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Off duty in uniform

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yesterday as I was coming home on the subway, I seen a tourist (I assume a tourist, the usual camera, map and lost look) stop a subway worker in the station. It is shift change time and he had earphones in and was leaving the station in the same direction as me. The tourist came up and started asking questions behind him so he didn't see her (or hear her with the earphones in) so he carried on walking towards the exit.

Next thing, the station manager comes over with the woman and she points at him and he starts shouting at this guy for ignoring a customer. He says he has never seen the woman before (which was true, she was behind him) but the manager said that he is on duty until he is out of uniform.

Now, there are plenty of on duty employees in the station she could have asked rather than one with big earphones on, obviously leaving the station with his bag etc, which is a whole other story. But do you think he should be held responsible to work when he is not being paid because he is still in uniform.
post #2 of 29
I don't think he should put on the earphones UNTIL he is out of the station.
Then there would be no problem.

Good grief, are we really that doggone lazy that we can't help a customer on our way out the door? What has happened to our work ethic?
post #3 of 29
Unfortunately, yes. When I worked in situations with uniforms the Employee manuals basically said the same thing as the station manager...you're still representing the company regardless of whether you're punched in or out.

IMO if this employee was on break or did not want to "deal" with customers he should have changed out of his uniform before leaving and going into the crowd with customers. Unless he's wearing a sign that says "I'm punched out for the day" he should expect complaints and such from customers since they do not know he is punched out and if ignored they will complain.

Although as a side note I use to own a shirt that happened to be the same color as the uniform shirt at a local grocery store. I had a customer approach me (actually several when I accidently wore it and walked in there) that was insistant, even to the point that complained to the manager about me.
Keep in mind too that I did not work there I was shopping too. I just happened to have the same color of shirt (but different style) as the other employees. I felt bad for the manager since she had to explain to the lady that I was not an employee, that I was a customer too. I went home and gave that shirt up to Salvation Army.
post #4 of 29
I just asked hubby this question about his work place. He said that procedure is even if you are off the clock (just clocked out whatever) if you are still in uniform you help the customer if they ask you for help. And next time you see a manager you ask them for a time adjustment sheet to fill out and you get paid for helping that customer off the clock.

And I agree with CKBLV, we are talking a minute or two here at most. What does it truely hurt to help this person.
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post

Although as a side note I use to own a shirt that happened to be the same color as the uniform shirt at a local grocery store. I had a customer approach me (actually several when I accidently wore it and walked in there) that was insistant, even to the point that complained to the manager about me.
Keep in mind too that I did not work there I was shopping too. I just happened to have the same color of shirt (but different style) as the other employees. I felt bad for the manager since she had to explain to the lady that I was not an employee, that I was a customer too. I went home and gave that shirt up to Salvation Army.
I have had this happen many times at different stores. I tell them I am not an employee but I will help them if I can. I don't mind helping people.
post #6 of 29
AS a vendor I get asked for help due to most stores working on skeleton crews... I help if I can But I DONT appreciate folks getting pissy with me just causeI may not know what they want ..Note many times I dont where a name tag so many folks asking me questions should THINK..If still in uniform the guy should not have had headphones on and shouls have explained he WAS NOT on the clock...
post #7 of 29
I agree that if he is still in uniform he should help and that he shouldn't put on the headphones until he is at least clear of the work area or changed clothing. BUT in all fairness, he obviously didn't hear the lady speaking to him because of the earphones and if she had any wits about her at all she would have realized that and gently touched his arm or something to get his attention. Chances are he would gladly answered any questions she might have had if he knew she was there.

If I had been in your place in that instance Eithne, I would have spoken up for the worker to his Manager to let him and the lady know that the worker did not hear her nor did he see her behind him.
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
I did actually speak up and am appalled by the answer I got from the station manager and have called the TTC to complain about it (which was a lot ruder than an employee not realising a customer is speaking to them). But then I have had a run in with the station manager before when he accused me of not putting the proper fair in the box that he had left unattended.

I just don't get why when there are probably 5 employees obviously standing around she would choose someone on their way out the door in the first place, but more than that, why the station manager wouldn't just say 'hey wait til you are outside next time'.

The employee (who is actually a subway driver not customer service) told me that, while they have renovations going on, they don't have anywhere to change into their uniforms, apart from if they want to use the public washrooms in the train station (which is the direction he was heading as he was on the same train as me home) and so are they on duty until they get home, if so they should be paid accordingly.
post #9 of 29
I will say it again. Keep the darn earphones OFF until out of the station and problem solved.

Good grief, do people REALLY think they should be paid for answering a darn question?
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
I did actually speak up and am appalled by the answer I got from the station manager and have called the TTC to complain about it (which was a lot ruder than an employee not realising a customer is speaking to them). But then I have had a run in with the station manager before when he accused me of not putting the proper fair in the box that he had left unattended.

I just don't get why when there are probably 5 employees obviously standing around she would choose someone on their way out the door in the first place, but more than that, why the station manager wouldn't just say 'hey wait til you are outside next time'.

The employee (who is actually a subway driver not customer service) told me that, while they have renovations going on, they don't have anywhere to change into their uniforms, apart from if they want to use the public washrooms in the train station (which is the direction he was heading as he was on the same train as me home) and so are they on duty until they get home, if so they should be paid accordingly.
Sounds like the manager has more of a problem than anyone else. Good on you for reporting him. Who knows, maybe the manager set it up with the woman so he could get a mark against the employee. If she targeted that one man when there were several others around, it sounds like it could be a set-up.

(Hey, I'm entitled to my own conspiracy theories!)
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
I just don't get why when there are probably 5 employees obviously standing around she would choose someone on their way out the door in the first place, but more than that, why the station manager wouldn't just say 'hey wait til you are outside next time'.
It's probably more of an ego/psychological thing than approaching the obvious 5. She probably did not see that he had headphones on and therefore continued to think that she was being ignored.

I know when a friend of mine feels that he is being blown off by an employee of X company he will actually seek them out and make them do their job. Even if the employee is off duty and in uniform, B will still approach them and say "why couldn't you just tell me this in the first place and direct me to someone else". This usually occurs in retail businesses where there are super deep discounts and have union employees (umm...you know the ones, I just won't mention stores).

(PS, nothing against union employees, we just seem to have the laziest ones around here. )
post #12 of 29
I wear a uniform for work and even when I'm going to or from my job I'm always fully aware that when I'm wearing my uniform I'm representing the company and always behave accordingly.
post #13 of 29
See, Miss Mew gets it. Thank you Miss Mew.


Must not be talking about Walmart, they aren't union.
post #14 of 29
I commute in my work uniform. Trader Joes is known for its customer service. I have been known to help a customer OUTSIDE of work who had a bag that broke on the sidewalk and had groceries all over the place. They could not believe that I was on my way to work but still stopped to help them. They did get my name and gave me a complement to my manager for going out of my way to help. Also because we are a small store and have tons of regulars who know me I constantly get stopped whether I am in uniform or not. On my days off I will go into shop and at least once a week while there with my DH and clearly in street cloths, a regular will stop me and ask for help. I always try to find them the answer even if it means having to go into the back room and search for the product myself. All of us employees do it. Thats how the store runs.

I feel that no matter what if it is your place of buisness you should help the customer. Its what brings people back. Plus you look good to the bosses which in turn helps with raises and promotions. Everyone wins. The USA has really started to lag in the customer service end of things. No one cares anymore and its starting to hurt.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
See, Miss Mew gets it. Thank you Miss Mew.


Must not be talking about Walmart, they aren't union.
I should have put in an "or" instead of an "and"

There are places around here though with horrible customer service that are union.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
I will say it again. Keep the darn earphones OFF until out of the station and problem solved.

Good grief, do people REALLY think they should be paid for answering a darn question?
I personally think I should get paid for answering a work related question if it is business related and I am at work. If the only reason I am being asked if that I am an employee and I am working on behalf of the company.
A small question may turn into something bigger easily and more detailed, as it can easily when dealing the with general public.

I do work for free with my church and through an educational program, that brings joy to my life. I volunteer with animals. These are things I do on my own time that are for free and not on behalf of any large corporation. I separate work and other things.

Of course, on payroll or not, I am always me, 100% of the time. I just do feel I should be paid for my time if I work there. Maybe not answering a simple question, but you never know before hand what is simple and not. Pointing them to someone else or at the very least speaking with them is appropriate, just since they are human beings. They deserve to be spoken to and not ignored IMO.

When I head home to my family and my real life, I have most likely put in a long day and I want to go home and enjoy my family, i.e. my "real" life. But that doesn't mean people should be ignored or treated in a rude manner.

From what I have seen in the business workplace from salary to hourly, there can always be a "reason" to stay, to work extra, to stay later, to work overtime, to come in earlier, more people to help, a contract to close, always more you can do, this spans from management type positions, on call positions, positions where you have a cell phone, and many things in between, etc.

I agree with you, no headphones until you are no longer there. That would help a lot. I am sure in such a busy place this isn't the first time that has happened.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post
Although as a side note I use to own a shirt that happened to be the same color as the uniform shirt at a local grocery store. I had a customer approach me (actually several when I accidently wore it and walked in there) that was insistant, even to the point that complained to the manager about me.
Keep in mind too that I did not work there I was shopping too. I just happened to have the same color of shirt (but different style) as the other employees. I felt bad for the manager since she had to explain to the lady that I was not an employee, that I was a customer too. I went home and gave that shirt up to Salvation Army.
I get that all the time at grocery stores... I thought at first I was wearing colors similar to the store's uniform but then I also got it when wearing a totally different color! Finally I realized the reason people always think I work there when I'm at the grocery store is
a) I walk quickly and purposefully like I know what I'm doing (not walking slowly/wandering like most people in the store)
and
b) I usually am not pushing a cart

I don't mind it though, if someone asks me where something is I usually say "Well I don't work here but I think it's _____" or "Sorry, I don't work here" if I have no idea where what they're asking about is.

I did get some funny looks one time when I was in a grocery store and several people asked me things or asked if I worked there. I finally realized why they were looking at me funny-- I was wearing my old shirt from when I worked at a dog kennel, and it said STAFF in big blue letters on the back!
post #18 of 29
I do get a little upset when I ask an employee where something is or if they have something and they say "Sorry, Im off the clock" and walk away.

I mean, At least get someone that CAN help before you walk away. Especially if there aren't many employees around.
post #19 of 29
Who knows why she picked the guy who was leaving... But if in uniform you represent the organization the uniform belongs to. I remember learning that in Girl Scouts.

I don't see that the guy did anything wrong, though.
post #20 of 29
I'd just write it off to everyone having a bad day all at the same time until Eithne mentioned having a problem with this particular station manager before. When there's a problem between a customer and an employee, you often find the problem originates with management: not communicating what's expected, not being consistent in applying standards, not setting a good example, etc. etc. While they're all valid points about representing the company while in uniform even when off duty, leaving the earphones off until clear of the work area, and so on, personally -- I think the employee got the short end of the stick that day.
post #21 of 29
I think I should get paid for answering the phone here at work when people call before we are open. I better talk to my boss about that.

NOT
post #22 of 29
Oh boy...don't even get me started. The number of times I've been interrupted on my lunch ("Um, I know you're at lunch BUT...") and on my way home (or on my way into work too). It's all about keeping in favors in front of management
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post
Oh boy...don't even get me started. The number of times I've been interrupted on my lunch ("Um, I know you're at lunch BUT...") and on my way home (or on my way into work too). It's all about keeping in favors in front of management
Your company should get an answering service or a Voice Mail to answer the calls that come in while you're at lunch, or before you start work.

I think if I saw someone, with head phones on, even if he or see were in uniform, I wouldn't have bothered them. I would have figured they were either on break or heading home. If I didn't know they had on the head phones, I probably would have tapped them on the shoulder and the arm to get their attention. I would always think that it was probably possible that they didn't hear me.
post #24 of 29
What REALLY irks me is when i am clearly off work..in the grocery store shopping for food for my family when some idiot will come up to me and ask "do ya'll have pit bulls at the shelter" or "i need someone to get a cat out of my tree" - something STUPID when i am clearly off work and buying groceries! Uhhhh! Ticks me off. I tell them i'm off work and if they have an emergency they are welcome to call the after hours line and request an on duty AC officer.

Geesh- some people are sooo darn rude! (please note i work for animal control so even if i'm off work just getting gas for my car or groceries on the way home- people NEVER stop harassing me! it stinks). I usually try to be polite and tell them i'm off duty but if they have an emergency to call the after hours line. (obviously i'm not on duty if i'm buying toilet paper! come on people!) and seriously- if they're that concerned about it being a huge "emergency"- they wouldn't be out buying beer in the grocery store/etc ya know!

Sorry...vent over- can ya'll tell how many times i've had people pull that junk on me when i'm obviously not on duty.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nekochan View Post
I did get some funny looks one time when I was in a grocery store and several people asked me things or asked if I worked there. I finally realized why they were looking at me funny-- I was wearing my old shirt from when I worked at a dog kennel, and it said STAFF in big blue letters on the back!
I had to reply to this because it reminded me of this one time when DH and I decided to go out to the local chinese buffet for lunch. Well I didn't feel like getting all gussied up for a buffet, so I just threw on one of his band tshirts and out the door we went.

While I'm on line to get food, I hear the woman behind me say to her husband "look honey, if you choke on your food it's ok... she's a doctor" and I'm thinking what? Doctor.... wait... ME?! What is wrong with this lady?!

So I sat down at the table and started eating... and almost choked on my orange chicken when I realized which band name was plastered across the back of my shirt - The County Medical Examiners
post #26 of 29
Work ethic??? Isn't that a thing of the past?? Along with good manners and common courtesy?? I tell you, its a world of just "looking out for number one". Sad..very sad...

But is it today's society or how children are raised? I don't know but as a supervisor myself, I have a hard time finding someone who understands that a job is just that--you work to make the money. We're not paying you to just show up and socialize.
post #27 of 29
Some of both I think.....with over-regulation and punitive litigation thrown in. When they get their butts fired, they run to their lawyer and cry "discrimination" or some other such bogus complaint.
post #28 of 29
If the guy was off duty, he was off duty. Unless he is being paid overtime, he has no obligation to stop and help anyone. And any labour board would back that up.

If the guy finished work at 4pm, and it took him 10 minutes to walk from the finishing point to the exit point or off the property, then he should be paid until 4:10pm if he is expected to be "on duty" until he clears company property.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
What REALLY irks me is when i am clearly off work..in the grocery store shopping for food for my family when some idiot will come up to me and ask "do ya'll have pit bulls at the shelter" or "i need someone to get a cat out of my tree" - something STUPID when i am clearly off work and buying groceries! Uhhhh! Ticks me off. I tell them i'm off work and if they have an emergency they are welcome to call the after hours line and request an on duty AC officer.

Geesh- some people are sooo darn rude! (please note i work for animal control so even if i'm off work just getting gas for my car or groceries on the way home- people NEVER stop harassing me! it stinks). I usually try to be polite and tell them i'm off duty but if they have an emergency to call the after hours line. (obviously i'm not on duty if i'm buying toilet paper! come on people!) and seriously- if they're that concerned about it being a huge "emergency"- they wouldn't be out buying beer in the grocery store/etc ya know!

Sorry...vent over- can ya'll tell how many times i've had people pull that junk on me when i'm obviously not on duty.
Been there done that! I especially like the comments like "I pay taxes" or "I pay your salary!" as justification for urging me to immediately handle their situation. The best part is when they start cranking up at you and you are not even in your own city. Wearing the uniform anywhere removes the ability to actually say what you are thinking to the "Courtesy impaired" so it takes a little bit of the fun away.

I am one of those "will help" anyone if I can types. It makes it a better place. I have found that no good deed goes unpunished as well. I get the same questions in the grocery store, the bank, the gas station etc. I've even been confronted and almost assaulted by a person I issued a summons to like 5 years ago. Its nice to help people that genuinely need it and the "thankyou" that you get is all the payback needed.

I just wish some of the people who think that their pants don't go on the same way mine do would get a life and stop treating us like second class citizens. I don't care who you are or how much you make - that doesn't determine the level of service you get from me so don't think that it entitles you to preferential treatment. It entitles you to EQUAL treatment. I pay taxes too. I live in the jurisdiction I work in for that express reason.
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