Over a period of two years, my readers and I put together a list of etiquette guidelines for supermarket shoppers. The objective was to create a common sense guide to proper conduct in the supermarket, to avoid confrontations and take some of the stress out of shopping. You can find these rules on the Internet at my Web site, www.martinsloane.com.
While we were creating these rules, readers also suggested standards for supermarket employees. Several weeks ago, I responded to a note from a reader, Paula Macig, who asked whether I was ready to put together the employee rules. Let's get started, I said, and invited my readers to pitch in and help.
Let's start off in that place in the store where shoppers have the greatest contact with employees, the checkout counter:
Paula Macig offered these suggestions for cashiers: Be careful in what you say to customers. Don't complain about your job, your manager or your personal problems. Learn to count back change to your customers. Customers will appreciate it and will know you understand how to handle money. It will save the shopper and you time in checking the change.
Here are Employee Checkout Counter Rules from other readers:
Dear Martin: I have these suggestions for cashier etiquette: Give your full attention to correctly ringing up my purchases and giving me the correct change. Don't allow yourself to be distracted. Don't comment on any of the customer's purchases. I am self-conscious about some of the things I buy (junk food) and prefer to think the cashier does not notice it. And, finally, don't rush me. Don't tap your fingers on the counter while I am getting my cash or credit card. Carla in Syracuse, N.Y.
Dear Martin: When there are delays at the checkout counter, I would feel better if the cashier would look down the line, smile and say something like, "Sorry folks, we have a little delay with the register. It should be fixed within a minute or two." Then, those of us in line would know we weren't invisible. We would be more inclined to smile back and say, "So much for high-speed technology." Morgan Smith, Trumansburg, N.Y.
Dear Martin: I have watched cashiers put their fingers in their ear, mouth (or worse) as they handle my purchases! It is really disturbing. An e-mail from Mitch
With these suggestions and others, here is the first draft of Employee Rules of Etiquette at the Checkout Counter (recommended by their customers):
UMake eye contact, greet each shopper and smile.
UNotice the shopper and recognize if the shopper might have special needs.
UBe gracious in honoring the store's sales, promotions and correct price scan guarantee.
UKeep the conveyor belt and checkout counter clean.
UKeep your hands clean and think before you touch your mouth, nose and eyes.
UDo not use & quot;honey & quot; or & quot;sweetie & quot; in addressing the customer.
URespond promptly to a customer's question.
UDo not comment on a customer's purchases.
UDo not comment on the number of coupons tendered.
UKeep an eye on the shoppers in your lane and keep them informed if there is a delay.
UGive the customer and the order your full attention: Don't talk across the registers. Don't complain, and don't socialize with customers.
UDon't rush the customer.
UCarefully count the change out to the customer.
UExpress Lane: Ask over-the-limit shoppers to follow the rules.
UBag sensibly, carefully and follow a customer's requests.
UFinally, thank the customer for shopping at your store. (Your continued employment may depend on this customer coming back.)
This is just a start. What have we forgotten? In future columns, I will publish drafts of the other sections: Rules in the Parking Lot, Rules in the Aisles, Rules for Store Managers and General Rules for the Store. I need your input on these rules as well. I also welcome comments from cashiers and other supermarket employees. Write to me, Martin Sloane, The Supermarket Shopper, in care of The Vindicator. I will publish the most interesting letters.
United Feature Syndicate