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Old 09-10-2012, 08:58 AM   #1
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Pet Shop Ettiquette

Im sure everyone know by now that I work at a petstore in the fish department. Ive been working there for two years now. I have a two year degree in Animal Science. I've had fish tanks since I was 14. (I will be 24 in a matter of days.)

I'd like to make a post, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, about things that bug me about the average customer.

"I know all about fish."

Granted, a very select few that I come across DO know about fish. But 90% of the time, the follow up with "I kept an Oscar, two convicts, and a jack Dempsey in a 40 gallon tank and they lived for a full four years!" or "Ive kept goldfish in bowls before. They lived for a long time- a whole two years! Don't tell me it cant be done!" or "You don't need to know the size of my tank. Just get me the fish,"- and come to find out they are trying to put a bala shark, six tiger barbs, and a pleco in a ten gallon tank.

Not all of us who work in pet stores are ignorant when it comes to fish, so please don't use this line. We hear it a lot, so as soon as the words come out of our mouth, we automatically assume you know nothing about fish. If a pet store employee is ignorant about fish.. Well, please just try to grin and bear it, and respectfully agree to disagree.

"Its just a fish"

Usually stated when they are trying to put a too-large-of-fish into too small of a tank. If you *really* feel this way, why bother getting a pet fish at all?

"They never grow that big"

I hate this argument. Its counterproductive. Of course the goldfish you put into a 1 gallon bowl never grows larger than a few inches. It doesn't have any room, the water is sewage, and he has no space to swim. Its the same thing as a child who faced malnutrition growing up. Of course the kid isn't going to reach his/her full potential!

"My fish lived a long time! A full two years!"

Two years is a very short life, as most of us here know. I hate when people say, oh, this fish has been alive forever... Only to find out they've only had it for like a year. Seriously? Tetras, Barbs, Gouramis... some of the fish with the shortest lifespans still live 5 years! Plecos can live more than ten years! Goldfish can live around twenty!

"Water changer are too much work... Cant I just buy something...?"

This one just baffles my mind. You would rather spend money on worthless products that are going to do more harm than good instead of just spending twenty minutes once every other week doing a simple water change?!

Can anyone think of anything else that would drive you nuts in such a situation?
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:28 AM   #2
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I know there are good LFS employees out there. I find them and look for them when I go in.
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talvari View Post
"Its just a fish"

Usually stated when they are trying to put a too-large-of-fish into too small of a tank. If you *really* feel this way, why bother getting a pet fish at all?

There are many reasons to keep fish - not everyone is looking for an aquatic best friend
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:38 PM   #4
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i agree with everything you said. it made me laugh really! i am the fish lady to all my friends, they often come to me for help, and i get sooo wound up when i go to a lfs and hear the customers not knowing anything and the pet owners reccomending the wrong things. [some stores] are particularly good at hiring non-knowledgeable fish sellers. my first tank all those years ago - i cringe at the very thought, and they 'helped me' stock it.

and i agree, mr pillow, there are other uses - i use my brother's guppy tank as breeding stock so i can use the babies for oscar chow

and what's this about 'buying something' for water changes?? really??? thats awful :P x
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:57 PM   #5
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Just a reminder that AA does not allow store bashing. Please try to leave individual stores out of this discussion since the OP is customer etiquette.

I try and always be polite to store employees because they are just doing their jobs. Working at pet stores takes more skills than just knowing about fish. People often have to stock shelves, clean things, deal with customer service issues, order merchandise as well as livestock, and other responsibilities. The stores also have to hire people who can deal with the rudeness/crazy of some customers. I do not have the patience to be a fish store employee and my temper is too poor, but I really appreciate when I find a good fish store employee and I have started filling out comment cards to compliment those good employees when I run across them. Positive reinforcement.
EDIT: Oh yes, and I also will specifically ask for certain employees to get my fish if possible so the store knows I value the knowledge of those employees. I am nice about it though.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:03 PM   #6
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As a manager of a retail (non-pet) store, I cannot tell you how wonderful good reviews are to team moral!!

If a customer mentions how nice/helpful/informed/professional one of my employees is, it really makes both our days, and it is something we give verbal and other accolades for. The whole staff feels proud of good yelp & online reviews, and we defend each other from unfair poor reviews, but take criticisms VERY seriously.

Staff who feel appreciated really give back, and customer appreciation actually boosts productivity much more than management approval, IME. I love retail because I love my customers and my products, and appreciate their knowledge and our shared enthusiasm for our "hobby" (this could refer to Aquarists too).

Just my 2 cents, because I feel strongly about this! I never return to a business after being treated poorly in anyway, and I always make this clear before I leave the establishment. If I am pleased I find a manager, or just publicly exclaim how wonderful my experience was with XXX employee(s).
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:36 AM   #7
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I work at a pet store and luckily I never had any one ask me a really dumb question. Most customers are well informed or understand why they can't have a certain fish.
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Old 09-11-2012, 04:06 AM   #8
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Agree about what your saying but why not give them advice maybe show them a book. I know a lot of times I go to the store they really don't know any thing... I had to do research and learn everything by myself when here you know a lot and go along with them. You teach them they will come back and spread the know how.. This makes me sad cause I wish I knew more people like on this site in my area. My dream job is the tv show tanked or owning my own aquarium. But I'm still learning and looking for that perfect turn key setup
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:47 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lionfish456 View Post
Agree about what your saying but why not give them advice maybe show them a book. I know a lot of times I go to the store they really don't know any thing... I had to do research and learn everything by myself when here you know a lot and go along with them. You teach them they will come back and spread the know how.. This makes me sad cause I wish I knew more people like on this site in my area. My dream job is the tv show tanked or owning my own aquarium. But I'm still learning and looking for that perfect turn key setup
Hey now, I *always* do my best to try and teach people about the hobby. I walk them through cycling, I help them choose combatable fish, I try to turn them away from the "fish only grow to the size of their tank" idea, and I do my best to help them create a healthy, thriving aquarium. The above quotes I posted are usually in response to me attempting to teach them.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by absolutangel04 View Post
Just a reminder that AA does not allow store bashing. Please try to leave individual stores out of this discussion since the OP is customer etiquette.

I try and always be polite to store employees because they are just doing their jobs. Working at pet stores takes more skills than just knowing about fish. People often have to stock shelves, clean things, deal with customer service issues, order merchandise as well as livestock, and other responsibilities. The stores also have to hire people who can deal with the rudeness/crazy of some customers. I do not have the patience to be a fish store employee and my temper is too poor, but I really appreciate when I find a good fish store employee and I have started filling out comment cards to compliment those good employees when I run across them. Positive reinforcement.
EDIT: Oh yes, and I also will specifically ask for certain employees to get my fish if possible so the store knows I value the knowledge of those employees. I am nice about it though.

People like you make working at the pet store bearable, even rewarding. I can count on one hand, in two years, that I've actually had a customer go to my manager and compliment me. I've had plenty say thank you to my face, but by telling my manager, it makes them see I am a valuable asset and that I deserve that next raise!
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