Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bottom of the food chain

I've been at Head Office full time for about 3 months now and have settled in somewhat. The office environment is definitely different to being in stores, and I can understand the pain and humour in The Office series. My role is liaising with staff and customers and Area Managers in a feedback role. Rather ironic really, seeing as I was Ranter, The Feedback Girl. I had a reputation before I even arrived on site.

So I take my role seriously too. Even though I am aware of my relatively lowly position in the office, I like to make sure no one pushes around and abuses the store staff. I've found that lately, most of the customer complaints about staff have been unfounded, widely exaggerated, and pretty much completely untrue. Abusing and yelling at our store staff is just not on. Getting your grown son and his wife in to have a go at our lone, 5 month pregnant staff member as well is just abhorrent. They made her so upset that she was about to burst into tears, she was so upset, she had to have a drink and go out the back to calm down. She'd been with The Company for 5 years. Obviously she loves her job and The Company, and was distraught that they'd written in about her. The daughter in law was going to have her on right there in the store!!

That, and then when I found out another one of my crazy emailing customers was abusing Geoff, one of the guys I worked with in Sunshine when he first started. Well, that was the last straw. Geoff is my age, finished uni, working full time at The Company as a store manager. He was managing Poshville spectacularly until he took up the offer to move to NSW to work in the Poshville there. He and his staff are abused by the customers daily up there. And then when his Area Manager told me how he was going, and how he snapped back at a customer (she was waving a pair of $5 thongs in his face) and was in tears over the incident... And how he'd had a fall out with Grant and then Grant had a go at him when he was over in NSW. Well. How dare they. Grant and I haven't really gotten along. Or rather, I've never thought much of him while I was in store, and less so while in HO. That was another one to add to the tally.

Well. That was it. I had had enough. I am overruled just as much as the store staff are. I have to BCC (blind carbon copy) all my responses to customers to everyone senior to me. They monitor everything I do and then overrule me when they see fit. So the customers always have their way. The store staff thought (and I thought it too when I was in store) HO had no idea and were always overruling them when they were doing their best and following policy. And it's true. They do. I do. Or I am made to. I am made to look as much a fool as the store staff.

Well, don't worry comrades, I am just as lowly as the rest of you. I had been overruled so many times, and then one staff member wrote feedback about it, so I made sure to assign that to the Boss, Lleyton (General Manager, basically The Owner's right hand man) that overruled me on that one. It has to have been two weeks now. Still no response. Will follow that up. I take my job VERY seriously.

Anyway, I am getting angrier thinking about it all. So I finally took it upon myself and sent out a mass email (big no-no) to all stores and all Area Managers telling em basically that they could give me a heads up when they had any psycho customers out there. I am all for them and I explained my responses and my role, and made sure that we are supportive of them out there on the front line.

Well, I sure got a big response from that! So many stores emailed straight back expressing their appreciation and surprise. Even an AM emailed back telling me what a relief it was for her staff to see that from someone up there in HO. But my boss, Debby somehow got wind of the email and boy did I get my butt kicked for that. She emailed our boss, and 2 other big bosses, including Lleyton (but not The Owner, thank goodness). It was completely inappropriate and just plain wrong. Our Admin boss also put in her condemnation of my lack of professionalism. I had already received something of a warning from Debby to watch myself. I have always been a trouble maker. I meant well, I just went about it the wrong way. I felt terrible and hopeless and pathetic. Not again.

But then I got an email from one of the NSW stores, and it made it worth it. They know I know what it's like, and I'm on their side. I called him back and talked to him (Debby was out) and let him know that I really appreciated their response. It was good to get in touch with the store staff again. I got my butt kicked but it was worth it. Staff morale. I'm all for it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I can't really be bothered posting much anymore, to tell the truth. But I was thinking that now I am in the office full time, I may have to change the focus and content of my blog... I had a few good names in mind while called in last minute at work today, but I've forgotten them already...

So I was going to go shopping (again, you say?!) today, but was called by Jen around 10 wondering where I was, as I was supposed to open Sunshine at 9. Extended trade the week before Christmas. Oh. Ok. Well, I wish someone had told me. I had told them again and again, Charlene, our area administrator, Sunshine, everyone, that even though I am full time in Head Office, I am still happy to work weekends, as long as they tell me! And no one CCs me on the rosters, or messages me to let me know (like I asked them to), so how am I supposed to know I am supposed to drive 40mins to Sunshine to pick up a key to open!? Honestly. So we didn't end up opening til about 11:20, poor Jen waiting outside, getting abused by customers. I ended up arriving at 11:30 after trying to call other staff who might have a key. The manager didn't pick up, the other girl opening tomorrow was away as well. What can you do. It was busy ALL DAY. And of course, the store was a mess, and I don't know what they were doing all week, but then I had to console myself it wasn't my problem.

We did our best to get the rest of the stock out and I managed to get rid of two trolleys of rubbish, and tidy and sort out the abyss that was the back room. I must say, we did pretty well, the store wasn't a complete disaster when we left. We served customers (well, Jen and Skye did, anyway!) and tidied and tried to re-merchandise the store. To some success. Well. Oh well. We can only do what we can only do. And I was so nice and cheery, I was impressed with myself! The coffee and/or the drugs, who cares! Christmas is fun! I am obviously still giddy.

Yes, Skye is still around. Haven't seen much of her, think she was at Howlong for a couple of shifts, but we hadn't seen her on the rosters in a while and assumed she'd either left or been let go. But nope...still here. She's a nice girl and nothing against her. Jen still thinks she's slow and slack, but I was more than happy for her to stay at the counter and out through the sales while I went to tidy and clear out the back room. Fine with me. Jen was reorganising the shoes and re-merchandising the women's section. We were on a roll!

Well, The Owner. Friday he drove the fire engine red Ferrari. Don't know the model type, but it was a two seater, and you could see the engine or whatever from the windows of the back side windows. I don't know if that makes sense, but I thought it was pretty crazy. And there was also the black, bigger Mercedes S500, with roof rack and sled(?) on the top. You know, those big plastic case thingers that you'd probably put your snow stuff in. And there was also the big Toorak Tractor white BMW 4WD (or SUV, if you like). And his mum apparently has a Bentley too. Yet to see one of those at work though.

Hot day again tomorrow, wonder what car it'll be then?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Flavour of the Week

One of my jobs in admin is to send, collect and separate the mail. Of course, The Owner's in tray is at the top, and my "Customer Feedback" tray is at the bottom "where we belong", according to my departing trainer.

The Owner is notoriously private and paranoid and doesn't like to disclose his name or address to anyone, which I suppose, is why he has correspondence forwarded to his work address and email addresses such as the standard as well as and To highlight his sense of humour, of course.

Well, in the process of sorting his mail, I came across a thick catalogue, obviously printed on heavy, glossy paper. The plastic wrap was silver coloured so as to ensure privacy and confidentiality of the documents. I was really curious then. What could be so personal and private that he is having delivered to his work address? And Head Office, no less. So I pulled at the plastic and peeked in from the top, it was a Bentley catalogue. Because of course, everyone needs to update their Bentley with each season!

It is rumoured that he has several Bentleys and other assorted flash cars. This was told to me by a former staff member (made 'redundant' and since quit) who was sent to his house to drop off something, and was so impressed with his collection of cars (as her boyfriend would've been so jealous) that she took photos with her digital camera. Then she looked up and realised, 'Sh*t! There's a camera staring right down at me" Knowing The Owner, it was probably being beamed to his home office or something.

Well, given the hot weather today, the car of choice was the canary yellow, convertible Porsche Carrera. The other day it was the silver Mercedes S500. One for each day of the week, huh. Don't worry if you forget something at home, you can just send one of your "blondes" to go home and fetch it for you.

The blondes thing: our reception/admin department has our open office area right outside The Owner's office, and so he often strolls out and gets us to do random tasks of his. Like clean his office. Or stand at attention while he tests something. Or work out how to operate the spiffy new label machine he ordered be bought as he couldn't find the less new one. It's not uncommon to hear him yell out (as you always hear him before you see him) "Now, I need a blonde to help me...." Some staff are his favourites. He even addresses them casually by nickname or surname. The admin girls all happen to be blonde. Except me, I am replacing one of them, so I suppose now he can't use that demand anymore. In any case, when he does, I ignore him, as I am obviously not blond. I have work to do. And so I do it.

"Wow, a Bentley catalogue... I wish I could afford a Bentley."
ponder for a second... "I wish I could afford to eat..."
I realise that final comment would probably be funnier if I was big... haha. "I'm wasting away..."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Office Slave

Well, I finally got a full time position at The Company, but not in stores! I'm now a full timer in the Admin Team at HO, no longer in Operations or in stores, which isn't bad in itself. My role involves answering customer and staff feedback emails, as well as general admin work as well, which will be introduced a bit later. A bit tedious and brainless so far, but there is more than enough excitement in the gossip and office politics. The Owner and his presence is entertaining enough. More on that later.

So now I am no longer a retail slave, having worked my last store shift this afternoon, and am now an Office Slave. Suits me fine. No more battling for a car park during Christmas, crazy, stressed out, impatient customers, and I can finally go to the toilet whenever I want!

Monday, November 20, 2006


I haven't posted in a while because I've been working pretty much all day every day for the past two weeks and have been too tired and lazy to rant. I guess that's an effective way to minimise dissent amongst the ranks: keep them too busy and overworked to have time to complain.

I've been working at Sunshine, Mooball, and helping set up a new clearance store in Blowhard. And then I've also been at the new HO helping Helena with the weekly reports (which were a few weeks behind as a result of the move) and even had the pleasure of 'meeting' The Owner, which I suppose deserves a post of its own. I've also been picking up shifts at The Supermarket, being a checkout chick, and getting to know more about The Company and maybe beginning to take on a bigger role and being trained in all aspects.

I've just finished a shift at Mooball, as Charlene roped me into doing (training new staff to do) stocktake today, and I will be back again tomorrow night. I just had the great fortune of 'doing' stocktake last week at Sunshine. Looks like I'll be doing the rounds where I'm needed. Anyway, it's 10:30, so I want to have some dinner!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


In typical fashion, The Company, or rather, its Owner, likes to keep things secretive and keep its staff in the dark as to what exactly is going on. Even if it concerns them. So, I rocked up to HO a few minutes past nine (I'm still in the 'sleeping-in-can't-be-bothered' phase) after having rushed there and broken many speeding limits. They were packing the place up. I had heard they were moving, but Helena said it wasn't confirmed yet, as The Owner changes his mind like the weather. I was NOT impressed. I could've still been asleep. I had a coffee in preparation for some straining boredom and brain work. I even made my lunch! Helena called me last week to ask me to come in on Thursday, as now Grant and the other Upstairs people want their reports by Friday morning. I said that was fine. So I made the effort to go only to be turned away by the removalists.

Someone warned/joked to me when I first started at The Company, that they treat us like mushrooms. Huh? I was confused. Hadn't heard that one before.

"They keep you in the dark and feed you sh*t" they replied with a knowing, cynical laugh.

I was to understand all too soon what they meant by that. I wasn't that surprised when the office was empty and I obviously didn't know. At least I got my payslip today, and they have 'overpaid' me an extra 2 hours, so that makes up for some of the trouble I went to, I suppose. And all the unpaid overtime we do.

Today was just one of those crappy days. I suppose it started this morning. Then I went to The Supermarket to talk to Cindy to ask to move to night fill, like Trev had said. I ended up picking up an extra shift and covering 11AM-6PM. That was fine. I went back home to change into my uniform, picked up a newspaper on the way and was back again in plenty of time. I was early, and it was busy down at the checkouts, so I went down earlier anyway to speak to Cindy. She was less than impressed with the fact that I had just stayed back on Friday night. Without authorisation, blah blah, you can't just do that, you won't get paid, blah blah. No, you can't just move to night fill, because you were hired for checkouts. Well, I was less than impressed with her response too. And here beginneth the ranting:

No one had told me I was hired for checkouts. My initial 5 minute interview with Therese, the previous Checkout Manager just asked me where I'd like to work, I specified night fill. Sally, the hiring manager and 2IC (2nd in charge) at our induction training, asked us where we'd like to work, I said night fill, as I'm mostly available nights as I work days at The Company. So then I turned up for training with Cindy, who had just been transferred to that store that day, and Sally had only told her that day that I'd be coming in for training. So she wasn't at all prepared for me.

I had no The Supermarket shirt, no locker, they literally threw a random shirt at me (I wanted a short sleeve, but no matter) and left me there, promptly forgetting about me. I was waiting outside their office, confused. So where do I go from here? What do I do now? Once one of the other guys noticed me waiting outside, he interrupted whatever important meeting they were having and told her I was still outside. First I was put with some of the other Checkout Chicks and 'helped' pack bags for a while. She didn't have the training books for me to work with on the POS. Then she just put me on a terminal/checkout and had me work through the theory and exercises. Sure, whatever. I can do that. So I did that for about 6 hours in total (over two shifts) and finished it all, but still had little idea of how to process sales on the POS by myself. What if an item doesn't scan? What if the customer says they are discounted? What if I need change? So after a while, they left me on my checkout, with a 'L' plate and I figured it out eventually, with much help from the Checkout Chicks on the next lane.

Back to today... So when I went downstairs 15minutes early to talk to Cindy about transferring, she didn't recognise me at first. The other staff had told her I wanted to talk to her about transferring to the night fill department when I went back for my uniform. She asked what I was after, and when I answered, it clicked. 'Oh, I remember you, Ranter. I trained you'. I was flabbergasted. What?! You TRAINED me?! You left me at the Checkout to go through the training POS and said to go look for you if I had any trouble. The computer froze on me several times, I went to go look for help, and you'd already gone home for the day. I stood there for hours going through the POS training and you didn't even come to check up on me. I was given no introduction to the store, where things were, where I could put my things, the clock on machine, where to collect pays, who to ask if I had any enquries... And you think you TRAINED me?! I was cross. As far as I'm concerned, she logged on the terminal for me to start my training, and that was it. I didn't see her for another week after my initial training shift. Thanks for nothing. And then she tells me off for working in a different department without consulting anyone, and I should never, ever do that. I'm sorry, I didn't know. The guys asked if I wanted to stay back, as they were short staffed, and I agreed. I thought I was being helpful. So sorry. (note sarcasm)

'How long have you been here?'
'Three weeks'
'No, you can't transfer to night fill, you've been hired for checkouts'
'But I wasn't told that when I first came in. I told Sally and Therese that I wanted to work night fill, and Trev said they needed another person'
'Well, I'll have to ask Sally about that. You can't just go changing departments by yourself'

Well, sor-ry. I thought they wanted us to experience different departments and be multi-skilled so we can be called in to cover shifts if necessary. Quite frankly, checkouts suck because the meat and food stinks, is squishy, slimy and generally gross. And customers ... well, I wanted a position at The Supermarket so I wouldn't have to deal with them anymore. I get enough crap at The Company as it is.

Blogging about today is making me angry (and I was fine before I thought about it again) and I am tired. I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bad things come in threes...

Ooh, I was so pumped Friday night! I worked 9-midnight on Checkouts, and then the night fill guys came in to purchase their stuff just before close. I was chatting to them, as obviously I am still quite new... and Trev asked me jokingly if I'd like to work on night fill. I jumped at the chance! Literally! It was earlier that very day, as I was woken from my afternoon nap (just cos I can) by Girl, who told me to change out of my Checkout Chick position and move to night fill, as I had originally intended. And then, just like that, I was offered the position by chance! Good thing I agreed to work that crap 9-to-close shift.

It was pretty quiet from 11PM, so I filled the time scrubbing down the registers and conveyor belts. Fun. Random crusted-on juices. Had a few interesting encounters selling smokes. Asking people for ID, and selling smokes to whacked out, stoned kids younger than me! I was reluctant, and quite glad when we had sold out of the brands that they liked. Unfortunately for me, most people with that kind of addiction will just go for a stronger one. I have no idea about cigarettes, brands, papers, milligrams of nicotine? tobacco?, and what the packets look like. So, I took a while to find the smokes and papers they were after. 'On your left' 'Right in front of you' -Er, yeah, be more specific, stinky. I'm still new and haven't even worked on the service desk before ok. Stop smoking!

So Trev took me on to work night fill, as I think one of the other girls is on leave, and they always need more competent, efficient staff anyway. I was shown how to use The Supermarket safety knife, disassemble and reassemble it, change the blade, and important safety aspects like not to keep it in your pocket. Of course, yet another case of what is procedure and what is actually done. Like stacking shelves, which proved relatively simple, once I could figure out where the category numbers and products were displayed. Who knew there were so many types of cake sprinkles. I learned quickly from Ellen, what is procedure for stacking and what is done. Random stuff in the wrong spot where you need to stack your goods: move it to the next random section. Random stuff shoved way at the back of the shelf from months/years ago, leave it there or bring it forward. Rip a hole in your pack of sprinkles while shelving it? Chuck it on the floor and the cleaners will pick it up. Can't fit all of your items into the one price point area? Put it on top of the next one. People will find them if they want it.

It was quite a lot of fun. Laid back, casual, I was forewarned that there was lots of cussing. The muesli bar aisle:
'If you're not a swearer now, you will be by the time you finish that aisle' Trev laughed as I moved on to the next aisle.
'Why?' I asked innocently. Muesli bars, all in boxes, looked easy enough
'There's sh*t everywhere!' he chuckled as he walked away.
Sure enough, those evil satan spawn kids had opened boxes to take out muesli bars, shoved random junk food on the shelves, and stuff would just fall down on you as you were stacking. There was no escaping it.

I might have stayed later if not for work at The Company at Sunshine the next morning (all day), and Ellen did a great job of making me feel welcome and showing me the ropes, keeping me entertained with her hilarious customer service stories and crazy customers and crazy supervisors in Deli. No one wants to work in Deli, because it stinks. And then you end up stinking.

Well, turned out Saturday was a crappier day than I could've imagined.

I was so pumped at 3AM when I arrived home and was in bed, that I couldn't sleep. Chatted on the phone for a bit, and then decided I'd better try and sleep anyway around 4AM, seeing as I'd have to get up by 8 at the latest, to get to Sunshine by 9. Oops. Overslept my alarm and woke up at 9. Holy moly. I am never this disorganised and late for work! Managed to make it to Sunshine half an hour late, only to find Jessi, one of the new girls, sitting outside the store. Turns out she didn't have a key to open either. It was her first shift at Sunshine. I'd called the store to let the girls know I was running late, but no answer. No wonder. She called me when I was on my way, and said she was inside. Or there was a misunderstanding to that effect. She didn't know what to do and just waited for me to arrive as she assumed I'd have a key. I'd assumed one of the other girls would.

So, 9:30AM, the shopping centre starts to fill up, but we are still stuck outside. I paged Charlene for help, and even called her on her mobile. No answer, no call back, despite the urgency of the message. I didn't realise she was on leave and had gone away for a few days. I hadn't been working since Wednesday and left my key for the other staff, as I'd assumed one of the other new girls, Karen, who was working Friday night and also supposed to be working Saturday, would take a key. I didn't want to keep my key if someone else needed it. Oops, I was wrong. Turns out Karen had asked for the day off or something. Well, no one bothered to tell us. Oops.

There has been an ongoing mix up and change of rostering and shifts as staff quit, are hired and trained and not put on the roster, and when new staff are put on the roster without having finished their training. So of course, no one bothers to tell me this, so despite my feeling responsible for the smooth running of the store without a manager or experienced staff (it's just me, Skye and Alicia, new but extremely competent, experienced full-timer, and occasionally experienced staff Gina and Annie from Innaloo and Howlong), I can't find covers and know what's going on when no one tells us. And I'm not in every day. So needless to say, there have been more than a few hiccups.

Close to 10AM. Store still not open. Couldn't get hold of Charlene, so I paged Gemma, and she called back straight away. I explained the situation, we tried to get hold of Alicia, who doesn't work weekends, but when I finally managed to get her number from another store her phone went to voicemail. I called Gemma back in desperation, hoping not to inconvenience her to come in and open our store with her master key that all AMs have. She was 45 minutes away, so could probably arrive at 10:45. A few minutes later, Alicia calls back, after I've left a few strange messages on her phone, she was in the shower. What a surprise to get so many missed calls early Saturday morning. It can only be work. Thankfully Alicia could come by in 15 minutes, and I quickly called Gemma back and let her know she didn't have to come over anymore. So we managed to open up by 10:30. I felt so bad for Alicia, having to come in, but at least Gemma authorised her to be paid for driving in to open for us. And I bought her a box of consolation/apology chocolates as well. I was so embarrassed. Not only was I late, but I should've had the key to open. Charlene also called back as well, I was embarrassed to bother her about it on her day off and try to make sense of the situation as well. The music from the other stores was pumping (deafening) and it was hard to communicate. Yikes.

You'd think the day could only get better after such a disastrous start. Wrong! About 2:10, Gemma called me back at Sunshine and asked if I could go to Iron Knob, a new clearance store that'd opened 4 days ago. Apparently there were only 2 new girls on and they were in the weeds. And one of their computers had crashed and the other was going at snail's pace. So I agreed to go, and left a reluctant and hesitant Jessi on her own for 3 hours. It was her first shift at Sunshine, and I didn't want to leave her on her own either. And I didn't think she'd be able to cash up alone. It hadn't been that busy at Sunshine either, but I suppose I'm used to being on my own when the place is swarming with customers. I forget how more than 3 separate customers in store can be confronting and stressful to new staff.

Followed Gemma's instructions to Iron Knob, out in the sticks, got slightly lost and had no idea where I was headed, but had faith in Gemma's instructions and kept going. I arrived at about 10 to 3 and both the girls went on their lunch breaks then, and I sorted out the manual sales from the broken computer, and continued to process sales at the counter. Thank goodness the clearance stores are self serve.

Turned out that the day wasn't going to get any easier. The slow computer certainly didn't help. There were certainly less customers, but cash up proved a major problem. The other computer had crashed, and some sales had been processed on it during the day, so in order to balance the second computer and the cash and EFT takings, I added them all onto the 2nd (slow, but working) computer. In theory they should all balance. But the EFTPOS machine hadn't settled from the night before and were adding the previous day's totals to Saturday's takings. So our EFT amount was a massive amount more than the actual sales, which was obviously wrong... Hmmm so we stayed til 6:15 trying to figure it out, with the help of Gemma on the phone. In the end, we concluded that it couldn't be balanced that night, but the girls, and Caroline, manually added up the EFT takings today and found the problem, and it was all sorted.

Meanwhile, Jessi at Sunshine was still on her own, I didn't manage to get back to cash up with her, but was able to talk her through it over the phone. I think she was so nervous she couldn't think straight. She couldn't peel the plastic backing off to seal the banking bag, get the money to balance, fill out the daily summary paperwork, or find the key to close the store. In the end, I just told her to leave it, and I'd fix it up tomorrow. Sigh. What a day. I had plans to meet my friends at 7 and it took me about 45 minutes from Iron Knob to get to my friends' place. I didn't even get to go home and change or have dinner. What a day!

Hey, at least I haven't been cranky with the customers lately! And I think with all the running around and stress I may have redeemed myself for being late. Let's hope!