Charlotte Hannah
July 03, 2013

Hero Retail Worker Refuses to Serve Woman Until She Gets Off the Damn Phone

If you’ve ever worked in retail (or even just gone out in public, really), you’re probably well acquainted with the scourge that is Mr./Mrs. Talks On the Phone at the Checkout. If for some reason you’re not, I have hastily drawn a picture that should explain everything:

Photo credit: / Hot dog image by

Photo credit: / Hot dog image by

As a person who has spent some time manning tills — thankfully, not anymore — I’ve had my fair share of teeth-gritting, hand-clenching, blood-boiling moments caused by some Jerkface McJerkington who felt it necessary to loudly carry on a phone conversation while I attempted to do my job. You’d better believe it took all the will I had (also, the ever-looming threat of being broke) not to throw the items they were attempting to purchase in their face, jump on a big spaceship made of NOPE and just nope on outta there.

That’s why it does my former till-jockey heart proud to hear about a grocery store clerk at a Sainsbury’s in the U.K. who, when confronted with a customer who wouldn’t hang up for the duration of their interaction, was like AW HELL NO and straight up refused to serve her until she ended her call.


But – surprise, surprise – the incensed phone talker took her plight to the media, where she was met with little sympathy. Here’s Jo Clarke’s story, as told to Metro UK:

“I was standing at the foot of the till waiting to bag my shopping up, yet the lady on the checkout was just staring at me. I stopped my conversation and said, ‘Is everything OK?’ and she said, ‘I will not check your shopping out until you get off your mobile phone’.

I ended my call swiftly and said to the lady on the checkout, ‘Apologies, I didn’t realise that it was Sainsbury’s policy that you are unable to use your phone at the checkout’, and she said, ‘Well you learn something new every day’.”

Yeah, the employee may have been a little snarky at the end there, but I can’t blame her. If you’re in a checkout line, talking to a store employee or in any way interacting with a real, live human being …

Get. Off. Your. Phone.

It holds up the line, it makes it difficult for the employee to do their job and it’s rude as hell.

Unfortunately, rather than standing behind their employee, spineless store managers for Sainsbury’s have offered Clarke a coupon.

What do you think? Are you obligated to hang up the phone when interacting with an employee at a business you’re patronizing, or are checkout chats A-OK? Let’s fight about it in the comments!