3 July 2013 - 10:34am | posted by | 20 comments

Sainsbury’s apologises after checkout assistant refuses to serve mobile clutching customer

Sainsbury’s apologises after checkout assistant refuses to serve mobile clutching customerSainsbury’s apologises after checkout assistant refuses to serve

Sainsbury’s has been forced to apologise for the actions of one of its checkout assistants following an incident in which a customer was refused service for attempting to pay for their shopping whilst on the phone.

The incident occurred at a branch of the chain in Crayford, south east London, when Jo Clarke arrived at the dill to pay for her groceries.

Recounting the ensuing conversation in The Telegraph Clarke recalled: “I was standing at the foot of the till waiting to bag my shopping up, yet the lady on the checkout was just staring at me, when I stopped my conversation and said: 'Is everything ok?'

"'She said, 'I will not check your shopping out until you get off your mobile phone.’

"'I ended my call swiftly and said to the lady on the checkout, 'Apologies, I didn't realise that it was Sainsbury's policy that you are unable to use your phone at the checkout', and she said, 'Well you learn something new every day'."

Commenting on the incident a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "We have apologised to Ms Clarke and offered her some vouchers. It isn't our policy to not serve customers who are using a mobile phone."

Comments

3 Jul 2013 - 11:32
edwar10341's picture

Jo Clarke is obviously being pig ignorant, treating the assistant as though she doesn't exist, we can't all be "property managers". I wonder how she'd felt if one of her clients ignored her and carried on a conversation as though she didn't exist.

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3 Jul 2013 - 11:44
_SL0PPY_'s picture

The checkout assistant was correct to refuse to serve the rude customer. I doubt you will find the use of manners in any store policy, the customer should perhaps consider home delivery, clearly even now she doesn't understand manners and etiquette and should stay at home. (Nods head)

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3 Jul 2013 - 12:10
dlpar21397's picture

Thats right, make her stay at home where she can use the phone all day. Well done assistant they should win staff of the month.

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3 Jul 2013 - 14:51
stevietwo's picture

Couldn't agree more with the previous comments. Just hope the check-out lady is not disciplined or in any way penalised by Sainsbury's for expecting to be treated with the most basic aspects of decency!

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3 Jul 2013 - 15:03
devilsaardvark's picture

I'm afraid I don't believe Ms Clarke's version of events. I think she's been caught out and is trying to justify her behaviour by making the checkout woman out to have been rude. Why on earth would she be questioning Sainsbury's policy at the till? This smacks of being her version of events after the story had broken. She says she's going to shop at Waitrose from now on. If I were Waitrose, I wouldn't let her!

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3 Jul 2013 - 15:05
colinbancmedia's picture

Remind of the age old maxim, the customer is always a lying git.

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3 Jul 2013 - 16:12
neil_hamilton's picture

While I agree that nearly all mobile phone use in public is annoying, all of the above commenters are assuming that Jo Clarke made the call and ignored the checkout operator. Haven't you been in a situation where you've tried to contact someone all day long only to have them call back at the most awkward moment? The checkout operator should have just given her the benefit of the doubt and got on with her job. I'd have finished the call, taking as long as needed and if that held up the queue than it would be the staff member's fault. I think the staff member was the rude one here - personally, I would have been livid.

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3 Jul 2013 - 16:53
dlpar21397's picture

@neil_hamilton "Sorry I'm busy right now, do you mind if I call you back in a couple of minutes" Easy! I can now communicate with the shop assistant and prevent holding the queue up fiddling round in my wallet with one hand. None of us know the exact circumstances in this case but what we do know is that clearly Miss Clarke has had her pride knocked, she was rude by continuing her call plain and simple.

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3 Jul 2013 - 17:16
cdwalton's picture

Aren't we all getting used to the idea that mobile's will become a ubiquitous mobile wallet/payment system. I guess nobody will have any issues with it being used at the checkout in this way, so why the issue over it being used for its primary purpose? Slightly rude customer I agree, but the whole thing smacks of 'mountains' and 'molehills'

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3 Jul 2013 - 18:30
neil_hamilton's picture

@dlpar21397 Another version of the checkout drama -

Jo Clarke/Housewife/stressed-out Account Handler/whoever -

Finally gets shopping onto conveyer belt after a really shitty day and whats-his-face still hasn't returned that call. The call arrives but what to do? Quick thinking - take the call, checkout person will offer to pack my bags (they do in Tesco), get the call over as quick as poss and get the card out for a quick swipe.

When Jo looked to the checkout operator for their assistance, she's met with this ludicrous demand. She should have demanded to speak to the manager.

Sainsburys have admitted their employee was in the wrong by apologising and offering some compensation.

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3 Jul 2013 - 20:21
colletteferries

Wonder how she would feel if it was the other way round and the checkout assistant was on the phone?? Would that be classed as rude!?! Perhaps she should spend a day or two working in a retail environment and putting up with people on there mobiles consistently! Personally I think sainsburys should of backed there staff member up an supported her!! I'm discusted that they haven't! All stores should ban the use of mobile phones at the till point!

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3 Jul 2013 - 21:23
Janef44217's picture

I detect the use of sarcasm in the customers comment that she 'didn't realise it was Sainsburys policy to ban the use of mobiles at the checkout' which no doubt riled the assistant no end. I agree that the checkout worker could have handled the situation better but she was absolutely right to request the customer hang up first. It's not just that it's rude, it's also because when someone is on a mobile, either talking or texting, they slow down whatever else they are doing, be it packing their shopping or walking down the street. This holds up everyone else around them. If someone calls you, call them back. If you need to make a call, wait until you've finished what you are doing, move out of the way of other people and then make your call.

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3 Jul 2013 - 23:02
neil_hamilton's picture

@colletteferries I imagine that checkout operators are not allowed to use their phones while at their checkouts so the first part of your comment seems pointless. This being The Drum's website and as such, a forum for 'professionals' working within the communications industry what about all those ads produced showing shop staff falling over themselves to be helpful and telling customers that they're 'important' to them. All smiles and 'have a nice day'. Now, I have no idea who Jo Clarke is or if she's a 'nice' person or if the checkout operator was having a bad day - none of us know the details of this sad encounter but we can imagine ourselves in a similar position. What is clear to me is the checkout lady should have given Jo any help she needed to complete her shopping.

My wife agrees with me so I win! ; )

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3 Jul 2013 - 23:26
neil_hamilton's picture

@janef44217

You're right in saying that people should respect others while they're using their phones and I think that phone etiquette is improving - slowly - but I still think you have to give people the benefit of the doubt.

The thing is, on reading the account of the checkout incident, we immediately form an impression of someone quite blatantly holding up the checkout and discussing something trivial but we don't know why she was on the phone - it might have been unavoidable.

Personally I always have my phone on vibrate and only answer it when it's convenient for me. I refuse to be its slave! But even so, there are occasions when you just have to take a call and then find it awkward to cut it short.

My work has me interacting with tens of thousands of people (and their mobiles) and believe me, a little kindness goes a long way.

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4 Jul 2013 - 19:31
dlpar21397's picture

@neil_hamilton I think we agree none of us know the exact circumstances, what we do know is that there's 2 people who are potentially going to have to communicate to complete the transaction, put there moods to one side, even if they don't speak, Miss Clarke preoccupied will have to pay and therefore she is slowing the process down, apart from being rude by not acknowledging the checkout assistant whith basic manners, she has complete disregard for the people behind by assuming they are happy to wait and that's why I and another 99% of the population feel that this is rude with or without a policy.

Sainburys simply followed formalities by apologising and it makes business sence but in the end whilst Miss Clarke may actualy be a lovely lady, in this instance she was rude plain and simple and has reacted to having her pride knocked.

Well done checkout assistant.

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4 Jul 2013 - 21:55
Janef44217's picture

Reading a fuller account of this incident today, it turns out that Jo Clarke did indeed make the call - to her brother to tell him she was on her way. This was hardly an urgent call and could easily have waited a few minutes until she had left the checkout area. I strongly suspect she's not telling the full truth here.

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4 Jul 2013 - 23:43
neil_hamilton's picture

dlpar21397 and Janef44217

Getting a bit bored with this now but this article has probably produced a record number of comments for this forum. Yay! I don't usually comment at all, but I'm dismayed with the way everyone jumped on Jo without thinking about the circumstances. I'll concede that in the light of new info about the call, Jo was not only rude but incredibly thoughtless. However, I still maintain that the employee was rude too and must have caused a delay in demanding that the customer hang up before she'd proceed. If Jo Clarke was calling just to say she was on her way, it wouldn't in all likelihood be a long call and she might have finished before the first item reached her at the end of the checkout. In that scenario, if the checkout lady had just offered to pack her shopping for her, there would be no delay, everyone would have tut tutted but no serious delays. But then, we wouldn't all have met on this forum and become such good friends. ; )

Anyway, I'm out a here - bye!

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harrykelvin946

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wendystreeter94

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11 Jan 2014 - 16:25
neil_hamilton's picture

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