Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How can I help you?

Yesterday morning, I went and did the weekly shopping at Carrefour (equivalent of Tesco in England or Walmart in the US...) and it reminded me when I was a salesperson there in December 2004. During the 1st year of the Business School (and 3rd year of studies), we had to achieve a field internship (indeed, not in an office), to learn the basics of sales.

I didn't
wanted to go and work there but the salary was very good for one month (paid by a temping agency) and I got to work in the Carrefour of my town so I did knew it and it was close to home.

We were 5 people helping for Christmas sales (video games, music, video, books and one dealing with all the sections): I was in charge of the books section and it could not have been better because I love to read and I was more able to help and advice people on books than anything else.

It begins well because, as usual, the manager is not aware you actually begin your mission today, he/she is always
very busy and will deal with you later, asks an employee to show you the lockers, but they are all taken, so for today you put your stuff in the reserve, in the dust and where everybody can have access to your personal belonging but you don't really have the choice. Of course, this situation will last the whole month. wink

arrow Your mission is: advice customers, help increase the end-of-the-year sales (thus not hesitate to propose additional sales to the customers, that 90% of them will refuse, whatever... you are not paid at the commission).

You may have to advice customers about the other sections when one of your colleagues is ha
ving a coffee break or at the restrooms or having lunch... and of course, if you can't respond to the customer's question or request, you are judged incompetent or useless.mad On your good days, you will help the desperate customer and leave your co-worker and section alone, thus putting your job in jeopardy*. If you're lucky, you'll succeed in your short-term mission and please the customer.

your section is near the escalator, you may have to turn into an information desk when some people will ask you where to find some items you have no idea they are within the three-flour superstore! eek

The nice part was to:
- advice and talk about books
- meet nice people, like grandmas willing to please their grandchildren
- pretend to work with a customer when a friend or a relative was visiting
- go on coffee breaks when the manager was not working (because more than a 5mins-break during the day was considered enough!)
- hide from customers and make them look for me (you have to find the fun somewhere!

The less nice part was to:
- turn into a warehouse worker to rearrange a whole part of the books section (about four times during the month) because the "merchandising people" had worked on a new configuration (it took me 3 weeks to rearrange the pocket books shelves alphabetically)
- ask people not to read the magazines inside the store but buy them
- ask people not to seat on the books to read other books or magazines
- ask people not to eat food (sometimes coming from the store itself!) while reading the books/magazines/comics
- unpack regular deliveries (and broke a nail, cut a finger, break a bracelet, sweat like a pig at the end of the day redface) and put the price sticker on each piece (it's fun for about 10mins)
- deal with unpleasant customers evil
- work next to the music section and hear all day long the same promotional DVD (try to listen to the 15 same songs, all day long, during 20 days, you'll hate them for a long time after that)
- work till 8pm on Xmas eve and NYE

Despite all the negative side, as a student job, it was a good experience, I worked in a familiar environment, for a short mission, got a good review from the manager for my internship report, but I would never make it a career.

*exaggerating to increase the seriousness of the situation!


Marianne said...

Oh wow, they have books in Carrefour now! That's good news. This sounds like a pretty good student job, really nice to be working with books! My worst job was working in a men's shirt shop, where I had to measure old men's necks and inseams (up their legs!) all day long! The things we do eh? x M

Frogmae said...

oh yeah, it's been years since they sell books (at least in France).
I was glad to be working in this section, but working in Carrefour is harsh.

I bet some men must have been more than pleased! lol

I guess we all had our worst student job! ;o)