God Bless the Empowered Salesclerk

By: Connie H. Deutsch | Posted: 06th August 2012

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God Bless the Empowered Salesclerk
by Connie H. Deutsch

There is hardly a day that goes by that we don't experience the words of a Chinese proverb: "The less power a man has, the more he likes to use it."

I first became aware of this behavior many years ago when my mother came to visit me. We were in a department store and she went to pay for her purchases. This was long before credit cards or debit cards came into existence. She took out her checkbook and proceeded to write a check. The salesclerk asked for identification and my mother, who didn't drive a car and had no license, pulled out her voter registration card, which in her state, was a valid ID. In a nasally, whiny voice the salesclerk told my mother that it was against store policy to accept checks without a drivers license.

Keep in mind that this encounter took place more than a half-century ago when we lived in an age of innocence and there was no such thing as identity theft or hacking of accounts. There were still policemen on the street who were known as a child's friend, and adults didn't have to fear police brutality. It was also in an era before television so we ate dinner at the table without having to witness the gruesome sight of wars being played out in our living room during dinner hour.

My mother was a very gentle soul so she took people by surprise when she didn't allow them to bully her. In her kindest voice she told this offensive salesclerk who reeked of newly empowered authority, that she would like to speak to the store manager. When he came, he apologized to my mother for any inconvenience she had been made to suffer and accepted her check.

That was a huge learning experience for me. A few years after that, I tried to bring back a bra that I had just bought the day before. I put the bra in the washing machine and when I took it out, I saw that the cotton threads were shredding and I knew that if this happened after one day of wearing it and one machine washing, it would never go the distance.

Unfortunately for me, I had thrown out the box and the garbage was taken a few hours before I left for the store. I had the original price tags and the receipt and thought this should be an easy return. No such luck.

The salesclerk didn't want to take it back because the box was missing. The store wouldn't take back an item because the box was missing? I couldn't believe we were having this conversation. I told her that the manufacturer of the bra had to have thousands of boxes and they wouldn't care that it was being returned without the original box. This argument went on for a long time.

My mother had a gentle and charming way about her. I didn't take after her in that regard but I did remember how she handled the whiny, newly empowered salesclerk from several years before. I told the salesclerk to call the store manager.

It was interesting the way she deferred to the store manager. I told him that I would like to tell him what I was experiencing in his store. He agreed to listen and wouldn't let the salesclerk say a word until I finished. When she was allowed to speak, she reiterated that I didn't have the box and that she couldn't accept it as a return even though she could see that the bra looked new and I had the price tags and receipt from the day before.

It's interesting to see how a salesclerk who tries to play God with a customer suddenly finds herself with a begging bowl, trying to hold onto her job. The store manager verbally flayed her for not using her common sense. Then he apologized to me on behalf of the store and gave me a refund from the cash register.

Over the years I have had many occasions to witness how people who have little to no power, try to bully people when they are given a little power. We have only to look at government agents, e.g., the IRS agents, the TSA agents, the FEMA agents, and on and on. When I see people like this, I always wonder what their homelife was like growing up and whether they are still feeling powerless as adults. It makes one wonder if they would use power more compassionately if they came from an environment where they didn't have to claw their way into adulthood.

Connie H. Deutsch is an internationally known business consultant and personal advisor who has a keen understanding of human nature and is a natural problem-solver. She is known throughout the world for helping clients find workable solutions to problems that are often complex and systemic in nature and part of a corporation's culture or an individual's pattern of behavior.

Connie has hosted her own weekly radio show, been a weekly guest on a morning radio show, done guest spots on radio shows around the country, and appeared as a guest on a cable television show. Connie wrote a weekly newspaper Advice Column for sixteen years and has been invited to speak at local colleges and given lectures around the country. She also wrote the scripts for a weekly financial show on cable television.

Connie is the author of the books, "Whispers of the Soul" and "The Counseling Effect," and is the co-author of an eBook, "Getting Rich While the World Falls Apart" which is being offered as a free download on her website. She has also written and produced two CDs on Meditation and Relationships and has done coaching on customer service and employee relationships. Her website: http://www.conniehdeutsch.com/
See more of her articles by clicking here ConnieHDeutsch Articles
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Tags: learning experience, credit cards, inconvenience, debit cards, washing machine, department store, checkbook, connie, policemen