app I use to do price-checks is the same one that tells me where in the back it is. Without a barcode to scan, I won’t be able to find it.”

Customer: “You don’t just know where in the back it is?”

Me: “I don’t actually work in this department, so no, I do not know where in the back kitchen appliances are kept.”

Customer: “Is there an employee who does work in this department?”

Me: “Only one was scheduled for today, but unfortunately, she went home sick.”

Customer: “Well, can I just take the display up to the cash registers and have them price-check it for me?”

Me: “No. It does not have a barcode to scan. Cashiers wouldn’t be able to price-check it either. Besides, you cannot move a display model. I can maybe find a manager for you? They would know where the air fryers are kept.”

Customer: “Does [Store] employ any competent employees? That’s the problem with you people. You’re all too lazy and just want management to do the jobs you don’t want to!”

Me: “I am sorry, but I am a personal shopper. I shop for items already on the sales floor, not in the back. That is my job. Now if you’ll let me, I’ll find someone who can help you.”

Customer: “You do that, and I’ll be sure to tell your manager that you were lazy and no help at all!”

I found a manager and told them what happened, and they just shrugged it off before going to help the customer. I wish I could say this was rare, but in the past month, I have been yelled at by customers for not mixing paint, cutting fabric, selling hunting licenses, or opening cash registers — none of which are my actual job. They think every single employee is trained how to do every single job, and we are not, but if we try to explain that, it is our fault and we are what’s wrong with the world these days!

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