Earlier this week I had the pleasure(?) of popping in to Tenby's Famous £1 £1.20 60p Shop* in Tudor Square. I'd been in there a couple of times before - it's a little cramped but the walls and shelves are brimming with some really useful things from DIY hardware to stationery.

* The price went up in January due to the VAT increase (although if that was really the case it'd be the £1.03 shop) and now they're closing down one of the two shops in Tenby so everything's half price.

My latest visit was a work-related one - I was looking for some batteries and wall hooks, which I found and headed to the counter.

The queue was a little long, maybe five or six people ahead of me and a couple behind but with one person serving in a small shop that wasn't so bad. At the head of the queue was a couple who had just purchased about half a basket of items. When asked if they'd like to purchase plastic carrier bags for 2p each, the gentleman refused and his wife fumbled around in her handbag for their reusable bag.

After about 5 seconds the lady at the counter turned crabby and asked the couple to hurry up.

"I'm just getting a bag.", the gentleman replied.

"Come on, you're blocking my counter. Next please!", crabby lady called as she began serving customers around them.

"Ahh shame.", he retorted.

"Yes, it is. Next!"

A few mutters of disbelief went through the queue as we couldn't believe a cashier would talk to customers like that.

"Come on, you're really in the way now. You were too miserly to not buy carriers." she continued.

"We're told to bring our own bags when shopping and that's what we've done.", he replied.

They managed to get everything in their bag and left the shop, loudly exclaiming how rude she was and "it's no wonder they're closing down".

The queue moved along a little more. The customer in front of me was purchasing one of those stick-up push lamps and asked the cashier which batteries it needed.

"I don't know, look at the packet."

"LR4?", the customer read out not sure exactly what that meant.

"It's probably these." she said, handing over a pack of D-cell batteries - the really big round ones normally used in old fashioned big torches and stuff, clearly inappropriate for the small stick-up lamp he was purchasing.

"These?" he said, not entirely sure she was right.

"Probably. I don't know, I haven't got time."

He bought the lamp but left the batteries.

Next up was me with my three items. "Could I have a receipt too, please?" I asked as I handed over the exact money.

She sighed, picked up the pen and receipt pad next to her and began writing. The pen didn't work so she threw it down.

"No. I haven't got a pen. Next please!", she snapped.

"That's ok, I'll be back in a minute with a pen." I said and walked out. I picked up a pen from work and returned within a minute.

She looked at me as I walked in and finished serving the customer at the counter. "Next please."

Hmmm, ok. I'll let one slide. I considered re-joining the queue but then she hadn't really completed my transaction so I sided up to the customer she was serving and said "I've got a pen."

With a loud sigh she said "You people! Can't you see I'm busy? Do you really need a receipt?"

"Yes. And it's a legal obligation you provide one on request." I replied.1

Another sigh and she threw the receipt pad on the counter in front of me. The pages in the pad are pre-filled with the company name and "Goods" as a description so the cashier just has to fill in the amount. I filled in the amount I paid, tore the page out and handed the pad back to her.

"Do you work in a shop?" she asked as I turned to leave.

"Yes, I have done for the last ten years and I know how to offer good customer service." Ok, it's not been ten consecutive years, but still ten years.

How can someone survive in retail when they behave like that to their customers? The only thing I can think of is that she was related so the shop owners and couldn't be fired. Either way that is absolutely no reason to treat your customers like they're an inconvenience to you and, yeah, with customer service like that it's no wonder they're closing down.

1 Whilst retailers are not legally obliged to automatically give sales receipts, it is my understanding that they should be given on request. Besides, how am I supposed to reclaim petty cash without one?