DEAR ABBY: Your reply to "Cashier With a Mission" was morally correct, since the person should not shortchange customers who talk on cell phones by "forgetting" to put items into their bag or "accidentally" charging them twice.
My problem was a little different. I recently brought some items to the register in a bath and beauty shop at the mall. The girl behind the counter was using her cell phone. It was obviously a personal call. She rang up the items, took my money, bagged the merchandise and did not even bother to thank me, chatting on her cell phone all the while. As a matter of fact, she didn't even look at me.
What I'm trying to say is, people should be polite to people no matter on which side of the counter they're standing. -- "CORAL" IN BOYNTON BEACH, FLA.
DEAR CORAL: Of course civility is a two-way street. You would have done both yourself and the manager a favor had you politely pointed out that the store needs to upgrade its customer service. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am a checker in a grocery store, and I, too, am irritated by cell phone users at the check stand. It is the ultimate rudeness to be oblivious to those of us who are there to serve. Many cell phone users don't even give me the courtesy of making eye contact. I would never treat them with such disrespect. What has happened to common courtesy? Sign me ... CAN'T WAIT TO RETIRE
DEAR CAN'T WAIT: Some people are under extreme time pressure. Others are having a bad day. And, sad to say, still others were never taught to respect the feelings of others. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The cashier who overcharged or omitted an item purchased by a customer was guilty of both theft and dishonesty. The root of her anger seems to be lack of power and lack of managerial directive and support. Since it has happened more than once, she should request that the manager formulate a policy to handle such rudeness.
People in customer service have personal power, and they can be polite when using it. That cashier could handle the situation differently: (1) Smile. (2) Carefully push aside the items for purchase, and (3) say courteously, "I'll take care of the next customer while you complete your call."
Even with no "next customer," she can rearrange merchandise or leave the area for 60 seconds to relieve her stress. -- JERRY M., SEQUIM, WASH.
DEAR JERRY: That's certainly a more positive way to handle a difficult situation than to engage in petty larceny in an attempt to retaliate for the customer's rudeness. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have been a checker for 10 years. We receive a great deal of abuse from the public. I have been spat at, cursed, even had items thrown at me.
Today I waited on more than 200 people. After reading your column, I counted the cell phone users. There were 47, and all of them gave me the same rude treatment described in the letter. Since the popularization of cell phones, there has been a decline in manners. -- STEWED IN SAVANNAH
DEAR STEWED: You have my sympathy. Were I standing in your shoes and received the kind of abuse you described, I would call the manager and have him or her handle the customer who is obviously out of control.