I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure

phone etiquette – what would you do in this situation?


You are in a small, specialist store (let’s say an Optician, with many branches around the country ;)).  You are speaking with the only assistant in the store, explaining what you would like to order.  The store’s phone rings.  The assistant says “Excuse me” and answers the call.  The assistant continues to deal with the phone customer’s query, while you stand waiting… and waiting.  Five minutes later, what would you do?

Would you –

A.  Wait patiently for the assistant to finish the call.

B.  Leave the store.

C.  Something else.

Mr I was in that same situation the other day, and he chose Option B.  I think I would have done the same, followed by a letter to the company suggesting some customer service training for their staff.  I think if the assistant had explained, perhaps, that this was an urgent/emergency call which had to be dealt with promptly, I might have been ok about her talking for ages while I was standing waiting, but I can’t see that there could possibly have been any kind of emergency that had to be dealt with while I was being served.

Imagine visiting the doctor and, halfway through your consultation, he gets up and goes to attend to another patient, leaving you waiting.  That wouldn’t happen, so why do some people think it is fine to break off what you are doing to answer the phone?

English: Picture of a Western Electric candles...

English: Picture of a Western Electric candlestick phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


17 thoughts on “phone etiquette – what would you do in this situation?

  1. I would also go for B.

    My sister actually works in an opticians! I think if the phone rings while only one person is on the shop floor, they’re supposed to answer it but explain that they’re with a customer and could the caller phone back/the shop call the customer back.

  2. I’d have chosen “B” too… and it’s not just the phone either…

    I have also left when I was finally first in the queue in the shop after a long wait and someone jumped the queue to apparently ask a question, they completely barged in and interrupted the middle of my transaction (but I hadn’t yet paid) without an “excuse me” or apology.

    Ok… if it’s just a question then hey fine, but imagine how I felt when the shop assistant actually left the counter and went off with this woman to go search for whatever was wanted!

    I made a VERY loud comment that “excuse me please WE have been standing waiting in the queue for more then 15 minutes and could you please serve US first please!?”

    The stupid girl stared at me blankly and then STILL left the counter with the woman, so I said very loudly ” because of disgusting service I will avoid this shop from now on!”and left half my purchases rung up and half not.

    Annoyingly the shop assistant and the lady who queue jumped looked at ME like I was the rude one!

    One lady behind me in the queue said “good on you” as I left and started dumping her stuff too… she was clearly as fed up as I was.

    I still avoid shopping there, but it’s a massive chain pharmacy place so I suppose they don;t notice one less customer.

    Now that I think about it I should have made a letter to head office .. but sadly Dutch service is infamous for being bad so that seems like a waste of effort too.

    • Good for you KD, letting people know how you felt, and leaving. .At least the rest of the customers in the shop agreed with you, even if the rude interupting customer and the shop girl didn’t. The trouble is that we tend to put up with bad service too often and so it gets to be acceptable.

  3. I would like to choose B but would probably choose A

  4. Definitely Option B!

  5. I wait and wait and wait feeling self-righteouser and self-righteouser…

  6. I would have chosen Option B as well. Unacceptable.

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