Being abused should not be part of a day’s work for local retail and fast food workers.
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Workers in both sectors, spoken to by the South Register, tell of times the unacceptable abuse reduced them to tears.
The good news is the abuse does not happen often but it does happen.
A major campaign to combat the abuse, ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ was recently launched and welcomed locally.
Manager of Knickerboxers, Rita Sullivan, said the campaign was a great idea.
Rita said in general local customers were lovely but others were not.
She said nobody deserves to be abused and she doesn't like it when her staff are verbally attacked.
“I have told them to turn on their heels and walk away,” Rita said.
“Everyone should just be polite to each other.”
Rita said some people had a sense of self-entitlement and others can be aggressive but she again stressed this was the minority of her customers.
Leanne Flindt manager of W Lane has had similar experiences and said most of the time shoppers in Nowra were nice.
“Now and again, however, you get your cranky ones. In general, customers are pretty understanding,” she said.
Leanne said sometimes the abuse can be hurtful.
“I have copped abuse here, last year, and it was pretty bad and the customer had me in tears,” she said.
“She said ‘I was not doing my job properly’, not to my face but over the phone twice and that was the worse one I had come across.
“Other than that it has been pretty good. We all have our up and downs and we all get cranky, especially this time of year, and get impatient.”
Leanne said it was no good lashing out at someone and she thinks the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign is a good idea.
“I don’t know if people are taking note of the campaign but they should at this time of year because we are out and about doing a lot of extra hours for our customers,” Leanne said.
Leanne has been in retail since she was 15-years-of-age and started at Venture in Nowra Fair.
Another retailer, who asked not to be named, said people shopping in Nowra were good but added Christmas does put pressure on them.
She asks shoppers to be understanding.
“We can only do what we can do. We are only one person and can only do things as quickly as we possibly can,” she said.
She has been in the Nowra retail sector for 22-years and said in general, things have been good.
“You have a few people that make your day not very pleasant but generally I am happy with my customers - I love my customers,” she said.
“All they want, when they come into the shop, is a nice happy person and that is what we try to give them.”
She said getting abused can terribly hurtful, no matter a person’s age or retail experience.
“Sometimes you may not be at your best but you are still in here still serving your customers and still smiling but that person decides to come in the door who is not very pleasant and could bring everything to a head,” she said.
Staff in some fast food outlets also cop unnecessary abuse.
One fast food worker said she was yelled at for making minor mistakes with orders and left in tears.
Another worker said he was abused when the food took too long to arrive during peak times when many others were patiently waiting.
Meanwhile, the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign, is driven by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), and will include television, radio, digital and outdoor advertising.
SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said there is no excuse for the increasing amount of physical and verbal abuse that customers are directing at retail and fast food staff.
“For retail and fast food workers this abuse can severely impact their physical and psychological health and it cannot continue,” he said.
“Everyone has the right to be able to do their job in a safe environment.”
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