Oliver, 22, is a sales assistant for a hardware store based in Dorset. Oliver regularly feels vulnerable at work and has considered leaving their job owing to the growing abuse Oliver faces daily.
“Customer abuse has definitely escalated in our store, with issues of stock shortages due to importing restrictions since Brexit, and customers get annoyed if we don’t have items.
“I’ve had customers cry on me, shout at me. I’ve had people say ‘I’ll get you fired’ if I can’t get them a certain item. They won’t listen when I say I physically can’t get it. Everything going up in price [due to the cost of living] means people are generally frustrated. Or there’s another type of customer who says ‘I have the money, so you should be willing to do anything I want to get this item for me’.
“Quite often we’ll have a policy in place and one manager says to follow it, but another manager overrides it and I think, great, I’ve made myself look bad in front of a customer. We need clear policies, and everyone needs to back them up. Making it clear to customers that if you’re rude to us, we’re just not going to serve you, would help.
“There’s drama with shoplifting almost every time I go in. When I first started, somebody got threatened with a needle because they tried to stop a shoplifter.
“We’re told to stay alert, ask questions and call the manager rather than stop them. Body cameras would help me feel safer because I think people act differently when they see you’re wearing a camera. I’ve never had any personal insults but if there’s an incident it makes you go home not wanting to go to work tomorrow.
“If people were more respectful, I’d be less tempted to leave. I would definitely support new legislation to classify abuse of retail workers as a specific crime. Police don’t seem to take shoplifting seriously enough.
“I’ve seen shoplifters when I’ve been walking home or walking to the bus stop and I’m wearing my uniform, so I think oh please don’t see me. It makes you feel vulnerable.”
Would you put up with this?
*Image posed by a model