Originally created 02/21/99

Customer service could be improved

Dear Carson: I selected a sweater at a department store recently and went to the checkout desk. The clerk was on the phone, so I waited for her to finish her conversation.

She waved her hand at me while still talking, took my credit card and placed my sweater in a bag. The whole time I stood there, very irritated and disgusted while I listened to her personal conversation. Again, she waved to me when I walked away, but she never stopped talking on the phone.

What should have been my proper response? -- Disgusted Customer

Dear Disgusted: The situation you describe is one of the worst pitfalls of customer service. In ignoring you she diminished the value of your business.

Too many managers turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to this kind of behavior. Employees need training in customer service.

Perhaps you could have said to her, "When you finish talking I need some help."

Get a name if the clerk isn't wearing a nametag. A good alternative is to go to the manager or better yet, write a letter to management, using the clerk's name where it will do the most good.

Dear Carson: A reader recently wished to know what was an appropriate amount of cash to give her mail carrier for Christmas. Government regulations forbid carriers from accepting monetary gifts of any amount. We can accept token gifts such as socks, nuts, etc., but PLEASE forgo the fruitcakes. Each year I seem to get 20 or so. -- Sore Feet

Dear Feet: Thanks for providing our readership with valuable and expert information.

Dear Carson: I have a dilemma. I am employed in a small office with two other women, who are mother and daughter. The mother is my employer. Recently I received an invitation to the wedding of another daughter, who does not work with us.

I don't want to attend because I have been trying to maintain a professional relationship with this family. I feel that socializing with them outside the workplace will encourage a personal relationship. How do I decline gracefully? -- Employee Only

Dear Employee: With such a small work environment it would have been a slight on their part not to include you. To refuse is your option, but if I were you, I would have a handy excuse.

I would encourage you, however, to send a gift.

Ask Carson a question of etiquette. Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O.Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@mindspring.com. Her Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.


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