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The shop next door

HAVE you ever been to a shop in town and felt like walking out faster than you went in?
Not that shop assistants are rabid hounds ready to maul you any time you pop in.
The thing is, you’ve got to be a bargain hunter keen on getting more information about a product you want to buy to know their attitude sometimes.
As you scrutinise the products on shelves asking questions about their quality, you would see a shop assistant blankly looking at you as if he is agonisingly sitting on a fork.
Despite their willingness to have quick sales for their products as they look forward to pay day, they would give you a hint on what casualisation can do to good customer relations.
In a culture where you are not given to reading the manual book for a product, most often you would rely on a shop assistant to provide enough information on how some items operate or whether an attire on display is exactly the size you want.
But what I have noticed is that some shop assistants, especially those you would find working under the watchful eye of a callous shop-owner, don’t exactly look keen on providing enough information about a product to help a customer make an informed decision before buying.
Sometimes you would think they are no better than zombies used to display clothes by the entrance of a shop on Lusaka’s Freedom Way.
The moment you ask if something is genuine or not, they would pretend they never heard what you said.
Obviously, they would much rather be leading you to the till where the shop-owner sits almost inanimately, instead of being bothered by inquisitive customers on whether something is genuine or not.
That’s something that has had some shoppers decide not to spend much time in some shops and end up bumping into people asking for alms in the shop corridors.
Picture yourself walking from one shop to another hoping for better service and suddenly someone pushes a plastic plate in your hands asking for thandizo (help).
As you reach for a K1 in your pocket to help the needy, a long lost relative unexpectedly appears on the scene, technically spoiling your shopping spree with his own problems.
Don’t you just detest it when it comes to that? Of course you do, but sometimes it’s hard to fault some shop assistants for not paying attention to customers when they need more information about what they want to buy.
It goes back to the issue of casualisation, where some shop assistants are subjected to meagre wages and in the end they do not bother about good customer relations.
But still, I have a nagging feeling about some shop assistants. Sometimes, you are forced to adore the way a barman works.
Have you ever seen people who drink complaining about how barmen attend to customers?
Often you would see customers soaked in a beery conversation by the counter, while the barman keeps change.
But this is not to say that when people drink themselves stupid they can’t take a barman’s finger off with a liquor bottle thrown when a fight starts.
Even when a barman ends up having an indignant customer, they try to keep cool because an argument with the customer may chase him away completely.
By the way, this can also be said about some sex workers. You don’t hear those who go for their services complain about poor customer relations.
The only thing clients have to bear in mind is not to default in payment. Women in this trade can be dangerous.
One moment one could be negotiating for a fair price, the next moment he could be in a slanging match with a prostitute.
Next time you go shopping, look out for shop assistants who seem not knowledgeable about what they are selling to help customers make informed choices.

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