Hana, 39, is a customer advisor for a hair and beauty wholesaler, based in Norfolk. Hana has worked in retail for a long time but has started to feel unsafe at work.
“I’ve been here for 15 years, and it’s changed a lot.
“Certain people come in giving us abuse over and over, and I’ve never felt the way I’m feeling now. A few months back, a customer walked in on a Sunday, which is usually quiet, so it was just me and my colleague. He wanted a refund, but our policy didn’t cover that particular item, so I explained he’d need to go back to the manufacturer – something he was told at the point of sale and is also written on the receipt.
“He wasn’t having any of it and became verbally abusive, shouting in my face and threatening me. I was working with my male colleague, so I felt a bit safer although still worried. He wouldn’t stop shouting, telling me I’m going to lose my job over this, so I called the non-emergency police number.
“The woman on the phone heard him shouting at me in the background so she put me through to the emergency line because she wanted to send somebody down right away. He was asked by the police officer to leave and come back tomorrow with manners and speak to the manager.
“What really frustrates me is that I followed the policy, but the manager came in the next day and gave him the refund. It’s the same with head office, who tell you to do whatever the customer wants, even if they’ve just shouted at you. I then have to face that person again and they say ‘see, you can do it’ and they think their shouting was justified.
“I’m quite a strong person but it does affect me for weeks or months afterwards. Sometimes I feel like I want to work behind a computer, so I don’t have to deal with these people.”
Would you put up with this?