Seren, 48, is a senior manager of a clothing store based in Dorset. Seren has to face regular abuse and threats to report the team which Seren often has to defend to head office.
“I was slightly late opening the store once because of a traffic accident, so a few people were waiting when I arrived. I apologised and said, ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve been stuck in traffic. I just need to open the store, set the alarms, put the tills in, I’ll be as quick as I can and then I can let you all in.’
“One woman didn’t accept this and was horrendously rude, saying it was all my fault and it was unacceptable that they should have to wait. Another customer actually felt sorry for me and went to buy me a coffee, which was so lovely and understanding.
“People have literally wagged their finger in my face saying they’re going to report me and nasty, horrible things like, ‘if this was my company, I wouldn’t be paying you.’ Because you’re a shop worker it is insinuated that you’re not good enough or not smart enough and that really bothers me.
“People will say, ‘you won’t have a job by the end of the week.’ It’s that threat to your livelihood.
“On so many occasions I’ve had to put together an email or call my boss to explain exactly what’s happened and they’ve already had a complaint, so you’re constantly defending yourself. Or, you’ll get a call from customer services to say, ‘I’ve just had this customer on the phone, they’re coming back in, can you issue them a refund?’ It allows people to think they can get away with it and you feel like they’re laughing in your face.
“A lot of our younger Saturday team leave because they don’t feel cut out for it. Stores have cut staff so we might have three till banks but only enough staff to serve on two, so you have to decide whether somebody leaves the fitting room or shop floor to help on the tills but then there’s nobody helping customers on the shop floor.
“The cost of living is partly causing customer frustrations but it’s also affecting retail workers who aren’t well paid.
”You find yourself repeating, ‘I’m really sorry, we’re doing the best we can,’ but sometimes I don’t have the energy for it.”
Would you put up with this?