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The Woes Of An Australian Shopper

“HEY, LOVE YOUR JEANS!”

“SO, WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT?”

“OH YEAH… SO THAT’S $39.95 AND DID YOU WANT A BOTTLE OF WATER WITH THAT FOR $2?!”

If you’ve been shopping in Australia, ever, you’ll be familiar with these fuck-annoying throw-away lines from staff who, while you’re answering their empty questions, are actually picturing what cocktail they’re going to drink and post on social media later that night.

Some of us actually question the customer service approach they’ve obviously been handed down from their respective head offices. It’s probably not entirely their fault – they are told how their store wants them to push sales.

But it all (sort of) makes sense now that clothing giant Cotton On has had its code of conduct policy leaked, which instructs employees that it is utterly against policy not to be “fun” or “keep it real” while on a shift. Breach of said policy can result in instant termination.

“If a team member were to be found to behave in a manner or represent themselves in a way that was not honest, genuine, respectful and transparent then yes – we would consider those behaviours to be a misalignment with our value of Keeping it Real.”

Who defines the idea of fun? The employer or the employee? I’m hoping closer inspection of this policy will tell me why it’s necessary to push $5 beanies or a $2 bottle of water when a customer already has all the garments they want on the counter.

But it got me thinking; if Cotton On’s code of conduct is ‘keeping it real’, what would be the code of the other fashion factories? What are the sales tactics of some of the major shops? Recently I was in a General Pants store and a younger employee asked me this question:

“HEY CHAMP! WHAT ARE YOU UP TO TONIGHT?”

“I’m sorry what was that?” I asked.

“HEY CHAMP! WHAT ARE YOU UP TO TONIGHT?”

I don’t know what it is, but only certain people can get away with using the word champ – possibly one of the most fucking condescending words in the Aussie Slang Dictionary. After that, I went into a major department store. Quiet, calm and with peaceful piano music palying. I had a look around and selected my purchases, put them on the counter and got my card out to pay for them.

“Sir, would you like to join our rewards program or establish a line of credit?”

“No thanks, just the clothes.”

Fuck me. It seems most of Australia’s clothing retailers are drafting their new code of conduct policies with inspiration from Aussie service stations.

“No.10 please, I think it came to $60.”

“Can I offer you two of these chocolates for $4?”

“No.”

“What about these two packets of chewing gum for $2.50, or two energy drinks and a chocolate for $5?

“No.”
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Written by Tim Featon. Photo by Murry Hall.

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