New book recounts work, customers in "Retail Hell"

Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:31am EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Meet the Piggy Shoppers, the Discount Rats and the Bloodsuckers -- all of them customers who shop at fine stores, terrorize the sales staff and now are exposed in a new book, "Retail Hell."

Author Freeman Hall, after many years working in retail sales, provides an entertaining look at the view from his side of the handbag counter at a Manhattan store he dubs "The Big Fancy."

As designers show their spring and summer collections for 2010 at New York Fashion Week, hoping to inspire recession-weary consumers back into stores to spend, Hall is ready to bare the customers' dark, far-less appealing sides.

Among the most gruesome, Hall writes in the book published by Adams Media, is the Piggy Shopper who stampedes through store aisles "eating and drinking. Breaking and ruining. Tossing and dropping."

The Discount Rat begs and lies, stopping at nothing in search of a bargain, while the Picky Bitches take their time to peruse, and reject, every single item on sale.

Other customers visit nearly every day, looking for companionship but buying nothing. One customer called each evening to ask for handbags be placed on hold but never once appeared in person to buy them.

The Bloodsuckers, meanwhile, are so tedious that the attending sales associate "goes pale, then limp, completely bled dry, falling into a helpless heap of exhaustion in need of B-12 shots and a keg of beer," he writes.

What makes such clientele so difficult is official store policy emphasizing service, forcing the staff to be civil and nice, no matter how awful the behavior, Hall told Reuters.   Continued...