I’m Sick Of Standing In Lines, And You Should Be, Too

his weekend I stood in the cashier line at Victoria’s Secret for a good 20 minutes.

I was waiting with my visiting sister, who was buying underwear. She was willing to wait because she forgot to bring any on her trip (honestly, I would have rather gone commando), but I strongly doubt the other 30 people in line were as desperate for knickers.

Ever since H&M and Zara hit the US, it seems like many other stores have embraced the model of making customers wait in a lengthy, snaking, Great America style line to purchase their wares. Take the Levi’s store, for example. They used to have a register in every department, but now customers have to wait in one long, slow line to buy anything (and always, while you’re standing in line, droves of people who work at the store stroll by with nothing to do).

It seems to me that the stores don’t give a shit about their customers’ time, which is not surprising! What IS surprising is that the customers, themselves, don’t seem to give a crap about their time.

No way would I ever wait in a line to give someone else my money for something I don’t require to survive. (I might consider it if I’m on the receiving end of the money, but it would take a big chunk to get me in that queue.)

Of course, I would stand in line to get, say, the bread and water my family needed to eat, but for the dime a dozen cheap crap they sell at malls? No way. I lose interest in useless crap in about two minutes.

Apple and Nordstrom have wisely gone in the other direction. More and more of their employees have handsets that can check you out immediately, so you don’t have to wait.

My sister thinks stores are creating the long lines to drive people to shop online. That way they can eliminate the cost of sales people and physical shops. Which, I have to say, wouldn’t be a bad business decision.

What I can’t figure out is why customers willingly accept waiting in line to buy superfluous crap??? Especially when it doesn’t have to be that way? Do they really lack that much respect for their own time?

We actually have total control. If customers were not willing to stand in line for, or even buy brands online that disrespected their time, the shops would change immediately. (We’d only screw the workers if we merely stopped going to the physical stores.)

In retail, the customer has ALL THE POWER. Of course, it only works if we act together.

the author

Babe Scanlon is a writer living and working in San Francisco. She's worked as an archaeologist, computer game designer, agent at Agent Provocateur and hypnotherapist. She is controlling your mind at this very moment.

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  • HappyHighwayman

    1st World Problems

    • Babe Scanlon

      1st world comment.

      • HappyHighwayman

        Real answer, it’s possible people don’t mind waiting in line as much as you. Perhaps they only shop in-store occasionally and for those one off-items it’s not a big deal. As long as the lines are fair and nobody is jumping the queue it’s not a big deal. I guess if you shop a lot and are constantly waiting at the same stores it could be annoying. You could also just shop outside of prime-time hours.

        Either way I guess this can be boiled down to “I hate waiting in line, my time is precious, my favorite stores should change their policies to make my life easier”.

        • LastCallSF

          Exactly. Or else they get the finger from the invisible hand of the marketplace.
          They aren’t giving stuff away for free, I feel I have the right to demand a slightly less aggravating experience from a retailer if they want me to shop there.

          • HappyHighwayman

            Ironically the author might be wrong about how lines and efficiency works. The most efficient system IS for everyone to wait in one line which feeds into multiple cashiers…that way the next available person deals with the next ready customer. Perhaps one giant line seems intimidating, but they’re actually knocking off the most clients possible. Short of adopting the Apple Store “Everybody is a salesperson” method, it’s pretty good.

        • Babe Scanlon

          I can’t thank you enough for an actual discussion-like comment.

          Or the article can be boiled down to:
          Please realize that your time is precious and you not only have power over your experience but the responsibility to participate in the shaping of it.

          If one person hears that message, I’ve won for the day. And of course the hope is that they’d take that message and apply it to things like their civil rights. But if I titled this piece, You Need To Value Your Self And Defend Your Rights, it would fall under the category that of things that have already been said and ignored.

          One of our greatest first world problems is that we are losing our rights because we are not fighting for them. Any practice helps, in my opinion.

          My example is lighthearted but I’m the fashion/shopping writer and I respect the position I’ve accepted enough to try to make what I write apply to that position.

          Seriously though. Thank you!

          • HappyHighwayman

            I apologize for the initial snark comment.

          • Babe Scanlon

            That’s really nice. Thank you again!

    • Babe Scanlon

      aka, made for each other.

  • RBR

    I’ve narrowed down my in-person shopping in San Francisco to those businesses that treat me the best.
    I’ve returned to Nordstrom because, well, they seem to have written the book on customer service. They don’t always have what I want, but damn! the service is wonderful.
    I also give high marks to Loro Piana, Brooks Brothers, Allen Edmunds, Ferragamo, Saks Women’s (but not Men’s), Tiffany’s, The Container Store and Apple.
    Send the message to retailers with your wallet.

  • S.O.L.D. Inc

    Sold Inc a NYC LINE SITTING SERVICE available for looooong lines (347)744-WAIT