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Is carrying on a mobile phone conversation at a checkout rude or not?

Sometimes Twitter really is great and most of those times are when I get to see a story that I would never have seen otherwise. Today that story was entitled Hang up or I won’t serve you: Sainsbury’s worker gives shopper ‘lecture on checkout etiquette’ and was in the London Evening Standard.

A young woman called Jo Clarke was talking on her mobile phone when she got to the checkout and the checkout assistant informed her that she wouldn’t be carrying on putting her items through the till until she got off her phone. Miss Clarke has since slammed the ‘rude’ assistant and has informed Sainsbury’s that she will be shopping in Waitrose from now on.

Sainsbury’s are busy falling over themselves to apologise profusely but they should read the comments on the article – the vast majority are in support of the checkout assistant and you can count me among them. I have never worked on a till at a supermarket but have worked on a till in other shops and agree that someone talking on their phone is extremely rude. Whilst I won’t say that I wouldn’t put through their items if they were on the phone I would do what most Brits do and that is curse under my breath about lack of manners.

When shopping I often have an iPod in and I ensure I either take one earphone out how I can communicate with the person on the till if needs be or turn the iPod off for a minute or so. It is just basic common decency.

I hope that Sainsbury’s don’t discipline the checkout assistant involved and I dislike the way they are fawning over themselves to apologise. By carrying on with your conversation on the phone Ms Clarke was showing that she had no concept of manners and was in fact being rude herself and not vice versa. I would like more checkout staff to do this and quickly we could eradicate people using phones when at a checkout.

Whilst I’m on this subject can people please learn how to queue properly? In my local shop the amount of times I see people pick up a paper and go directly to a till even if there is a queue is ridiculous. We are British so we should know how to queue and yet I see it all the time. Even if someone is being served at a till I will see people go stand right behind them even if people are queuing up in the designated queuing area. I mean come on people…

Basic checkout etiquette is simple and when I see people failing to adhere to it is really bugs me. Ms Clarke clearly thought she was in the right and is now getting pilloried by the general public she was hoping to get sympathy from. I do hope that the checkout assistant gets a job at Waitrose and is there the next time she shops because that would be truly magic.

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  1. Sally Myles Sally Myles

    The shop assistant was in the right. It is only common decency to acknowledge someone in a shop, you’d expect it the other way round, wouldn’t you? Jo Clarke, sadly, appears to embody the ‘me me me’ generation, that deserve respect without reciprocation. She’s shown herself up as an ignorant cow and I hope her parents are ashamed of the appalling job they did bringing her up. If I knew the cashier’s name I’d send her twenty quid….it’s a rare creature these days who has the nerve to try to maintain basic standards.

  2. Colin Ross Colin Ross

    I disagree the checkout assistant is there to process the goods, the shopper doesn’t have to engage with them (although it might be nice). I am actually amazed at how many shop assistants ignore their customers and actually are chatting with other staff members.

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