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Section: work, manners

Dear Ann Landers,
I am sure you get many letters complaining about rude, crude and abusive sales clerks. I would like to say a word in their defense. My job is to evaluate clerks. I have a long list of people I observe, interact with and rate according to 30 factors. They have no idea who I am. I've been doing this work for five years and have visited more than 400 "installations," from small convenience stores to large department stores. I have demanded services to which I was not entitled and asked for "extras" the stores were under no obligation to provide. I have been deliberately antagonistic and sometimes downright nasty. I once tried to return an item that had been purchased at another store. The clerk took it and gave me a full credit. I have yet to find a sales clerk who was crude, rude or unpleasant. When you get letters complaining about sales clerks, I would bet they are from people who have tried to return merchandise that has obviously been used or for which they have no receipt, or the customer insisted the clerk take a credit card that had expired or been maxed out. Please don't print my name or city, Ann. It is essential that my identity not be revealed. Sign me -- Mystery Shopper in the USA

Dear Mystery,
It appears from your incognito research that the vast majority of sales clerks have the patience of Job. While a few may be surly and unpleasant, most people would agree with your assessment that sales clerks live by the motto "the customer is always right," even when he isn't.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Suspicious in Washingon State's Comment
The synopsis of "Struggling in Pennsylvania" -- allegedly a high-school teenager (presumably a girl, but who knows these days?) who has a long-distance teenage "boyfriend" she met on a game, has been dating for five months, apparently wants to visit/meet in person and seeks her mother's approval -- raises many red flags and more questions than answers. How does one know this "teenage boyfriend" isn't some older, masquerading predator? How does one actually "meet" someone on a "game"? And practically speaking, how does one "date" long-distance for five months? I.e., how is texting, talking on a phone, or even communicating via Skype considered "dating"? And now to the point of declaring her "love"? To me, this "girl" sounds terribly needy! The unstated implication is, this "girl" wants to travel out-of-state to visit the "boyfriend's" location to meet him personally which her mother (rightly) disapproves of. The solution is simple: Invite the "boyfriend" to visit the "girl" in the presence of her mother. Problem solved!
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, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."
-Ann Landers